If there’s one thing we can surely all agree on, it’s that underwater photography isn’t the cheapest pastime. But affordability is relative and there are certainly cheaper ways and more-expensive ways of doing things. Before anything else, you’ll want to make your camera waterproof, and if you’ve never researched the prices of underwater housings, you’ll quickly realize that there is a wide range of options to fit every budget.
In its latest video, Ikelite makes the case that you don’t need to break the bank to put your camera in an underwater housing. To illustrate the point, the U.S. underwater equipment maker pits its polycarbonate housing for the Canon EOS R5 against the Nauticam aluminum equivalent. In the video, John Brigham, Ikelite’s Vice President and Head of Product Development, talks through the differences between the housings, each set up with the R5 camera, the RF 14–35mm f/4 wide-angle zoom lens, a large acrylic dome port—Ikelite’s 8-inch option or Nauticam’s standard 8.5-inch dome—with zoom gear, plus accessories. According to Ikelite, their system (not including camera and lens) costs $2,665, while Nauticam’s will set you back $6,828—a price difference of almost $4,200.
John also compares a variety of other aspects of the two systems: materials (Ikelite’s transparent back vs the opaque aluminum “black box”), size (Ikelite’s is slightly smaller), weight (Ikelite’s is 2.2lbs lighter), ergonomics (Ikelite’s controls don’t require relearning), and servicing (Ikelite’s “direct drive” controls are simpler and can be serviced in the field while an annual service is cheaper). And if you’re wondering what you can do with $4,200, John has some suggestions: Buy a pair of flagship Ikelite DS230 strobes, and use your $1,000 change for another lens or towards your next dive trip.
There’s no doubt that there are stark differences between Ikelite’s and Nauticam’s systems—between plastic and aluminum options—and Ikelite’s video shows that most of us should take the time to do a careful comparison before going shopping. Check out the DPG Underwater Photo/Video Equipment Guide for a comprehensive, up-to-date roundup of the best gear for underwater shooters.
Ikelite Housing for Sony ZV-E10
Nauticam M16 USB-C Bulkhead
Canon RF 10–20mm f/4 L IS STM
OM System TG-7
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