Scubazoo recently received their D700 Nauticam housing and I have had the job of putting it through its paces in the Maldives during a recent shoot for our upcoming book on the Maldives. The following review is based on about 30 dives.
When unpacking the box I have to say everything was very well organized and all separate parts were in labeled boxes or bags. This may sound trivial but there are plenty of manufacturers that just throw it all in one box and let you sort it out.
The housing is aesthetically pleasing and the engineering very well thought out. Small details like the controls being labeled with their functions indicate that an underwater photographer clearly designed the housing.
The port adapter is a great idea and having the choice to use my existing Nexus ports or even ports from other manufacturers is a great option – the locking system looks to be very well thought out. Also, the fact they sent two adapters so that I could use one with my macro ports and the other with the wide angle is fantastic as I get to use their new locking system.
Having migrated from Nexus, the camera tray is something else I am not used to and is a most welcome feature. This is a simple and effective way of placing the camera in the housing and having the option of a quick removal to replace batteries.
The choice of ball joints is nice and to be able to have them placed on the housing or the arms is nice. Also having the option for three ball joints on the housing and using one for the spotting torch is great.
Including only one bulkhead for electronic sync cables is an interesting choice. Although I use dual cables, having an extra bulkhead for my polecam release cable OR for one of Scubacam’s mini pump adaptors is something I need. I still use electronic over optical cables, but this may change in the near future, therefore I could use the bulkhead for the polecam release cable.
Note: Since playing with a NikV back in 1997 all my underwater photography has been with Nexus housings, F90X, D200 and D2X, therefore all my comparisons are based on Nexus housings.
I have been using the set-up mainly for wide angle – D700 with the Nik17-35mm lens. I am using the Nexus 6” dome with 40mm & 20mm extenders. All the images below are taken with this set up.
One of my concerns is that the housing be sturdy, as this is company equipment that will take plenty of abuse. The main housing design is solid and will certainly take the abuse from all Scubazoo staff.
The controls on the housing work seamlessly. Focus control, switching between C, S & M is very easy. The focus/zoom control is also very smooth. The buttons on the left of the viewfinder, MODE, QUAL, WB & ISO control, work well. As a side note, I love the huge window on the back of the housing.
The trigger and playback levers have spring action on them, which feels nice to use underwater.
I started with my strobe arms mounted on the handles, but I felt they were too flexible and the strobes were bouncing around underwater. I changed to the mounts on the housing, and this felt much better, but it does restrict your access a little to certain controls.
Even without the strobe arms mounted on them the handles really do feel too flexible. I understand they have been made this way to save weight, however I have always been use to solid handles. The handles also feel too far away from the housing. With my Nexus housings, I could release the shutter with one hand and control both the aperture and shutter speed with my thumb and middle finger. This cannot be done comfortably with the Nauticam housing, but it maybe because I have small hands!
This takes me back to using the D200 and the lack of seeing all four corners at once, although I can cope with this for wide angle I probably would not use it for macro with this restricted view. Nauticam do have a 180 degree viewfinder which enhances the view so I will be testing this out as soon as I can get my hands on one.
Although I have experienced a few negative things with this housing, I have reported them to Nauticam and they have immediately started to look at ways of improving them. This is no ordinary company that just wants to follow other housing designs - they want to create the best and therefore take all criticism on board to constantly improve the product. Their support has been fantastic and they even wanted to send replacement parts to me even though I was in the Maldives - I have never had any other company offer this.
The housing is very solid and being a company piece of equipment it will get abused more than a personally owned housing however I am very confident it will take the abuse. We will be upgrading our other D200 to D700 soon and will also house that in a Nauticam. Our two D2X cameras will eventually need upgrading, so hopefully whatever we decide to upgrade to will also have a Nauticam equivalent.