Underwater Photography Gear

Before we get started, an important disclosure

Aquatech Elite 5D4 Water Housing
Aquatech water housings are suitable down to a depth of 30ft, so they aren’t dive housings, which are much heavier, bulkier and more expensive. First and foremost, these housings were designed for surf photography, but they make an excellent option for interesting half-and-half landscape photography where the camera is partially submerged, and also general adventure photography usage. I also plan to use mine for several remote wildlife photography setups where the camera will be triggered from a distance. The housing protects the camera from the wildlife and the elements. The Elite housing is their top-of-the-line housing style, but there are other models available for lower prices that offer a few less external controls.

The thing I love about the Aquatech system is the built-in zoom knob on the front of the housing. This means I can pair the housing with a number of different zoom lenses using their interchangeable lens port system. Whilst the zoom lenses and zoom ports do add some bulk and weight to the setup, I find this works well for my very generalist usage of this housing. I can cover an awful lot of usage scenarios with a couple of zoom ports.

PD-85 Dome Port
Dome ports are used for wide-angle underwater photography, or so-called half-and-half images where the camera is partly submerged in the water, and the photo shows both what’s above and below the surface. The larger the dome, the easier it is to get the half-and-half look. The PD-85 is an 8″ dome that’s suitable for usage with the Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens, and also all of Canon 16-35mm variations. The Aquatech ports are modular, so you simply use different sized metal screw-on spacers between the dome and the housing, to accommodate different lens lengths. The small fisheye lens uses the P-30EX spacer, and the 16-35mm uses the P-70EX spacer. Since the dome itself is very expensive at over $500, it’s nice to be able to use the cheaper spacers and be able to use multiple lenses with the same dome port. It also makes packing much easier!
P-145 Flat Port
I use the P-145 flat port for both the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L II, and the Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS II. Again, it’s nice to be able to use the one port with two different lenses. The 24-70 is ultra sharp, and f/2.8 gives a faster shutter speed for action in low light, but the IS in the 24-105 lens is a nice addition in the water for a lot of other situations that have less frantic action.

Note that the P-145 port comes as standard with a P-70EX spacer tube, which is also the same spacer needed for the PD-85 dome port when it’s used with a 16-35mm lens. Another example of how universal this port system is! With the P-145 and the PD-85, I can cover everything from 8mm to 105mm, both above and below the water, with just two lens ports and a couple of zoom gears. Great for travel!

Aquatech Pocketwizard Kit
The Pocketwizard kit allows you to fire a remote flash from the camera housing, or it allows you to use a Pocketwizard to trigger the camera remotely. It comes with a small housing for the Pocketwizard transceiver to sit in, and cables for both the flash scenario, and the remote camera scenario. Note that extension cables will be needed if the camera is going to be fully submerged. The Pocketwizards will not work underwater, so the transceiver must stay above the water at all times, and use the available extension cables to connect it to the camera.
Aquatech Housing Case
A neoprene case for Aquatech housings. Really, it’s a no-brainer purchase if you’re spending $1500+ on the housing!
AquaTech Leash
If you’re going to use the housing around waves, you’ll want to strap it to your wrist. I find that it’s a good safety strap in most situations though, because the dome port is easily scratched, so you wouldn’t want to go dropping it. Again, if you’re going to spend $1500 on the housing, you should get this, it might just save you a fortune.

Got a gear question?

Leave it in the comments below!


  1. jeff

    Hey Dan, so I am looking into this equipment for some shallow water ‘people photography’ and some under over shots. How has it held up so far? is there anything you wish you had know when you first got it, tips etc? thanks!

    • Dan Carr

      I’m loving it, and I think it’s a great value setup. Nothing I really wished I had, but just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get used to it. The setup depends on what camera you are going to be using, but there is a learning curve with setting up the menus so that you can get the camera to work with the limited controls you have. Other than that, it’s just all common sense stuff really, like making sure you have a mental checklist (or physical) one for prep before getting in the water. Like a pre-flight checklist for the safety of your gear. Again, depending on what camera and housing you get, you might need to pre set some camera settings as well.


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