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TCU Diver
07-17-2009, 17:40
I am new to underwater photograph. In the past I have used disposable cameras on my dives, and I am now looking to upgrade to a SeaLife camera. I am trying to determine the life of an underwater camera. I have been told by different people they will last anywhere from 2 years of average use to 10 years of heavy use before the case will leak. I was wondering why I am getting such different responses from people. My research so far has lead me to believe most leaks are caused by user error, not the case failing. So maybe 10 years of heavy use and perfect care is a true statement, but 2 years of average use and realistic care is also a true statement and a more likely outcome. Does my theory sound correct? Also, I wanted to do a survey. What has been your experience with how long a camera can be used before it floods? (Both in years and dives would be helpful) Thanks.

CompuDude
07-17-2009, 17:48
Unless you mistreat your camera housing, as long as you perform regular routine maintenance (cleanings, etc.), with periodic o-ring replacement, chances are you'll want to replace the camera with something more current long before the housing fails due to age.

Some housings do last longer than others (an Ikelite housing constructed of sturdy 1/8" - 1/4" polycarbonate is likely to last much longer than the cheap plastic of an OEM Canon housing, for instance), but realistically all of them will last the life of the camera... barring mistreatment. Hinges and buttons are the weak points of any housing. (Ikelite housings don't usually have any hinges, FWIW)

thesmoothdome
07-17-2009, 20:36
Not sure about the Sealife, but my old Nikonos V lasted at least 10 years and 2 owners. I sold it in 1998. About the only issue I ever had with it was a frozen port plug. I expect my current Ikelite housing to outlast my Canon 50d. I'm sure along the way, I'll have to replace/repair the ports though.

After my month long trip last summer, my 8" dome port had some pretty deep scratches due to me misjudging the distance of some staghorn coral above me. I was able to repair the scratches with an acrylic restoration kit though.

mike_s
07-17-2009, 23:04
my Sealife is 4-5 years old. never a problem.

just a tiny leak ones with maybe a teaspoon of water. found sand on the o-ring. cleaned it and it worked fine afterwards.


had a 35mm Sealife for 4-5 years before that. never a problem with that.

Nemrod
07-18-2009, 00:57
Cameras are obsolete on a year cycle.

fire diver
07-18-2009, 08:00
I have 2 Sea&Sea cameras that are over 25 years old. The housings are still operating great.

Take care of your stuff and it will last you a very long time. I know that 35mm film is ancient today, but I just can't make the financial leap into a DSLR, case, glass, and strobes. As long as it keeps working, I'll keep using it.

PACKRMAN
07-18-2009, 08:47
I am replacing a Sealife reefmaster mini. It survived 4 1/2 dives. I know, OPERATOR ERROR. I just wish I knew what the error was???

TCU Diver
07-22-2009, 14:47
Thanks for the feedback. I feel a little better about investing in the camera now. Assuming, I don't have PackrMan's issue.

scubarobin
07-24-2009, 09:23
Like the others said, it is about how well you take care of it and how much you "follow the rules".
1. Open and close the housing only when needed, especially on boat or on the beach as you are more likely to get debris like sand or hairs in the o-ring seal and then it will definitely leak!
2. When you do open and close the housing, take special care of the o-ring. Most people use lube every time, just a little dab, and run the o-ring around in your fingers, wipe off any excess. Don't over lube, but don't let the o-ring dry out and crack - it will leak!
3. The best place to open and close the housing is in your a/c room at hotel. Hot steamy ocean air will cause the housing to fog up, then you take crappy pictures. There are small desicant packages you can get to go inside the housing to help with moisture, too.
4. On the boat or beach, keep the housing out of the sun! Housings heat up, forming - fog inside the housing!!! See #3.

Hope this helps!
Most people flood cameras from not following one of these rules. Just a few years ago, on a liveaboard, we watched a couple open their housing and pull camera out between every dive to show everyone onboard their pictures. Sure enough, they F'ed the camera by day 4. It was their second camera in just over a month... they said the thought the housings were defective! :smilie39:

robin:smiley20:

CompuDude
07-24-2009, 17:23
Hope this helps!
Most people flood cameras from not following one of these rules. Just a few years ago, on a liveaboard, we watched a couple open their housing and pull camera out between every dive to show everyone onboard their pictures. Sure enough, they F'ed the camera by day 4. It was their second camera in just over a month... they said the thought the housings were defective! :smilie39:

My camera battery only lasts 1.5 dives. I have to change it before every dive as a result, or live with a camera that craps out halfway through the second dive.

