Video Rig Draft v2

Sony RX100 – Tips for UW Video Part 6 – Housing Choices

I have a been a bit busy lately fighting with the MTS video files that the RX100 produces, I finally have an automated tool that converts all files into MP4 ready for iMovie that works a breeze.

Anyway this post is not about that workflow but about housing choices. I have received quite a few inquiries about housing choices and although I am not associated with any manufacturer or reseller I thought it would be a good idea to share my thinking.

When I had to choose a housing for the Canon S95 I chose a Recsea, in fact my buddy uses it, the latest WHC-S95D for still pictures and it looks pretty much like this.

A few bits got me frustrated with the Recsea housing one was the rear control.

This may look great but I have been frustrated when underwater the pressing of the buttons was mistaken for rotating the dial itself.

The other thing that I thought was pretty poor was the cold shoe for the focus light, this is a small piece of metal and the screws need to be treated with thread lock if you don’t want to lose it underwater.

Not to mention the mode dial that is really stiff.

Finally the bottom of the housing where the screws go is made of steel threads, in fact you should be careful not to leave an aluminum tray in salt water as it might corrode the housing. This may seem unlikely but I have seen other Recsea housing with huge speckles that mean corrosion.

Recsea produced a housing for the Canon S100 that introduced a front ring like the one on the camera itself but the housing remains the same of the S95 for the other features.

The choice of the Recsea housing over others at the time was mainly because it was easier and more cost-effective to get adapters for the Inon AD lenses I have.

So when the new  housing for the RX100 came out, first on the market from Recsea, I studied carefully the pictures to see how specific issues had been addressed. In essence the  housing for the RX100 is the same of the Canon S100 and has the same annoyances that I did not like with the S95.

So I waited until Nauticam came out with their product, which is in fact made by the same plant that did the Fisheye-fix for the S90/95/100 we can recognize the same features in this housing.

The first is that there is no integrated rear dial,  the buttons are separated from the rotation, this means the housing is very precise and there is never confusion in button presses and response from the camera.

The second is the top of the housing itself, the mode dial is smooth and the cold shoe is top quality as it was the fix s100.

The cold shoe is robust and takes easily not only adapters for 1/2″ loc-line but also 3/4″ which is great.

Finally as it was on the fix housing the bottom of the housing has got two zinc plates to act as cathodes and avoid corrosion.

There are other two incredible plus points of the Nauticam housing:

  • the moisture alarm, I don’t recall seeing one for a compact but the Nauticam has got it and it works as well
  • The housing has an M67 thread that allows you to mount lenses without adapters

Personally I don’t like M67 wide angle options for the RX100 as those are heavy lenses in water however if you already have them than you are sorted.

What about the Ikelite housing? Ikelite had issues of sticky buttons with the Canon S100 so for the Rx100 they have gone back to a large form factor. Personally I don’t believe a polycarbonate housing of such size is very appealing however if money is lacking this is the only choice at the bottom. It does not come anywhere near the quality and features of Nauticam or Recsea.

There is also another housing from Patima that has just been released, I have just seen the pictures and  it does not look particularly attractive, the closing latch looks ancient,  the rear section has button and dials too close and the control ring control placed on top of the camera is just unpractical. It is priced at source at $699 so 27% cheaper than the Nauticam, but this comes at a price: there are plenty of design shortcuts that may create usage issues underwater.

In conclusion the Nauticam I believe offers the best quality and value for money for the RX100, with the exception of the front ring being operated in a traditional mode I don’t see any faults with this set up and I would recommend it for both video and stills, if you don’t have that amount of money and you want to use your RX100 just for video then the Ikelite is worth a try, but not if you want to use the camera also for stills. Nothing specific to Ikelite but transparent housing give too many issues with strobes to even bother.

