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Cameras for Dark and Wet Locations?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the photographing-caves-and-rivers dept.

Communications 68

Lorenzo de Medici asks: "In August I have the great pleasure of being able to hike all sixteen miles of the Zion Narrows. I'd like to take along a camera, but the problem is that the water level in the Narrows can be unpredictable, with flash floods arriving with little warning. Light levels tend to be low as well. Does anyone have any advice on what kind of camera I could bring that would survive yet still bring in decent photo quality?"

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68 comments

Listen Up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974233)

gamecube sucks you cant even play dvds on that junk there are only like 4 good games [lol]....
the good games are like metal gear twin snakes. the makers of gamecra% [%=p] are really greed
they only share like six games i like gamecube alot playstation and xbox suck[J.K.]

i hope you all learned a big lesson!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:Listen Up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974270)

Preach it brother.

I had a gamecube once. When I found out that it didn't play XBox games, I threw it directly in the trash.

Okay, so not directly in the trash, I took a dump in it first. Then I covered it in gasoline and lit it on fire. Then I pissed on it to put the fire out. Then I ran over it with my SUV.

Come to think of it, I didn't throw it out. After that, it played XBox games. I guess we know how MS makes their consoles!

Dark and wet places? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974256)

This sounds like a pussy cam to me.

Re:Dark and wet places? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974418)

Ah yes. He must be taking snapper shots.

Well SOMEONE's gonna say it ... (4, Funny)

bryanp (160522) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974261)

A camera for hot & moist locations? Do you have any connections in the porn industry?

Re:Well SOMEONE's gonna say it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974275)

Yep... Too late

Re:Well SOMEONE's gonna say it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974373)

You're not funny. Shutup please.

Re:Well SOMEONE's gonna say it ... (1)

krackpipe (769323) | more than 10 years ago | (#9019157)

You aren't either, I though it was fucking hilarious

waterproof, disposable (4, Informative)

beegle (9689) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974265)

They make waterproof disposable cameras. If your local photo shop doesn't carry one, amazon has them here [amazon.com] . If you don't think one will be enough, buy two or three. It's still cheaper than the cheapest waterproof reusable camera. It's relatively dark underwater, so these things tend to have higher-speed film (meaning a lighter picture), too.

$20 waterproof, reusable (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8982939)

Can't remember the name, but there is a (was?) a $20 reusable camera with plastic enclosure for scuba down to 60 ft. Uses AA batteries for the flash and regular 35mm film (100 to 800). I belive it is French made. Bought it at a local camera store. Worked great on my trip to Belize until I went down to 70 ft. But up to that point, it took great pictures.

Waterproof (3, Interesting)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974266)

Was there recently.... would recommend an actual waterproof camera, for the chance of dropping it, and the danger of flash foods in the canyon. Pack a couple of those cheapy Kodak disposable water cameras for extras. However, I don't know what to recommend for a high-quality camera that is waterproof.

Re:Waterproof (1)

MikeDawg (721537) | more than 10 years ago | (#8980717)

There are a few other things I would be concerned with, if there was a flash flood in a narrow 16+ mile canyon.

Point and click inside a ziplock bag! (3, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974278)

I think an Olympus Infinity Stylus [google.com] placed inside a plastic ziplock bag would work great. The reason I suggest film over digital is, in such a condition, any trace moisture will be hazardous to a laptop (necessary to download photos), memory cards, or battery chargers. With the Stylus, you just need a sealed package of AAs and sealed canisters of film.

Re:Point and click inside a ziplock bag! (1)

boisepunk (764513) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974472)

Analog film cameras: There are still a lot of things you can't do as well digitally, but even if that were not the case, that's missing the point. Photography is an activity, just like snowboarding or building hotrods. Even if digital was better across the board, a lot of people would still use film cameras, just as a lot of people kept painting after film arrived.

Re:Point and click inside a ziplock bag! (4, Informative)

wishus (174405) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974479)

Look at the Stylus Epic [google.com] as well, but ditch the ziploc and get an OtterBox [otterbox.com] .

Re:Point and click inside a ziplock bag! (3, Insightful)

phamlen (304054) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974537)

Just be aware that you may have to take the camera out of the bag to take pictures. Depending on the autofocus mechanism of the camera, it can get confused by the plastic bag and refuse to focus.

It's similar to the problem of trying to shoot through a window.

Re:Point and click inside a ziplock bag! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974913)

Olympus also has the Stylus line of Digitals with the 410 being the latest. Camera by itself is water resistant, but there is also an underwater houseing that you can get for the camera. Pelican also makes a perfectly sized case for the camera that is very light/compact.

