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Member Since 11 Feb 2010
Offline Last Active Jun 25 2013 02:16 PM

Topics I've Started

Nikon D7000 Complete Aquatica Dive Package - With Camera, Lenses, Housing, Ports, etc

09 September 2012 - 01:40 PM


I have decided to sell my Nikon D7000 and the underwater housing and accessories associated with this camera so that I can put my new D800 in a housing and eliminate one set of cameras..... I am also going to be using a different lens setup with that camera so I am selling some lenses and ports. Everything is in perfect working order and this is a complete, ready to dive package. I would prefer to sell everything together but will consider parting out if someone isn't interested in the whole setup. The underwater equipment has only been dove a handful of times, which is a major reason why I'm selling it (don't have the time to dive it). PS - this is a re-post from ScubaBoard (my user name is kmitch over there).

The complete setup includes:

  • Nikon D7000 Camera Body (USA Warranty, not grey market)
  • Aquatica D7000 camera housing with accompanying accessories, hydrophone, and TTL/fiber optic synch connector
  • Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens
  • Nikon 85mm Macro lens
  • Aquatica Mini Dome Port (#18410, for the Tokina lens)
  • Aquatica Macro Dome Port (#18428, for Nikon 85mm)
  • Tokina 10-17mm zoom gear
  • Aquatica port extension ring for mini dome port
  • Vello BG-N4 battery grip (Freebie!)

To purchase this whole setup new would cost well over $6,500. Buy the complete setup for $3,900 USD.

Prices for Individual Items

  • Nikon D7000 Camera Body (will include the Vello BG-N4 Battery Grip for free) - $725

Includes the camera, strap, battery, charger, manual, paperwork, body cap, and original box. Everything is in perfect working order. Only minor cosmetic blemishes from normal wear and tear on the camera, the most obvious being a small scuff on the on/off switch that has no impact on the camera's performance. I am including the Vello BG-N4 battery grip for free with purchase of the camera, however, you will need to purchase a second battery to use this grip.

  • Aquatica D7000 camera housing - $1800
    Includes the Aquatica D7000 camera housing (#20068-OPT) which was serviced by Aquatica earlier this year. Has not been dove since servicing. All components, including the moisture alarm, hydrophone, mounting plate, arms, manuals, extra o-ring, etc are included. Comes in the original box and I'm adding a free body cap to cover the port connector when there is no port attached.
  • Tokina 10-17mm F/3.5-4.5 Fisheye lens - $350
    No scratches or scuffs on this lens! In perfect condition, any blemishes are un-noticable and are on the external body only. Includes the original packaging, lens caps and manual. Impeccable condition!
  • Nikon 85mm F/3.5 DX VR Macro lens - $300
    Few people know about this lens from Nikon. Get the advantages of a 60mm and a 105mm in a compromising 85mm lens. I've taken a bunch of great macro shots with this lens! It's in perfect condition, no scratches on the glass itself and only very minor signs of use on the external body. Includes all original packaging, lens caps and lens hood.
  • Aquatica Mini Dome Port (#18410, for the Tokina lens) - $380
    The mini dome is great for travel and much easier to deal with underwater than the larger domes typically used with a fisheye lens. Includes the neoprene cover and comes in the original packaging with manual.
  • Aquatica Macro Dome Port (#18428, for Nikon 85mm) - $270
    This dome port can be used with either the 60mm or 85mm lens without requiring an extension ring. Does not allow for manual focus, but the Nikon lenses focus so fast that it's not a problem! Has minor signs of wear on the outside of the body but nothing on the glass that would interrupt your image quality. Includes the neoprene cover and comes in the original packaging.
  • Aquatica Tokina 10-17mm zoom gear - $100
    This zoom gear mounts on the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye and allows you to zoom the lens while in the housing. Perfect condition.
  • Aquatica port extension ring for mini dome port - $170
    This is the standard Aquatica extension ring that is required to use the Tokina 10-17mm with the mini dome port. Perfect condition.


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Want more photos? Visit my photobucket.

I accept payment via Paypal ONLY. I am happy to entertain any offers! I prefer to sell to US buyers for shipping purposes. If you buy the complete package I will ship to you for free, all others will pay actual shipping cost (most of this can fit in a USPS "if it fits, it ships" box).

