DEMA Show 2004 Report

DEMA 2004 - October 13-16, 2004


Houston, Texas

DEMA Coverage Crew [about]
Eric Cheng (author, photographer, image editing monkey)
Craig Jones (photographer) and James Wiseman (photographer)

Additional photos taken by Digideep:
Andi Voeltz, Lars Kirchhoff, and Aline Kadach

October 16, 2004: Two years ago, digital underwater cameras and housings were barely on the map. At least year's DEMA Show in Miami, we witnessed manufacturers announcing numerous digital products in a migration frenzy that has become the norm in shifts from analog to digital technology. And this year, where did all the film products go? They are almost literally no film products being shown at the DEMA this year. Aside from two Nikonos repair booths and a booth from Kodak, every other photography-related booth featured mostly digital products.

DEMA Show 2004 is being hosted at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. Craig Jones, James Wiseman and I have been on the floor running around frantically to gather information for this year's Wetpixel DEMA report. I'm writing from our room here in the Hilton, where show attendees are no doubt staggering around in the hallways trying to find their rooms after a night at the bar. Craig Jones and I certainly heard the music beating away somewhere outside, but instead of joining the festivities, we slaved away at our computers and processed nearly 300 photos that we will present on this page to showcase the show's featured digital products. I hope you have broadband access! It's costing us $9.95 per day to access the internet from our room -- and each of our computers has to register separately, which is just dumb.

Speaking of unfortunates, I must say that it has not been an easy task to track down the various photography-related exhibitors on the show floor. DEMA's website has an exhibitor list that is categorized both poorly and incompletely, which makes it nearly impossible to find all exhibitors of any one category without literally walking the entire exhibition. Also, some of the larger exhibitors pulled out this year. The conference center floor has been almost deserted over the past three days, but ironically, most people I've talked to have said that business and networking have been quite good because it has actually been possible to sit down to have a meeting with someone instead of crowding around a booth trying to get an exhibitor's attention.

Exhibitor Quick-Links (A-Z)

Advanced Design Engineering

Light & Motion
Marine Camera Distributors
Night Sea
Sea & Sea
Snap Sights
Ultralight Control Systems
Underwater Camera Repair
Underwater Photo-Tech

- Sea & Sea Seminars -
- Media & Magazines -
- Socializing Photos -


10Bar [www] [back to top]

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   10 Bar Underwater Housings were showing three new digital still housings and one new video housing, including housings for the Nikon D70, Canon 300D (Digital Rebel), Sony F828, and the Sony PC330 miniDV camera. Also at the booth was a Canon 550EX Speedlight strobe housing with full controls, which requires 10 Bar's own 6-pin bulkhead. 10 Bar also makes a housing for the Nikon SB800 strobe.

Advanced Design Engineering [www] [back to top]

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   ADE's motto is "We Design Stuff," and as you'd expect, ADE's Merlin Phillips will make just about anything you want him to make, including custom housings for any camera. Last year he had on display a housing for an Apple iPod, complete with underwater earphones.

Amphibico [www] [back to top]

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   Amphibico still only offers one still housing (for the Sony F-717 digital camera) in addition to its well-regarded suite of video housings. Featured video housings at the booth were the "Prowler" Sony PC350 miniDV camera housing, the "Evo" Sony HC20/30/40 miniDV entry-level housing, and a Sony HD1000 prototype housing. The F-717 and PC350 housings also feature Amphibico's LSD "ITL" system, which does automatic strobe exposures using an accessory box that mounts to the housing. The LSD works with any TTL strobe that connects to a Nikonos bulkhead.

Aquatica [www] [back to top]

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Aquatica displayed some of the housings we've announced in the past few weeks, including the A70 Nikon D70 housing and some prototype Kodak Pro SLR/n housings. New for all housings from Aquatica are redesigned metal handles, more labels on command dials, and sacrificial zincs on the bottom of the housing (which "sacrifice" themselves as a target for electrolysis, which has potentially corrosive effects).

Underwater photographer Mauricio Handler was at the booth, as was photographer Todd Essick, who did daily book and poster signings.

Backscatter [www] [back to top]

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   Backscatter Video & Photo now carries the full line of Hartenberger strobes, which were previously only available in the States direct from Germany. They also had on display a full line of MacroMate wetmate macro diopters, which will work with ports from many different housing manufacturers. Also, Backscatter's TopDawg brand now has dealers worldwide.

Bonica [www] [back to top]

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Bonica showcased their SEAPIX-6 5.25 megapixel digital camera and housing package, which comes standard with access to basic camera controls ($649 retail), which can be expanded to access to all 15 controls for an additional fee. Also shown was the NEON LIT-3 slave strobe, which features an adjustable power dial.

