Aquatech Base water housing – $995 full water housing kit

Aquatech have released a budget friendly water housing range which could tick all the boxes for someone learning surf photography, introducing the Aquatech Base water housing kit.

Here’s a quick list of features, keep reading to hear my thoughts on this system and how it compares to the other options out there:

  • $995 US ($1,389.98 AUS, £712 GBP)
  • Flat port included
  • Two button pistol grip
  • No physical controls included
  • Back loading, 4 latch closure
  • Flash bulkhead

Here are some images Aquatech provided of the Aquatech Base housing system:

Aquatech Base price

The starter kit of housing, two button pistol grip and P-65 flat port is $995 US ($1,389.98 AUS, £712 GBP), that’s pretty good value considering what you get, and if you’ve got a lens or two that fits inside the P-65 port you can get shooting straight away.

Which cameras are compatible with the Aquatech Base system?

You can order the Aquatech Base system for any of the following cameras:

  • Canon Rebel T6i (750D)
  • Canon Rebel T6s (760D)
  • Canon 70D
  • Canon 80D
  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 7DmkII
  • Canon 5DmkII
  • Canon 5DmkIII
  • Nikon D5500
  • Nikon D7200
  • Nikon D600
  • Nikon D610
  • Nikon D750
  • Nikon D800
  • Nikon D810
  • Sony A7II
  • Sony A7SII
  • Sony A7RII

You’ll get the same housing, pistol grip, P-65 port and back plate with a different camera plate and shutter release cable appropriate for your camera.

What lenses fit inside the Aquatech P-65 port?

Many, many prime lenses will fit, it’s 65mm in length, so if your lens isn’t on the list below you can measure it to find out if it’s likely to fit or not.

Here’s the list of compatible lenses from Aquatech’s website:

  • Canon 24mm f/2.8
  • Canon 24mm f2.8 IS
  • Canon 28mm f/1.8
  • Canon 35mm f/2.8
  • Canon 35mm f/2 IS
  • Canon 50mm f/1.8
  • Canon 50mm f/1.4
  • Nikon 20mm f/2.8
  • Nikon 24mm f/2.8
  • Nikon 28mm f/2.8
  • Nikon 35mm f/2
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8
  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX

If you’re a Sony A7II, A7SII or A7RII shooter you’ll have to check to see which of your lenses are under 65mm, if you’re using the lenses on this list with an adapter there’s a chance they might not fit in the housing, so I’d confirm with Aquatech if you’re not sure.

I don’t have the P-65 port myself, but I do have the LP-5 port, which is the equivalent port to the P-65 for Aquatech’s old L port system, it’s actually a few mm shorter than the P-65 but I’ve used plenty of Canon and Sony lenses inside it with no issues.

I’d say the popular Canon EF-S 24mm and 40mm pancake lenses should work fine based on my experience, maybe some vignetting with the 24mm but I doubt it.

Realistically the people interested in this housing will probably have a 50mm and possibly a 24mm, and they’re both great options for surf photography.

Why does the Aquatech Base have two buttons on the pistol grip?

This is a great idea, and one I’ve written about before. The first company I saw with this two button design was Essex, they have a pistol grip that has a finger trigger for the shutter release and a button on the side which you operate with your thumb for focus control.

The advantage is you can separate focusing from releasing the shutter, this is useful for sports photography and many photographers choose to use this kind of set up on land when not using a housing, it’s called back button focus.

There’s a button on the back of your camera, near your thumb, that can be customised to perform the same focus function as a half press on the shutter button, so you only get the camera to focus when you need it to, otherwise you just fire away with the focus locked as it was.

For shooting fisheye it’s especially useful as you’d usually lock your focus a couple of metres in front of you for above water shots, then move it to a few inches in front of you for underwater (because of strange properties of domes underwater). This two button approach is a clever way to allow you to do that without having access to the back of the camera – which is necessary with the Base system because there are no controls on the back plate at all.

How does the Aquatech Base pistol grip attach to the camera?

Aquatech now use a short adapter cable for the camera end of their pistol grip connector, this is a good move because it allows you to easily swap between different camera bodies without getting the housing completely rewired.

If you’ve got a backup Canon 80D and a Canon 5D mk III as your main camera for instance you’ll be able to use the same housing, port and pistol grip and just swap the plate and shutter cable.

As far as I can tell Aquatech don’t list just the plates and cables separately on the site but they’re always very helpful when contacted over email so I’d get in touch with them if you have a request like that.

What controls does the Aquatech base system have?

You get your Pistol grip and zoom/focus knob and that’s it.

