Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx water housing

Summary: If you’ve got a Sony RX100 mk 3 -7 and want to take it in or on the water, this housing is a great choice

If the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing is a good option for you, you can get some discount if you use the code: LSP in the checkout at seafrogs.com.hk. When you use my code you pay less and I get a small commission which goes towards the running of this site.

The Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing with standard flat port.
The Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing with standard flat port.

I’ve known about the Sony RX100 series for a long time, and I’ve thought about how they could work well for many types of surf photography in the past.

Last year I picked up an RX100 mk v, and this new housing from Sea Frogs – the Salted Line RX1xx housing, so I could try it out myself.

The housing itself is very similar to it’s bigger brother, the Salted Line a6xxx housing. It’s compatible with the same pistol grip and lens ports and features all the same features of the latest generation.

Watch the video below to hear my thoughts and see a few examples of the surf photos I’ve taken with it.

Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing – price and key features

If you’re familiar with the Salted Line a6xxx housings and the Sony RX100 series of cameras, then this list will be familiar.

  • $297.00 US for the housing and standard flat port
  • Closure method: two locking latches
  • Material: plastic
  • Full controls, including pop up viewfinder and flash
  • Cold shoe on the top of the housing
  • Reinforced metal plate on the bottom
  • Compatible with the Salted Line pistol grip
  • Compatible with the Salted Line lens ports

Which cameras are compatible with the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing?

There are a lot of cameras in the Sony RX100 series, and not all of them are compatible with the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing.

The different models in the Sony RX100 line are distinct enough that Sony still sell many of them. Each new version is not necessarily a direct replacement for the last one, and you might find there’s a good reason to go for an earlier model.

The cameras that work in this housing are:

  • Sony RX100 mk iii (3)
  • Sony RX100 mk iv (4)
  • Sony RX100 mk v (5)
  • Sony RX100 mk va (5a)
  • Sony RX100 mk vi (6) (requires a different accessory pack if using wet adapters for some types of underwater photos)
  • Sony RX100 mk vii (7) (requires a different accessory pack if using wet adapters for some types of underwater photos)

So, if you’ve got one of those models and you want to use to for surf photography, this housing is a great choice.

Should I buy a Sony RX100 series or a Sony a6xxx series camera for surf photography?

I go through this in some detail in the video. It comes down to two questions:

  1. Do you want to shoot very wide angle or fisheye surf photos?
  2. Do you want to take non-macro photos with a very shallow depth of field?
The Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing (on the left) and the Sea Frogs Salted Line a6xxx housing (on the right)
The Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing (on the left) and the Sea Frogs Salted Line a6xxx housing (on the right)

If you answer no to both questions, get an RX100 (see below to work out which one to get) and the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing.

If you answer yes to question 1 and no to question 2, I’d think about whether a GoPro would be able to cover the wide angle photos you want to take. If it will (i.e. you don’t need higher than 12MP resolution and won’t be shooting in really low light) then get a GoPro and an RX100 and the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing. If a GoPro won’t do it for you, get a Sony a6xxx body and a housing for it.

If you answer yes to question 2, then you’ll want to go for an interchangeable lens camera so you can use a lens with a longer focal length and a wide aperture.

Which Sony RX100 camera is best for surf photography?

If you don’t have a Sony RX100 camera yet and you want to get one to take surf photos (or video), it’s not easy to choose between them.

They all have some features in common:

  • 1″ sensor size – good for a compact point and shoot, smaller than an a6xxx
  • Fixed lens
  • Viewfinder
  • Zeiss lens
  • 20MP resolution
  • ISO range 125-12,800
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3″ Tilting LCD screen

The interesting bit is where they differ, there are a few areas where the range diverge:

Focal length and maximum aperture

3, 4, 5 and 5A have a 24-70mm equivalent focal length and a max aperture of f1.8-f2.8.

The 6 and 7 have a 24-200mm equivalent focal length and a max aperture of f2.8-f4.5.

There might be some differences in where the maximum aperture changes throughout the focal length to, but they’re not that important.

An example of a normal focal length - around 50mm - surf photo taken with the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing
An example of a normal focal length – around 50mm – surf photo taken with the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing

Basically if you want to shoot longer than 70mm equivalent focal length, up to 200mm, then you need the RX100 mark 6 or 7. The trade off is that the maximum aperture isn’t as wide, so they let in less light.

For surf photography I’d say the aperture change isn’t going to make a big difference, so if you need the extra zoom, get the 6 or 7.

Burst rate

The mark 3 can shoot 10 photos in a second and the mark 4 can shoot 16, which are both pretty good and should be enough for most surf photography.

The mark 4, 5, 5A and 6 shoot 24 photos in a second, which is even better, and definitely adequate for any surf photography you want to do.

