SELECTING YOUR UNDERWATER COMPACT CAMERA

This guide is to help you on your initial steps towards getting your first underwater compact camera system. While the internet has a wealth of information and there will be many suggestions and advice given, one might suffer from analysis-paralysis. It is the aim of this guide to help you focus on the important considerations. Periodically it will be updated to keep up with camera technology and the latest trends. We do hope you appreciate this compilation.

Summary

MaterialTypes of materials used to manufacture underwater housings 
BrandsWhat are the popular underwater housing manufacturers are out there
Example – Olympus TG-6Availability of various manufacturer’s underwater housing
Example – Olympus TG-6
Quality vs Price Chart
Visual chart representation of quality versus retail price
ConsiderationsFactors to consider before making that first purchase
Popular Camera ModelsCurrent popular cameras, comparison chart in less than 50 words
Purchase Flow ChartA recommended flow chart on how to purchase your first underwater housing
NotesUseful information about this presentation and about us
Full CircleProviding a complete solution for you, the product and the environment
Brand CultureBrands under Oceanic Focus
CreditsResources, links and acknowledgements in making this possible

Underwater Compact Housing Material Comparison

MaterialDescription
AluminiumFrom aircraft grade certification to off the mill aluminium, most housings are milled out from two blocks of aluminium for each housing. 

POM
Polyoxymethlene, more commonly known as Acetal, Polyacetal or Polyformaldehyde is a tough engineering, resistant to cracking and chemicals. POM cases are machined from blocks of material.

ABS
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, in a opaque thermoplastic; with good strength and resistance to chemicals.  ABS casings are usually molded.
PolycarbonatePolycarbonte is a transparent thermoplastic, that are strong and tough and easily molded.

Underwater Compact Housing Brand Quality Comparison

BrandDetails
1.
Recsea
Aluminium housing, made in Japan, precision engineered with very snug fit, housing has to be sent back to Japan for servicing. Very ergonomic. 
2.
Isotta
Aluminium housing, made in Italy, popular for its red colored housings, can be serviced. Ergonomic.
3.
Nauticam
Aluminium housing, made in China, fast in producing new models, expensive to service. Ergonomic.
4.
Recsea (POM)
‘Delrin’ made material, limited in camera controls but stronger than polycarbonate housings below. Made in Japan, housing has to be sent back to manufacturer to be serviced. Ergonomic. 
5.
Ikelite
ABS front and polycarbonate rear made in USA housing, best middle ground housing in terms of price and quality. Housing can be serviced through local dealer and needs not be sent back to manufacturer. Not high on ergonomic factor.
6.
Fantasea
ABS front and polycarbonate rear made in China, limited camera models supported, warrantied housing, ergonomically designed. Only can be serviced with manufacturer.
7.
OEM
Made in various countries, most basic housing to recommend, warranty varies from brand manufacturer to manufacturer.
8.
Seafrogs / Meikon
Made in China, usually bigger than OEM housings, comes with attractive added features to compete with OEM housings. 

Underwater Compact Housing Brand Quality Comparison

I.E. Olympus TG-6

Underwater Compact Housing Brand Quality Comparison

I.E. Olympus TG-6

Underwater Compact Housing Decision Making

ConsiderationsJustifications
AccessoriesIf the housing includes and is able to support 3rd party accessories.i.e. wet lenses, mounting
ErgonomicsHandling of the housing alone without adding accessories.i.e. will it cause carpal tunnel syndrome in the long run due to position of the shutter
FinishingFor aluminium housings, a poor finishing affects the resale value as well as protective coating for the aluminium material.
MaterialDoes the manufacturer have control over the raw materials needed to build the housing and source.
QualityAffects resale value, the need to service it more often which for compact systems may not be cost justifiable.
SupportLocal or nearby support from dealers / service centres is a consideration to the price / value if available.
ValueCompact camera housings have a lower ceiling cap as compared to mirrorless and DSLR housings as the camera itself comes in at a lower price point. Price  SGD650/- and above needs stronger consideration to purchase. 

Underwater Compact Housing Decision Making

Notes

  • These slides are the opinion and views of Ivan Choong, system specialist at Oceanic Focus. With over 15 years of experience working with manufacturers, retail and servicing. Recommendations for various underwater camera housings are catered to each individual requirements and needs. 
  • The list is not exhaustive but accurate at the point of writing / update and only serves as a general guideline in helping to make better sound decisions when deciding to purchase your first underwater camera housing or the next upgrade. 
  • Factors considered in producing these charts are based on direct, previous and current correspondences, delivery, transactions with manufacturers (where applicable) 
  • Circulation of these charts are permissible without consent but cannot be reproduced / quoted in parts thereof. 
  • Interested parties looking for their first or next upgrade are highly recommended to initiate an online private and personal chat via the following instant messenger options – 

WhatsApp https://chat.whatsapp.com/EkBNTn4bgYS0a4Chp5tqis

Telegram https://t.me/@OceanicFocus

Coffee with Ivan | A personal face-to-face chat

Full Circle

COMMITMENT
We are aware about our impact to our environment and we strive to refurbish, recycle, reuse any underwater camera accessories as much as possible. 

Our full circle program follows your journey through the product’s lifecycle. From the point of purchase to its use, the product will deliver through time and upon deciding to upgrade, you can opt to have it refurbished & tested and resold within our user community. 

For the bargain hunters or starters, there is an opportunities to grab good dealers to add or begin your underwater photography journey. 

Brand Culture

WHAT WE PROVIDE
Together with our partners and manufacturers both locally and overseas, we aim to bring quality underwater camera accessories at affordable prices backed by after sales support and manufacturing warranty. 

Credits

James COSTELLOFor helping proofread and providing explanation for the technical terms
CHEN Fei-WeiIn suggesting better color visuals in the camera comparison chart
Gavan LEONGIn always thinking alternative visual options
Image Resources
RECSEAwww.recsea.com, pages 5, 6
ISOTTAwww.isorecnic.it, pages 5, 6
NAUTICAMwww.nauticam.com, pages 5, 6
IKELITEwww.ikelite.com, pages 5, 6
OLYMPUSwww.olympusimage.com.sg, pages 5, 6, 8
SEAFROGS / MEIKONwww.seafrogs.com.hk, pages 5, 6
CANONwww.canon.com.sg, page 8
SONYwww.bnhphotovideo.com, page 8
Acknowledgements
I am grateful to the following friends who have helped in various ways in improving this presentation. Together with online resources in making this useful documentation.