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Pro underwater housing for NEX-5

Most underwater housings for compact cameras are basic items intended for use down to 10m or so. The NEX-5, with its magnesium alloy body and exceptional 16mm f/2.8 optic with fisheye and wide conversion options, is worth far more than that. It can be turned into the modern-day equivalent of the Nikonos rather than a modern day equivalent of that peculiarly unreliable subaqua Vectis which Minolta bowed out with…

Here’s something which we found in an email for B&H Photo Video. It is not exactly cheap – you are looking at a near-$2000 investment to take your NEX and lenses below the waves – but it’s got a specification to make serious subaqua shooters rush for that low-cost NEX-5 outfit to complete the kit. Especially as anything similar for DSLR cameras may cost 50%, 100%, even more than this.

There is a waiting list now – the Montreal manufacturer (reports Photoclubalpha forum member Javelin) is 4-6 weeks from delivery after a big rush following the product announcement. So if you want one of these for summer, get your order in right now, do not delay as all production is likely to be pre-ordered this year.

To complete this you need an extension and dome port front, of course

The Aquatica AN-5 Underwater Housing for Sony NEX 5 Camera is a compact (5.5 x 3.25 x 6″/14.2 x 8 x 15.4 cm) housing machined from a solid block of aluminum designed for the Sony NEX 5 camera. This lightweight (2.2 lbs/1 kg) housing has a baked-on powder coating and is fully anodized against the corrosive effects of sea water. It has replaceable sacrificial anodes, plus pad printed function labels that won’t peel off or fade. It has built-in dual optical connectors, and all controls are easily accessed, with the LCD screen at a more-comfortable 15° viewing angle. A variety of ports are available for the AN-5 housing.

Note: Requires Lens port
Also Note: Most zoom lenses require a close-up diopter filter to correct focus distance.

  • Accurately balanced ergonomic design – all controls are within easy reach.
  • Depth rating: 300′ (90 m).
  • Excellent balance underwater.
  • Replaceable sacrificial anodes protect the housing from electrolysis.
  • Precision machined from a single aluminum block
  • Lightweight and compact housing is fully anodized
  • Covered with baked-on powder coating to protect against the corrosive effects of sea water
  • All function labels are pad printed so they will not peel off or fade.

Pre-order from B&H

This is a new product, and B&H show it as available for pre-order, along with the accessory ports (to fit either the 18-55mm zoom, the 16mm f/2.8 alone or the 16mm fitted with the VCL-ECF1 fisheye converter) and accessory L-type hand grip. See comments above about production and orders. This is a hot product and likely to be hard to get.

The housing is compatible with the Sea & Sea Y110a slave-strobe underwater flash. This will set you back the better part of $1000 more, but it’s been tested synched with the NEX mini flash and apparently all works well. Flash is essential for good colour at depth, even down 5m or so and you’ll require it in many water conditions. The premium option is the twin Y110a dual unit (the housing has two optical connectors for the strobe’s fibre optic triggering cables).

If you are put off by the cost, maybe you can’t afford that two week trip to the Maldives to photograph manta ray convocations – the basic housing is $1399, a typical dome port as shown is $499 (for the 16mm lens alone, only $159 and the cheapest option), the L-grip is $59, there’s also an optional zoom control. But 90m diving with an APS-C live view autofocus camera with f/2.8 lens focusing down to a few inches, usable ISO to 1600 and then more, has to make this worth the cost. And if you want to match the combo, you can easily spend $10,000 on a DSLR with housing which will not get into the same space or handle anything like as well.

– DK

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