Housing Nexus
I didnt choose to buy a Nexus camera housing. My Aquatica finally wore out and the Sea & Sea housing I had kindly been loaned endured more than two years hard work and a couple of dozen trips abroad before it had to go back for a service. I reckoned it was time to possess my own housing again.
     The problem was that I didnt want the expense of trading-in my cameras for later models, and the now-obsolete Nikon N(F)90s that I use are perfectly adequate for my needs.
     So I had to phone around to see who still had a housing for an N(F)90 in stock, and Ocean Optics came up with the Japanese-made Anthias Nexus. I have seen many people happily using them throughout the world and know that they are popular, especially on the Pacific rim, so why shouldnt one work for me
     On first inspection I had reservations. Ocean Optics, at the time, could supply only a 17cm diameter dome port, so I had to add a plus-2 dioptre close-up lens to my 20mm wide-angle Nikkor optics to get a full range of focus. Nikons lens designers never intended that!
     In the swimming pool, I tested the 2.5cm tile pattern at different lens apertures and could detect only slight softening of the focus at the corners of the frame when the lens was stopped down past f/8.
     However, it did mean that the autofocus spent more time hunting than it would have done without the close-up lens.
     Also, the port screws on rather than using a bayonet, which always leaves a nagging doubt as to whether it has been tightened sufficiently. The unit is of the fit-like-a-glove type - nice and compact, but the O-ring sealing the two halves of the clamshell takes a tortuous route and no doubt will not be seated properly one day, with the inevitable flood. If any water does get in, there is nowhere for it to go but to cause problems. Symmetrically positioned camlocks keep everything clam-tight.
     All the controls are mechanically linked and the camera stand-by and shutter release seem very sensitive. There is a focus-lock lever near the shutter-release lever and also a control to activate auto and manual focus modes.
     It does seem that if you fit a focus gear to your lens there is no way to disengage it should you choose to use auto-focus, which might impose a load on the drive mechanism of the lens.
     This doesnt really affect me, as I can never distinguish perfect focus through the cameras reflex viewfinder. I tend to stick with auto and, even if I want to pre-focus, I use auto and then switch it off by going to the manual setting, but with no lens gear in place. The aperture control, linked via a geared lens ring, is comfortably rubber-covered in the same way as the focus knob.
     The controls are all very precise. They are of a type which screw down to activate a chosen option, and then one simply twiddles the command-dial to suit, unscrewing the selected feature knob once done. This allows you to do all this with one hand, handy under water when you are busy supporting the whole rig with the other.
     The on/off control can be disengaged when not needed and it is one of the most effective I have come across. No more cursing as I struggle to switch on a camera under water because I forgot to do it before taking the plunge.
     On the minus side, there are only two controls, for operating mode and metering method, available on the left side of the camera. This means no choosing a different flash synch method or film speed while on the fly. You must be sure that everything is set the way you want it before closing the clamshell.
     There are three synch sockets, two of them wired for action. The synch-connector to the hot-shoe of the camera has both a ready light and a TTL light and these are visible clearly through a second window above the eyepiece of the housing.
     The eyepiece itself is nothing special. It is optical and gives a clear view of both the screen and the information display below it, but for those who might be used to the amazing viewing facilities of the RS or N(F)5 sportsfinder, it will seem puny.
     As with any housing, a window allows you to see the cameras function display window and there is an effective button that operates its display illumination.
     A nice postscript to this report was the fact that, two months after I first received the housing, Ocean Optics was kind enough to exchange the small dome port originally supplied for a larger 23cm-diameter port.
     That meant that I could do away with the hated auxiliary dioptre lens and get back to using my wide-angle as its Nikon designer had intended.
The Nexus housing is available for F100, D100 and F80 and costs around £1500, depending on the port chosen. Nexus housings for some popular up-to-date Nikons are also available.
  • Ocean Optics 0207 930 8408, www.oceanoptics.co.uk

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Nicely made
    + Precise controls
    + Possible twin-flash TTL synch

    - Tortuous O-ring route might invite a flood
    - Screw-down port