Essex Water Housings New Website

Essex water housings have launched a new website, you can find out about the Slant-X housing system, including configuring and pricing up the set-up you’ll need for your camera, and also learn a lot of the basics of using and maintaining a water housing in the Knowledge Base section.

the new site featuring the Essex Slant-X system
the new site featuring the Essex Slant-X system

I’d recommend everyone interested in Essex water housings, and users of any kind of housing, to check out the knowledge base section, I picked up these tips via Mike Waggoner’s posts on the surf photographers united forum and use them myself every time I shoot photo’s with a housing so to have them all in one place is a great resource for anyone learning surf photography:

The housing system itself is something I’ve posted about before, I especially like the back focus pistol grip design, so much so I built one myself for one of my older housings and I plan to build another one soon for my Sony a6000 housing conversion.

If you’ve got a Canon 7D, 7D mark II, 5D mark II or 5D mark III you can place your order for the whole kit through the site, it’ll come to just over $2000 for a basic set-up, but as it’s all modular you can easily add ports or different control backs for different camera bodies in the future once you have the basic node and grip.

Once you've configured your housing set-up you have the option to enquire about rental, a great way to try before you buy.
Once you’ve configured your housing set-up you have the option to enquire about rental, a great way to try before you buy.

Interestingly there’s an option at the end of the useful configuration tool for renting the equipment, there’s no prices listed but there’s a form to fill in for more information.

I always thought renting a housing would be a good way to check out the features before investing, the way the housing handles and the way the controls work is just as important as how the camera feels out of the water.

I’ve used Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony cameras and SPL, Aquatech, Ikelite, HCW and Canon water housings and the way things are laid out on each one is different enough that you could easily have a personal preference, so by offering this option Essex are allowing professionals to try out an alternative without having to make the huge change in investment from their current gear.

Why Change To An Essex Water housing?

I’m in the process of deciding whether to switch from my Canon DSLR gear to a Sony mirrorless e-mount system, I’m hoping to use my current Aquatech housing for the new camera and lenses, but it might not be possible.

Any professional surf photographer will already own a water housing and usually a range of ports too, so dropping one manufacturer for another is a big decision whether you’re talking about cameras and lenses or water housings.

The Essex system uses one type of node and one style of ports and offers a different control back for each camera body you wish to use, making it simple to upgrade to a new control back when you get a new camera body, whilst retaining all your ports, pistol grips and front node.

The only real downside I can see would be the lack of a flash bulkhead (something that is offered on the high end Aquatech housings), so there’s no way to use a flash with the housing currently, but thanks to the modular design I expect it will be possible to add a control back with flash port, or even a built in flash in the future.


  1. PLEASE REPLY. Does anyone know where I can buy a front loading dome for for an essex housing ??? They don’t have them on the website and I can’t get a hold of them. Help?

    1. Hi Jesse,

      I guess you’ve tried the e-mail address on the website:

      If so and you aren’t getting any response you could try contacting Mike Waggoner (the man behind Essex waterhousings) through the surfphotographersunited forums:

      I haven’t been on there in a couple of years but he was pretty active when I looked at it regularly, and it looks like he’s still visiting the forums. Try a direct message to him and I’m sure he can point you in the right direction.

    1. Hi,

      I haven’t used the Essex housings at all, but the port is pretty standard size for most above water fisheye photography.

      If you want to do split shots, or underwater photography then usually a larger dome is the best bet, I use the 8″ Aquatech dome port and it works really well.

      You could probably get a split style shot with a smaller dome, but it won’t be as clear underwater due to the closer focusing distance of the virtual image caused by the dome, and the water line won’t be as crisp because the dome is closer to the front element of the lens.

      If you have an Essex housing, or you’re looking to get one, I’d get in touch with Mike Waggoner directly about your needs. I imagine he could offer a suitable port for split shots if that’s what you need.

      1. Wow, swift reply, Thank you!
        I will contact Mike. 8″ Aquatech matches what I heard as advice so far.

        My research on DSLR body went roughly this far…
        (not bought anything yet, beyond compact cam hardcases I used some years ago, Sony P1, Sony P9,…)

        o Aluminum housings like : ~3000$ (with one port) Well, yes, if I intend to pursue a long term career with the BBC and National Geographic…

        o Polycarbonate housing: ~1600$ (with one port) from Aquatech (or Ikelite?) — any good for a non-pro occasionel like me?

        When you say Aquatech, do you mean this Polyurethane body to match?

        1. The bigger the better for split shots, some examples and more info here if you haven’t seen it:

          If it’s just surface work, rather than diving, then a surf style polycarbonate housing (like Aquatech or Essex) will work great and possibly handle a bit better than a dive style aluminium housing.

          That Aquatech housing would work well, there are cheaper options if you don’t need all the controls, port options or flash bulkheads though.

          If you’re on a budget and you really just want split shots I’d consider going for a Liquid Eye or SPL housing with a big dome.

          Or, if you’re only going to be using the images for web or small prints, you could go for a GoPro Hero 4, KNEKT GPLT trigger and a KNEKT KSD6 dome – it makes getting split shots very easy.

  2. Hi Ben,

    Could you explain exactly how I’m supposed to attach the port to the 7d Slant-X model? I am having trouble keeping it locked in.

    1. Hey Landon,
      I’ve never used the slant- housing myself, so I don’t know exactly how the port works.
      I’d recommend getting in touch with Essex directly to ask for more information.

      Usually ports either screw in and are held in place by the tension against a rubber oring, or there are clips to hold them.

      Sorry I can’t help more.

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