Homemade underwater camera housing

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Loose Gravel, Feb 2, 2007.

  1. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I've been working a project for myself and need to finish with some underwater photography -- in a pool. I've been thinking of a Nikonos, but most of the other pix in the project are LF and medium. I'd like to do these with a MF.

    Anybody here made an underwater housing? Looking on the web, it doesn't look that bad except maybe winding the film. I'd like to use a Mamiya 7 with a 43mm, so focus is probably no a big issue. Seems as though most use a piece of pipe, but I was thinking about an ammo box with the side opened up.

    Any thoughts would be great as always. --LG--
     
  2. Kevin Roach

    Kevin Roach Member

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    how about a periscope instead. Just an L=shaped tube with a mirror. That way you wouldn't have to risk putting your camera in a possibly leaky box.
     
  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Another option would be to make your housing with an air inlet and use a small pump to apply positive pressure to the inside so air can escape through any gaps rather than allowing water in.

    At fairly shallow depths, you would not need a lot of pressure.

    Steve.
     
  4. gwatson

    gwatson Member

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    Have to say, I think you're fairly mad. No offence and all. If you go down the biscuit tin route, I give you evens that you'll trash a very nice piece of kit.

    You can get specifically designed 'bags' made from heavy duty plastic with a proper fastening device. You can only go to about 10 meters before the bag starts squeezing the shutter, but that should be fine for you. These sorts of things: http://www.camerasunderwater.co.uk/ewa_marine/compact/index.html

    Geoff
     
  5. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    1) There was a housing made for a MF TLR. I seem to recall it was Rollei and expensive. There is a picture of Gowland using this.

    2) Keep in mind that with a flat view port will change the effective focal length of your lens. Your 43mm will be more like a 65mm.

    3) the idea of a positive pressure housing seems very risky to me. A little burp and your camera is flooded.

    I would contact either Backscatter in Monterey or Subaquatic Photo in Salinas. Dan Blodget at Subaquatic would be a great resource on whether this has been done or how you could do it.

    Matt
    Matt
     
  6. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    As above, I would not be willing to risk an expensive camera in a UW camera housing at all, unless i was specifically insured for it. You could try it with a holga or something... but I think the reality is that UW is a place best left for digital.. you dont have to wind or change film.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    A friend of mine did this, for several cameras (i.e. several housings). He was a Chief Scientist at Kodak. Kodak paid for a lot of it -- which was just as well. It is far more difficult than it looks, especially with wide-angles. Ammo boxes may work for a metre or less, but even then, I'd be nervous.

    Incidentally I've handled the Rolleimarin (for TLRs), in Bermuda 40 years ago. A friend of a friend had two (!). It was HUGE, and out of the water, very ungainly too.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  8. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Good point--on a trip to Chuuk my brother and I both flooded our Nikonos cameras. Ouch (turned out to be a problem with the O-ring lube).

    Luckily, we both had camera flood insurance. Yep, they sell it.

    Now, one thing to consider is the possibility of multiple Nik V's. They are cheap enough--ebay has them for $200-300 with 35mm lens. A CLA and you are on the way. Maybe even skip the CLA. Shoot a roll each dive and swap lenses rather than reload film.

    Geez--20mm lenses are about $200.

    So, lets say you had 3 Nik V's, with 3 20mm lenses. You could do this for <$1k. I'd probably use one strobe setup--just to reduce bulk--and you are on your way for way cheaper than a digital. Way cheaper.

    Or, have a macro and a WA setup. By the time you pay for a dSLR and housing, you could have a stable of Nikonos cameras!

    I would have multiple strobe cables, though. Make sure that each camera has a cable setup before you get on the boat. Disconnect the cable from the strobe, reconnect to the fresh camera. Wrap the used camera in a wet rag to keep salt crystals from forming...Makes me want to get back out there!



    Matt
     
  9. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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