Updated: May 23, 2015
Underwater Housing Reviews:Finding the Right Underwater Housing for Digital Cameras - A world teeming with fascinating life is waiting to be discovered, and you only need to dive in. While space offers mysteries and wonders above us, the oceans and seas - and even ponds and lakes - offer equally intriguing glimpses into different worlds. Underwater photography is growing in popularity as more people discover the freedom and beauty that lies under the surface. Perhaps we've always known, but now technology allows us to take our cameras into the depths with us. Whether you are a professional photographer, a diver who wants to document new excursions, or just someone who is curious about water life, a reliable underwater housing for your digital camera is a must. What is an underwater housing? An underwater housing is like a plastic, waterproof box that encloses your camera, keeping it safe from the water while still allowing you to take photos. With an underwater housing, you don't have to stick your toe in and test the water, you can dive right in, make a big splash, and take amazing photos that will captivate everyone who looks at them. This is your guide to choosing the right underwater housings for your digital camera.
What to Look for in Underwater Housing for Your Digital Camera - Underwater cameras themselves are rather obsolete. While some photographers choose to use cameras like the old 35mm Nikonos (from Nikon), far more common is to have a good underwater housing for a digital camera. You could use any camera in this case, but to get optimal pictures, you'll want a camera that has 3mp or higher. High resolution and good printing quality is a must. A popular choice is the Nikon Coolpix P5000. It is a 10mp digital camera that can capture detail for clear, crisp prints up to 20x30 and features a 3.5x -Zoom Nikkor lens, 2.5-inch LCD screen with optical viewfinder, optical vibration reduction, image stabilization, aperture, shutter, and manual exposure modes, and a hot shoe for i-TTL compatible Nikon speed lights. You can find this for under $400 at Amazon. You will find housings made from plastic to everything including aluminum. Most are transparent polycarbonate and have a depth rating of about 100 feet. If you have a TTL flash, you need to make sure that the housing you choose will be compatible; if you don't have a TTL flash, you'll probably be able to find a less expensive housing. Your digital camera housing will be specific to the type of camera you have, which should help make choosing one a bit easier - unless you're choosing both camera and housing at the same time. In that case, it is good to know what's available. Nikon is perhaps the biggest name in the underwater field, but you will also see Olympus, Canon, Sony, and Fuji. Let's use our Nikon Coolpix P5000 as an example. If we were looking for housing, we'd have to find one that was compatible for that particular camera. We could choose Fantasea FP-5000 housing; this allows easy access to all the Coolpix's functions. It has a depth rating of up to 200 feet (60 meters), double O-ring seals, anti-glare hood over LCD screen, easy porting of accessory lenses and filters, built-in diffusers, and durable injection molded polycarbonate construction. This is about $180. You could also opt for the Ikelite Underwater Camera Housing for the Coolpix P5000. This housing is made of heavy-duty polycarbonate, has a depth rating of up to 200 feet (60 meters). It is near neutrally buoyant in saltwater, provides access to all functions, has glass lens port, allows porting of accessory flashes, i-TTL flash exposure with current DS substrobes, and is compatible with optional 3-inch color filters. This housing is $450 (see all Ikelite underwater housings here). So what's the difference besides a few hundred dollars? Ikelite tends to review better with consumers and critics and has the reputation for superior quality. But a large part will be up to your budget. Let's take a look at some other underwater housing options for your digital camera. You can browse the best selling underwater housings for digital cameras here.
Best Underwater Housing for Digital Cameras:Just as you'll see the names Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, and Olympus time and time again for underwater photography, you will also see Ikelite, Fantasea, Ewa Marine, Canon, and Olympus for their housing options. What will be the best for you? Again, it will depend on your budget, but also your level of skill as a photographer and your needs. Fantasea Underwater Housings - If you go on professional photography forums, you'll see that Ikelite wins the popularity contest hands-down over Fantasea. But does that mean you should avoid this brand? Fantasea makes housings for compact Nikon digital cameras, so their niche is really in the beginner underwater photography market. And as you can see from our Coolpix example, the housings are much less expensive. Our little Fantasea FP5000 gets good reviews from Gizmodo and users at Scuba.com. And to make sure you're happy and to demonstrate their belief in their product, Fantasea will replace your Nikon P5000 if there's any leakage. To find the right Fantasea for your Nikon, check out their website and then head to Amazon for great prices. This is a great choice for those on a budget. Canon and Olympus make housings for their respective brands. Canon's housings are generally well reviewed by consumers and are a budget-friendly choice. You can look for Canon housings here. Olympus also reviews well among Olympus users and you can see their housings at Amazon. Prices are in line with Canon's for housings.
Ikelite Underwater Housings - At the other end of the price spectrum is Ikelite. They make housings for different cameras, including the big five we've mentioned. This certainly gives you more options than Fantasea for your camera. This brand is highly regarded, and one of Ikelite's housings even won BestCovery's Best Underwater Camera prize, though it's not even a camera. On photography forums and consumer review sites, like Buzzillion, Ikelite housings score consistently well. Among the praises: Ikelite's solid construction, ease of use, good depth ranges, watertight seals, and "visible quality," as one reviewer said. The quality is visible not only in the physical appearance of Ikelite, but also in the photos you take, which is the real measure. If you can afford the several hundred to over $1000 dollar price tag, this is a terrific brand to invest in. Serious amateurs and pros both will love it.
Ewa Marine Underwater Housings - Ewa Marine makes housings for a variety of cameras, including the big five and many more. Ewa Marine is a bit more expensive than Fantasea but not as pricy as Ikelite. One thing you'll notice immediately about Ewa Marine housings is that instead of the thick polycarbonate housing you'll see with other brands, you get a texture that is, as one reviewer from All-Things-Photography noted, "the texture and feel of a deflated dinghy." A review from Photo.net said it looked like a $300 Ziploc. So should you skip it? Not necessarily, says Photo.net's review. For serious amateurs and pros, a hard case will probably be preferable, but for vacation shots or pleasure shots, this is a fine alternative. It protects your camera and makes features easy to use. One issue both reviewers noted was the relative difficulty in getting the housing onto the camera. It is not as quick and simple as a hard case, but it becomes easier with some practice. Your Ewa Marine price range will be about $300 to $350. Consider your price range and then find the compatible housings for your digital camera. Then you can narrow in on features and price. Each brand mentioned offers solid protection, and was named by About.Photography as the best underwater housings. Before you use any housing, regardless of price and reputation, make sure you either have camera protection or that the housing offers replacement protection like the Fantasea. Then dive in and see what the water has to offer. View top rated underwater housings here.