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Several recent leaks in my dive buddy's and my housing are the reason writing this. I have been certified since 1975, my buddy since the 1980's. One of my recent minor leaks was from a slightly misaligned O-ring in the port housing, caused by insufficient lubrication. My second almost major leak was from sand in the back cover's main O ring, sheer carelessness on my part; fortunately the housing's moisture detector started beeping and flashing red, saved my camera.

 

My buddy's leak was from an insufficiently screwed in bayonet port, the flooding was so fast nothing could be done. The cause: talking and wandering thoughts while preparing the housing. The result: about $3,000 in fine equipment go bye bye, plus it ruined his Raja Ampat dive trip. A few months ago I did not even know vacuum leak detectors existed. Now, looking back on these and several other leaks and floods, I realize a vacuum leak detector would have flashed red prior to jumping in, flood prevented.

 

A leak damaged my water detector, so I replaced it with one from Bill Libecap (UWCameraStuff.com) wired with two red LEDs for high visibility flashing. Plus, now I was scared, so I added one of Miso's Leak Sentinel V5 detectors (VividHousings.com), for early leak warning before and after jumping in.

 

But, you may well ask, do not these detectors bypass the diver's sense of responsibility to care for the equipment?

No, not really. I have learned the hard way that as a diver one must take full responsibility for one's equipment. To prepare the UW equipment, one must mentally focus on the 'here and now' moment, no distractions, plus implement a check list of steps. Doing this while alone helps avoid distractions. Then one needs to double check all items at risk.

A memorized check list, which all housing owners use consciously or not, includes:

lens cover removed, camera with fresh batteries and card,

the housing's back carefully cleaned, intact cleaned O rings,

latches secured,

viewfinder installed and secured,

port securely mounted and locked,

strobe battery covers securely closed, strobes connected and tested, etc.

 

It really is important to write the check list, item by item; I use a spreadsheet for this. Then memorize and use it before each dive, while concentrating on the housing/rig and avoiding distractions. A friend says that if one is interrupted or talked to while prepping the rig, then one should for safety start all over from the beginning. To which I may add, if you have the slightest doubt about the water worthiness of the equipment, or if you are upset, distracted by a yammering buddy or in a hurry, then do yourself a big favor and leave your camera rig in a safe dry place, go dive, and wait until later when you have the opportunity for your usual complete double and triple check routine.

But housings are so complicated that even after this is done, a leaky O ring for example, can still be there, waiting to flood. What else can one do? I added a vacuum leak detector to test for leaks before and during the dive. For me, a vacuum Leak Sentinel does the job by flashing green when the housing is sealed nice and tight, before getting wet, and during the dive.

Now you can jump in and go Zen with the fish and your camera.

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Leak Sentinel?

 

Thank you Miso :notworthy:

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i heard (on the ancient medium of an email list) a tip from the late Jim Church : put a q-tip in your mouth when you are preparing your housing. It will help you not be distracted by talking....

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i heard (on the ancient medium of an email list) a tip from the late Jim Church : put a q-tip in your mouth when you are preparing your housing. It will help you not be distracted by talking....

 

Brilliant! I'm told a small screw works equally well......

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I would add a few more items to this good advice:

1. Always bring spare parts so you can do field repairs and learn how to fix things!

2. Always carry plenty of spare batteries, memory cards, etc. and always check to make sure your chargers are working!

3. Remember to turn power on to your camera or camcorder before entering the water, unless you can do it while underwater.

4. If you are shooting video, always check to make sure the camcorder cycles back from the record to the standby mode after shooting each clip. Nothing more boring that 10 minutes of a clip looking down at your fins while you move to the next site, and then when you push the record button you are actually stopping the recording and you miss the whole shot.

5. Turn off power between sites if you have a long swim to the next site. It will save batteries.

6. Double check your presets, like white balance, etc. before you dive.

7. Look at your port carefully from time to time. Sometimes you can see small leaks as they are starting to happen, or you can see if trapped humidity is starting to condense on the inside of the port (especially true when diving in tropics and cycling between air conditioning and humidity).

8. Be very careful opening a housing with a wet wet suit on. All it takes is one drop of salt water in the wrong place to fry critical electronics. Especially true when changing batteries or memory cards in between dives.

9. Be super careful of contaminating o-rings or mating surfaces with dust, sand, eyelashes, etc. Do a careful inspection every time. One good method: clean fastidiously with q-tips and remove the o-ring and put it in your mouth for a while. Feel with your tongue for any micro-cuts in the o-ring and then carefully dry the o-ring off after removing it from your mouth. Hopefully any sand will end up crunching on your molar instead of blocking your o-ring from sealing.

10. Service all thru-housing controls before going on a trip and have access to a pressure testing tank so you can verify that all controls have been serviced properly.