In 3 months, Bonica will be releasing a generic mold with custom controls that will support just about any camera that will fit into the housing.

EwaMarine [www] [back to top]

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EwaMarine showed their waterproof video bags, which will fit virtually any camera you might want to put into one. EwaMarine is now also selling Marin Solar underwater video lights, which have a warm color temperature of 3400° K.

Fantasea [www] [back to top]

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Fantasea showed a prototype Nikon D70 housing with a Nikonos connector and space for the flash to pop up for slave i-TTL with housed Nikon SB600 and SB800 land strobes (also offered by Fantasea). The SLR housing complete with port should be available for less than $1,000 USD.

Fantasea was also showing its inexpensive line of Nikon Coolpix 4300 and 5200 housings, red filters of different sizes, and underwater LED lights.

Fisheye [www] [back to top]

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Fisheye is a company out of Japan that was showing some very interesting products, including the $419 (retail) Fix Light HG20DX modeling light, which was designed to address the space left behind by the discontinued Light & Motion Mod Light. The light uses a 20 watt halogen bulb with a continuously adjustable power setting, and comes with a removable battery, external charger, and optional blue and red filters. The strobe can be locked in an off position that physically disconnects the internal circuit so there is no chance of it turning on automatically.

Fisheye also showed the DSP-120 digital slave strobe (the smallest on the market), a 1.2x magnifier and hood for Olympus polycarbonate housings, the Athena 120° optical glass dome port for Olympus PT-20 C-5060 housings, Sony T1 and Nikon Coolpix 3100 housings for shallow (10' max) snorkeling, and the Oceantop Housing for Panasonic NV-GS5 digital miniDV cameras.

Gates Underwater Housings [www] [back to top]

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Gates Underwater Products had more than seven new products on display, including:

  1. a housing for the Sony PC350 miniDV camera
  2. GP25 and GP35 wide angle lenses with field-replaceable polycarbonate domes
  3. very sturdy HID Green Force video lights
  4. a super macro Fathom Imaging aspherical port that functions as a +1 to +10 effective diopter, with a 3-4" focus range and constant magnification through that range
  5. a new 4" color video monitor
  6. a housing for the Canon GL 2 miniDV camera
  7. a new water leak detector with blinking lights and shell-vibrating multi-frequency audio alarm
  8. 100% compatible Sony HD camera housing good to 350' (collaboration between Howard Hall, Bob Cranston, and Gates)
  9. a prototype Canon 1Ds housing

Goldline [back to top]

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   Goldline is a retailer featuring an inexpensive housed digital camera.

Ikelite [www] [back to top]

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   Ikelite displayed many of their housings, including a Canon Digital Rebel housing, a Nikon D70 housing, and an Olympus C-8080 housing with both flat and dome ports.

Inon [www] [back to top]

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INON showed off their brand new D-2000 strobe ($509 retail), which replaces the D-180. It has a guide number of 20 instead of 18 (same power 1 meter further away), and external auto sensor, and "S-TTL", which uses the camera's metering system to meter flash exposure ("Slave" TTL).

Also shown were strobe filters (like the diffuser, but a slightly different color) for Canon point & shoot cameras to correct the blue/green cast in recorded images. Blue and red modeling light filters can also be inserted into diffusers or the Canon strobe filter. The red filter reduces the chance that the modeling light will affect S-TTL exposure, and reduces the potential impact on critters. The blue filter is for cameras without preflash, in slave mode. Because the modeling light stays on during the exposure in this case, the blue filter cools down the modeling light color to match the strobe color to prevent color contamination.

Finally, INON showed a 165° fisheye lens for point & shoot housings compatible with the INON AD mount.

Kodak [www] [back to top]

Kodak showcased its Sea Processing, which amplifies red light in photos, sharpens the image, and then prints it at 400dpi, from both film and digital image sources. The cost is $15.99 for a prepaid film mailer, which can optionally be mailed with a CD included (with a maximum of 40 jpg images in it) instead of a roll of film. We saw some demos of what the red amplification does to sample photos. It's not magic -- any proficient Photoshop practitioner will have no problems getting the same results -- but it might be convenient. For an additional $6.50, Kodak will included a CD containing the corrected images.

Light & Motion [www] [back to top]

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Light & Motion's booth (beautiful, as always) featured an army of Tetra 5060 housings for the Olympus C-5060. The new Tetra signals a return to L&M's signature machined aluminum housings (instead of cast aluminum), and features the L&M ROC strobe controller, an on/off switch (!), flat port, and wet-mate macro lens.

L&M has also developed a modified video light for modeling light use, with a bracket to hold the battery under any L&M housing.

Also showcased were Mako Sony PC350 housings, Stingray III Sony HC20/30/40 and HD1000 housings, and an improved Bluefin Sony VX2100 housing featuring a new electronic backplate (with full camera control, including menu access) and new remote monitor with extension cable for remote placement.

