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FrenchFrog

Help me choose a D300 housing

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Hello all,

 

I’m trying to choose a housing for my D300. Yoko gave me a head start with his wonderful reports on PIE 2008.

Being in the states, the contenders are in no particular order: Sea and Sea, Nexus, Seatool and Aquatica. Subal and Seacam I’ve removed because of the price tag. (unless you tell me that with those housing I won’t have to think and every image will be perfect, LOL !!!!!!).

May be some questions are basic but this is my first housing (besides PS), be kind :lol:

I’m still learning how to use the D300, coming from an all manual SLR setup (too many buttons, those DSLR must be made for guys, LOL !!!!)

 

Anyhow joking aside, What can you tell me about:

* Housing lock and O-ring systems, pros and cons for each of those housings.

* Port system ( will it accept fat lenses or not, port lock available or not, apparently many people are flooding due to port getting loose so may be it is a must, compatibility between brand; can lenses be removed from the port side, ………)

* Housing size, pros and cons of the smaller seatool housing (weight UW, can it be easily compensated with floating arms?)

* Ergonomics: Card and Battery access, does the camera needs to be removed from the housing to recharge or exchange card? Can one take a picture with one hand (I have fairly big hands for a girl (wear size Large in Lab gloves for those of you familiar with them)? Are all camera controls accessible or not?

* Strobes option: fiber optic connection option for nexus and seatool, when you hear about all the problem of flooded cord is it the answer? but is there a huge down side as far as sucking camera power for the internal flash?; what are the TTL options for each of them?

* If you own one of this system, what do you love or dislike (wished for) about it?

* What about the little extra of each system: e.i.: sea and sea focus light shut off when strobes fires, seatool macro diffuser to use with internal flash, What about the missing accessory shoe on the nexus housing?

…………

 

If you don’t want to go public on criticism, feel free to e-mail me.

Every system has good and bad. I just need to find which one will fit my needs.

Anything else you want to add, please feel free to do so.

 

Thank you

 

Sylvie

 

P.S.: I'm in Mississippi, so short of flying to the west or east coast, touching the housings is not an easy option ;)

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Hmm... i don't know what to tell you.. lots of questions! :D

 

I think the housing lock systems for the several brands is just preference, they all seem to work well.

 

I think Aquatica has the largest port opening of the ones you list, but not positive about that, so is compatible with most every lens

 

Haven't seen any D300 housings so can't comment on ergonomics or weight

Again, not too sure about the fibre optic stuff. i have not had any troubles with synch cords myself, just take care of them.

TTL: sea and sea offers their own, aquatica offers ikelite, nexus i think has fibre with Inon??!, no idea about seatool

 

hope that helps a little

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The Nexus port system will take the larger lenses. It doesn't have a port lock but, being threaded, it is secure. It is a little fussier to change ports but is highly reliable. I consider Nexus ports to be better for macro than for wide angle since Nexus offers a great multiport but their domes tend to be smaller.

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Disclaimer. I teach for a Sea & Sea and Aquatica dealer.

 

That said, when we met in St. Vincent I was shooting with a Subal, so I shoot with what I want and I make no money selling housings anyway.

 

I'm back to really liking Aquatica. The new superdome is great. The optional viewfinder is great. Adding the port lock adds yet another positive feature. Once I removed the MSC lever, no more accidental manual modes.

 

When I switched to the D200, I went back to Aquatica. I have not been disappointed.

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Hi Sylvie,

 

I have tried the systems you listed above and each of them has features that make them unique. The Seatool is the smallest of the bunch and is great for traveling but the controls are a little cluttered in places. The Nexus looks like a nice housing but I have only used the D200 and have no experience with the D300 Nexus housing. The new Aquatica housing looks very nice also with a good control set, reasonable price and great new finish.

 

My favorite housing though for cost and functionality is the Sea & Sea MDX 300, the ergonomics are excellent and fit even the smallest hands, you have access to AF-ON and AF-L/AE-L and can change this while underwater in seconds and you can manually focus your 105VR macro lens using the zoom gear control which means keeping both hands on the grips and using just your fingertips ! The Sea & Sea Fisheye dome port is one of the best on the market and priced at $650.

