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Jolly

5D housing choices

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Hi guys,

 

I am now in the mood to evaluate housing choices for my 5D. Don’t know how fast I will jump into it, but I like to think about it now. What I really like about Seacam is the Super Dome which is definitely my favourite one. The housing ergonomics are nice as well; especially the location of the aperture dial is unique. On the other hand I don’t prefer the size of the housing and I really try to keep size and weight down for travel (except for the dome, it may be huge). I never had the Seacam 5D housing in my hand but it still looks bigger than the other ones.

 

The Subal housing looks nice as well. But it is pricey like the Seacam housing and doesn’t seem to offer the benefits I would get from the Seacam housing (as mentioned dome choice and aperture dial – significant to me). I only know the Subal 18cm Dome glasses (like Sealux and UK-Germany 18cm diameter glasses), do they offer something different now? Like a bigger glass and shaped closer to a hemisphere like the Super Dome?

I like Subal’s locking mechanism and I think Subal is the only one offering something truly different than those standard beer bottle latches used by many others. But I still see the Seacam advantages more important to me.

 

Easiest way would be to keep my Sealux accessories and go for the 5D housing. But due to the full frame camera I would have to buy the 180F dome as my 180U would cause vignetting with the 5D and fisheye lens. So it might be worth to consider a brand switch as there wouldn’t be left too much accessories except one flat port, extension rings and zoom gears. UK-Germany has a nice 5D housing as well and the aperture dial is at least located to the side of the housing, protruding a bit for the thumb. And the 45° viewfinder is promised for the future. But you never know how long it takes and what it will cost and offer. Furthermore, I am not sure if I still want an enhanced finder again. It was kind of necessary for the 10D but the 5D has a much bigger camera finder already, making it less dramatic with a simple shrink finder on the housing.

 

To the Seacam users: I only have seen the very old Super Dome without sunshade. Is the new Super Dome’s sunshade easily removable (for Sigma 8mm use for example)?

And what about custom zoom gear? The chart on www.seacam.de is very small and doesn’t even list the 17-40. OK, AFAIK there is definitely a 17-40 available. But what about other lenses from Sigma for example?

 

Does anyone know if there will be a sunshade for the Ike 8" dome in the future?

 

So far some of my thoughts.

 

Would love to read any input and opinion.

 

Thank You,

 

Julian

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Hi Julian,

 

I have seen (properly - IE had my hands on and had a good play) the Seacam, Subal and Aquatica 5D housings.

 

I thought that the housing for the Seacam looked the sexiest. I also thought that the important shutter speed and aperture controls were well placed - the best of the three. The shutter on James's rig was badly placed - but apparently this can be changed by the user - although James I think suggested also changing Seacam's handles for ultralight ones.

 

The Subal is smaller and has the advantages that the buttons are labelled (I understand that Seacam can't attach stickers to their finish), but i do find this a major drawback. Many seacam users write with a marker pen what the buttons do- but this hardly seems fitting on such a beautiful finished housing. The shutter release is very well positioned as is the front control dial. But the rear control dial is not as well placed as on the Seacam.

 

The Aquatica is very nice and quite a bit cheaper than the others. It also has many nice Subal-esque ergonomic features. This housing looks great until you try and change shutter speed or aperture. Both these controls are not well placed and are a considerable reach from the shutter. Otherwise it is great and certain very good value for money.

 

I have not seen the Ikelite or the Sea & Sea yet.

 

As for the domes I am not sure which dome you have - but shooting a fisheye underwater is hardly new - and I can't believe that the other manufacturers can't support a fisheye.

 

The Seacam dome is very big and heavy. Optically it is very nice - but I can't see any difference between the results with it and the other manufacturers domes. Its size also makes me think it is more prone to internal reflections (from the lens) than those of other manufacturers? But I am not sure about this. It is just that the dome reflection issues do seem to effect Canon/Seacam combos more than other brands?

 

Anyway from what I have seen the Seacam has the best important controls (assuming you adjust the shutter). But the other controls are not labelled. The Subal is let down by positioning of the rear command dial, but is smaller than others. The aquatica is let down by placing of front and rear command dials, but is cheaper than others.

 

hope that this starts some discussion!

 

Alex

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I was just looking at Eric's link to the Seacam D200 article and that Seacam has labels on all the controls! Yey!

 

This is one of Harald's biggest strengths in his housing design. He listens. Good work Seacam. No more marker pens! :)

 

Alex

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Good summary Alex. I agree 100% w/ your assessment.

 

FWIW, Seacam offers other dome ports besides the 9" Superdome. I recently purchased the smaller Wide Port for use w/ my prime lenses.