Marine Camera Distributors, Epoque, Nexus (WETPIXEL SPONSOR) [back to top]
[www] [epoque japan] [nexus]

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   MCD's booth featured Epoque, Hugyfot, Nexus housings, and more. Featured were the small Epoque ES-230DS Auto strobe, which uses 2 AA batteries, new lightweight strobe arms with a soft grippy ball, a beautiful Hugyfot Leica Digilux 2 housing, Gates' Canon 1Ds housing prototype, Nexus Nikon D70 housings, and the Epoque EHS-400X housing for the unbelievable cute Sanyo Xacti VPLC4/C1 digital movie camera.

Night Sea [www] [back to top]

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   Night Sea sells complimentary filters that allow you to record fluorescing from blue and ultraviolet light. Strobes are filtered with a special blue filter, and the camera lens is filtered with a yellow filter

Sea & Sea [www] [back to top]

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Sea & Sea/TUSA showed their new YS-55TTL/E E-TTL compatible strobe for use with Canon digital SLRs. It has a guide number of 18, adjustable in levels from GN 3 to 18 (full power), and fiber optic and S&S 6-pin bulkheads.

Also on display were the DX-3000G and DX-5000G digital underwater camera systems (3.24 and 5.13 megapixels, respectively, with a low 0.12 second shutter lag), and housings for the Nikon D70 and Canon Digital Rebel.

Seacam [www] [back to top]

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Seacam showed the new Canon 1D Mk II/1Ds Mk II housing, which accounts for the minor changes introduced with the Mk II bodies. The * button is now easily accessible via a thumb lever, and an optional remote bulkhead can be installed (with a remote release coming soon).

Older 1D/1Ds housings can be retrofitted easily to support Mk II bodies, with all controls except three at the bottom available for use.

The new Nikon D70 housing is also available, which follows the Seacam tradition in housing design (which is to say that it was beautiful).

Sealife [www] [back to top]

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Since last year, Sealife's DC250 (2.1MP), DC 300 (3.3MP), and DC310 (3.3MP, with "advanced" features) digital underwater cameras (actually, housed digital cameras) have become some of the most sold in the industry. This year, Sealife introduces a new digital slave flash (will ship in Jan 2005), Flash Link optical sync cord, and Lens Dock for WA lens stowage on the bottom of the new universal tray. The new tray can be used with nearly any digital camera, which means that Sealife's digital slave strobe can be used with other cameras.

Sealife is also offering a turnkey rental kit which is targeted at the Caribbean.

Snap Sights [www] [back to top]

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Snap Sights offers the very inexpensive ($249 MSRP) Pixstreme 5 megapixel effective (3.1 megapixel actual. 5 megapixel image produced through software interpolation.) housed digital camera. It uses 2 AA batteries and can be used down to 125'. Accessories are available as well: closeup & wideangle lenses, red filters, slave flash with fiber optic sync, and arm & tray.

A 5 megapixel (actual) version with more controls is coming soon.

Snap Sights won the DIMA 2004 Innovations Award at PMA this year.

Subal [www] [back to top]

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Subal showed their entire line of digital SLR housings. New was a housing prototype for the upcoming Nikon D2X/D2H digital SLR, and the Subal CD1D housing compatible with both the 1D/1Ds and 1D Mk II/1Ds Mk II (with control support for all buttons) A Canon 20D housing will be available by the end of the year.

Also new was the ViewFinder Optic GS180 that we reported on not long ago, which actually makes some of the smaller viewfinder cameras a pleasure to look through.

Ultralight Control Systems [www] [back to top]

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   As usual, the Ultralight booth was mobbed by people buying products. New at DEMA is a larger diameter pivot tray for cameras with a larger port, like the Olympus 8080, and the Pulse Load Multi-Battery Tester, which tests battery level under load and costs $29.50.

Underwater Camera Repair [back to top]

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   Underwater Camera Repair

Underwater Photo-Tech [www] [back to top]

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   Fred Dion of Underwater Photo Tech

Sea & Sea Seminars [back to top]

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   Sea & Sea invited a few of us to give seminars at their booth. Presenters included Andy Sallmon, Eric Cheng, Holly Alentado, Bonnie Pelnar, Kevin McDonald, and Marty Snyderman.

- Media & Magazines - [back to top]

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Some media & magazine exhibitors:

  • DiveNewsWire
  • Shark Diver Magazine
  • DivePhotoGuide.com
  • Dive Chronicles
  • ScubaCore DVD Magazine
  • Underwater Photography Magazine
  • Scuba Diving Magazine

- Socializing - [back to top]

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   Assorted photos not related to specific exhibitors are here.