Jump to content
samdona

Best housing and setup for Nikon d810

Recommended Posts

I am a very experienced photographer and a capable diver. I own a Nikon d810 which I feel very comfortable with and the Nikon 16-35mm f/4.0 VR lens which I have been using mostly for landscapes(I am not against selling this and buying a lens that would be better for underwater photos). I am wondering what gear I should buy before venturing into the beautiful depths of the sea. I have been looking at the Sea and Sea, Ikelite and Aquatica housings and the differences all seem very minor, well except for the price. I would love to hear your opinions on which housing I should buy as well as if my current lens is wide angle enough. I would also love to hear input about which strobes/lighting systems I need to buy if any.

A bit about me; I am new to underwater photography but not to diving or to photography, just the combination of the two. I am more of an "advanced hobbyist" and I am by no means a professional, although I do plan to get a fair bit of use out of my equipment. With that in mind I am wondering what you all would recommend for the best "bang-for-the-buck" setup for my d810.



Thank you in advance,



Sam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Samdona

 

I use a Nikon D80 and the Nikkor 16-35mm lens for wide-angle shots underwater.

 

The 16-35 can be quite tricky to house to get "acceptably" sharp edges and, as many have found, it requires a very large domeport - usually 230mm or 9". An alternative, if you are happy to sell the 16-35 - or to add something else, is the Sigma 15mm which gets great results underwater but can be used in a smaller domeport (less expensive and easier for travelling), usually 190mm or 8". The 1" makes quite a difference.

 

As to actual housings, many people see them as a personal preference issue. You have done well being able to see 3 brands. I'd suggest you take a look too, if possible, at Nauticam and Subal. Both very high end and highly rated. The issue, as you may have found out already, is that although one or two manufacturers build adaptors so you can use one brand of port on another brand of housing, this isn't common and the tendency is to stick with a housing manufacturer/port combination to avoid the high cost of having to replace ports if you move to a different housing.

 

So "best bang for your buck" is hard to define. They are very expensive items. Most people have their favourite housing manufacturer. Most of the serious ones are very good. What is perhaps most important is that you like the way the housing feels and operates and you can use all the controls you feel are important to you. Access to servicing might be important to you - although, my experience, the need to service a housing is rare if you look after it. Try as many as you can and pick the one you really like. And enjoy it!

 

Happy hunting!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not familiar with Sea & Sea line, but I think there's a significant difference between Ikelite and Aquatica. These differences are reflected in the price of course... Ikelite controls seem somewhat "floppy" and less ergonomic to me. Aquatica (which I own) is precisely the opposite. It's also relatively compact comparitively.

 

As Tim pointed out, have a look at Nauticam and Subal as well. These would be similar to Aquatica in terms of build quality and all very good housings.

 

In my case, my final choice was simple... my first DSLR was used and purchased here. It was an Aquatica system. My second housing was also Aquatica. SInce I bought it new, I decided to support the local guys, here in Canada. I have been to the Aquatica plant several times and continue to be impressed with their products.

 

At the end of the day, you can't really go wrong with any of the brands mentioned, although if budget isn't a huge issue, I would be inclined to pass on the Ikelite housing, and buy a couple of their strobes instead. You might look into ease of access to service etc as the housing will need to be rebuilt from time to time.

 

Regarding lenses, I get the sense that you are thinking the 16-35 might work for "everything" but you might find that it isn't the best for anything, and you should perhaps consider both something wider and something longer and macro-ier (???). This is a separate decision from the housing however.

Edited by Stoo
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe the housing are all made to work.. But.. Size and weight play a big part in choosing...

 

For some, local support is important as well. As sending the housing away for a long time to service is to me an big issue. A local rep that can sort out the problem on the spot if possible is significant imo

Edited by hellhole

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the Nauticam NA-D810 and am very happy with it. All the controls are well placed, easy to use, smooth in operation, and have great feel. Right now I have the Sigma 15mm fisheye, Nikon 20mm 2.8 D, and 105VR as my underwater lenses. The sigma shoots great behind smaller domes, like my Zen 170mm, while the 20 (and the 16-35 I may get soon) need bigger domes so I picked up a Nauticam 8.5" (which may be a bit too small) recently to see how it goes. I don't really want a 230mm or bigger dome at this point.

 

I wouldn't use the Ikelite for my D810, as I don't like them, but many people do -- it's my preference.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Samdona

 

I use a Nikon D80 and the Nikkor 16-35mm lens for wide-angle shots underwater.

 

The 16-35 can be quite tricky to house to get "acceptably" sharp edges and, as many have found, it requires a very large domeport - usually 230mm or 9". An alternative, if you are happy to sell the 16-35 - or to add something else, is the Sigma 15mm which gets great results underwater but can be used in a smaller domeport (less expensive and easier for travelling), usually 190mm or 8". The 1" makes quite a difference.

 

As to actual housings, many people see them as a personal preference issue. You have done well being able to see 3 brands. I'd suggest you take a look too, if possible, at Nauticam and Subal. Both very high end and highly rated. The issue, as you may have found out already, is that although one or two manufacturers build adaptors so you can use one brand of port on another brand of housing, this isn't common and the tendency is to stick with a housing manufacturer/port combination to avoid the high cost of having to replace ports if you move to a different housing.

