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Aluminium vs. Polycarbonate?

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I am about to invest in a DSLR housing and have been looking around and seen differences between Aluminium and Polycarbonate housings.

 

Aluminium i have heard are better heat conductors, as i live in the philippines, maybe this is a massive bonus?

 

Polycarbonate, ikelite housings i like the idea of being able to see the seals and the inside of the housing for any water.

 

Any other bonuses of either or bad points that people have experienced?

 

Cheers Olly

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I am about to invest in a DSLR housing and have been looking around and seen differences between Aluminium and Polycarbonate housings.

 

Aluminium i have heard are better heat conductors, as i live in the philippines, maybe this is a massive bonus?

 

Polycarbonate, ikelite housings i like the idea of being able to see the seals and the inside of the housing for any water.

 

Any other bonuses of either or bad points that people have experienced?

 

Cheers Olly

 

Price, customer service, size, weight, ergonomics are the factors to consider. There are good choices with both materials, just find the one that meets your budget and tastes. I don't know why there would be any concerns about heat conductivity with either choice.

 

dave

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Polycarbonate housings are subject to condensation (relatively poor heat conductivity). Aluminum is not (unless used in what may be considered extreme ambient conditions).

What camera are you housing?

Edited by jcclink

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I cant think of a time when Ive had condensations in any of my Ikelite DSLR housings, and Ive been to a few pretty humid places. It might be possible but Im dubious its a significant issue to the point metal offers a significant advantage, compacts are where that really happens because the air space is so small.

 

In my view the biggest selling point for metal currently is there are no optical firing options in poly DSLR housings available that I know of, and bulkiness - its only an inch or so but can be annoying at times.

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As a vacation diver, I've never been able to justify the cost of an alu housing but they certainly score on weight and probably ergonomics.

 

I would have expected a material with a higher coefficient of heat transfer to suffer more with condensation rather than less. It's caused by the cooling of warm moist air trapped inside the housing, when entering the water. Load your camera in a cool environment and add a silica sachet and there isn't really a problem with either.

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I would think you have more problem with condensation if you use LCD for live view a lot because LDC can heat up

the air in the housing quite a bit. That was certainly the case with me with my old PnS Olympus.

If you use dSLR, I can't see much problem as you have quite a bit more space in there. I suppose if you plan to use live view your entire dive, it could possibly be of some

concern.

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Thanks guys, i will be housing a Canon 500D or upgrade to a 50D not sure yet.

 

Thanks for the feedback, i was just concerned as i am swaying towards Ike, due to TTL with the 160 or 200 strobes which i have decided on, and due to living in the philippines, its always hot or humid and pissing rain!

 

Another point maybe i should mention, is that i will be using this almost daily for hopefully years. So it will get knocked, im sure of that, and i want build quality etc. Does the poly scratch up?

 

Anyway, i guess it comes down to what feels right in the hands and don't know anywhere that would allow pool tests?

 

Olly

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Plastic is cheaper, aluminum is better.

For you DSLR invest in Aluminum...

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If you do decide on an aluminum housing I'd suggest also looking at Inon and S&S strobes. You can have TTL with Inons if the housing has fiber optic ports.

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Thanks guys, i will be housing a Canon 500D or upgrade to a 50D not sure yet.

 

Another point maybe i should mention, is that i will be using this almost daily for hopefully years. So it will get knocked, im sure of that, and i want build quality etc. Does the poly scratch up?

 

 

Olly

 

In this circumstance you dont have a choice it has to be Aluminium. I used an Aquatica for 15 years and never had a problem and I am not very careful with housings. Never bothered to have it resprayed just used it.

 

The Ike flashes are a different issue assuming you already own them. I do believe they sell well. Inon and SnS seem to own the market for good reasons.

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Hi,

 

one thing I've never considered before buying is durability, and I am glad now I have an aluminium housing. I had no idea how much the housing would get banged around in it's first year of housing despite me being careful with it. Busy dive boats, surge, boat hulls, other divers, etc, it took a few beatings. That's just my $0.02

 

Cheers,

 

Simon

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FWIW Zillion DOES make polycarb housings that utilize the camera's internal flash to optically trigger strobes.

 

If you're going to be diving w/ the housing every day I'd recommend an aluminum housing because I personally feel they are more durable.

 

Cheers

James

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FWIW Zillion DOES make polycarb housings that utilize the camera's internal flash to optically trigger strobes.

 

 

As does Sea and Sea for a few of the entry level dSLR's. They're great little housings, much more shaped to the camera than Ikelites. In fact I can't understand why ppl would go for an Ike over one of these for the selected few cameras available.