 

No matter which housing you choose I would always reccomend a nikonos style sync cord. Its a more reliable setup for the housings you are looking at. As far as TTL goes the Sea & Sea converter is the only good solution I have seen but I think your better off learning to shoot manually as it gives you more control over your lighting.

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Sylvie,

 

I can second Russ's positive comments on the new Sea & Sea housings. (Great to see backscatter make an appearence, by the way) :D I have the Canon 40D rig. If you go to the Backscatter website there is a very good review of the D300 S&S setup. Have fun!

 

Steve

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Sylvie,

 

I can second Russ's positive comments on the new Sea & Sea housings. (Great to see backscatter make an appearence, by the way) :D I have the Canon 40D rig. If you go to the Backscatter website there is a very good review of the D300 S&S setup. Have fun!

 

Steve

 

I am liking the Sea& Sea too.

I almost went for the Aquatica but the only major + I could see there was the depth rating.

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Sylvie,

 

I'd just encourage you to find someone who uses the brand you are thinking of a lot and find out how much it weighs underwater.

 

The d300 is a heavy camera for its size - like the d200.

 

I know the Sea and Sea housing for the d200 was very heavy underwater - significantlly heavier than the Subal in the water. I know because I weighed my Subal underwater and coordinated information with Ryan Canon from ReefPhoto and Video. Some housing brands are heavier than others in water and that even makes it hard to overcome with buoyancy arms, etc.

 

Plus Norbert Wu wrote a nice piece for WP here reviewing the Ikelite for the d200, Sea and Sea for the d200, and Light and Motion for the d200. The only one light enough that he could really shoot one-handed with was the Ikelite (but again read his writeup - my memory might be faulty). Here is the link to his review:

http://wetpixel.com/i.php/full/norbert-wu-...-d200-housings/

 

But I do know the new Sea and Sea for the d300 is lighter underwater than their housing for the d200 (great news!) - something there changed in the way they made it. If that is the case it is a really good housing for small hands - I tried that one out at DEMA for the d200 and it was very ergonomic for gals hands. But the Sea and Sea for the d200 was so heavy underwater that made it not an option for me. Plus the Aquatica d200 was also one of the heavier housings underwater, but again they made have changed something for the d300. Find out from someone who has actually weighed theirs underwater (fishing scale works well) as some guys have a very different opinion on what is "heavy" underwater vs. gals.

 

All that said I'm very. very happy with my Subal for the d200 and would love to get a d300. The Subal looks very similar between the d200 and d300 but the d300 has granted access to the compensation button to change flash modes, during the dive to rear sync, etc. This button is missing from the d200 Subal.

 

Regardless, unless you get the Ikelite, you will need buoyancy arms or buoyancy foam and/or buoyancy collar for the 105vr port possibly, depending on strobe choice/weight, etc etc. - just be prepared to figure out what works best for you as there are various options out there and you can search this forum for lots of data.

 

Good luck and enjoy your d300!!! I'd love the freedom to shoot at a bit higher ISOs.

 

Best, Carol

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Hi Sylvie,

 

I use a Nexus housed D70S and have no experience with the D300 equipment

that you are enquiring about. I can say that I love my Nexus housing and that

it points and shoots instinctively...

As Carol said, some of the 'older' systems can seem heavy under the surface

and this should be taken into consideration. My rig weighs a bloody ton above the

water, and it doesn't get any better underneath... :D

I was going to suggest that you contact Berkley White at Backscatter but this has

already been suggested. He gives a stellar 'thumbs up' to the S&S housings in

his online review/article at their web-site...

Stevie Williams seems to have come to grips with his new rig and is always

ready for a chat about his experiences...

HTH,

 

Bruce... ;)

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I've been shooting with the D200/Aquatica combination for a few years now. Given the D300 is pretty well the same body as the D200, I'd think the D300 with Aquatica housing would more or less be the same in terms of buoyancy (Nikon's website actually shows the D300 is about 5g lighter than the D200).