Care is needed, but opening your housing between dives is no guarantee of flooding your camera.

That said, I'd agree opening your housing frivolously is not a great practice.

thesmoothdome
07-24-2009, 19:45
Like the others said, it is about how well you take care of it and how much you "follow the rules".
1. Open and close the housing only when needed, especially on boat or on the beach as you are more likely to get debris like sand or hairs in the o-ring seal and then it will definitely leak!
2. When you do open and close the housing, take special care of the o-ring. Most people use lube every time, just a little dab, and run the o-ring around in your fingers, wipe off any excess. Don't over lube, but don't let the o-ring dry out and crack - it will leak!
3. The best place to open and close the housing is in your a/c room at hotel. Hot steamy ocean air will cause the housing to fog up, then you take crappy pictures. There are small desicant packages you can get to go inside the housing to help with moisture, too.
4. On the boat or beach, keep the housing out of the sun! Housings heat up, forming - fog inside the housing!!! See #3.

Hope this helps!
Most people flood cameras from not following one of these rules. Just a few years ago, on a liveaboard, we watched a couple open their housing and pull camera out between every dive to show everyone onboard their pictures. Sure enough, they F'ed the camera by day 4. It was their second camera in just over a month... they said the thought the housings were defective! :smilie39:

robin:smiley20:

I tend to open my housing every dive on liveaboards as well. While I can get a day of shooting out of my battery, I prefer to make sure that my all my gear is fully powered before each dive, so the battery is swapped out and charged.

I also swap the card out and download pictures between every dive, not so much to share with people, but to evaluate and learn. Plus, if I do flood, I don't loose what I've already shot.

If I'm just swapping cards and batteries, I may skip checking and re-lubing the o-ring on the back. Not good practice, but sometimes it happens and it never happens more than 1 dive.

It's also quite likely that if shot wide angle on the first dive at a site, I'll want to shoot macro on the next dive. Consequently, the housing is opened, the camera comes out, the lens is changed and the port is changed. Any time I've had a leak it has been from my 8" dome port not being seated properly, never from the rear seal.

Regardless of which port is on the housing, before every dive I submerge the camera in the camera dunk tank to test for leaks. It's here that I've saved myself a few times. It always seemed to happen when I was rushed and trying to get set up during the dive briefing or right before... Go figure. The best advice I can give is to take your time. Plan what you're going to shoot well in advance of the dive briefing and set up accordingly.

For the record, the worst place to open your camera is back in your air conditioned room. Especially on a liveaboard. Condensation will form when you take the camera out of a cold environment into a hot, humid one.

CompuDude
07-24-2009, 19:57
For the record, the worst place to open your camera is back in your air conditioned room. Especially on a liveaboard. Condensation will form when you take the camera out of a cold environment into a hot, humid one.

Condensation absolutely occurs if you take a cold camera into a warm moist one, but only on the outside of the housing... which, it turns out, is suterproof (supposedly :smiley2:) If the camera was sealed in an air-conditioned room (which means lower temps and lower humidity compared to elsewhere), condensation inside should not form, which is the whole point. Even if the water is very cold and the AC room is not as cold as the UW temps, the point is to keep the air inside the housing as dry as possible. Much better odds of that in an AC room than in warm, moist sea air.

thesmoothdome
07-24-2009, 21:05
For the record, the worst place to open your camera is back in your air conditioned room. Especially on a liveaboard. Condensation will form when you take the camera out of a cold environment into a hot, humid one.

Condensation absolutely occurs if you take a cold camera into a warm moist one, but only on the outside of the housing... which, it turns out, is suterproof (supposedly :smiley2:) If the camera was sealed in an air-conditioned room (which means lower temps and lower humidity compared to elsewhere), condensation inside should not form, which is the whole point. Even if the water is very cold and the AC room is not as cold as the UW temps, the point is to keep the air inside the housing as dry as possible. Much better odds of that in an AC room than in warm, moist sea air.

I can only tell you that from experience, if I've changed lenses down in my room, sealed the housing back up and taken it back up to the deck, I've always had condensation issues.

palatulog
07-28-2009, 00:28
as long as you perform regular routine maintenance (cleanings, etc.), with periodic o-ring replacement

Every how often do you recommend with the o-ring replacement? Every 100 dives or every year whichever comes first? I have an Ikelite housing.