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Not sure I agree on the durability issue. Do we actually know anyone who has broken a polycarb housing

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I used Ikelite housing for PnS for a few years before switchinig to dSLR and never had problem with durability. Normal banging around in rinse tank should not really matter much. If you drop the housing frequently, that's a different story. Ikelite will not match Seacam or Subal for feel, but handlingwise, it is not significantly different from say, Nexus or sea and Sea that I handled in the past. But the housing is quite a bit bigger.

My reason for not going with Ikelite dSLR in the past was mainly because it did not have a large domeport at that time and it did not support a few lenses that I would like to use (12-24mm and 70-180mm at that time, not sure what is the situation now).

If money is an issue, I don't think that Ikelite is such a big compromise nor would I worry much about durability, even for daily uses. Ikelite accessory also tends to be quite a bit cheaper than most other brands so by the time you are done with the setup, cost difference is not small, I think. Plus Ikelite has one of the best supporting service around. However, if you can comfortably budgeted for an aluminium housing then why not.

Edited by ssra30

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Another consideration for housing material choice.... will you be making any money from the shots you take... its easier to justify the price of the high end equipment

if you know that you can write off the equipment as a business expense and get paid for the shots you create.... if you shoot pro, then you should invest in pro equipment.

 

But, The Ike stuff is nice enough and for the price of a pro alum housing you could get a Ike housing and a 7D body...

 

another consideration... if you like to update your camera equipment then you will also have to update your housings... so the trade up costs are cheaper too..

 

about the only thing I don't like about the Ike is the sloppy feel of the handle to strobe interface... the arms just feel like too much sloppy tolerance... so to fix this

you can put on a different tray/handle setup.. like ultralight and then the kit feels much more solid and not so much bulky for travel.

 

I have used several different Ike housings and one pro alum housing... I like the alum housing better but for the price delta, I'm going to go with Ike for my 7D setup.

Plus I like having TTL... the new focus light bracket is a nice add on too...

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The Ikelite housings are very tough and you can ride them hard. They are very easy to maintain and services as well. And condensation is totally not an issue with these housings.

 

I just came back from a trip to the Philippines last week, and had a great time. My Ike D300 housing (which has at least 250 dives on it) did just great. I loved the diving there by the way. You are very lucky to live there.

 

Dave

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Polycarbonate housings are subject to condensation (relatively poor heat conductivity). Aluminum is not (unless used in what may be considered extreme ambient conditions).

What camera are you housing?

 

Sorry jcclink, this happened only with a compact camera with a big screen. Not with a DSLR Polycarbonate, I dive white a Ikelite under the ice with no fog.

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OK fair enough there are 3 optically fired poly housings.

 

One costs as much as an ali, and theres two Sea and Sea housings for lower end cameras's.

Edited by Otara

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I am a Nikon guy so i can't comment on your camera choices. However i have a d200 in an Ike case with Ike strobes and a D300 in a Seatool case (smallest available) with Inon strobes and FO connections. I have never had a condensation or ruggedness issue with either. I think these are non-issues.

 

The fiber optic connections are simpler and more reliable BUT I like the color of the Ike strobes. The Seatool housing is MUCH smaller.

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Condensation and being able to see your seals are not issues (unless you want to see the inside of your housing while it floods), the only issues are price/size/weight/durability. I owned Ikelite housings for about 10 years, first for my N90 and then for my F100 (yes, those are N and F, back in the film days).

 

Both my ikelites for the film cameras started to develop structural damage (deep cracks) after about 5 years of intense use. I must tell you though that a lot of my dives were between 100 and 150 feet, still well within the limits of Ikelite, but not the usual recreational dives. The aluminum housings are more expensive, smaller, lighter, more durable (Aquaticas are built like tanks) and their controls are more precise (at least when compared to the Ikelites I used).

 

If you can only afford an Ikelite, then you have already answered your question...

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Also, if you're underwater shooting everyday, you might want to consider buoyancy. repetitive motion disorders are common for underwater shooters who do a lot of diving. Ergonomics and durability should be your top priority and then the cost of making the system neutral in water.

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FWIW I had a minor flood on my last holiday on my first dive day and was able to see it, letting me get out of the water and saving the camera. The leak detector let me know it was happening initially but being able to see the water level let me rotate and see where it was up to.

 

How often that happens vs a full flood I font know, but it did help. The only thing damaged was the leak detector.

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Ok, thanks guys, in the new year i'm off to the shop to feel differences of Ike vs Aquatica, but will wait til London Dive show until i make up my mind. More investigation is needed i guess.

 

New thread i guess, but TTL with Aquatica and Ike strobes? I need to find out more about these H-W converters...

 

Olly

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