Ask the VR Photography Experts

Q: I am looking for an underwater housing for a digital camera that can accomodate fisheye lenses. I’ve heard about one made by Subal, but it appears to be vaporware at this point. Do you have any recommendations?

A: The Subal camera housings are newer in the market place than many of the traditional brands, such as Aquatica and Ikelite. I have not used them personally, but I know other underwater photographers who speak very highly of them. They are lightweight, small and strong (I believe they are made of machined aluminum). One associate of mine actually has one that he carries backpacking.

My own underwater system is comprised of a custom modified Aquatica housing for a Nikon F3. It's big and heavy, but is relatively straightforward and flexible for use. I've modified it to accept both the large Nikkor 8mm fisheye lens as well as traditional ultrawide rectilinear lenses. I also built a custom VR pan head for it. The whole thing is almost neutrally buoyant underwater (ideal for moving it about), so it needs a large tripod and diver's weight belt to keep it anchored on the bottom. (I wouldn't want to have to carry it backpacking <grin>.)

I've found that much of the equipment I use for VR photography has to be found and tested by trial and error. The best often involve combinations of various manufacturer's products, with slight modifications at times.

Also, what works best for one photographer will not necessarily be the best for another. You need to choose your own equipment based on how comfortable and effective it is to use in your own situations. The good news is that today, there are a tremendous variety of options available.

- Scott Highton