By Matthew Smith
Ceratosoma brevicaudatum Aquatica Digital AD500 Housing with Aquatica Digital mini macro port & ACU +5 wet lens, Nikon D500 Camera & Nikkor 60mm F2.8 Micro Lens
Well what can I say? Aquatica Digital has yet again improved their latest model of water housing for the Nikon D500, and it compliments this amazing new camera perfectly! As a regular user of Aquatica Digital products and an engineer I am well aware of the amount of thought, research and refined detail that goes into all of their robust products. Each housing is designed using the latest 3D design modelling software so they can eek out any teething problems even before production begins. They are then individually precision CNC machined from a solid block of high grade marine aluminium, powder coated black and fitted with marine stainless steel controls for complete command of the camera inside. Two zinc anodes further protect the entire housing from corrosion of any kind, even in the hands of the most neglectful user. The handles are ergonomically designed to fit snuggly in your palms with deep contoured grooves for your fingers ensuring a secure grip; they are also made from tough plastic which I really like. This is because I find myself shooting in cold water quite a lot and metal handles soon sap the warmth from your fingers!
White's Sea Horse, Aquatica Digital AD500 Housing with Aquatica Digital mini macro port, Nikon D500 Camera & Nikkor 40mm F2.8 Micro Lens
So what’s different about Aquatica’s latest offering for the Nikon D500? I love the new ISO control lever! I always shoot in manual mode underwater, as I’m sure do a lot of photographers, so the controls I use mostly other than the shutter release are aperture, shutter speed and ISO and with this housing I can control all three with just my thumb, index and middle finger of my right hand in the blink of an eye without removing that eye from the viewfinder. And as we know, timing and speed are everything! This is thanks to Nikon moving the ISO adjust button over to the right hand side of the camera and Aquatica Digital’s unique way of controlling it via a lever that falls nicely into the reach of my index finger. I can whip through ISO values quickly by pressing the lever with my index finger and spinning the shutter control dial with my thumb without even looking, it’s so quick and natural. Release my index finger from the lever and I’m back to changing shutter speeds, meanwhile my middle finger can simultaneously whizz through aperture settings. With a bit of practice it all becomes second nature, no more two handed ISO changes whilst your subject swims away!
The Nikon D500 has a tilt screen on the back and the Aquatica housing allows you to insert the camera with the screen tilted up a little for a slightly more comfortable viewing position to review your images whilst diving.
Lions Mane Jellyfish, Aquatica Digital AD500 Housing with Aquatica Digital 9.25" Glass Dome Port, Nikon D500 Camera & Nikkor 10-24mm F3.5-4.5 Lens
I also shoot a lot of half over half under photographs or split shots as they are sometimes called. Focusing whilst shooting this style of photography can be tricky, especially in low light. For this reason, I like to pre focus underwater in auto focus mode and then flick to manual mode to frame up and shoot, I find this most successful and focusing is more often than not spot on. The dial to flick from auto to manual focus, which is standard on all Aquatica housings, is most useful to me. This may sound a bit obvious and trivial but you’d be surprised how many housing manufacturers won’t give you access to the auto/manual focus switch. I simply couldn’t function without it! This pre focus technique is also great for macro photography, especially when shooting with snoots. Once the focus distance is set perfectly to the snooted light area, lock it off into manual and bring your subject into focus by changing subject to camera distance, every frame will be perfectly lit.
This housing comes with a leak alarm as standard, which is both an audio beep and visual LED.
All in all, I’m very happy with the Aquatica AD500 housing. Yet another quality product from the team at Aquatica Digital.
Hawksbill Turtle Hatchling, Aquatica Digital AD500 Housing with Aquatica Digital 4" Glass Mini dome, Nikon D500 & Nikkor 10.5mm F2.8 Fisheye lens