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Surf photography 101 - Choosing an underwater camera housing
Surf photography is one of those genres of photography that is both expensive and very challenging to do, especially when your taking photos in the ocean with an expensive and heavy underwater camera housing. Although I have came to realise that shooting in the ocean, amongst the chaos and power of mother nature, is what makes me love the craft of photography even more. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the fact that 9 times out of 10, I come back with images that I am not satisfied with, but that is what keeps me going back out there.
There are so many different types of underwater camera housings, thus making it confusing as to which one to buy and why you would choose one over another. Canon & Nikon DSLR's are the most popular choice for high-end custom built housings, but mirrorless Sony and Fuji setups also are becoming more popular now too however, due to the lightweight form factor. You can even find a housing for something like a RED Camera , as long as you have deep enough pockets.
If your looking for a solid design that will withstand a beating on the reef I would highly recommend SPL waterhousings, Aquatech or Liquid Eye. These three all perform great in heavy surf or in challenging and rugged conditions, especially useful for extreme sports like surfing. The customisation is a key point however, and currently my SPL housing does not really have much besides the basics such as; shutter speed, aperture, video/photo mode and manual and pistol triggered shutter. This is something that could be a deal breaker for many people, especially if you are likely to be free-diving or doing something less action heavy whereby you have some time to fiddle with settings on the fly out in the water. Both Liquid Eye and Aquatech have better customisation options for those who want the ability to change things like ISO, focus points and AF-drive modes, although some of these features will come at an additional cost to your housing.
In terms of pricing, the average housing for a Canon/Nikon/Sony DSLR as of writing this is post is around $1600 USD for a pro level housing with customizable controls. Some company's like Aquatech offer a 'basic' level housing - the Compac housing only offers users the ability to use rear main dial, shutter, photo/video and playback. Although to be honest, this is not a bad offering considering this lower-level housing is only $1300 USD, which is quite cheap indeed when considering the alternatives from SPL and Liquideye.