Underwater Housings

Underwater photography opens up a whole new world of photo opportunities, but requires some means of protecting your camera from the water. There are compact cameras that are designed to be used underwater, and for casual shooting or just trying it out, these are excellent, but they have small sensors and are limited in how deep they can go.

Several companies offer waterproof housings for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, and these are a better option for serious underwater photography. With these, you can safely use your familiar big-sensor camera underwater. Housings range from rugged plastic baggie-type designs to professional hard housings. The more costly ones provide sophisticated control and flash capabilities, and can withstand greater depths. Here are some examples of what’s available.

IKELITE

A longtime supplier of underwater photo gear (including lighting), Ikelite offers housings made of special polycarbonate blends that are strong, lightweight and corrosion-resistant. Clear construction lets you see that the housing is watertight and dry before you enter the water. The units are built by hand and individually tested for fit, function and waterproof integrity. Housings are available for a wide range of popular DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and compact cameras. Note that each housing requires a waterproof lens port, which is sold separately. Large-diameter dome ports provide good optical performance in normal underwater photography, while flat ports are best for underwater macro work. Contact: Ikelite, www.ikelite.com.

SEA & SEA

Sea & Sea offers underwater cameras and lighting, as well as corrosion-resistant aluminum-alloy MDX housings for Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, the RDX-100D polycarbonate housing for Canon’s compact EOS SL1 DSLR, as well as housings for compact digital cameras. MDX housings have dual handles and can be used to depths of 100m/330 feet, while RDX housings can withstand depths to 60m/200 feet. Contact: Sea & Sea, seaandsea.com.

EWA-MARINE

ewa-marine has long been a reliable source of flexible plastic housings for a wide range of popular cameras. The housings feature double-laminated PVC envelopes and hardened optical glass lens ports. The low-cost SplashiX series units are for compact cameras, and can be used to depths of 6m/20 feet. The U-A and U-B housings are designed for autofocus SLRs (small and large), and can be used to depths of 60 to 150 feet, depending on the model. U-F housings were designed for manual-focus, manual-advance cameras, and allow these activities, down to 30 feet. Contact: ewa-marine, www.ewa-marine.com.

CATALYST

Catalyst’s Case for iPhone 6 provides dust, water (to depths of 5m/16.4 feet) and drop (from up to 2m/6.6 feet) protection for the iPhone 6. A hard-coated optical lens provides clear photos (but note that the touch-screen isn’t effective underwater, so you have to use the volume button to trip the shutter). The case follows the iPhone’s stylish curves and allows access to all iPhone 6 functions. Contact: Catalyst, www.catalystlifestyle.com.

LIFEPROOF

LifeProof offers cases for a wide range of devices, including iPhones, iPads, and Samsung and Motorola smartphones. The NUUD case is waterproof (to 2m/6.6 feet for one hour), dust- and dirtproof, snowproof, and shockproof (to drops of 2m/6.6 feet). The screenless design lets you touch the actual Retina display, while anti-reflective optical glass provides distortion-free photography. Contact: LifeProof, shop.lifeproof.com.

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