There are no camera controls on the housing body as standard, and the back plate is similarly bare of controls, so if you’re the type who makes a lot of manual tweaks to your settings then this housing isn’t for you (you’ve probably already got an Elite housing though…), although there is this little line in the product description:

If you are looking to purchase additional controls for your AquaTech Base Water Housing, please email the team directly on contact@aquatech.net for more additional information and pricing.

You can read about the controls I use on my water housings here.

It reminds me a lot of the Aquatech CR-60 housing that I have, originally bought for my Canon 60D. I’ve used my CR-60 with a Canon 550D, 50D, 60D, 70D, 7D and Sony a6000. I made some slight internal modifications but basically the CR-60 has housed all those cameras easily and effectively, so I’ve no doubt the Base could do the same.

The lack of a top dial control is a bit annoying, but understandable when you see the list of cameras that can be accommodated by the Base.

Can I shoot with a fisheye in the Aquatech Base system?

Yes – but you need to buy an extra port.

a photographer uses the Aquatech Base water housing kit to shoot a photo of Mick Fanning surfing in Australia

The only thing you need to shoot fisheye of Mick Fanning at the superbank, is a new port (and experience, patience, skill and… lots of other stuff).

You’ll need to get a dome port that’s suitable for your fisheye lens, luckily the Base system uses the same ports as all the current range of Aquatech housings, so you can pick one up from the Aquatech site at the same time as your housing, they start at $395 US.

Should you buy an Aquatech Base water housing system?

If you’ve got a couple of prime lenses, a camera body that’s on the list, and you’re happy shooting in shutter or aperture priority then yes.

It’s a system you can upgrade and in my experience it’ll outlast your current camera body.

It’s one of the best value ways to get shooting with top level equipment. If you need more controls or you only want to shoot fisheye then there may be better options for you at a similar price, and there are certainly better alternatives in Aquatech’s range for considerably more money if you need these features.

I love my Aquatech CR-60 and if the Base system was available for the Sony a6000 then I’d be tempted to pick one up, but it looks like I’ll have to hang on a bit longer before I get a true surf water housing for my Sony a6000.

You can place your order for the Aquatech Base housing through Aquatech here.

Comments

  1. hey ben Im trying to get into surf photography and I need a little guidance on which way to go. I currently have a Canon 70D and would maybe like to get a housing for it. However I have been looking at the sony a6000 and maybe would like to get that with a spl or liquid eye. To make it an even tougher desicion my friend offer to sell me his nikon d7100 and aquatech d7100 with a 18-55 lens for $1700. What should I do.
    Thanks,
    Jon

    1. Hi Jon,
      Sorry for the delay getting back to you, I’ve been on holiday and I’m just catching up with the site.

      You might have already made a decision, but here’s my take.

      If you like the 70D and you have the lenses you want for it then I’d get a housing for it, it’s a great camera and I really enjoyed using mine. You’ll be familiar with it already which will be a big bonus in the water too.

      The a6000 is an awesome camera too but there still isn’t a decent off the shelf water housing for it so it might be a while before you can get in the water with it for proper surf photography. You’ll also need to re-learn the controls and get some lenses too.

      I haven’t used the Nikon d7100 but I’m sure it’s also a great camera, the 18-55mm will get you going but you’ll probably want to pick up another couple of lenses for it too. If it’s in good condition and the housing has a pistol grip and a port with it, it seems like an OK deal, but I’d only go for it if you get on with the Nikon after trying it out.

      I’m assuming the Aquatech housing is a Compac/Elite housing, which is a great piece of kit, and I’m assuming you’re in the USA.

      If it’s $1700 Australian it’s a better deal, but even in US $ I think it’s OK, definitely a reasonable price if you were going to buy that kit anyway.

      Hope that helps.

  2. Hi Ben, I’m new posting here, but have been checking your site regularly since I bought a Sony A6000. Thank you for all the great info.
    I just bought a used Aquatech Base housing for the Canon 70D and adapted it to work with my A6000. It only takes a 1/4″ spacer between the body plate and camera to center the lens in the port. I will be using the 10-18mm lens with the P-65 port that comes with the base kit; there’s little to no vignetting at 10mm. Just ordered a longer port to use with the 18-105mm. I made an aluminum plate to go between the A6000 and the 70D plate, with a 1/2″ offset to move the body closer to the back plate, so the pushers I’m installing in a home made back plate can reach the camera buttons. I couldn’t find any pushers online, so I bought a broken Ikelite housing for the hardware. The zoom control on the housing misses the power zoom switch on the 18-105mm by 1/4″, so I’m working on an extension now.
    I will have full Menu access, plus control of aperture, ISO, display, exposure compensation, video recording, and playback.

    Thanks, and keep up the good work

    Lucio

    1. Hey Lucio,

      That looks like an awesome conversion, good job!