The mark 7 can shoot up to 90 photos per second, that’s bonkers and you wont need it for surf photography, but it might be interesting for some styles of photo.

Personally I think 24 is probably going to be fine for most surf photographers, and even 10 or 16 is pretty good, so unless you’ve got something in mind that needs more, don’t worry about this one.

Video resolution

If you want to shoot 4K video, don’t get the mark 3 as it only does HD video. All the others shoot 4K at up to 30 frames a second.

Auto focus

Mark 3 and mark 4 have contrast detection and the others have both contrast detection and phase detection. Phase detection can track subjects in the frame more reliably and it’s useful for surf photography.

Viewfinder

They all have electronic pop up viewfinder but the 3, 4, 5 and 5A require you to pop it on with one button press, then pull it out with your finger. The mark 6 and 7 only require you to pop it up, which means you can’t activate the viewfinder halfway through a session when it’s in the housing on the older models.

You can set it up before you put it in on the older models, so if you know you’ll need it, like when the sun’s really bright and behind you, you can use it that way.

There are some other more minor differences which don’t affect surf photography as much.

So, which one should you get for surf photography?

If you need longer than 70mm then you need the 6 or 7.

There aren’t many surf photographs shot in a housing with a really long focal length. Usually if you’re a long way from the action in a channel then you can shoot from a boat and don’t need a housing. Sometimes you do need it, and sometimes it’s great for getting some creative and different angles, but I’d say if you’re just starting out, 70mm is long enough for 95% of surf photos.

I think the best value is probably the 5. It’s got great autofocus thanks to the phase detection system, and is old enough now that you can get it at a good price.

That’s the one I went for and I’ve had great fun shooting waves and general beach activities with it in the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing.

Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing accessories

The housing uses the same pistol grip and ports as the Salted Line a6xxx housing, but you won’t need them for most surf photography.

You can buy them all, as well as bundles including different combinations, at the Sea Frogs website (don’t forget the code LSP at checkout to get your discount on Salted Line products).

Pistol grip

The pistol grip really comes into its own when you’re shooting with a very wide lens like a fisheye. If you’ve got a wide lens you don’t need to look through the viewfinder and you need to be much closer to the action to fill the frame.

Being able to shoot one handed helps when you need to get close, allowing you to swim and shoot at the same time.

At 24mm at the widest focal length, I felt like I should hold the RX100 to my eye when I was shooting, and as such, the pistol grip doesn’t offer much of an advantage for me personally.

It might help if you’re shooting video as it might help you stabilise the camera bit more.

Lens ports

The flat port that comes as standard allows you to use the full focal length of the lens.

The Sea Frogs Salted Line lens ports are compatible with the RX1xx housing, this is the 4" dome on the housing and standard flat port on the sand
The Sea Frogs Salted Line lens ports are compatible with the RX1xx housing, this is the 4″ dome on the housing and standard flat port on the sand

If you want to shoot underwater photos then a dome port will give you a wider field of view and might improve the image quality at the edges, but I didn’t see any bad issues when shooting underwater photos with the flat port.

Over under or split style photos aren’t really possible with the RX100. 24mm isn’t wide enough, and even with the big Sea Frogs dome port you can’t get above and below water in focus at the same time very easily.

If you want to use it for dive photography you might want to look at the various different ports to allow you to use screw on macro adapters and things but I don’t know enough about that to make a recommendation.

For surf photography I don’t think you’re missing out if you just get the standard housing with standard port with no other accessories in this case.

What’s the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing like?

I’ve used it in small waves and for a whole day at the beach with family, and had a good chance to handle it and compare it to the various other water housings I’ve used.

It’s well made and does everything you could need from a water housing. It’s not the most compact housing, but it’s not huge either.

Should you buy the RX100 and Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing for surf photography?

I’d definitely recommend this housing if you want to get in to surf photography and you have an RX100.

In reality I think the RX100 series is not the best option for someone who’s main goal is to shoot surf photos.

It is a really popular camera though, and I’ve found myself using mine a lot for every day photography when I want something better than my phone camera but don’t want to take the a6000 or a6500 with me.

This kit is perfect for someone who maybe doesn’t live next to the beach, but wants to do some surf photography a few times a year, and have a really high quality, versatile camera setup for the rest of the year too.

Another example shot with the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing
Another example shot with the Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing

I know lots of friends and family who spend enough time at the beach, or on the river, or in the mountains, that a waterproof camera would come in useful, but that doesn’t care about surf photography in particular.

In the past I’ve recommended (or lent out) my GoPro cameras for this type of thing, and they’re amazing for some things, and easy to pack in a suitcase. In the future I’m just as likely to recommend a Sony RX100 and this housing for those people.

If you want to document your lifestyle and it involves water, the RX100 mk5, 5A, 6 or 7 and a Sea Frogs Salted Line RX1xx housing would be an awesome addition to your travel kit.

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