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22 thoughts on “Sony RX100 – Tips for UW Video Part 6 – Housing Choices”

  1. Hello,

    I would like to ask what you think of Aqupazza housing. I am deciding between Nauticam and Aquapazza for Sony RX100.
    I do not have a chance to put my hands on it to see for myself which one will suit better. I really like your posts and anyone can see how detailed your comments are.
    I really appreciate your help.
    BariN

  2. The Acquapazza looks really well built and it is smaller than any other RX100 housing. I have not tested it myself but people I know and trust like this housing very much. In UK it is priced same as the Nauticam, it does have similar feature and I like more the touch of the Nauticam controls for ergonomics instead of metal buttons like the Acquapazza. So if I had to choose at the same price I would still go for Nauticam that has a lot of support here. However where you live maybe you get a better price for Acquapazza and good support I would say it looks good with no apparent weaknesses and if you get it much cheaper go for it it is also available in special colours!

    1. Hello there, thank you for your reply.
      It really helped. I like Nauticam for its ergonomic feeling and Acquapazza for the color :-) range, the shutter lever looks great and one can just unscrew the port and exchange it for a different size.
      I am going to order my equipment at Blue water with Scott Gietler from CA Santa Monica. He really is a great guy that is helping me a lot. These two housings are almost the same price though. So I am a bit desperate… Which one!!!

      1. No problem. Scott is a great guy I definitely recommend him. I see he is selling the acquapazza for $100 less. However you will need to check if you have to pay import duty when it arrives. I am not sure where you live but it may be worth checking if any of the two brands have local distributors so you know exactly what is going to cost and have support in your country? Color for a woman is important I think you will go with acquapazza!!

  3. Hi interceptor121,

    first of all many compliments for your blog, you are doing an amazing job which helped me a lot in the confusing process of choosing a new camera setup which I’ll be mainly using for video.

    Now, one of my last questions is if you think that the RX100 II has significant improvements which justify investing into the new model and housing rather than the first one? Keeping in mind that I mainly wanna use it for videography.

    I was also wondering in terms of prices if the Ikelite housing wouldn’t be “enough” for me (again, I’m not too much into photography) – do you have any experience with fogging up since I had major issues with my camcorder in an Ikelite housing.

    My last question is if you have tried by any chance to fit the 67mm red filter from Ikelite onto a Nauticam housing? I know that you’re filming with strobes and light but I’ll be mainly filming wide angle and always had pretty good results in only using a color correction filter.

    Would be great if you could find the time to come back to me, this is gonna influence my final buying decision (no pressure :)),
    thank you so much!!!

    1. Hello and thanks for the words of appreciation
      Onto your questions
      1. Look into my RX100M2 review: if you don’t have any camera yet go for the mark 2
      2. If you have budget get the nauticam housing. The ikelite will work but will give you some ergonomic issues also restrict your choice of wet lenses
      3. I use ikelite push up filters I wr a wide angle lens and this is what I recommend. You can of course just put an M67 filter on the port but the field of view with the bare port is too narrow to be good for anything. I use an Inon UWL-H100 28LD without filter for the record
      Enjoy your video shooting and keep following the blog

      1. Thank you so much again! This might be a stupid question but why wouldn’t you recommend using a red filter? I am not planning to purchase any strobes and lights since I’ll be using the camera mainly for video. Will the colors be ok without a red filter and just setting automatic white balance?

      2. The filter plus auto white balance will work ok until around 18 meters
        It is always better to use the filter and still white balance
        I don’t use it anymore as it takes away light and it is just an additional piece of equipment
        However now that I have the rx100 mark I will probably try the filter again as ISO is 160 I will probably try again

      3. Ok, that makes sense, thanks. I’ve been always filming with a red filter but agree that the results with filter are worse at depths or when filming sharks for example which blend in with the background. I will try to get hold of an Ikelite red filter to fit on the wide angle lens. Have fun with the RX100 Mark II, can’t wait to see your first results!