CompuDude
07-28-2009, 03:23
as long as you perform regular routine maintenance (cleanings, etc.), with periodic o-ring replacement

Every how often do you recommend with the o-ring replacement? Every 100 dives or every year whichever comes first? I have an Ikelite housing.

My "official" answer is "whatever the manufacturer recommends". :D

(My personal answer is "as soon as it needs it". Stretch the o-ring (gently) periodically and look for signs of wear (small cracks, etc.). If you think it has changed in appearance in a moderately ominous way, it needs to be replaced, so change it! My personal housing's o-ring is over two years old and going strong.)

Skred
07-28-2009, 07:04
as long as you perform regular routine maintenance (cleanings, etc.), with periodic o-ring replacement

Every how often do you recommend with the o-ring replacement? Every 100 dives or every year whichever comes first? I have an Ikelite housing.

My "official" answer is "whatever the manufacturer recommends". :D

(My personal answer is "as soon as it needs it". Stretch the o-ring (gently) periodically and look for signs of wear (small cracks, etc.). If you think it has changed in appearance in a moderately ominous way, it needs to be replaced, so change it! My personal housing's o-ring is over two years old and going strong.)

In addition to what CD says, I periodically compare the O-ring I have in use to the new spare one I keep onhand. Any appearance changes that may signal the need for replacement are more evident to me that way.

scubarobin
07-28-2009, 11:28
For the record, the worst place to open your camera is back in your air conditioned room. Especially on a liveaboard. Condensation will form when you take the camera out of a cold environment into a hot, humid one.

Condensation absolutely occurs if you take a cold camera into a warm moist one, but only on the outside of the housing... which, it turns out, is suterproof (supposedly :smiley2:) If the camera was sealed in an air-conditioned room (which means lower temps and lower humidity compared to elsewhere), condensation inside should not form, which is the whole point. Even if the water is very cold and the AC room is not as cold as the UW temps, the point is to keep the air inside the housing as dry as possible. Much better odds of that in an AC room than in warm, moist sea air.

exactly!

as far as o-ring life... I have been an Ikelite housing user for almost 10 years now. I replaced one o-ring recently, when it was 3 yrs old and 100+ dives with it. It didn't necessarily need to be replaced as far as I could see or feel, but I felt it was time. I would recommend taking out the o-ring and rinsing it under water to remove any salt or sand that might accumulate over a trip. When we returned from Bonaire I did a pretty thorough cleaning of my housing and discovered that there were salt crystals down in the o-ring groove and around all the buttons. Even with the hour long soaks apparently did not get all the salt/sand out. After that I have been much more diligent in my cleaning the housing!

robin

palatulog
07-29-2009, 23:45
as long as you perform regular routine maintenance (cleanings, etc.), with periodic o-ring replacement

Every how often do you recommend with the o-ring replacement? Every 100 dives or every year whichever comes first? I have an Ikelite housing.

My "official" answer is "whatever the manufacturer recommends". :D

(My personal answer is "as soon as it needs it". Stretch the o-ring (gently) periodically and look for signs of wear (small cracks, etc.). If you think it has changed in appearance in a moderately ominous way, it needs to be replaced, so change it! My personal housing's o-ring is over two years old and going strong.)

In addition to what CD says, I periodically compare the O-ring I have in use to the new spare one I keep onhand. Any appearance changes that may signal the need for replacement are more evident to me that way.

Manufacturer does not say every how often I need to replace the o-ring. They do say not to stretch the o-ring. Thanks for sharing though. I think I'll change mine every 2 years or when needed. It is better safe than sorry.


4. Keep the back o’ring clean and lightly lubricated. To lubricate
remove the o’ring from the back. Put a small amount of lkelite
lubricant on your fingers. Draw the o’ring through your fingers
to apply a light coating of lubricant. Only apply enough
lubricant to make the o’ring feel slick. Do Not stretch the o’ring.
This light coating of lubricant will help to keep the o’ring from
drying out and will help to show a dark sealing line when the
housing back is properly sealed.
http://www.ikelite.com/downloads/instructions/DC_Housings_pdf/Sony_pdf/Son_DSC-P200.pdf