11. If possible, review the photographic efforts of each dive as soon after each dive as you can to inspect for malfunctions, especially with white balance, focus, and port fogging. If you can review while still underwater, do that from time to time, but often you can't see good enough through a mask to tell what you have got.

Alan

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Adding a vacuum check system (another happy Leak Sentinel user!) was the best thing I have ever done for peace of mind. Remember to activate every control button or lever once the light is blinking green, just in case a fault only appears once something is moved.

 

Always taking a test photo (not just testing the strobes) has prevented me from forgetting about the lens cap and from leaving important bits of the system on shore more than once.

 

Never cleaning o-rings or grooves with cloth or Q-tips means not having to worry about stray fibers. Foam makeup brushes and wedges are absorbent, cheap, and really effective. I use something like these, readily available at pharmacies:

 

makeup-too-faced-in-2016-the-new-ms-smud

Edited by troporobo

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Hi,
i had two mini floods and a great in my photographic time...
the great was a small piece of rope, in the locking clamp of my Sea&sea Dx1G housing.
Havent seen it, and it was the one dive, where you had to swimm 10 minutes to the spot......
Hopeless.... Third day of a two week trip....
The other mini floods, happend both on the second boat dive, it was hot and it looks like the screws of the locking mechanism had been shaked to much...
That was the reason Hugy invented vacuum checks. My housing was just to new to had one....Both times it happend on the way back to surface, the last meter, i could see bubbles coming up from the gap between the housing parts.
Both times the lenses had no problem, one time the camera got a problem with the card reading contacts, third day of a two week trip....
I decided to get a differnt housing, had a Nauticam for the last years to house my m43, but now, after a lot of years, Hugyfot had changed the locking mechanism, and so i bought one again!
And it has a vacuum check!

So we will see, how much the human error has been evolutionary included ;-))
Regards,
Wolfgang

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I have to say, that after a big flood where I destroyed my DSLR with 100mm macro, I bougt a leak sentinal. It was the best buy formy underwater system. now I was able to go into the water to be sure everything is leak proof.

Then I bougt a nauticam m43 with vakuum and leak dedector and had about 200 great dives with this sytem.

But then, one day,I startet my dive, everything was great , but after 20 minutes at about 120 feet my system leaked very much and I had no chance. Back at the surface I checked my System and could´t find any damage. The day after I took the System back again on 120 feet and everything was fine.

I don´t know what the problem was,but my E-M1 with the 8mm is damaged.

I only wanted to say, that a vakkuum sytem doesn´t give you a 100% guarantee, that no water will come into the housing.

Nonetheless I will use the vakuumsystem also in the future and hope, that such a flooding will not happen again.

Kind regards

Armin

Graz, Austria

Edited by Rugani
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I have a Nauticam EM1 housing with the vacuum valve fitted and after a double boat dive where the dive company in Exmouth, Western Australia did not have a rinse bucket, I used my own personal one. Unfortunately so did every other photographer on the boat and on the way back to port I heard a faint beeping and to my horror, after I took several cameras off mine in MY rinse bucket, it had leaked a small amount of water. (It was not leaking and the light was green on both dives!!) I was furious. The camera was ok as it and the 60mm macro lens are weather sealed. I cleaned and dried the housing, changed the vacuum battery and the housing seals and that's fine too. Moral of the story is take your own rinse bucket and don't let anyone else use it.

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I'm trying to get in contact with both of these company's in a hope to order a leak sentinel for my ikelite sony a7 housing, since I'm diving every day and using the housing and camera for work I'm hoping this will give me some sort of peace of mind.

 

However i feel as though because I'm in the water every day my fear of a leak which everyone seems to get bitten by eventually is coming up faster then it does for other people!

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I'm trying to get in contact with both of these company's in a hope to order a leak sentinel for my ikelite sony a7 housing, since I'm diving every day and using the housing and camera for work I'm hoping this will give me some sort of peace of mind.

 

However i feel as though because I'm in the water every day my fear of a leak which everyone seems to get bitten by eventually is coming up faster then it does for other people!

 

LOL, been there! I spent a year diving pretty much every day with my camera and thinking every day was a day nearer the leak. But, happily, it never happened.

 

I guess I'm still a day nearer though. :crazy:

 

There is no doubt the leak detectors do give additional piece of mind - and a heads-up to a faulty setup. Worth pursuing!

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TimG, that's good to hear ! I know what you mean, trying to focus on shooting customers and every first dip into the water with it is a nervous one thinking is this the time something goes wrong !

 

I've got a reply from both of the company's and going to go with the Vividhousings model which seems to be the nicer of the two. I bit of peace of mind at least when I'm in a mad rush on the boat to get ready to enter the water, exactly what everyone say's not to be when preparing a UW housing haha !

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