DEMA 2002 Report

DEMA 2002 Report

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People at DEMA 2002 - Eric Cheng photographs the "Who's Who" of underwater photographers and videographers

-- Digital Photography Dominates DEMA 2002 --

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Held last week in Las Vegas, this year's Dive Equipment & Marketing Association Show is bound to make 2003 the year of underwater digital photography for divers and other water-sport enthusiasts everywhere. Last year's show found only Ikelite immersed in digital products, with Light & Motion and Sea & Sea just making the jump, and we could count the the number of digital products on one hand. This year, the proliferation of digital photography products and the enthusiastic adoption by some professionals made film look like a boring has-been. The accessibility of the digital medium to the sport diver is helping to reignite the excitement of underwater photography. While Wetpixel-sponsor Marine Camera Distributors offered no digital products at last year's show, their counter-top equipment this year (a good indication of what passersby had asked them to pull out) were often entirely digital. Nearly all manufacturers who were wary of digital cameras last year have now jumped in with both feet! Bonica was the only photographic hold-out this year not willing to take risk in the "volatile" world of digital photography. Times have changed.

DEMA 2002 Show Entrance

Digital SLR equipment stole the show, with no less than 9 if these high-end production and prototype housings on display. The Nikon Coolpix 5000 is currently the most housed digital camera, with 7 different housings found. All said we counted over 60 different production or prototype digital photography products at the show.

While Eric Cheng generally hung out and partied with industry luminaries, David Breitigam got busy photographing and collecting information on the digital products to try to make up for Wetpixel's languishing news page [hey! I was "working" during my second day at the show. I have pictures as well, but Dave did such a good job! :) -eric] . Follow Dave Breitigam here, as he slaves away, sweating the show back to front, photographing equipment [that long, narrow show floor was unfortunate! -eric]. When you get tired, click here to hang out with Eric and friends.

Marine Camera Distributors (Wetpixel sponsor)

Underwater photography retailer and wetpixel-sponsor MCD of San Diego, California displayed the full line of Epoque equipment. In addition, they displayed some unique products. First, was the new INON D-180 strobe. They had just received it, and no specs were available because the user manual was still under translation. Next was the highly anticipated Nexus D-100 housing. The thing that really strikes you when you pick it up is how light it is. Also shown was the Zillion housing for the Canon D60. The all-polycarb display unit sported a macro ring-flash assembly. MCD also displayed their line of Olympus setups. Spotted on a lower shelf was a tiny LCD-less digital camera (the Eci-80vf) in a housing - probably of webcam quality. Lee Peterson also let us know about a couple of other exciting high-end digital housings in the works. http://www.marinecamera.com (858) 481-0604

Olympus PT Housing, with Inon D-180 strobe:


Nexus D-100 Housing:


Zillion D60 Housing, with macro ring flash:


Olympus Housing + other housed digicams:



Ten bar of Hong Kong was one of the few housing makers at last year's DEMA doing digital, and they showed up this year with an expanded product line. In addition to their Sony DSC-F707 product, they also displayed a Canon G2 housing and a Nikon CP 2500 housing. Handouts also list housings for the Sony DCS-F505, the Nikon Coolpix 885, and the Nikon Coolpix 5000. 10bar also supplies optional accessories such as lenses and arms. http://www.10bar.com (852) 2573 3228


A B Sea Photo

Those who have been doing UW photography for awhile may be very aware of A B Sea's convenient location on Sepulveda, for those last minute purchases or rentals on the way to LAX. We were interested in the OceanHaus product line that A B Sea had at the show, specifically for the Nikon CP 5000 Camera. The Aluminum housings shown were painted with some pretty wild scemes. According to the handout, the housing is rated to 300 ft and comes with a flat port. 14 controls are listed. Optional accessories include a wide-angle port. A B Sea has plans for a Nikon CP5700 OceanHaus as well. Watch for more info at http://www.absea.net. (310) 645-8992

Advanced Design Engineering

Merlin Phillips, the Chief Engineer at ADE, went with Eric and Dave on the Kona Trip. Dave has been pushing him to do something in digital UW photography, and Merlin had a prototype Nikon CP 5000 housing coming together at the show. The housing is under the Underwater Phantaseas name of Jo Phillips (Merlin's wife, who is a PADI instructor). Set to be priced at $995, the design features room in the housing for a battery pack - great for those of us who don't like to crack the housing between every dive. The INON lens will work with the housing without an adapter. http://www.advdeseng.com. Merlin also has a Canon D60 housing "in the computer," ready for a first prototype.
Underwater Phantaseas at (208) 461-2394