I wonder ... (0, Offtopic)

Glog (303500) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974283)

Are you going dumpster diving?

Re:I wonder ... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974306)

No dumb fuck, he is going muff diving.

Re:I wonder ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8979192)

There's a difference?

Bag-It! (2, Informative)

grimessh (472937) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974287)

Get yourself a waterproof bag to store your camera in, and get the camera from somewhere with a nice warranty like Ritz (in case it breaks).

Or get yourself one of those professional underwater cameras.

As far as lighting issues, either a nice external flash, or a nice lense should help.

Re:Bag-It! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974337)

I'd just store inside of a block of concrete. It will be a lot hard to have it accidentally break and ruin the camera inside. Easy to do too. Just go down to your local hardware store and buy some ready to mix concrete. Builid a mold. Mix and Pour concrete into mold. Drop camera into wet concrete. When it drys you will have a totally waterproof camera. Easy as that.

Re:Bag-It! (1)

chris234 (59958) | more than 9 years ago | (#8975185)

My wife (a geologist) bought a camera from Ritz many years ago, and got the extended warrentee. Ended up dropping over a cliff once or twice and had it repaired/replaced with no problems. So I'd second this recomendation for anyone travelling in hostile environments.

Re:Bag-It! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8975977)

Especially if you have a retarded wife who drops things off of cliffs multiple times.

A Graflex (3, Funny)

Micro$will (592938) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974311)

Bring an old Graflex [graflex.org] but make sure you chain it to your ankle so you don't lose it in a flood. You need to use chain because it's kind of heavy, and make sure you lock it.

Slashdot is for GAYS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974314)

I'm just saying....

Re:Slashdot is for GAYS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8974341)

I don't wanna meet your momma.

I just wanna make you comma.

I'm just being honest.

I never understood those lyrics. Why make someone into punctuation?

What's your budget? Are you experienced? (1)

ihtagik (318795) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974366)

If you have a tight budget and are relatively experienced at handling decent (read expensive) camera equipment, I'd suggest visiting a good camera store and renting a pro-level camera, and a bright zoom lens. The pro level Canons are weather-proof and relatively rugged and will give you great quality pics, the kind of which you can even enlarge and sell for obscene prices...

If you are not too keen on renting equipment then there are a bunch [dpreview.com] of waterproof [steves-digicams.com] cameras out there... [amazon.com]

Nikonos (3, Informative)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974403)

Is the classic 35mm wet/dry film camera. Nikon optics, rugged, just what you need. I don't think they are currently produced, but there are plenty of them available on ebay [ebay.com] .

Re:Nikonos (1)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | more than 9 years ago | (#8976793)

The last of the Nikonos cameras were discontinued in 2002. However, many fine examples can be had on e-bay or other used camera stores.

Flashfloods? (1)

jabberjaw (683624) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974463)

I do hope you know what you are doing, as I would be worried about quite a bit more than my camera if a flashflood were to occur. Aside from that, I would go with a cheap disposable waterproof camera.

Digital or Film? (3, Interesting)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974465)

You neglected to specify digital or film. In general, many cameras of both types have optional waterproof housings. For both light-gathering ablilty and waterproofness weight will be an issue.

For landscape type photos you may be better off concentrating on camera shake instead of lens/film speed. Take a pocket tripod or clamp. I've shot quite reasonable night photos with an old digital camera just by using the tripod hand-held against a wall or tree.

For film, choose your camera based on how much weight you are willing to carry vs. the f-stop of your lens (the larger your light gathering opening the lower light you can shoot in for a given ISO but of course that is also going to make for a heavier camera). Once you have settled on that, take film of a high enough speed to get the shots you want.

For digital, I've always liked the Olympus cameras. IIRC, the Olympus C-series support ISO equivalents up to 400 and have optional waterproof housings. Also check out the Olympus "Stylus Digital" series of "ultra-compact, metal, all-weather digital" cameras that according to Olympus "can be used in rain, snow and any other situation Mother Nature throws at it"

Re:Digital or Film? (1)

DaoudaW (533025) | more than 10 years ago | (#8979633)

You neglected to specify digital or film

Yeah, but he did say decent photo quality. In my books that still means film.

waterproof case + tripod + long exposures (2, Informative)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974486)

Any photographer worth his salt knows the old put the camera on a tripod and use long exposures for shooting in low light trick.

As for wetness, just get any popular camera that has a waterproof housing available as an option. These housing are typically very rugged and probably also afford the camera a greater degree of resiliance to physical damage.

Try Olympus C5050 with PT-015 underwater housing (1)

top_banana (153345) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974521)

Although a little bulky, you will get great 5 MP shots and the guarantee that your equipment won't be ruined by water or moisture.