  4. i121, thanks for all your good work and words which assist us all. Have you any experience on how well (sharpness of image etc) the Inon UWL-H100 28LD converter performs on the Aquapazza with LD port? After working with bayonet lenses on Nikon and Hasselblad as a commercial photographer for years, I cannot get my head around the 67mm screw thread system, especially underwater!
    Appreciate your comment re light reduction using red filter over 18 mt; what about changing to the 1/2 strength red that’s usually used in 5-10 mt. Do you think that would kick the color in the right direction?

    1. Hi John. I have seen that with the M67 port the aquapazza housing tends to vignette a bit more with the UWL-H100 in the dome version. I am not familiar with the LD mount but surely it is better to change the port than have M67 plus adapter. In general without the dome the image quality will not be affected by 1-2 m=m and there won’t be vignette. Personally I prefer the Nauticam housing. For what concerns filters you can see in my latest Barbados video the filter being used below 21 meters or 70 feet. After that I use color temperature 9900K with M7 tint. A shallow water filter won’t do enough at that depth invest in a proper filter for depth. Am about to try another white balance slate see if I can fix the issue of the error but am somewhat skeptical

      1. i121, Thanks for the prompt reply.Disappointing that there is a question over the vignetting of this Aquapazza/Sony set up. So I will jump in the deep end and get the Aquapazza plus the UWL-H100 28 LD plus the Domed port and let’s see what happens! I will report back when the in water tests are done.
        Several makers supply red filters to suit the UWL-H100 28 lens however the lens has a rounded shoulder so there’s not much for the filter to hang onto? Do you use the Inon lens hood for the UWL-H100? Do you happen to know what the dia. of the front of this is, and whether anyone has made a red filter to suit?

      2. If you shoot stills then you don’t need a filter. If you shoot video then you don’t need a dome. In one of the posts here you can see the filter I use deeproof push on for Inon UWL-H100. It is on sale on the internet from Hong Kong or from Europe. As you can see in the pictures I use the lens hood and I do recommend it it reduces the chance of the lens being damaged and reduces flare a great deal

      3. i121, i was a little concerned about using the domed port on anything but wide angle establishing shots because of the potential for distortion on the edges with movie/panning camera; is that what you are alluding to? I will take it off the shopping list on your advice.
        The red filter; does it fit not the front of the lens or the lens hood? Do you happen to remember the dia. of the filter?
        Thanks again for sharing your experience.

      4. i121, I see from one of your other blogs that the deeprof filter works with an O-ring. Please advise if it fits over the lens, before the lens hood is fitted, or does it fit over the front glass of the lens hood? I believe the lens is 90mm, what is the dia. of the lens hood front?

    1. i121, Excuse my naivety here as I’m new to the digital landscape. If I go diving on holidays for 3 weeks doing video work most days, how many SD cards would you take if you record in RAW? I was thinking either the 32 or 64 GB card for the Sony RX-100 11? Would appreciate your experience here.

  5. Hi John. I generally buy SD card based on the required specs (write and read speed) and on the GB/$ ratio. I used to get 32GB cards but now I found 64GB to be more convenient when I got some card for the Nikon D7100. The RX100 does not do RAW video but only AVCHD 28 Mbps so you get 5 hours each card. Typically I take 4x 32GB or 2X 64GB for my trips and is usually plenty as I am quite choosy

    1. Hi i121, I notice that Delkin offer only 32GB max in the SD card. Can I ask you what brand you personally go for? Also what sped card do I need to take full advantage of the AVCHD 28Mbps max from the
      RX-100 2. The prices rise with the speed of course and I would like to get a card that has plenty of head room over the max that the camera is capable of. Please excuse my digital naivety. Thanks again for your assistance in getting this project off the drawing board and into the water.

      1. AVCHD progressive is only 28 MBps or 3.5 MB/s so a class 4 card would actually be enough but really at least class 6. The other issues is transferring to computer as that can take forever I use Sandisk ultra or samsung extreme class 10 as they are waterproof should I flood I’d save the files

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