Amphibico had their Sony DSC-F707/F717 housing on display with an optional light sensor device. The device is recommended for use with Nikonos SB-105 or Sea & Sea YS strobes, and features 4 manual, 1 automatic and 4 semi-automatic power settings. http://www.amphibico.com (514) 333-8666



Between last year and this year, Aquatica has placed two digital housings on the table, with a third imminent. The innovative Nikon Coolpix 995 housing was a great success, and now the sturdy Nikon Coolpix 5000 housing is available. The tabletop showed both silver and blue models, since Aquatica is experimenting with colors. The housing sports an LCD shade for shallow sunlite conditions. The Canadian-based company was to have their Nikon D100 housing at the show, but US customs flagged it as a possible national security risk, and the shipment was held up for analysis. As of Wednesday it had not made the show floor. Wetpixel will post pictures as soon as Aquatica gets them to us. http://www.aquatica.ca 1 888 737-9481



Monterey, California retailer Backscatter showed the Macromate underwater removable lens. The diopter, made for a variety of film and video setups, also has a version for the L&M tetra. The Tetra version produces 1:1 images. http://www.backscatter.com (831)645-1082

Berger Bros

Berger Bros is a retailer who carries wide variety digital underwater equipment. Readers looking for a source for Canon digital housings may wish to check out Berger. Berger is an authorized Canon dealer. Displays at their booth included this canon product (Canon S30/S40 housing below). http://www.berger-bros.com 800-262-4160



Tokyo-based Epoque returns this year with a housing for 2-megapixel (DSC-MZ2) and 4-megapixel (DSC-AZ1) megapixel Sanyo Cameras. Optional Accessories include the ES-150 digital strobe (for use with other UW digitals, too), the DCL-20 0.56 WA lens and DML-2 macro. Both lenses can be adapted to the Olympus housings. They also make a housing for the Nikon Coolpix 4500 and the Canon G2. http://www.epoque-japan.com 03-3865-1717


EWA Marine makes digital camera bags that go to 10 meters for shallow water sports, like snorkeling and surfing. The bags integrate an optical port and come in "one-size fits many cameras" designs. Rather compelling for some might be the tiny pouch for the Casio EX-S2 card camera. It's tiny.
Web: http://www.ewa-marine.com
US Distributor R.T.S Inc. http://www.rtsphoto.com (631) 242-6801

Fantasea USA

Fantasea (Old Greenwich, CT) diplayed their 30 meter housing for the Nikon Coolpix 4300. They were sharing a booth with Helix (http://www.helixphoto.com), who is one of their dealers. http://www.fantasea.com (203) 637-5192


Gates Underwater Housings

Just over the fence from MCD was the Gates booth, another MCD supplier. Gates was showing off their sturdy units, built around the Sony DSC-F707, in both regular and pro models. They also had many video housings on display, and hosted a book signing by Howard Hall and Brian Skerry. http://www.gateshousings.com (858) 272-2501



Digital Photography has been mainstream at Ikelite for years now, and they continue to crank out new products as digital photography proliferates. They maintain a world-wide reputation for world-class customer service. Ikelite has debuted new digital strobes this year, and they continue to innovate in the lighting area with a new strobe power controller, which allows for remote, manual strobe power control (with more power levels than the on-strobe controls allow), and slave triggering.

Recently, Ikelite has entered the high-end market fitting the Fuji S2 Pro into their SLR housing. For other digital SLRs (D30/60, D-100, 1Ds, etc.), Ikelite is redesigning their SLR case with a polycarbonate front and a machined aluminum back. The design of the back will allow them to reposition the window and buttons for different camera models. The prototype shown at the show was for the Nikon D-100. http://www.ikelite.com (317) 923 4523

Prototype Nikon D-100 Housing (back will be aluminum):


Olympus D-380 Housing:


Sony Housing:


Fuji S2 Pro Housing:

Nikon Housings:


Light & Motion

Light & Motion was back with a repeat of last year's award-winning booth. This year, it was strewn with all kinds of new goodies for the underwater digital photographer. Last year's Tetra, for Olympus cameras, is now joined by a version for the Nikon CP5000, this time with built-in strobe control circuitry. In fact, the strobe controller is standard fare now for all new models, including the prototype Nikon D-100 housing, which looks and feels really slick: strobe controls on the handles! The Titan housing for the Olympus E-20 made a strong showing, with plenty of them on the table for you to lay your hands on. The prototype D-100 housing perched at the end of one table drew a lot of interest as well. Changes from this prototype for production will include an improved eyepiece, refined shutter release mechanism, and an improved housing finish. Adapters will be available to use Subal, Aquatica, and Sea & Sea Lens ports. http://www.uwimaging.com (831) 645-1525

