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01sugar2

A Question About Depth Ratings

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I'm new to posting on this board, but I've been a lurker (on and off) for about the last year. The other day I found a great deal on a brand new Canon 30D SLR body, and needless to say, that camera just so happened to accompany myself on the ride home that evening. I do a lot of diving (compared to many it seems), and I've had several failures with one of my point and shoot digital cameras following a few of these trips (3 of the cameras failed within the last year, and now my warranty is out). To sum it all up, I'm very pleased to have a camera that I feel comfortable with, and even more pleased with the fact that I can find housings for it to take it u/w with me; a luxury that I didn't have with my previous film SLR bodies (Canon Rebel Ti, Elan 7n and EOS3).

I love scuba diving, and I also enjoy being able to see everything from tiny feeder shrimp to large shipwrecks. My interests are starting to technical diving however, and I'm very curious as to see how many of you on this forum do any of that. I see photos and video of ships that are far below even the 2 and 300' range, and I find it amazing how well these housings are constructed to allow for the extreme pressures at those depths. How deep have you gone with your setup? Many of these housing manufacturers only rate their items to 2 or 300', and though that's sometimes more than double the recreational dive limit, there are people out there like Leigh Bishop that photographs wrecks at the 650' range. I'm not an extremist when it comes to having to go crazy deep, but I really love maritime history and the wrecks do fascinate me and I would love to see some of them.

The 30D has several body options, and though I'm not trying to be cheap, I really tend to like the Ikelite housing. I've had the pleasure of using several different point and shoot Ike housings in the past, and I've been genuinely pleased with all of them. The other option that I'm looking into is that of the Nexus housing as it appears to be of a metal construction and it happens to have more TTL capabilities with strobes such as for the Inon's (one of which I already own). I would like to find a local diver and or a dealer (Dallas, TX area) that has a Nexus housing so that I could develop my own opinion before buying one however simply because I've never touched one before. As for the depths I might see, I think between 2 and 300' will most likely be my max, and I might (at most) only see that a few times per year. After evaluating my plans for any possible depth, I really feel like the Nexus would be my best option.

I wanted to provide a bit of information in this one post because I'm a newbie on the board and no one here really knows me. My topics jumped around a bit, but I am very curious as to know how many of you might venture past the recreational dive limits with your setups, and I'd like to know how many of you even push the possible envelope of your housings' depth rating; have you had any complications? After doing a bit of searching, I couldn't really find much info on the topic and so I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. Thank you in advance for your replies, and I appreciate you taking the time to read my post.

Dustin

 

Edited by 01sugar2

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Dustin -

 

Welcome to Wetpixel!

 

As far as doing deep diving with your housing, a handful of manufacturers offer housings that are depth rated to 300' - Aquatica is good to about 300', with Seacam and Subal close behind (about 275') and Nexus around 250' if I remember correctly. Ikelite and Sea & Sea are rated about 200'.

 

A factor is what port you use as well - some ports on these housings have lower depth ratings than others (I've seen dome ports that are rated for shallower depths than flat ports, etc) so it's worth looking into that as well. The other thing to consider is your strobes - some strobes are only rated to 150ft or so. It doesn't matter if your camera works if your strobe leaks due to pressure.

 

As far as ratings go... I've had the Aquatica housing I owned down to 350ft with no issues, and my Sea & Sea to 280 - well beyond the ratings of the housings. Would I recommend it? No, but I'm confident in my maintenance and wasn't too concerned. This is a good time to point out that insurance for your camera is a good investment.

 

I would advise that taking a camera in the water at the same time as learning technical diving skills should be considered carefully. Some divers handle both fine, but I have witnessed very good recreational divers struggling with the added equipment of technical diving, and I have seen very experienced divers and photographers lose focus when shooting photos - in a technical diving situation that can spell major trouble. Just make sure you are comfortable and know your gear inside and out before you combine the two activities.

 

Good luck, and safe diving!

 

Brian

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FYI Leigh Bishop uses an Aquatica housing with a Canon 5D and 15mm fisheye for a lot of his shots, his housing is a standard off the shelf unit apart from the reinforced springs kit to upgrade the rating to 430 ft+, this mod if done at time of ordering is N/C. he also uses the Aqua View Finder, for A) better viewing in low light and B) because it clear the mouth piece of the rebreather while not blocking the view of the LCD screen in the back.

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Brian, I appreciate your quick reply; the information that you provided is exactly what I was wanting to find. As for playing photographer during early tech-training, I think that we'd all agree that "that" is definitely a no-no. The only reason that I get to dive as often as I do is the fact that I'm a Divemaster and I assist with a large amount of dives each year. I'm a firm believer in good training and safety, so it would be a good while before I started taking a photography setup down "deep" with me. :blink:

 

As for the info however, thanks again for your numbers! I hadn't been able to find a depth rating on Nexus to this point, but I've only seriously even sought after info on their 30D bodies over the last few days. I've already been looking at the various depth ratings of multiple items such as strobes and ports/domes, and am overwhelmed by the plethora of manufacturers out there for these items. It's also nice to have a message board on the 'net to be able to find like-minded people who have real world experience with this field. I'm still learning and pray that I never stop. I'm sure I'll be seeing you around amongst the various forums and look forward to doing so.

 

Dustin

Edited by 01sugar2

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This is a good time to point out that insurance for your camera is a good investment.

Just curious... will insurance cover you if you take the housing deeper than its rated depth?

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This is also something I was pondering myself. I wonder if there'd be trouble trying to prove how deep you went with the housing if a failure happened, but from my research it seems that most housings are good to at least their max depth rating and then some. All of the failures that I've read about are basically from human operator error (o-ring condition, not using lube on o-rings, etc.).

 

As for Aquatica, I've been looking for an Aquatica housing for the 30D, but they've been discontinued and no one seems to be wanting to get rid of theirs. I'll most likely wait a bit before buying a housing so that I can continue to monitor what becomes available through classified ads and ebay/craigs list postings. I'd like to be able to use my Inon strobe with TTL, and that doesn't seem possible with Ikelite. We'll see what happens, and I'll post my decision here once I buy into a setup that I can't live without.

 

Dustin

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Hi Dustin,

 

One of the factors that some manufacturers use in determining depth ratings is spring tension on the controls. Most housings have springs that will operate well to around 180-200ft. After that depth, I have seen some controls not spring back after being pressed at depths great than 200. However if stiffer springs are used, then the controls are harder to press at shallower depths. Aquatica do offer a stiffer spring upgrade kit for their housings over the stock springs, but most other manufacturers do not. I am in the process of installing stiffer springs for someone else on Wetpixel who has a D3 Sea and Sea.

 

Also in determining the depth rating of housings, they are usually tested well in excess of their depth rating, with some manufacturers testing double the depth rating as a safety margin.

 

Best regards,

 

Jim

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Hi!

 

If you want to go really deep, I can recommend the Hugyfot housing (a friend dives this, and is very happy with it). It is normally rated to 90m, but for a small fee your housing is rated to 120m (395ft). I do not know about the dome port though, that you would have to ask the producer. Myself I have an Aquatica housing, rated to 90m (295ft) and that is really deep. I started with technical diving a year ago and my depth of confort is 60m at the moment. I think to go into the 80-90m range will take at least two years of training for me.

 

Cheers, Wolfgang

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