 

My current setup is with the Nikon D200 in an Aquatica housing using (primarily) the 10.5mm fisheye with the 8" acrylic dome port. To that, I've added two Ikelite DS-125 strobes with dual 16" ULCS buoyancy arms per strobe. With this setup, I find the rig is still somewhat negative, probably by about 2-3 pounds (I'm terrible at gauging weight).

 

Regarding Aquatica in general, my experiences have been very positive, which is why my order is in with them for a D3 housing when it becomes available.

 

Things I like.

 

- Ergonomics. This is a personal preference, obviously. It feels great in my hands, all the controls are easily accessible, and it's fairly compact

 

- Controls. I find the controls very smooth with no slippage (which bugged me somewhat with previous housings).

 

- Easy to setup

 

- Great support. Whenever I need anything, Jean is always there and quick to respond. Love it.

 

Things I don't like

 

- Nikonos style bulkheads. This isn't Aquatica's issue so much I suppose, but I tend to have a harder time with this style than with the Ikelite style. There may be good technical reasons for this style of bulkhead, but I much preferred the Ikelite style myself. The newer housings from Aquatica may offer the Ikelite option (at least the new D3 housing will).

 

- Lack of port lock. With my 8" port, I found that it was easy to accidentally rotate the port out of the completely closed position, and have been using duct tape to keep it from happening. With the new housings, I believe they are incorporating a port lock, so it shouldn't be an issue.

 

- Top LCD window a little too small. Sometimes if I haven't properly set my mode and need to change it underwater, I find it difficult to read where it says "P", "A", "S", or "M".

 

All in all, I love the Aquatica and I anticipate that with the new D3 housing, the things I don't like will be addressed.

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The new Sea & Sea MDX D300 is machined from a solid block of aluminum.... I believe the D200 version was cast. Perhaps this is why it is lighter underwater. Numomix mentioned that when used with Stix arms, the rig is only slightly negative underwater and he uses a stix port collar (under $50 at Backscatter.com) when using with his 105 Macro for near neg.

 

I am waiting on a few items before I will test in the pool. I love how the buttons on the left are angled slightly for easy reach with my left hand while still holding the grip. I also wish Sea & Sea had designed the housing to be used with fiber optic cables like Nexus and Seatool, in addition to their Nikonos bulkheads and sync cables. I suppose it's a ploy to get people to buy the TTL converter.

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Two weeks ago, I dove with my friend who has Nexus D200 housing. We were in hurry. In about 25ft, we found he did not put sync cable between strobe & housing and both connecters were open to water. we come up to the boat & ready to see the worst when we open the housing.

 

There was no water inside housing. we cleaned sync connectors with Q-tips & dried it & continued the diving. later on, we cleaned with contact cleaner & wd40 throughly and see no sign of corrosion so far.

 

When similar happened on other Japanese bland housing, housing was flooded & it had to go back to Japan to replace sync connector(it can only change by soldering).

 

Sam

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- Nikonos style bulkheads. This isn't Aquatica's issue so much I suppose, but I tend to have a harder time with this style than with the Ikelite style. There may be good technical reasons for this style of bulkhead, but I much preferred the Ikelite style myself. The newer housings from Aquatica may offer the Ikelite option (at least the new D3 housing will).

 

FWIW I think you can get at least one Ikelite connector added to your housing and with the adapter cord can also get TTL. I think there was something where you cannot put two Ike connectors in thought, but I may be wrong on that part. I almost substituted one out myself. (Canon 30D housing)..and I agree with you pretty much across the board otherwise, though my ports stay tight and I blame my eyes more than the LCD screen I think :unsure: That is why the new round of cameras look so appealing - having the large LCD to check settings will be nice :wacko:

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Hi Everybody,

 

I just wanted to thank everybody who had the kindness to answer my questions.

At this point I'm hesitating between the nexus and the sea and sea. I guess another part of the equation is addressed in the strobe subforum.

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=23857

 

I was intending to use inon Z240 strobes and I must say that the fiber optic connection is tempting (thought it is interesting to see that light reflexion fom the flash could be a problem for WA).

Now can I get a nexus housing before the 8th of June in time for my trip to Cocos and Malpelo is another question, they are slow coming, not even here yet.

 

If one wants inon strobe with the sea and sea housing, will the TTL system work?