Thanks and happy diving!

Aquatica Housing Review - Good, Bad and Ugly

04 March 2012 - 02:33 PM

I recently returned from a week long trip to Bonaire where I took my new Aquatica D7000 housing for it’s inaugural dives. I had been very excited about this trip as it was the first chance for me to take an dSLR, rather than an advanced point and shoot, underwater. I wanted to provide some feedback on the Aquatica housing based on my experiences. For some quick background: while new to dSLRs, I am coming from advanced point and shoots and have 10 years of dive experience (along with being a PADI instructor). I have worked at major dive operations across the eastern United States and have received my photography mentorship from some highly published and well-known underwater and land-based photographers.

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My setup: Nikon D7000 in Aquatica housing, two Sea&Sea YS-110a strobes connected via fiber optics, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, Nikon 85mm Macro, Aquatica mini dome port, Aquatica macro port, and Sola LED focus light.

The Good
- Ergonomics: I purchased the housing due to the small size which I thought would work well with my small (woman) hands and for the ergonomics of button placement. Underwater I found the buttons were all easily within reach without having to take my hands off the controls. The shutter button gave enough pull to have a comfortable half-way focus and full pull for shutter fire. The grips with the carved finger holds were very comfortable underwater and gave me great control wielding the housing. I would make one recommendation on the buttons to Aquatica; it can be a little tricky to align the on/off switch just right with the camera switch. A small paint line or stopper to help align that switch would make loading the camera much easier!

- Hydrophone: I never attached the hydrophone to the camera, but in the housing the audio during videos was very good and I’m not sure the hydrophone would be much better – at most it might eliminate some of the focus noise heard when the camera focus motor turned.

- TTL/Optical Connectors: I didn’t use the TTL, but the optical connectors were very reliable. I wasn’t sure what to do with the extra TTL cable when I had the house closed – if I put it where the velco suggested then I couldn’t pop the camera flash up. I ended up sliding the TTL connector cord just above the flash hot shoe in the gap created when the flash is popped up – this worked pretty well and also prevented me from accidentally closing the flash.

- Construction: Externally the housing seems to be constructed very well – the rough surface of the housings coating makes it very tactile and easy to hand hold if you take your hands off the grips. The ports also seemed to be built very solidly and I was very happy with the macro port. There are more comments on construction (including construction of the mini dome port) in the ‘bad and ugly’ section so keep reading.

- Port Lock: This was one of my favorite features – despite being new to dSLRs I felt comfortable that if the port locked clicked, I had the port mounted properly. The only nerves came at the first few dives – even when properly locked the port can still “wobble” a little to make you think it’s not secured properly. I’d comment that Aquatica might want to mention that it’s okay if the port does that in the instructions so that people like me aren’t exceedingly paranoid about that!

- Moisture alarm: It worked. The camera flooded (more on that later) and it did chirp, but only after I’d already identified the problem. It’s hard to gripe that it didn’t work, but I think it might have chirped sooner if the wet contacts were a little closer to the bottom of the housing seal rather than a few centimeters up – I basically had to wait for that much water to flood the housing before it beeped!

The Bad (and Ugly)

- Overview: I have several major gripes with the housing. First, I’m very diligent and would take several test shots before ever leaving the hotel room. In my tests I’d also test all of the major buttons like the two scroll wheels that adjust aperture/shutter, live view, shutter, image review, and info. On THREE separate occasions, despite having successful tests and pre-shots, upon getting in the water the camera was hosed as a result of the Aquatica housing and my dives concluded with no images taken – and the housing flooded on an additional fourth dive. Read more….

- Major housing failure #1 (User error?): In one instance, while shooting macro, none of the buttons worked, including the shutter. My best guess at the time was that something was ever so slightly off and wasn’t noticed in my tests but was enough to fail the system when I got underwater. I suspect this was just a minor alignment issue on my part? This was the only dive that I had while shooting macro that I had an issue with button operability after I submerged (I had about 15 successful dives).

