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Andrew Johnston
Underwater Housing
on Nov 1, 2008 at 9:26:56 pm

We need to buy some underwater housing, but naturally we're scared that a bad housing can destroy our $5k HVX.

Has anyone ever used this housing: Ewa-Marine VP2 Underwater Housing for Panasonic HVX200

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/438448-REG/Ewa_Marine_EM_VP_2_VP2_Und...

Or does anyone have any recommendations for housing under $500?

http://www.drewjohnston.com
http://www.lazytrumpet.com


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Chris Clephane
Re: Underwater Housing
on Nov 4, 2008 at 7:17:20 am

I can't entirely answer your question because I need more info.....however.


In general there are 3 types of products for "underwater" use.

1) Bags.
2) Containers.
3) Housings.

The manufacturers will take offense to me making a distinction between 2 & 3, but end-user reality dictates the distinction.

1) You are asking about a BAG unit. Simply stated these are really best utilized for "splash" scenarios. While many are rated at up to 30' depth, the reality is that you DON'T want to do this. My quick answer is: They are really great for wet surface activity down to about 5-8 feet at most. On the upside...The bags DO provide water protection and a front glass port in a lightweight package and they are generally LESS expensive. On the downside they provide NO structural rigidity to protect the camera from bumps, accidental button presses and water pressure. Pressure...yeah we forgot about that.....Remember that every 30' or so as you dive DOUBLES the pressure on your unit.

I have to run...I will finish this posting later....




I edit video. I post sometimes.
I fix things. I eat marshmallows.
I play drums. I drink scotch.
I like TV.

Done typing now.


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Chris Clephane
Re: Underwater Housing
on Nov 4, 2008 at 8:14:14 am

Bags...on the downside are also BOUYANT. They have a tendency (due to the trapped air inside the bag...and in the camera unit body) to want to float. No being rigid, it is difficult to affix counterbalancing weights to them to keep them underwater. SO its a constant fight to keep ti UNDER if you do anything other than a "quick dip below the surface...". And dont forget...while you are struffling to keep it underwater...you are also trying to frame a shot and manipulate the controls through the bag's exterior vinyl/plastic skin. Its kind of like trying to feel and individual potato chip through the outer layers of the bag in the store...just not a satisfying experience.....

That stated...bags are awesome for "shallows work", splashy activites (whale watching, kayaking, whitewater rafting) downhill skiing and snowy activities...although they get brittle and less malleable below certain temperatures....

Interrupted again...be back later....


I edit video. I post sometimes.
I fix things. I eat marshmallows.
I play drums. I drink scotch.
I like TV.

Done typing now.


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Chris Clephane
Re: Underwater Housing
on Nov 4, 2008 at 10:04:59 pm

So again, bags are usually the least expensive option. You have chosen a good quality one by the link you sent. REMEMBER ALSO...most bags do not make good allowance for viewfinder/foldout screen use. END RESULT: You are shooting blind most of the time, so put an auxillary WIDE ANGLE Lens on the camera before it goes into the bag and keep close to the action.


OPTION 2: Containers.....Research the EPIC unit on BH if you want a comparison to the BAG you spec'ed. Containers are usually PVC tubes with a port in one end. They provide EXCELLENT protection to your camera once it is inside. (Hard shell outer covering..pretty much indestructable...). The downside is that camera controls are VERY limited--usually just a few mechanical (sometimes just one!) rods to press buttons on the camera. They take some work to set up and adjust...so plan on spending an hour or two with your camera...a few shims, washers and bubblegum getting everything aligned inside so it works once you get out in the field. DOWNSIDE....VERY VERY BULKY. They hold a LOT OF air...they also require a LOT of external weight to get them underwater. These tube units usually allow you to dive to about 50' or so...so as an inexpensive entry to scuba videography...not a bad option.

These AGAIN...are VERY bulky. If you wreck/crash, etc holding one of these..your camera will probaby be fine...but YOU will most likely suffer some injury. I actually use one of the EPIC tubes to shoot wakeboarders and waterskiiers. On a second (shorter) rope from the pull boat I can sit easily on a wakeboard and "point the tube" with great results. It floats if I get "wrrecked" and I don't feel the need to tie it to my boay...so there is lesser chance of undesired injurous impact If I do wreck. These are great units topside..but bulky. I most cases you can use the camera's flip screen if it reverses and folds flat against the camera. It is difficult to shoot looking into the SIDE of the tube though. I ususally use a small (2.5") external LCD hooked to the composite out of the camera. I can velcro it inside of the tube to the camera...on top...or whatever angle works best.... Adding a sunshade around the screen helps as well..

Due to the lack of mechanical camera controls (other than REC/PAUSE), I usually use the camera's wireless remote in a waterproof flexible cellphone bag to control the camera in the tube. I keep the remote on a lanyard tied to my lifejacket. I cna change the zoom/manual focus and most other functions of the HVX without having to remove the camera from the tube.

Due to the fact that tubes often have ample ADDITIONAL space...they allow you to consider using options such as a FIRESTORE to extend your recording time. Keep in mind that the additional electronics come at a price...heat generation. I keep a small camping thermometer in the tube when I am topside during the summer. It is easy to forget during a break that you are standing in direct sunlight...and a tube is a tinly little greenhouse absorbing solar energy. Throw a towel over it and turn off gear if you ar etaking a long break. The water temperatures in the PNW keep thing scool when in the water...(60's and colder usually)...but I have heard stories of gear overheating quickly in the tropics (topside).

THese housings can often be "recycled" as you change camera models. (Tweaked to fit additional units.) You will want to use an auxillary wide angle lens with most tube units.

Moderately priced...good protection....poor camera control.

3) Custom housing. Ususally start at $3 or $4k. FIt only the camera they were designed for...and do pretty much everything with mechanical or electrical controls. I am only commenting on these because....from PAST EXPERIENCE....these generally do not do as well TOPSIDE in certain situations.
The design of these units is generally for SCUBA. They are designed to seal better when pressure compresses them during a dive. We have had leaks with these units TOPSIDE when wrecking on waterskiis/wakeboards...because sideways motion of water at odd vectors was able to work past the seals. (Minimal...but it happened.) Not our preference for TOPSIDE activites. NOTHING BETTER for scuba though.

Good luck.




I edit video. I post sometimes.
I fix things. I eat marshmallows.
I play drums. I drink scotch.
I like TV.

Done typing now.


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Bud Solem
Re: Underwater Housing
on Nov 5, 2008 at 7:14:31 pm

I have the Ewa-Marine for my HVX200 and am very pleased with it. Also have an Equinox housing for my DVX100.
I think Chris Clephane's observations are right on.



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Emre Tufekci S.O.A.
Re: Underwater Housing
on Nov 6, 2008 at 4:07:48 pm

We recently finished a shoot in a pool with a lot of special forces guys using the Ewa-Marine VP2.

It worked just fine with no leaks down to 10 feet depth but the bag bloated from pressure and the camera heat expanded and fogged up the bag (not the lens). We had to surface and add additional weights.

Please note the 200 was our throw away camera so we were not too worried about loosing the camera and the p2 cards are virtually waterproof.



Emre
http://www.productionpit.com
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