Tetra for Olympus


Tetra for Nikon CP 5000


Titan for E-10/20


Prototype D-100 Housing


Nimar was showing their Fiji Branded housings for the Finepix 601, 4800 and 6800 models. No handouts were available.
+39 0522 633026


If you are using your digital underwater setup to do field work, you may very well have use for a case to keep your PDA dry as well. Otter was showing the new "Heavy Armor Case" for handheld computers. While not for underwater use, the box is made to keep out dirt, water, humidity, and snow, while still keeping your touch screen available for use. http://www.otterbox.com (888) 695-8827

Sea & Sea

At the last DEMA, Sea & Sea had only their YS-90DX strobe to show in the digital space. This year, the emphasis has radically shifted toward digital.

The Sea & Sea DX-3000 is Sea & Sea's lower end digital camera/housing combo. This 3.24 megapixel setup includes a mount for the MX-10 lenses and works with digital strobes, including the new YS-90Auto. Also works with Sea Arms. The camera works on land, is USB compatible with Windows and Mac, and uses SD/Multimedia cards (up to 256MB). It is depth rated to 195 feet.


Next up is the Sea & Sea DX-5000 for the Nikon Coolpix 5000 camera. This setup works with all the conversion lenses for the MMIII camera. Its many lens options include 2T and 3T macros (underwater changeable) and a .056x wide angle adapter. The DX-5000 accepts all Sea & Sea strobes, and is rated to 195 feet. Get this: the Nikon Coolpix fisheye lens can be used with the optional dome port. Sweet.


The YS-90 Auto is Sea & Sea's newest digital strobe. Includes pre-flash slave settings and optional fiber optic sync like the YS-90 DX, but the dial is setup to dial in your camera aperture (12 step f-stop) setting. The strobe then provides the right amount of light, by quenching when the appropriate exposure sensed. The strobe works with the new digital SLR housings via a sync cord, and also works with the MMIII and both N-type and S-type TTL circuits.


Sea & Sea also showed their accessories on other manufacturer's products, including a Sony and a Minolta Dimage X setup.


The long awaited Sea & Sea digital SLR housings were prominently displayed (for the Canon D-30/60 SLR and the Nikon D-100 SLR). These housing are essentially the same case, with holes drilled in different places. The front of the case is ABS Resin, and the back is polycarbonate. Most NX series ports and gears can be used with the housings, and both housings allow for LCD viewing on the top. Other housing features include a focus light connector, stainless locking latches, large shutter release, accessory shoe, and a focus knob near the grip.



Somewhere along the way David missed the SeaCam booth that he had spotted the day before. SeaCam makes a housing for the Nikon D1x SLR. While last year the prototype was on display, this year they were showing the real deal. http://www.seacam.com
In the US: http://www.stephenfrink.com/seacam/ (800) 451-3737

Update from Stephen Frink: "DEMA screwed up the listing and put us as 'WaterHouse Tours dba Seacam' in the directory, which made it very difficult to find us. We were right next door to Backscatter. We were showing the working D1X housing, and FYI, the next products are Fuji S2, Nikon D100, Canon EOS1Ds, and Canon EOS 1V."

Photos, courtesy of Stephen Frink:


Sealife has likely been shipping the first digital camera designed specially for underwater use. Sealife actually develops their own computer programs (firmware) for the DC200 camera to support a mode for underwater automatic exposure. Other useful features include instant delete and a very low shutter lag, compared to other cameras in this class. The camera is 1.3 megapixel, which is adequate for photographers who never print anything larger than a 4x5. Sealife showed 8x10 enlargements that many amateur photographers would be happy with. While this camera system has been out for some time, Sealife has recently introduced a 24mm wide-angle accessory lens, a strobe diffuser, and a LCD viewfinder shade. http://www.sealife-cameras.com (800) 257-7742



Usually dealing in housings for disposable cameras, SnapSights of Honolulu, HI will not be outdone, just because digitals aren't disposable! On display were housings for the Fuji 50i and Fuji F401, which are rated to 130ft. Also on display was a prototype adapter for an INON lens. http://www.snapsights.com (808) 837-0074