The camera is a little positively buoyant when used in the housing which will help you not to lose it if you have to jump in a river or a pool.

Camera review [dpreview.com]

repost to photo.net (4, Informative)

ncmusic (31531) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974523)

It would probably be much more advantageous to post your question on photo.net. Be sure to include whether or not you want to shoot film or digital and how much you are looking to spend.

Take a tripod (1)

SoundGuy666 (467270) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974580)

Take a tripod too - to give you the stability you need for those long exposures - which give that spooky, misty effect to the flowing water. You can get very lightweight ones nowadays - or even a combined monopod/walking stick. Of course, that means that whatever camera you end up with, it will need to be tripod-mountable in its waterproof form.

Well.. (1)

hookedup (630460) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974611)

i picked up a canon a80 a couple days ago, and started to look for accessories, then came across this [digideep.com] waterproof case. It's just a housing the camera sits in and lets you use all the regular buttons and dials you normally would..

perhaps your camera has a similar accessory..

Parents... (3, Funny)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974616)

do you have any?
Do they own a camera?
borrow it..

(parents are very understanding)

Cannon A60 - A80 (1)

driverEight (598719) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974626)

There is a waterproof housing WP-DC700 [amazon.com] that fits the Cannon Powershot A60, A70 A75 [steves-digicams.com] , A75 nd A80 digital cameras.

Ikelite? (1)

darrelld2 (307106) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974635)

I take a lot of pictures, and also Scuba dive. I have found Ike Lite [ikelite.com] makes a wide range of housings for cameras. They aren't exactly cheap, a plastic zip lock might suit your purposes better, but this housing gives you full functionality even underwater. Hope this helps.

From my experience... (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974639)


After having ruined a Nikon 995 on week long rafting [raftarizona.com] trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, and having hiked Zion in the past, I can tell you that water proof bags do not work. You could carry a decent digital camera in a surplus ammo [sprucemtsurplus.com] container, but that can be rather bulky - you would need a backpack for that. The cheapo waterproof cameras that you buy at Walmart cannot do Zion any justice. You really need a tripod with a camera where you can control exposure settings to get good shots.

A cheap solution... (1)

Jorkapp (684095) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974753)

One solution that would be inexpensive would be to use plastic bags. Seal your camera in a Ziploc-type bag (not cheap ones - good ones) after use. The best part is - you get to keep your existing hardware!

Re:A cheap solution... (2, Informative)

ApharmdB (572578) | more than 9 years ago | (#8975024)

There are places outside the park that rent stuff specifically for hiking the Narrows. I was there last fall and rented shoes, a staff, and a dry bag to keep my camera and lunch in. Spend the money on the shoes, it is so worth it. Most people had their own shoes on. Sure, hiking boots are meant to withstand getting wet. But they aren't meant for hiking 3 hours through a river. Having your regular boots dry later is so worth the cost of the rental. And you can rent a stick too! Actually, no joke, the hiking staff was very useful in various instances, mostly as a pole vault. Often, the water is clouded enough that you can't see what you are stepping on, so having it to balance yourself is very helpful. Plus, it is a nice, straight piece, perfect for twirling and pretending you are a bad-ass bo-weilding ninja. Turned out I really didn't need the bag, but that is only because the water was very low and I never fell in anywhere.

Re:A cheap solution... (1)

gobbo (567674) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004588)

I once found myself alone at 10,000 feet in the Himalaya having to walk down a gorge with a thigh to waist deep river that was trying to get to the ocean in a hurry. That walking staff saved my life several times! After a quarter mile the last escape from the gorge required a pole vault from one rock to another. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, with the exception of the staff.

One major advantage of getting a disposable camera: weight, about 4oz. The picture quality is indifferent but composition is 90% of the game anyway; on a long bike trip I re-used one of those disposable panoramics, and sold 8 shots to publicatons.

--values roughly translated from metric for you Imperialists ;-)

your kidding right? (1)

whoda (569082) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974787)

google answered this pretty quickly.

Ask Google [google.com]

Cameras for Dark and Wet Locations? (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974818)

Yeah right, I don't even know if I can survive dark and wet locations, let alone a camera.

Re:Cameras for Dark and Wet Locations? (1)

consolidatedbord (689996) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974873)

And that is why you are still a virgin. :)

Re:Cameras for Dark and Wet Locations? (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#8975907)

But isn't it dark and damp down in your parent's basement where you live?

Canon A1 for 35mm. (1)

Glytch (4881) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974899)

Retails about $160US, Waterproof up to about 20 feet. Load up some 400 or 800 iso film, or use a tripod and the ten-second timer, and you're good to go. Decent wide angle on it, too.

