Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Product Review: Aquapac Waterproof SLR case

This is our second Aquapac product on review and our very first underwater camera case. As you know we love the Aquapac product range; we love their philosophy and their attention to detail and when the need arose for an underwater camera shoot, they were the first people I thought of contacting.

We did a small underwater photographic piece in the Galapagos Islands. The main shoot was carried out with some pretty expensive professional equipment, stuff that really is outside most casual user’s budget. Somewhere in the vicinity I wanted to take an average person’s perspective, one that would eventually lead to me purchasing the Aquapac SLR waterproof case. Let me tell you how it all came about… I wanted to bring my Canon 50D to the shoot and use it for some background stuff. The camera produces some excellent shots and does not weigh or cost the earth. However, that reasonable cost is still a little too much to risk when shooting close to the sea. The result was the need for an underwater case, a need that was quickly abated by the large investment one of these things inevitably entails.

Other choices could’ve been a throwaway camera, which produces some pretty average results and has a fairly high failure rate (normally not detected until print); or a purposely bought underwater digital camera which can be expensive and is probably not the way to go for the very casual user, although there are some great ones out there now.

Having decided to opt for the inexpensive waterproof ‘bag’ case I opted for the Aquapac version as they produce a perfectly sized one for my SLR camera. You can look on their site to get the exact dimensions and see if your SLR and lens combination fits.

Once you receive it you will wonder whether it will safely keep your camera dry. No matter how well it is put together, this product will still give you the plastic bag feel and you will likely wonder if you’re doing the right thing. Fear not, you are. I tested the ‘bag’ on a number of occasions at home to check for leaks and to see if there would be any chance for any of the components to fails. By the end of it, I was happy that I could trust it with the camera.

One thing you immediately notice is that you will have to remove the camera straps as they get in the way, once in the bag. Thankfully the case comes with its own strap. On the beach and by the water this is a very nice way to keep your camera safe and dry, also protected from sand and dust. With my feet in the water, this is where the case seriously excelled, I felt safe that the camera would stay dry.

Underwater it does not do so well. Firstly it should be pointed out that it is not a professional camera case, it cannot replace one of those very expensive units that professional photographers drag around on special Discovery Channel type expeditions. It will however provide some nice shots from the surface, for snorkeling you will get some great shots in shallow water where lighting is not an issue and where the camera is only being held a metre or so under water. Any deeper and we noticed a tightening of the bag (due to the surrounding pressure) that was making the mechanical operation of our lens fail, it also made it a little harder to push buttons and change settings. In any case it is guaranteed submersible to 15 feet (5 metres) so it is unlikely to be taken out diving. Our pro photographer took it out for a spin and liked the general concept, he had some trouble getting the shots he wanted at depth due to the aforementioned issue, but he did get some interesting photos from the surface. At that stage you also have a lack of lighting issue.

All in all this is a very good product for a very specific job, it is an admirable way to protect your camera in and around water, a pretty great accessory for taking snorkeling photos but not so great when you are a few feet under water, at least not for this trip. The overall build quality is great, we thought the hotshoe mount would eventually damage it, but the plastic seems very durable so all in all, no problems there.

Test results at a glance

Pros: Fantastic waterproof system, perfect for keeping your SLR camera safe in and around water, durable, well-priced and well-designed

Cons: Difficult to use at depth, care must be taken when choosing the case to ensure your camera will fit correctly.

Product details:
- It'll float with your camera in it.
- It's guaranteed submersible to 15 feet (5 metres).
- The UV-stabilized TPU material won't be broken down or discoloured by sunlight.
- It keeps out dust and sand too.

See www.aquapac.net for more details

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dude said...

When around water or extreme elements protect your valuables and electronic devices with a Waterproof Case

David White said...

A lot of helpful information. As a total newbie to the world of DSLRs and travel photography, I’m always looking for ways to improve my shots.

Camera and Laptop Bag