Housing Construction

Housings are usually constructed from polymers including carbon fibre, lexan and polycarbonate or aluminium alloy.

Polymer housings are available for a wider choice of cameras than alloy housings. Polymer housing manufacturers often work with pre-formed stock casings that are large enough to accommodate a wide range of cameras. So, when a new SLR is released they can quickly install controls and have their housing on the market in quick time. No camera housing is ever cheap but Polymer tend to be the most inexpensive;however, they can weigh as much as 50% more than an alloy housing for the same camera and are usually larger in size. In part this is due to the thicker hull needed to resist pressure at depth and their increased volume, which amplifies their buoyancy.

Aluminium housings are usually built for a specific camera model. For this reason they usually cost more than polymer housings, as only a comparatively small number of housings will be sold before the camera is superseded by another model and the housing manufacturer has to start over again. This custom approach offers some advantages. It allows more choice of placement for individual controls and, because the housing is designed for one specific camera, it fits tight and snug inside, which reduces size and weight. The smaller volume and greater strength of alloy means a thinner and lighter casing. I would emphasise that you check availability. An aluminium housing may not be available for an entry level SLR. Some manufacturers feel that sales will be too small for budget makes, where pricing is the predominant factor.

Every make of housing feels and handles differently to each other. They all reflect the designer's own priorities for the precise placement of controls.

An individual's 'feel' for a housing is subjective and it's important to try different models to see which you are most at ease with.

It may sound obvious, but the best way to assess how well a housing suits you is to try it in a swimming pool. Depending on the specialist dealer, this can be arranged, so if you don't ask — you don't get.

It's a good idea to take along your face mask, especially if you use corrected lenses, to evaluate viewfinders and, if you use gloves, wear these to test controls.

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