Priorities (2, Funny)

slevin (67815) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974905)

I'm not sure about your priorities, to tell you the truth. It's sort of like me saying, "I am fortunate enough to commute to work in a densely packed metropolis, but occasionally I have to cross the street or ride the subway. Does anyone know of a good camera that can withstand being crushed by a bus or the impact of an out of control speeding train? Ideally I'd like one with 4megapixels and optical zoom. Any ideas?"

Why not... (1)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974938)

Why not ask a professional? You linked to Brian Klimowski's site where he has several fantastic pictures of his trip to Zion National Park. The photos [pbase.com] look very nice. [pbase.com] Some [pbase.com] are even time lapse jewels. [pbase.com]

Instead of asking a bunch of inexperienced amateurs on Slashdot, why not ask Brian what he used and what he recommends? He left his email [mailto] for all to see. Ask him.

Followup... (1)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 9 years ago | (#8975012)

In my haste to post the above I forgot to note that Brian specifies the camera that he used at the bottom of the large pictures. A Canon Powershot G2. He also includes a link to further information, on his site about the camera.

You should still probably ask him what to use because even though his pictures are fabulous, he may have learned, through his experience, that a different camera would have been better for that particular trip.

Virtual Treks? (1)

4of12 (97621) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974960)


This reminds me of an idea I had a few years ago. I'm something of an outdoor enthusiast, hiker, etc.

Wouldn't it be cool to have outdoor trips recorded completely in video?

This would be the kind of thing that would make a great dynamic screensaver backdrop, or something to put on the TV in place of commercial chatter and hype (kind of like fishtank, fireplace, etc.)

But it could be really useful in planning trips, to help people know which fork to take, what do the landmarks really look like at different times of day, different seasons of the year, etc.

This could be good, too, for river trips when you're wondering what various rapids look like at different flowrates CFM before you go down through them.

Canon digicam with waterproof enclosure (1)

CaptainStormfield (444795) | more than 9 years ago | (#8974975)

Canon makes some nifty waterproof enclosures [powershot.com] for their digital cameras. The case for the S50 [powershot.com] is waterproof to 100' and allows you to take photos while the camera is in the enclosure.

Presumably you could overcome the low-light issue with a tripod and and a long exposure.

expensize plastic bags..with lens glass (2, Informative)

acomj (20611) | more than 9 years ago | (#8975039)

Its been commented on before that use a plastic bag. Its been a "funny" comment but in fact
They make waterproof plastic bags that you can put and use the camera in. These bags aren't cheap (about 100$) although cheaper than a full hardshell case. There not just plasic bags because the have some glass/plastic you attach the lens to so you can shoot with the camera in the bag. It seems perfect for your use.

As for the dark conditions get a bright lens (f1.8 to f2.8) and/or use 400 or 800 iso film.

check adorama for other makes/models but here is an example

http://www.waterproofcases.net/ziplock.html [waterproofcases.net]

Re:expensize plastic bags..with lens glass (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 10 years ago | (#9003227)

$100! Here's the 89 cent solution. Buy some disposable plastic bags, you know, the high quality Ziplock kind, and smooth out a section over the lens so as not to detract from the picture. Unless you have an extremely nice camera, you won't even notice any reduction in picture quality. If you're really concerned, double bag the camera. If the outer bag tears, replace it. That's what is nice about getting a bunch of bags real cheap, you don't have to worry about replacing them when they rip.

Waterproof security cams (2, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | more than 9 years ago | (#8975467)

We use two of these 50 dollar deals [amazon.com] in the front of our house with a motion detection software package called Tincam that emails all of us photos so we can see what is going on with the pad while we are away at school and work. We have all of our computers running this software as well with a cheap webcam. Currently we have had only one suspicious person come up to our window and look in but I was there in 10 minutes after the email came to check it out. I could not imagine having children alone without something like this, and I'm just a bachelor.

It was a deal considering we would of instead had bought one of these 250 bad boys [amazon.com] .

Point-and-shoots, and camera cases (1)

ezraekman (650090) | more than 9 years ago | (#8975908)

Many die-hards out there will undoubtedly tell you that it's not the camera; it's the photographer. Thus, a waterproof point-and-shoot will work fun. That said, it's much more of a pain in the ass to try and figure out how the point-and-shoot will react... and you don't often see those die-hard professionals using point-and-shoots, anyway.

I'm assuming that by nature of the fact that you posted this question, you're concerned with your shots coming out well, so I'll ignore the disposables for now. Your next (and in my opinion, cheapest/easiest) option would be to use a small digital camera that you already have, or buy one that you'll be able to use later. Then get a waterproof case for it. You can get these in several styles.