      The buttons on the back plate look very professional too, I’ve actually got two old Ikelite housings that I bought cheap on eBay to scavange for parts too, I haven’t got around to building a new back plate myself though.

      Luckily on my CR-60 the zoom control knob is on the port and it lines up perfectly with the zoom control on the 18-105mm f4, so I didn’t need to make any adjustments to get it to work, and I don’t need a lens collar either.

      A couple of things that I’ve been thinking about for my own modification:

      Playback button might not be needed, if you use auto review (although I trun it off when using a longer lens). If you scroll the top dial when the auto review image is on the LCD it automatically goes into review mode, so you just snap another shot and scroll to review, rather than needing a dedicated button, not ideal but a possible workaround if necessary.

      Also – you can get cheap wired remotes which have a zoom rocker built in – the official one is the Sony RM-VPR1 for $50+ but I’ve got this $30 one which works well: http://amzn.to/1U8WXUW

      I was going to splice this cable into the standard one inside the housing so I could add zoom, focus, shutter and video pause/record to a more suitable place on the back plate.

      Theoretically you could have soft buttons on the top of the back plate and tilt your head left or right to zoom in and out whilst looking through the viewfinder. That sounds daft but it might become quite intuitive after a while. The pause/record button is also a bit of a hard target for a push button, and moving it up to the top corner might mean it doesn’t get pressed accidentally.

      Adding a focus button to the top right would make it more familiar for people used to using back focus on a DSLR too.

      Anyway – I think you’ve got all that covered, the main thing I’m impressed by is you finding a second hand Base housing to work with! I wouldn’t have thought there’s many available used yet.

      After being away on holiday last week with my CR-60 I definitely found myself wanting a smaller setup, carrying it around with me through airports and up and down steps to the beach every day was a bit of a pain.

      One of the main reasons I moved to the a6000 from a Canon DSLR was to reduce the size and weight of my gear. Now the camera goes everywhere with me and I wish I had a tiny housing to match.

  3. Hi Ben , how are you!

    Im about weeks trying to make a decision on surf photography equipment…is not an easy one when begginer! But I crashed into your website and Im getting a lot of ideas ..

    Maybe you can help me on this ..

    I have a Canon 6D with Tokina 11-16mm and canon 24mm-70mm 2.8.
    ( im on really low budget , but would like to change it for a 5D Mark III soon..)
    But..si far, is a nice Full Frame camera, but slow to surf photography maybe 4,5 pics x second…

    The options Im thinking, are ..
    1) Buy the Aquatech Base Housing for the 6D, and if in the future I manage to buy the 5D Mark III.. the Housing would still work… ( can I add in the future a backplate with controls to the Base model )

    2) Keep my 6D, and buy a Canon A6000 and a Kit lens 16-50mm 3.5-4f ( is it too slow to surf photography?)
    I saw nice reviews on this camera, good autofocus, 11 pics x second, smaller camera, but im not so sure about the quality ( Canon 6D vs this one??)

    The thin is I can get a used A6000 + Kit lens for 600EUR. and the Liquid Eye another 600eur? So for 1200EUR, get an extra camera with water housing (and kit lens)
    or
    Buy the Aquatech Base ( or Elite) + port for my lens, for the Canon 6D ( betwween 900EUR – 1500 Eur)

    So…What would you do Ben!? Any suggestions on this? Or a better option?

    Thanks you a lot man!

    1. Hi Mati,

      I’ve been thinking about what I would do in your position.

      Personally I’d go for the a6000, it’s a very capable camera for surf photography at a great price. The quality will be comparable, it’s a smaller sensor so it’s not as good in low light or for really shallow depth of field, but that’s not what you’ll be doing for most surf photography anyway.

      I’d go through your favourite photos, or the ones that you get paid for, and see if you could shoot them on an apsc sensor, if you can then get the a6000. If you can’t, get the housing for the 6D/5D mkiii.

      Ben.

  4. So ive just bought the base kit for an A7R3 and I have just had the camera in the housing for the first time and it is moving back and forward on the camera plate. Anyway to secure it into place

    1. Is the plate itself moving?
      I’m not sure if the base kit is the same, but the Aquatech housings I’ve owned had a foam pad on the back plate that pushed against the camera plate, that held it in place firmly when shut.

      I can see a pad in the photos of the base kit on Aquatech’s website, so I assume it should work the same. Does your back plate have a foam pad on it?

      Or is the camera moving into m the plate?
      If so, I just tightened it up with a coin, like you would with a standard tripod plate.

          1. I’d get in touch with Aquatech, they will be able to advise on what the issue might be. The camera plate has always been solid once the housing is closed on all of mine.

          2. Thanks for the help Ben. I finally had to use two of those foam pads to keep it in place. All good now. Cheers buddy and happpy shooting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *