Article and photography by Tom & Therisa Stack
Highly regarded for constructing some of the finest quality underwater housings in the world, Aquatica has just released its newest housing, the A995 for the Nikon Coolpix 995 digital camera with an accompanying wet-changeable wide angle lens.
Even though the Nikon Coolpix 995 is regarded as consumer camera, Aquatica did its homework thoroughly. When our cast aluminum test housing arrived, we were impressed by the ergonomic design which positions the monitor and housing viewfinder at a 45 degree angle.
All of the functions of the Nikon Coolpix are controllable including: monitor, quick review, zoom, menu, exposure compensation, mode, manual focus, delete, flash mode sensitivity and thumbnail. In the Aquatica tradition all controls are double O-ring sealed and the housing comes with a Nikonos strobe bulkhead standard.
The housing fits the camera like a glove and each is pressure tested to 350 feet, a plus for tech divers who can even clip this compact 2.5 lb. unit onto their BCs.
The Aquatica wide angle lens is not a housing for a Nikon lens, but a lens unto itself. It covers 100 degrees, threads onto the front of the housing and is totally removable underwater allowing you to shoot macro and wide angle on the same dive with the same rig! We had no trouble doing split level shots with this lens and found its optical sharpness to match that of the camera optics and chip.
Since the street price of the Nikon Coolpix 995 is less than $600 we were not expecting outstanding image results...what a surprise! This little beauty captures 3.34 mega-pixel images which open at 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. In Fine mode we were able to shoot over 90 images per dive on a single 128 MB Compact Flash Card! The images enlarged beautifully on 8x10 prints. All this is coupled with the ability to focus down to 0.8 of an inch, perfect for macro photography. We were more than impressed.
The housing ships with a foam padded grip which attaches to the bottom of the housing and allows for the attachment of a single TLC strobe arm.
Additional options include a moisture alarm, double TLC tray and a quick flip tray.
Some realistic comments on the housing/camera setup:
- It can be difficult to shoot verticals with the monitor/lens 45 degree setup
- It can be hard to read information and images on the monitor on the surface in bright light, or even in the shallows. It helps to cup the monitor with one hand
- For us older shooters, it helps to have in-mask bi-focal lenses to view monitor and monitor info.
- We shoot with the Nikon SB-25 flash in an older Tussey housing. CAN DIAL THE SB-25 strobe WAY DOWN for flash exposures on macro....can control all strobe functions in the Tussey housing...pays to hold onto some of that old equipment!
MSRP: Aquatica 995 Housing with grip: $849, Aquatica Wide Angle Lens: $369
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This article and all images contained within: Copright © 2002 Tom and Therisa Stack.
Strobe: Nikon SB25 in housing.
w/ Aquatica 100 degree wide-angle wet changeable lens.