This one [rei.com] , at $45 will let you shoot while it's in the case, and is not camera-specific. This type [amazon.com] is camera specific and is a better choice, though considerably more expensive. ($100-$400, depending on the make/model of camera.) Pelican [pelican.com] makes a series called the "Micro Case Series", which you also might want to take a look at. They're cheaper than the ones you can use the camera in ($10-$20), but will only keep the camera waterproof when it's in them.

However, since you mentioned that you're expecting floods with little warning, the last option is probably not the best. I'd recommend the first if you're on a budget, or the second if you're not. I use the third when sailing, but I usually have fair warning before conditions arise that I'll need to watch for. It sounds like you won't.

You can also get digital cameras that are inherently waterproof, like this one [pocket-lint.co.uk] , and this one [kelkoo.co.uk] . However, I'd recommend against these, because it sounds like you only need it for this trip. I'd get a camera you can use normally, and a case for situations like these.

Pentax Optio 33wr (1)

Chaostrophy (925) | more than 9 years ago | (#8975995)

It's imersable, and works nice. You are not supposed to operate under water, but it should work for your purposes, it has many exposure modes, including manual, I've really liked it. Takes SD memory, I got 256MB for $75 or so. Camera cost $267 on line.

Waterproof Casing (1)

ericrolph (662978) | more than 9 years ago | (#8976683)

Fujifilm makes a waterproof case for their new FinePix F420 digital camera. The casing allows shooting up to depths of 40 meters, but lord knows the Narrows' waters (I've been, it's a great hike) will never get THAT deep on you.

More info here here [dpreview.com] .

Either cheap or expensive (1)

dnight (153296) | more than 9 years ago | (#8976897)


Being a scuba diver, dark and wet is where I take most of my photos.

Reefmaster [sealife-cameras.com] makes reasonably priced waterproof cameras in digital and film version.

Above that price level, get any good quality film or digital 35mm SLR camera or digital camcorder, and buy a good waterproof case from Ikelite [ikelite.com] or Light and Motion [uwimaging.com] . These cases aren't cheap ($1000USD+, but are pretty damn rugged.

Too heavy and expensive..... (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8981882)

Olympus do some quite nice little cases for their digital cameras. Water tight down to about 20M (so no wreck diving) or so and quite adequate for splash/dirt protection as well. The price of such cases is about $200 and it is fairly robust being made of plexiglass. Something like 5060WZ is a semi-pro camera with 5million pixels. High-end housings are great under water becuse of buoyancy but above they are a PITA with their size and weight.

For low-light you NEED an SLR (1)

lhaeh (463179) | more than 9 years ago | (#8977134)

The only way to get more light into the camera is with a big lens, The larger the diameter the more light gathering ability it had. Since SLRs are about all that will have big lens options you're going to have to get one.

As for dealing dith water, keep it in a dry bag. If you want to use it underwater then be prepared to spend lots of money. Lots.

Waterproof case (1)

blamanj (253811) | more than 9 years ago | (#8978044)

Canon makes a waterproof case [amazon.com] for it's S-series of digital cameras. These are good enough for snorkeling so I'm sure they'd be fine for Zion.

I've only been there once, but it was my favorite place in all of Utah.

DC5000 (1)

ffsnjb (238634) | more than 10 years ago | (#8978510)

Ebay for a used Kodak DC5000. They're vacuum sealed, water and shock resistant. There was a recall for a screw problem; if you can get the serial number before you bid, you can call to see if it has been checked/fixed. If not, it's done for free (including shipping).

Only storage (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 10 years ago | (#8981530)

For your purpose, you don't need a waterproof camera, or even a bag for underwater photography (like Ewa-Marine). All you need is a waterproof storage bag or box to carry your usual camera.

And for the dark conditions get a TRIPOD. Don't use sensitive film. Yes, I have been in Zion [gdargaud.net] .

Cameras which can survive water (1)

MadHungarian1917 (661496) | more than 10 years ago | (#9021476)

You did not mention cost

Most rugged camera for wet conditions

Any of the Nikonos series - these are Nikon cameras designed for underwater use. In an emergency you can drive nails with them. Older ones can be had on ebay for cheap money.

The newer automatic ones can be rented from most large camera rental houses if you do not want to buy them

Minolta makes a great underwater point and shoot camera the Vectis Weathermatic. Uses APS film and is bright yellow and rubber armored it's about $250 US

Underwater housings are great BUT they need to be inspected the gaskets can have NO dirt in them and if you drop one it's all over. They are designed for use underwater and to be opened and closed in controlled condition.
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