 

So "best bang for your buck" is hard to define. They are very expensive items. Most people have their favourite housing manufacturer. Most of the serious ones are very good. What is perhaps most important is that you like the way the housing feels and operates and you can use all the controls you feel are important to you. Access to servicing might be important to you - although, my experience, the need to service a housing is rare if you look after it. Try as many as you can and pick the one you really like. And enjoy it!

 

Happy hunting!

 

Thank you for all the advice. Do you have any experience or knowledge with the Tamron 15-30mm 2.8?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Thank you for all the advice. Do you have any experience or knowledge with the Tamron 15-30mm 2.8?

 

 

Hi Samdona

 

Sorry, no. I've used the Tokina 10-17 which is terrific on a DX sensor but not so good on FX.

 

I know Adam Hanlon has done a review of several wide-angle lenses u/w but can't just find it (!). But I'm not sure that included the Tamron. You may have seen this review already of wide-angles lenses for u/w use - but it doesn't include the Tamron.

 

http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/underwater-photography-lenses

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know a guy with the Tamron 15-30, but he doesn't use it underwater. Really nice lens. If Nauticam came out with a zoom gear for it, I'd be very interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have a good look at Nauticam. If you are in the US, they have a pretty good support system here. Aquatica looks good, but is from Canada and probably better supported there. Subal is from Austria, and I assume might have best support in Europe.

 

Until last fall I dove with a series of Canon point-n-shoots (best bang for the buck) and a Sony RX100 with dual strobes.

 

 

I now have the Nauticam NA-D810 with dual YS-D1 strobes. I only have two ports so far, one for a 105vr macro and the other for the 16-35vr. I've only had it for one trip so far, 11 dives in total. Only two with the 16-35. Here are my thoughts:

 

-The housing is seriously good. Everything fits, everything works, and it is easy to use underwater. It's really well thought out in terms of controls. I have the optional vacuum leak detection system ($225 option), and I'm a huge fan of it.

-The macro and port work well and are relatively easy to pack and use. While this is excellent for close-focus and macro type of work, it's limiting to not be able to shoot things much bigger than a dinner plate. I'm considering getting a 60mm macro and port just to have more non-macro shooting ability.

-The 16-35. Hmm. I need some serious dive time with this lens to get decent with it. There are a number of issues that have been a surprise to me.

a. First surprise - the size of a 230mm dome port. It's ENORMOUS. It presents serious challenges in both packing and transporting it to/from a boat. I cannot fit it in my backpack with the housing, so it must be put into checked baggage.

b. Second surprise - wide angle underwater is pretty wide. I've been used to point-n-shoots with about a 28-100mm view. A 16-35 puts me into visualizations I've not done before, and I can't really get close-ups with it.

c. Third surprise - poor edges. Given that I bought (and carried) this freakin' huge dome port just to get decent edges, I was very disappointed in the quality of my shots. I only took the lens on two dives, so I had no chance to really experiment with it. I was shooting stopped down pretty well (F8, and more), but the edges were poor in every case. Since others don't seem to have this issue, I'm thinking it may be due to the +2 diopter I had on the lens. Some said the diopter was needed, some said it wasn't, but so far I only have ... 2 dives with lens with diopter attached. Next time I will start without it and see what changes.

d. Fourth surprise - it was pretty easy to get the dome too close to something as I wasn't used to such wide angles. I can see where it would be very easy to hit the dome on coral and scratch it.

e. Fifth surprise - would love to hear comments on this one, but I found that I did not want to have the lens on unless the water was almost pristinely clear. With such a wide angle I was getting mostly environmental shots, and murky conditions show up fast.

 

I have 9 dives in with the 105vr as opposed to the 16-35. Why? First, I was diving off a cruise ship, and I could barely carry all the gear. (Need a rolling bag). Second, the water conditions were so clear. It was far, far easier to carry the rig with the 105 on than the 16-35 with huge dome. So I left the dome in the ship and went out to shoot macros I could never really get with a point-n-shoot.

 

Shooting any DSLR rig means some dedication to the endeavor. Putting a 230mm dome on puts this into 'you better really be serious about this' territory. You should visit a store and see one of these domes before getting one. It's caused me to slightly consider getting a DX camera for underwater use just to reduce the dome size needed for wide angle.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What extension ring were you using with the 16-35?

 

I'm not sure how to tell. A Nauticam product recommended for that lens by Bluewater Photo. It's buried in the closet right now so I can't check easily.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I shot that lens with 70mm extension and a Zen 200mm dome (no diopter) last fall and was pretty happy overall..the corners were a bit blurry, but not terribly. I have decided to buy a 16-35 after finding great deals on the zoom gear and 70mm extension ring this week. Going to take it to Hawaii soon and Guadalupe this summer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't use a diopter with the 16-35 and have no troubles with the edges on my images- really like that lens. I shoot with an Aquatica D800 housing with an 8 inch dome port and the correct extension.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...