5 of The Best Underwater Point-and-Shoot Camera Housings

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Whether you’re an East-Coaster looking to escape the cold this winter, or a resident of the West Coast or Southern Hemisphere with year-round opportunities for diving, there are tons of beautiful creatures and environments to photograph in the oceans of our planet. From the stunning coral reefs of Southern California to the incredibly diverse critters of the Caribbean and the 1,000 species of fish in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat, the world is teeming with fascinating life calling out to be immortalized in great pictures.

For those whose camera of choice is a point-and-shoot, B&H offers a variety of underwater housings that will enable you to descend to considerable depths and capture stunning images. These enclosures are compact and intended to replicate or approximate the feel of the camera in your hand; their controls are usually placed in the same positions as the corresponding function buttons and dials on the camera, and are often designed in a very similar way to make their operation as intuitive and natural as possible. In this piece, we’ll examine some of the best housings available on the market for several excellent point-and-shoot cameras.

Sony Underwater Housing for RX100-Series Cameras

Sea & Sea is one of the premier underwater camera housing brands in the world. Positioned at the high end of the spectrum, their enclosures are depth rated to an impressive 328' and made of extremely durable galvanized aluminum to withstand the harshest conditions. The MDX-RX100III model is dedicated to the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 lll, IV, and V cameras, and provides ergonomic, easy-to-use push-buttons, dials, and levers that make all camera controls accessible. It is also equipped with dual fiber-optic ports for connecting optional external strobes, which are triggered by the firing of the camera’s built-in, pop-up flash.

Sea & Sea MDX-RX100III Underwater Housing for Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 lll, IV, or V

The MDX-RX100III has a built-in lens port that accepts optional macro wet lenses, which will give you the ability to grab extreme close-ups of pygmy seahorses and other mesmerizing sea life. The housing is totally black except for the clear LCD viewing screen at the back. The monitor can be outfitted with an optional hood that will shield it from glare for better visibility in bright conditions.

Ikelite is another one of the most well-regarded names in the underwater photography industry, and for good reason. Their housings are American-made, highly sophisticated, beautifully designed, fully functional, and durable. Known for their completely clear polycarbonate enclosures that provide an unobstructed view of the camera, Ikelite has changed things up in the last couple years and developed a line of opaque white models, though the design has kept the clear back plate. A great example of this is the updated version of the housing for the Panasonic Lumix LX100 or Leica D-Lux Typ 109 camera. The opaque ABS and polycarbonate case is just as durable as its clear predecessor, featuring the same 200' depth rating and corrosion resistance, but provides the added benefit of reflecting sunlight to keep your camera cooler when shooting at or above the water line. The clear back allows you to see the LCD screen, rear camera controls, and O-ring seal, just as before. This is a crucial feature if your housing lacks a moisture alarm, because it will allow you to quickly detect a leak and get back to the surface immediately in the unlikely event of a breach in the O-ring seal.

Ikelite Underwater Housing for Panasonic LUMIX LX10 or LX15

An integrated flat glass lens port features a 3.9" diameter, and accepts optional wide-angle and macro wet lenses or color filters to enhance your images. When diving deeper or shooting in darker conditions, forget the filters and take advantage of the housing’s 5-pin, Ikelite-style bulkhead sync connector with built-in TTL circuitry for optional external strobes, which will provide powerful illumination and brilliant color correction. This type of hard-wired connection enables strobes to be triggered without the camera’s built-in flash, thus conserving battery life and providing the highest level of reliability.

Additionally, an accessory port has been added to the housing to enable the installation of an optional vacuum valve, which will allow you to confirm that the case is impermeable before submersion. Further bolstering the enclosure’s watertight security is a redesigned rear seal that keeps the O-ring from twisting or stretching and prevents the buildup of sand, dirt, and debris. The housing’s large, ergonomic mechanical controls afford access to virtually all camera functions, and include an improved, sensitive shutter lever and better zoom and rear dial controls than those available on the original transparent enclosure.

Another household name in the dive industry, Fantasea Line, also offers compact housings submersible to 200', including the FG9X model dedicated to Canon’s PowerShot G9X or G9X Mark II cameras. Like the Ikelite enclosure, it’s opaque everywhere except for the back—though it’s black instead of white—and has a clear rear plate for easy viewing of the camera screen and the housing’s O-ring seal. Fortunately, the FG9X also has a moisture alarm, so you’ve got double the peace of mind when it comes to leak protection.

Fantasea Line FG9X Underwater Housing for Canon PowerShot G9 X or G9 X Mark II

Adding to its similarities with the Ikelite housing above, the FG9X is crafted from tough, corrosion-resistant polycarbonate, the material of choice among manufacturers of consumer and “prosumer” waterproof enclosures. Instead of a sync cord connector, the Fantasea case is equipped with dual fiber-optic ports for external strobes, like the Sea & Sea MDX-RX100III. Its controls are mechanical and ergonomic, providing full access to your camera’s functions and operating in largely the same way as Ikelite’s, but featuring some differences in design and materials. Both housings have pushbuttons, which are ubiquitous on camera housings, and both sets are made of metal; on the FG9X, however, the dials are grooved, while on the Ikelite model, they’re knurled for an even better grip when wearing gloves. Virtually all Fantasea’s non-button controls are crafted from durable plastic, while their counterparts on Ikelite’s housing are made of metal, except for the shutter lever.

Olympus’s Tough TG-850, TG-860, and TG-870 cameras are submersible to 33 or 50' on their own, depending on the model—but when paired with the company’s PT-057 Underwater Housing, that figure is increased threefold or more to 150'. This case resembles the Fantasea FG9X in several ways, including its predominantly black polycarbonate body and clear back plate—though the PT-057’s back is translucent rather than transparent, except for the totally clear LCD monitor viewing window. Another attribute the two have in common is their use of fiber-optic cords to trigger strobes; the difference is that the Olympus housing comes with an adapter with a single port, and the Fantasea model has two built-in connectors. The PT-057’s controls afford access to all Tough camera functions and are a lot like the FG9X’s in their design, though their composition is far more plastic than metal. An additional feature that both enclosures share—and the higher-end, more advanced Ikelite model lacks—is a built-in cold-shoe mount for a lighting arm or a housed flash with a compatible base.

Olympus PT-057 Underwater Housing for TG-850, TG-860, or TG-870

Rounding out this group of point-and-shoot housings is Canon's own WP-DC56 for its newly announced PowerShot G1 X Mark III. This polycarbonate enclosure is the only one with a totally transparent body, allowing for a full view of the camera and O-ring. Additionally, the integrated lens port has an anti-reflection coating to prevent flare in bright sunlight. The WP-DC56 features a depth rating of 135'. Virtually all camera functions are operable via the controls, and strobes can be connected and triggered via fiber-optic cables or wireless slave functionality. Like the two preceding models from Olympus and Fantasea, this Canon housing offers a built-in cold-shoe mount on top.

Canon WP-DC56 Waterproof Case for PowerShot G1 X Mark III

All over the globe, there are amazing life forms and environments to photograph beneath the ocean’s surface. Waterproof housings turn your favorite point-and-shoot camera into an amphibious asset, enabling you to explore the world under the sea—and emerge with images that tell a story and capture the beauty and magnificence of nature’s aquatic side.

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