 

Thank you :unsure:

 

Sylvie

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Hello all,

 

I’m trying to choose a housing for my D300. Yoko gave me a head start with his wonderful reports on PIE 2008.

Being in the states, the contenders are in no particular order: Sea and Sea, Nexus, Seatool and Aquatica. Subal and Seacam I’ve removed because of the price tag. (unless you tell me that with those housing I won’t have to think and every image will be perfect, LOL !!!!!!).

May be some questions are basic but this is my first housing (besides PS), be kind :rolleyes:

I’m still learning how to use the D300, coming from an all manual SLR setup (too many buttons, those DSLR must be made for guys, LOL !!!!)

 

Anyhow joking aside, What can you tell me about:

* Housing lock and O-ring systems, pros and cons for each of those housings.

* Port system ( will it accept fat lenses or not, port lock available or not, apparently many people are flooding due to port getting loose so may be it is a must, compatibility between brand; can lenses be removed from the port side, ………)

* Housing size, pros and cons of the smaller seatool housing (weight UW, can it be easily compensated with floating arms?)

* Ergonomics: Card and Battery access, does the camera needs to be removed from the housing to recharge or exchange card? Can one take a picture with one hand (I have fairly big hands for a girl (wear size Large in Lab gloves for those of you familiar with them)? Are all camera controls accessible or not?

* Strobes option: fiber optic connection option for nexus and seatool, when you hear about all the problem of flooded cord is it the answer? but is there a huge down side as far as sucking camera power for the internal flash?; what are the TTL options for each of them?

* If you own one of this system, what do you love or dislike (wished for) about it?

* What about the little extra of each system: e.i.: sea and sea focus light shut off when strobes fires, seatool macro diffuser to use with internal flash, What about the missing accessory shoe on the nexus housing?

…………

 

If you don’t want to go public on criticism, feel free to e-mail me.

Every system has good and bad. I just need to find which one will fit my needs.

Anything else you want to add, please feel free to do so.

 

Thank you

 

Sylvie

 

P.S.: I'm in Mississippi, so short of flying to the west or east coast, touching the housings is not an easy option :blink:

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The new Sea & Sea MDX D300 is machined from a solid block of aluminum.... I believe the D200 version was cast. Perhaps this is why it is lighter underwater. Numomix mentioned that when used with Stix arms, the rig is only slightly negative underwater and he uses a stix port collar (under $50 at Backscatter.com) when using with his 105 Macro for near neg.

 

I am waiting on a few items before I will test in the pool. I love how the buttons on the left are angled slightly for easy reach with my left hand while still holding the grip. I also wish Sea & Sea had designed the housing to be used with fiber optic cables like Nexus and Seatool, in addition to their Nikonos bulkheads and sync cables. I suppose it's a ploy to get people to buy the TTL converter.

 

Second that. I never tried the set underwater without the Stix arms so cannot really say whether it is very negative. But with the arms, the set is perfect. I really like this housing!!! All the buttons work perfectly and it feels great in my hands (I dont have that big hands). Also one other thing I really like in this new housing is the size. The housing is the same size (or even slightly smaller) than my previous S&S housing for the Canon 350D. So I can still pack everything in a "small" Computrek and take it with me as carry-on.

 

The only thing I really don't like about S&S until now is that they still don't provide an optional viewfinder like the 45 or and 180. I tried the Aquatica 180 viewfinder and loved it!!! Wish S&S comes with one soon...

 

Cheers

 

Nuno

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Hey Nuno, I ordered my 45 degree Inon viewfinder from Divervision. Heard good things about it. Divervision assured me that their version involved a very simple manual/self assembly with the MDXD300. They even did pressure testing to ensure this. I expect to receive this any day.

 

I believe they have a 180 that would fit too. From what I have read in other posts, S&S have given up for now on making one as they would have to charge far too much for their version....

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Hey Nuno, I ordered my 45 degree Inon viewfinder from Divervision. Heard good things about it. Divervision assured me that their version involved a very simple manual/self assembly with the MDXD300. They even did pressure testing to ensure this. I expect to receive this any day.

 

I believe they have a 180 that would fit too. From what I have read in other posts, S&S have given up for now on making one as they would have to charge far too much for their version....

