Ikelite underwater camera housings

By Scott Gietler

No discussion of underwater photography would be complete, without mentioning Ikelite underwater camera housings. Ikelite manufactures affordable housings for compact underwater cameras, mirrorless, and dSLR cameras. Read my underwater housing reviews here.


Choosing an Underwater Housing


Compact camera housings


If you own a compact underwater camera, you have a choice of an OEM housing, Ikelite housing, and sometimes a higher-end housing such as Nauticam, Sea & Sea or Isotta. Ikelite housings are often build better than OEM housings such as Canon, Olympus or Sony - although I find Fuji underwater housings to be exceptional. Ikelite housings are more expensive, larger, heavier. Ikelite has a recent line of compact underwater housings, such as their Canon S90 underwater housing. These housings are getting great reviews for their low price and small size. Nauticam or Isotta housings often have better ergonomics, and allow you to switch lenses, but they can be much more expensive.


Canon G9 underwater housings

Canon G10 underwater housings


DSLR housings


Ikelite housings are the most affordable underwater housings for dSLR users, and have been used by professionals for years. Other choices like Sea & Sea, Nauticam, Isotta and Subal are more expensive but may offer better ergonomics and access to more camera controls. Choosing the right housing can be difficult, I suggest you try them out first.


Choosing an underwater Camera


Compact cameras are small and easy to travel with. A compact camera setup underwater with wide-angle macro and wet lenses, and two strobes can take very good photos. People who are very serious about photography usually end up getting a dSLR so they can attach different lenses as their photography grows over time.


Ikelite underwater camera housings - pros and cons


Ikelite underwater housing advantages


  • Many Ikelite housings offer TTL with Ikelite brand strobes. TTL can be very useful, especially for macro underwater photography. Ikelite TTL works well, and I hear of very few problems with it.

  • Ikelite housings are clear, allowing the underwater photographer to see inside the housing in case there is a leak.

  • Ikelite has a very good reputation for customer service. Housings have good depth ratings, and parts are readily available, new or used, worldwide.

  • With Ikelite housings, you generally have a good selections of ports to use various lenses, as they support different dome port sizes and extensions.

  • Ikelite Compact housings are threaded and offer fairly good wet lens support, although we haven't tested the bayonet systems that Fantasea and Nauticam now offer. If you want to serious macro or wide-angle underwater photography, and want to use a compact camera, make sure you understand your wet lens options, and which housings support them. Your local underwater photography store will have the latest information.

  • Some of the Ikelite mirrorless housings support an 8-inch dome port for over-under or split shots, one of the only manufacturers to do so.


Ikelite underwater housing disadvantages


  • Ikelite housings are often slightly larger than most other housings, although their compact housings are much smaller than they used to be.

  • Controls are not as easy to use, especially compared to more expensive housings. I'm not a big fan of their handles on their dSLR housings, I think they are too tall. 

  • Ikelite dSLR housings don't always have as fine of zoom and focus control as more expensive housings. The zoom and focus gears work, but you have to be a little more careful using them.

  • In some housings, the Ikelite housing partially blocks the internal flash, which means use for macro shots will be limited  without an external strobe. Most compact and mirrorless housings now support a fiber optic connection.


Further reading


Underwater camera guide

Underwater housing guide

Underwater strobe guide

Underwater camera settings

Best underwater lenses

Ikelite SL3 Underwater Housing

Ikelite web site


Ikelite underwater camera housings
Scott Gietler


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