- Major housing failures #2 & #3 (Wide Angle Doesn’t Work!!!): I don’t know what happened during the second and third instance of housing ‘failure.’ In both instances I was shooting wide angle with the Tokina 10-17mm lens and small mini dome port. The first time this happened was at a dive site called Karpata; I’d used the camera (in housing) to take some top side photos during a surface interval (I shot macro on the first dive and changed to wide angle for the second) and upon submerging it I got the Nikon screens to set language, time, date, etc on the camera. I once again assumed I’d failed to align everything properly. On the second of these occasions I was diving at our house reef and spent awhile setting up the camera to ensure everything worked properly. When we got in the water I was able to take a few photos of my dive buddies and a photo of myself (to ensure strobes were firing properly) before the camera returned to the language set screen.

In both instances when the camera ‘locked out’ in the language set screen I was unable to resolve the problem underwater. When I reached 30 ft of depth myself and the divers around me would hear a very loud ‘thud.’ I don’t know what the source of the sound is and I never saw anything move on the housing, but from that point forward the camera would lock up. Although I could look in sidewise at the LCD window and see the buttons were making contact with the camera, it wouldn’t allow me to proceed with the camera language set – thereby rendering the dive useless. When I would surface the camera would continue to be in ‘lockout’ until physically removed from the housing. Following the second instance I took the camera back to the room and filmed a short video before opening the housing. In the video you can see the language set screen and I’m pushing the buttons without success – once I open the housing everything starts to work (See Video: ). Note: Video was taken before the below note which probably explains problems. To this day I have no explanation for error on my part that could cause it to work on the surface and at depths shallower than 30 feet - and then once deeper than 30 feet (10 meters) later it’s asking me to set the language. My best guess is something in the housing put pressure on buttons and ‘jammed’ the whole setup. Either way, it’s a complete failure and I’m extremely dissatisfied that despite spending almost $1,000USD to take wide angle photos, I wasn’t able to capture one shot deeper than 30 feet. This alone, without any of the other issues I experienced, is enough for me to wish I could get a refund on the housing. I am extra frustrated as I was told that mini dome was built almost specifically for the Tokina lens! Unacceptable.

- Mini Dome Port & Tokina Lens Incompatible: Unfortunately, my gripes continue! I brought a macro setup (Nikon 85mm) and wide angle with the small Aquatica dome port (Tokina 10-17mm). The wide angle setup never worked as advertised; despite multiple attempts to get everything to line up in the compact space of the housing, there are issues with how the lens interacts with the front of that dome. Specifically, when zoomed, the front of the little lens hood hits the front of the dome, which pushes the camera backwards and unlatches the tray that holds the camera. At the same time, if you spin the zoom gear the contact with the lens on the front of the dome causes the gear to slide off and rattle around the dome. As best as I can tell the Tokina lens hood doesn’t come off and I don’t have any extra equipment that could be causing this chain reaction. I got one of the first mini-domes that came out of the factory and I wonder if it’s slightly off spec – I can’t imagine it’s designed for the lens to actually come in contact with that little dome glass! This being said, on both occasions when the camera ‘locked up’ deeper than 30ft I had the lens zoomed in to the point where it was not in contact with the glass as I was troubleshooting that as a possibility for my earlier problems.

NOTE: I just looked at the lens chart for Aquatica and am extra annoyed. Apparently one needs an extension to use the dome port with the mini dome. Of course I purchased one of the very first ones made and I was explicitly told I didn’t need an extension ring, which is why I should buy this versus another dome for that lens. I’m curious when it was updated that you needed the ring in addition to the port because it wasn’t sold to me that way. I guess that’s what I get for buying the ‘new great thing designed specifically for the 10-17mm lens’ before all the kinks are worked out. This probably explains my problems, but is clearly very annoying since I was explicitly told that was a selling feature that I would NOT need that ring.

- Housing Construction & Camera Damage: My other major complaints stem from the construction of the housing – specifically how it contacts my camera and the main o-ring. Starting with the contact with the camera: After a week of diving the rubber pads on the end of some of the buttons, most notably the on/off switch, wore through so metal was in contact with the switch on my camera. This has left some fairly hefty damage to that button and I’m really peeved that the housing which should protect the camera from the water is also damaging the camera at the same time! It’d be one thing if the $2,500USD housing was malfunctioning, but it’s another when you start to damage my $1,400USD camera too! I have also had an issue where one of the little fingers that engages with the MF/AF switch fell off and started to rattle around the housing; thankfully that’s not a button I ever used so I left it off.