 

Hi. Thanks for the info. My questions are the following:

 

- is this a version that you can put on and off without any modifications in the housing?

- does the viewfinder provide any magnification? (the size of the image in the aquatica was great)

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Hey Nuno,

 

Magnification for sure.... You can see an example of the difference from their sample viewfinder shots.

 

No mods required and you can change back any time to the original. I even requested that they perhaps do it for me and send me the body as I bought the package together. They said that they could pressure test it but would let me install myself so that they could ship the original MDX D300 box too! They said installation was VERY easy and without any special tools. On my request, they did do a pressure test to ensure it fits the MDX D300 too. With this fitted, the housing would not fit into the box it came in...

 

When I get it, I will post some pics on a thread for you. Here is the link;

 

http://www.divervision.com/catalog/product...9c821f4eab86c84

 

FIT in Taiwan also sells the same item and says on their website that no special mods to housing is needed. User installation. We shall see.

Edited by eskasi

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If one wants inon strobe with the sea and sea housing, will the TTL system work?

 

Thank you :rolleyes:

 

Sylvie

 

It seems to be no problem, i know Pakman has this combination and he has no problems

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FWIW I think you can get at least one Ikelite connector added to your housing and with the adapter cord can also get TTL. I think there was something where you cannot put two Ike connectors in thought, but I may be wrong on that part. I almost substituted one out myself. (Canon 30D housing)..and I agree with you pretty much across the board otherwise, though my ports stay tight and I blame my eyes more than the LCD screen I think :rolleyes: That is why the new round of cameras look so appealing - having the large LCD to check settings will be nice :blink:

 

You will have the choice of one Ikelite bulkhead or two Nikonos style bulkhead on the new Aquatica housings. For the D300, you do need to make sure, if going with Ike connector with Ike strobes (ds-125) that the strobes can be upgraded to work with iTTL. It's based on serial numbers, and the older ones may not be upgradeable.

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How are domes secured on the Sea & Sea? I was most interested in the Ikelite because of pricing, but read too many close calls with ports not being locked on, and "duct tape" just doesn't seem like a good solution. (Note, not sure the duct tape solution was offered for the D300 housing, but I am assuming it is a systemic problem with Ikelite (not that its a problem if you are very careful, as you should be... but the thought of the dome falling off and possibly losing it as well as the camera is too much..,

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On Sea & Sea housings, domes, and other ports for that matter, are secured to the housing with a port lock that is activated from inside the housing. After you attach the port or dome, you kind of push this little pin forward that fits into a hole on the port. It's locked on and cannot rotate. One downside is that you cannot remove a locked port without accessing the housing to unlock the pin.

 

S&S uses a bayonette mounting system. Only the port attached to the housing can be locked. If you use a dome port with an extension ring, only the extension ring can be locked on. The dome then is only securely attached via the bayonette mount. You kind of need to pay attention to make sure the dome didn't get turned while in the rinse tank or when it is handed down to you.

 

BTW, my DXD80 with 60mm, TTL III, focus light, and 2 x YS-110's and 4 x ULCS 12" large byouancy arms is completely neutral in the water. I can shoot it one handed while steadying myself with a left finger on a bare rock. I'm not so sure that I'm crazy about my rig being absolutely neutral, but if I ever add a 105VR or upgrade my focus light, it will be ever so slightly negative, which I think I'll prefer.

Edited by IMSushi

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This is a very useful thread, thank you all of you.

 

I'm wondering if those of you who have the D300 and a housing have had more of a chance to use it now, may also have different or more feedback now. I'm about to make a selection and have just recently started looking at the available options. Without knowing too much, the Nexus, Aquatica and Subal look pretty good to me. The S&S looks cool but the depth rating isn't deep enough for the type of diving I'll be doing.

 

BTW, does anyone know what the depth ratings of the various models are? I could only find those for the S&S (200) and the Aquatica (300).

 

I plan to be shooting primarily in the green (somewhat murky) waters of the Pacific Northwest, though I will have some trips to clearer waters. So, that means thicker gloves, more macro, need for lighting, etc.

 

Thank you for any and all feedback in advance.

 

Calvin

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