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Aquatica has designed the ultimate housing for this new Nikon camera along with the usual comfortable ergonomics usually associated with our housings. The AD800 incorporates a multitude of refinements. Among them, the Aquatica AD800 housing is the first of its kind to offer access to the Fn and DOF preview buttons. This is done via a unique toggle lever that access the two buttons, while the depth of field feature in itself is, quite arguably, of little use underwater. The many Custom Functions roles that can be attributed to these two buttons sure is worthy of attention.
Aquatica has the most comprehensive selection of easily interchangeable strobe connectors in the industry. The 20070-NK has two of classic 5 pins Nikonos connectors and the 20070-KT is supplied with a time proven 5 pins Ikelite connector. Both version are ready to accept currently available TTL converter, S-TTL is also available with the 20070-OPT through optical connectivity with either of the supplied Sea & Sea and Inon type adapters. Lastly the 20070-HYB offers both a classic Nikonos and an optical connector giving the housing the ultimate choice in strobes selection. Bulkheads are now replaceable in the field without the need for specialized tools.
The Aquatica AD800, like all of our housings, benefits from the finest material available in the metallurgic industry. It is carefully crafted from a selected alloy of aircraft grade aluminum and graced with the finest grade of stainless steel for its multiple controls. Every housing is machined on the latest 5 axis computer assisted machines. It then undergoes a protective anodizing process to the stringent North American Military Specifications. For further protection, a baked on powder coating paint is applied, this coating is as tough as nail tough. Furthermore, corrosion inhibiting, zinc anodes are supplied as standard equipment. This extra level of protection does make a huge difference as can be seen on some Aquatica housings that even with over 1,500 dives on them, still look as fresh as the day they came out of the box. This housing is made for the hard working professional in mind, one who truly understands reliability in the field.
The AD800 housing a newly designed camera tray; it smoothly and precisely positions the camera in the housing and is easily disengaged by a simple push on a tab. The zoom actuating pinion gear and the lens release lever pull out to allow the user to remove the camera from the back while keeping a lens and zoom gear attached.
Given the unprecedented impact the Aquatica AD800 is bound to have on the underwater video industry, it was deemed absolutely important that this new housing be optimized for this task. All video controls are designed for easy reach and smooth operation. Whether it is for video or for still images the serious side of this housing operation is apparent from the get go.
The AF-L/AE-L & AF-ON button access is now provided with a combined lever and rotating collar that prevents ambient pressure from pushing it back towards the housing. The menus buttons have been angled to provide better access from your left hand. The AD800 now uses the 4xxxx generation lens gears system with a smaller housing pinion gear and a larger lens gear, the results is a smoother action while zooming in a video sequence.
The Aquatica AD800 is supplied with our Galileo type eye piece. This high quality and coated optical finder gives a bright and full view of the view finder. For those seeking the ultimate in viewing for still image, the optional Aqua View Finder, available in straight and 45 degrees version, are among the best of the industry. They can easily be installed in a matter of a few minutes by the user. The enlarged and enhanced image provided by the Aqua View Finder is second to none in clarity; it provides the photographer with tack sharp corner to corner viewing of the camera view finder for composing and critical focusing
I've had my Nikon D800 for nearly a year and procrastinated acquisition of a housing far too long. Part of the challenge was choosing which housing to buy; I've been a very satisfied user of Ikelite housings for many years. However, given the investment I'd made in the D800 (and accompanying lenses), I thought it worth considering aluminum housings despite my standing investment in Ikelite port assemblies.
My first comment is an accolade for Blue Water Photo; I was delighted that the store stocked multiple housings for the D800 and, for the first time, I could make side-by-side comparisons. I also REALLY appreciate the amount of time Mark spent making sure everything worked!
I found I simply liked the ergonomics of the Aquatica housing. I wouldn't say I found fault with any of the units I tried, but, until making the side-by-side comparison, I didn't realize what I was missing with housings that did not offer the positioning of controls so that they were accessible while continuing to hold the housing's handles.
I also had not appreciated the ability to access so many of the controls. My previous camera was a D300 and I'd always found that, once I'd set it up the way I wanted it, I didn't need to access very much. The D800 is a richer camera and I very quickly found myself using the additional controls during one of my first dives with the camera.
I shoot the 105mm micro lens with flat port assembly and the 16-35mm wide angle lens with an 8" dome. I've heard that the 10" glass dome is better for over/under shots but was very happy with the results form the 8" acrylic. I was also delighted with the lighter weight, lower air volume, and easier packing of the 8: dome.
One caution, however; i was used to a glass dome and wasn't as careful as I should have been about keeping the acrylic dome covered between dives. It has a small scratch already, presumably from coming too close to another housed camera. Live and learn. I'll eventually need to see about buffing out the scratch. Even if I have to eventually replace it, though, I can replace it twice before reaching the cost of the 10" glass…
My only complaint is that I need to log more dives with it when my work schedule permits. I'll update this review when I have more to report...
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