 

The Subal and Aquatica housings offer a quick-release camera mounting plate, but the Seacam doesn't.

 

Cheers

James

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Thank you guys.

 

I am not sure if the Aquatica housing is cheaper where I live, it might be cheaper than the two expensive ones (Subal and Seacam).

 

I’ve seen that many Seacam users prefer ULCS handles. What’s the story behind it?

 

I agree with you Alex that button labels make sense. OK, we know our cameras, but having several unlabeled buttons in one row on the back of the housing isn’t nice.

 

James, what about the Super Dome sunshade, is it easily user removable for some 8mm full frame fisheye fun?

 

When I bought the 10D housing, I was convinced I would use it many years like in film days. Now I see myself lusting after using a newer camera underwater. OK, I think the 5D will be fine for quiet a long time as it makes the transition to digital fisheye photography with Canon kind of complete to me. But considering I could be in the same situation in the future for some reason – Ikelite housings could kind of match the short digital camera generations in terms of housing prices very good.

 

I don’t consider Sea&Sea because lens choice is limited by their zoom gear chart. I haven’t heard if they are up to offering custom gears in the meanwhile?

I remember reading some threads in the past where people had problems to get proper zoom gears for certain lenses. I think it wasn’t only Sea&Sea? If the lenses aren’t too fat or for some reason not zoomable – I don’t see any reason why a manufacture shouldn’t provide gears for the lenses intended to use.

 

No, fisheye photography is not really new. I have the 180U port which has a cone shaped throat optimized for wideangles and even allows better usage of the 15mm fisheye on a cropped camera. I would have to exchange it anyway and get the 180F allowing full frame fisheye usage without corner shading. But still, like the UK and Subal they use glass with somewhat 120-130° curvature for 180° fisheyes. That’s not a problem for making great pictures, but I would still prefer the Seacam dome and depending on what you shoot, it makes a difference (extreme WA corners – hey, I’ve got a 12mm full frame wideangle lens :-), split shots). All this stuff works great, but if I jump into a new housing setup I just think about what I’ll get. As the Seacam dome isn’t even much more expensive than the Subal dome but offering much more glass, I definitely would prefer it.

 

I think reflections aren’t bound to camera brands, maybe if Canon puts a lot more white letters on the front of their lenses than Nikon (don’t know if that is the case). I think it is as you’ve said that smaller domes provide less target surface for reflections. UK doesn’t even have a sunshade to suppress reflections.

 

Julian

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I had another look at the Subal 5D today - it was at a friends house, when I popped in for lunch. Compared to Subal's Nikon housings I do not like the positioning of their primary and secondary (apeture and shutter speed) control dials on the 5D housing. I would check one in your hands and what you like.

 

Alex

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I was just looking at Eric's link to the Seacam D200 article and that Seacam has labels on all the controls! Yey!

 

This is one of Harald's biggest strengths in his housing design. He listens. Good work Seacam. No more marker pens! :)

 

Alex

 

Alex - All the 1DsMKII, D2X, and now 5D and D200 housings come with control markings affixed to the housings these days. I suspect that Harald was in such a rush to get Jame's 5D housing in his hands for the wetpixel trip that the housing decals weren't quite ready and he chose not to delay delivery because of it.

 

I have individual sheets of the control decals (from the factory) that adhere quite well to the Seacam Silver finish. I'll send one to James and he can easily apply. I did not notice they weren't on his housing, but it is an easy fix.

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The Seacam Superdome Shades are made of a plastic material and are bolted onto the metal of the port mount from behind with small hex wrench type through bolts - its not a huge job to remove them BUT you might also want to consider the Fisheye Port which has Shades fitted in a simlar way - it is smaller and slightly less vulnerable to damage but still a hemisphere.

 

Seacam certainly do produce a 17~40 zoom gear (I've got one) and will build custom gears to order too.

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Having used the Aquatica 5D housing on my last Philippines trip, I wouldn't rate it even close ergonomics wise to the Subal. The feel of the controls was very rubbery, where in the Subal C10 (and by association, the CD5), you can feel the clicks of the rear dial, thus making it a simple matter to change aperture, it wasn't on the Aquatica. Also, you can rotate the rear dial by moving your thumb (I have Large size hands) you will need to take your hand away from the handle to twist the Aquatica one.

 

There was likely a mis-alignment with the front command dial on the Aquatica I used as changing shutter speed was spotty at best, the control not fully contacting the camera's front wheel.