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You can see the rubber caps on the on/off switch have given way to metal. Next photo depicts the damage that did in one dive to my camera (I rotated the caps periodically to help protect it as much as possible during the trip).

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- O-Ring & Housing Flood: On the o-ring…. I think the design of the main seal in the back isn’t tight enough for my liking and I’d rather the housing overlapped the o-ring rather than just pressed against it. We did a shore dive towards the end of the vacation at a spot called Windsock – it’s an easy walk in entry with a little bit of sand at the very edge of the water where the waves have kicked it up. Despite walking through this fairly quickly and making sure the camera wasn’t subjected to any unnecessary roughness from the oncoming waves, enough sand was able to get into the o-ring to cause a major flood. We had a short surface swim and during that time, unknown to me, the camera was slowly filling with water from the sand in the o-ring. When we started our dive we were immediately greeted with an octopus and when I pulled the camera up to capture him I noticed water spilling down the LCD screen. I immediately aborted the dive, flipped the housing so the port was down and swam for shore. Had it not been for that octopus, I probably wouldn’t have been able to quickly identify the problem and recover my camera gear. Unfortunately the water sensor didn’t start to beep until I was nearing the surface. I’ve dove sites like this numerous times with Sea&Sea housings and have never had a flood – I think the O-ring design that lets sand freely flow into the two components is a major flaw, particularly when we’re not talking about a rough surf or large volumes of sand! Other o-rings, like the port ring, had no sand in them, which is probably because they are overlapping metal pieces with the o-ring between them. The strobe o-rings had almost no significant sand in them. Sorry I didn’t take photos of the amount of sand (not much) that was required to break the integrity of the o-ring – I was a little preoccupied with saving the camera!

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This gap between the housing when sealed was large enough to let a little sand in and jam between the o-ring. Anyone who has been to Bonaire knows those dive sites aren't overly sandy either!

The Bottom Line:

All in all, I brought my camera back with some minor saltwater damage and minor cosmetic damage as a result of the housing, but I brought it back. (Damage to the housing from the flood can’t be assessed as I have no means to test the TTL electronics and I’m not sure if the saltwater will corrode any of the metal internal components). I did capture some great images during the macro dives, but having 3 dives with wide angle lost due to the housing is completely unacceptable. I am overall very dissatisfied with how much I had to fight the camera during this trip and how much I paid for what I thought would be a superior product. I ran across some divers using D7000’s in Sea&Sea housings and their gripes were much less significant than mine (mostly involving pitting on the housing). When talking to those divers they seemed very shocked by my experiences which suggests I either have a major user error that I need help with or there are problems with this Aquatica housing.

If given the opportunity to re-buy my setup, I would probably look closer at some other housings before buying Aquatica again based on this experience. The reasons for selecting this housing over others were not outweighed by the debacle with the wide angle setup (especially since it now looks like one needs an extension ring, which is exactly opposite of what I was told when I purchased this port… and waited several extra weeks to get one of the first ones) and I’m very unhappy that the housing caused permanent damage to my camera’s on/off switch.

I do plan to contact Aquatica about my problems – at the very least I need to send the camera to Backscatter for service since it flooded to ensure no sand got into o-rings I can’t access and to test if the electrical components (TTL specifically) that met saltwater are still functioning.

Comments and questions welcome – I have tried to be as objective and fair as possible and welcome any explanations for the multitude of issues I’ve encountered! I have attached some photos and videos and some of the ‘highlight reel’ are featured below.

- Kristen, www.thegotgills.com

PS: The Sola focus light is a must have – I love that thing! If nothing else it helps visualize the colors that you’ll get when your strobes fire and assists with composition. I used the red LED during one night dive but not sure how effective it was. I also used two large and one small arm float on each ULCS arm and found that to be a really nice setup – just barely negative and easy to wield underwater.

PS #2: Don’t be a doofus like me. I use the Nikon R1 Macro flash system with my camera above water and use the main flash on the camera as the commander for those strobe units. When you take it diving you have to reset the camera to TTL rather than commander or you’ll spend half a dive wondering why the heck the strobe isn’t synching at precisely the right time (the infrared communications flashes that are barely visible to the human eye are still enough to trigger the main strobes, creating a ½ second delay). Doh!