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Thursday, May 05, 2005 

Ikelite housing for Fuji F810 camera

I thought I'd post some first thoughts on the new Ike housing for the Fuji F810.

I will frame this in that this is my first housing. My experience is totally with an S&S MMIIEX system. But I think I have good company with this move. Negative comments in some places should be seen as mostly little niggly things, rather than major problems. I am very pleased overall so far.

First off my impressions of the Ike housing is that it is a very rugged, well thought-out product. It has very thick, polished walls and the controls are well laid-out. Even though it is basically a box, it fits the camera pretty well with little extra space. The controls are very beefy and should be easy to operate with gloved hands. I dive in cold water for the most part, so this was essential. In reading through the manual (looks preliminary, it was xeroxed) they also are somewhat user serviceable fairly easily.

The housing fits nicely into the hands with one hand on the housing which can operate the shutter and various controls there. The shutter is easy to fire and feel a half-press. I did notice that the arm pressing the camera was very slightly (like 1/32") too long, hitting the edge of the camera and making for a slightly harder release. I may try to slightly bend it shorter.

The latches are very beefy and somewhat stiff. One thing I didn't like was the lock release tab, it wasn't finished well with some sharp edges. A little polishing with a Dremmel should fix it, as I've twice tagged my finger with them. A very similar latch on my Dive-Rite canister latch is much more polished and easier to use, with a lower profile.

They added a black plastic thumb rest and wrist lanyard which while ergonomic in use, is poorly thought out. My biggest problem is that it is opaque black and covers about 20% off the seal area and negates one of the biggest advantages of the Ike housings; being able to "see the seal". The thumb rest should of been clear plastic and glued on. I may remove it altogether, although it makes for a firm grip.

The lanyard is a bit of a joke. Remove it immediately, I absolutely guarantee that if you rely in it, you will loose the camera. The little cover unscrews and you can thread on a good quality Cetacean coiled lanyard with a metal clip. I have seen so many people loose lights using these wrist lanyards that our joke is that they are a device to sell more lights.

The camera screws on the a tray mounted to the back of the housing, which makes it easy to access. The tripod thumb screw could have a slightly thicker head as it is recessed and you might have to use a quarter to twist it. The camera can be a little hard to align at first, it does center on the tray and goes between some alignment pins. You have to put a slight pressure on it and by gently pressing on the thumb screw and screwing it you can thread it. I'm going to mark the tray with some scribes to help. Once screwed down it is a solid assembly.

A nice surprise was a 1/2" foam screen shade. I may look around and see if I can find a magnifier to fit in it.

The pins and latch tabs have little silicone covers on their ends, these slip off easily. I'm going to glue them on with a small dab of silicone or super glue.

The housing comes with a couple of diffusers/flash shields. The one with the octo is for external strobe, the translucent one is for the internal flash. I think it could of been about 1/2" wider on the left side, but seems to work ok on land anyway.

The instructions say that the housing may show a slight shadow from the lens barrel on the left side when shooting close up and that you can just zoom the lens slightly to remove it from the frame. The bad news is that with the F810 you cannot zoom the lens while in macro mode. The good news is that I couldn't detect a shadow while doing some test shots. Some dives will tell the tale.

The seal should be cleaned and lubricated before use, mine came with a coating of smutz all over it from the factory. (I almost couldn't find the grease that came with it - don't use another product - as the tube is so small. A little larger size would of been nice.)

I added 8 oz for camera weight and sealed up the housing for a water test this afternoon. I'd guess that it was about 1 to 1/2 lbs negative and sank at a fair clip. I dropped it down to 20' or so and let it soak without incident.

One note was that I ordered a two handle Ike tray to go with it. While extremely well made, it is a bit massive (made for bigger DSLRs) and weighs 1 1/2 lbs dry. I think it is too big and the right handle is hard to reach the controls from. I also don't like the way it attaches, with too many screws and spacers to go dancing across the dive deck. I don't recommend it, and will return it and look at another idea when I get some strobes. Your mileage may vary and the single handle tray should work ok.

But so far, if you have a Fuji F810, this housing is a bargain and I highly recommend it.

See: Ikelite F810

Other Related Articles:Tips for Inon external lenses and Writer's Cramp

--Update--
Several of us "early adopters" had problems with the port not allowing the lens to fully extend at depth (~60'), resulting in a "zoom error", sometimes even jamming the lens out. This was caused by too tight a tolerance on the port by Ikelite. Another port is available for either user installation, or by the factory, under warranty.

The camera is not used in macro mode while using the Inon macro lens, and I didn't see a noticeable shadow using the on-board flash and macro settings.

Ikelite is now making a similar housing for the new Ikelite E900, which supersedes the F810, no longer available.

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  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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