 

That said, the proof was in the pudding and while it was more a factor of using the 5D over the 10D, I got my best WA shots with the Aquatica housed 5D than I did with my Subal housed 10D. Both housings were used with the 15mm FE and twin YS120 strobes.

 

Stu

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I am getting the Ikelite 5D housing. I have had expierence with my G5 housing and my video housing for my sony HD camcorder, and am very happy with them. They are not perfect, but I think they work very well, are very simple, and the customer service is great.

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Hi,

 

I am in the same situation as Julian and still do not have my 5D housed.

 

I like the Seacam and SUBAL very much and they are currently among my favorites. During the SanDisk RedSea Underwater Photo Competition 2006 I had the chance to look at Adam's Ikelite housing for the 5D. The eTTL Circuit certainly allowed him to get some macro shots right, straight from the camera, while I still fiddled around with the manual settings. But Adam complained a little bit about the viewfinder. 2julian (jolly): According to him a sports-viewfinder is even more important on the 5D underwater than on his 20D. I am really attracted by a swiveling 45 degree viewfinder. SEACAM is great and user-approved UK-GERMANY is prototyped but not seen yet, as well as INON.

 

A funny side-note (my very personal need) is the jog-dial vor selected focus points. I do not need it for selecting focus points, as you can also do it with the wheels. But the funny button has a very important second feature to me. When I press The Stress Relief Button I use it very often to control sharpness. For that, I zoom into the picture I just took and scroll around on critical parts, such as subject edjes etc.

It helps me to control if I really got the shot, while I am still in the water. With macro I usually have the time to redo the picture, if I am not satisfied. So here comes the catch: all the housings I inspected during the BOOT SHOW in January do not support this jog dial button. The only 5D housing which had it done properly was from UK-GERMANY. My other favourites for ergonomics SEACAM and SUBAL simply left the drill out. Sealux hat a button drill there, but not the right interior for the button. The whole situation reminded me a little bit of the *-button issue that Eric addressed long ago towards SEACAM. Furtunately they listened to the market and solved it. Am I really alone with a "wish for the Jog Dial button" to scroll in my images during zoomed-in review? What do the other people that are in the market for a 5D housing think?

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Sea&Sea also supports the jog dial button, and I agree that is an important use of it. I do exactly the same on my D2x.

 

Luiz

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Thank You for the information Paul. That is what I wanted to hear :-) Good that they are removable. But I still would prefer the big one :-)

 

@Andi

5D has a significantly larger viewfinder image compared to 20D. Both are shrunk by common housing optics by the same multiplier. So you’ve got smaller viewfinder images underwater compared to topside. But the 5D still offers the noticeable bigger image. That was the reason why I have chosen the GD finder for my 10D in order to avoid further shrinking of the already cropped viewfinder image. So why should this be more critical with the 5D and its bigger viewfinder? Looking thru the GD finder with both cameras (10D & 5D) side by side, it is the other way round.

 

Only difference with the 5D is critical corner shading in terms of eye alignment. Everybody who has used a film camera has experienced this already. Enhanced housing finders, depending on which one you choose, might have an effect on the eyepoint underwater as well. But as James and Paul have pointed out in another thread, there is not really additional margin against corner shading with enhanced finders in conjunction with the 5D. So the main effect of those enhanced finders is an image size improvement.

 

I’ve checked focus a few times with the wheel on my 10D topside with the camera inside the housing between dives, but I rarely use it. However, it is nice if you have the opportunity to do so.

 

Julian

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Does anyone know if there will be a sunshade for the Ike 8" dome in the future?

 

Yes, the port shade for the 8" dome is being developed as we speak.

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When I press The Stress Relief Button I use it very often to control sharpness. For that, I zoom into the picture I just took and scroll around on critical parts, such as subject edjes etc.

It helps me to control if I really got the shot, while I am still in the water.

 

I used to spend time in the water checking sharpness, but I came to the conclusion that while it is possible, the time is better spent setting up another shot. Think about it. If the focus is good, the time is just wasted. If it is bad, you need to take another shot anyway. All I check after the shot is composition and exposure.

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If the focus isn't good, you'v'e lost that shot anyway. You'll very seledom get the same exact shot again. So I just keep shooting, working a subject. Most shots are going to be in focus, I've learned. Also, I have actually missed shots while reviewing. For example, the frogfish feeding. Once I'm satisfied from the histogram that my exposures are accurate, I shoot away, always trying to keep good focus. And regardless of whether you use the jog dial, it's still almost impossible to determine critical focus underwater on a 2 or 2.5-inch screen inside a housing. A good, large PC monitor will be the real judge.

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