Chuck Espinoza Photography

Los Angeles Based Freelance Photographer.

The risks of shooting in the water

September 29, 2016

Every time I get in the water there’s a risk that my housing can flood and cause irreparable damage to my camera. My housing is one of the best in the world but with every underwater housing there are a couple of fault points. Each and every time I put the camera in the water I test the housing to make sure it’s watertight. The main point of failure is the rubber O-ring that forms a seal where I attach the lens port to the housing or the backplate to the housing. These rubber rings form a watertight seal that protects the camera. The housing is designed that if water gets into the housing the camera is mounted with enough room on all sides that it won’t be sitting in water.

I’ve had the unfortunate experience of two camera floods. On both occasions it was because of a faulty O-Ring.  All seemed well during my initial tests but on both occasions I managed to shoot for a while before I noticed water in the housing. On one occasion the model could see the water in my lens port and asked if that was normal? Talk about an Oh Shit moment. So if you are just starting out or thinking about shooting in the water here’s my advice:

  • Start small. Start cheap. I started with digital and 35mm point and shoot cameras. It worked for long enough until I learned I needed to step up to a housing for my DSLR in order to make better images.
  • Get insurance. Insurance is one of those things that no one like to pay for. Fingers crossed I never have to use it but each time I step into the water I run the risk of ruining the tool I use to make money.
  • Don’t skimp on your housing. There are just a handful of housing manufacturers and you want a company that will be there to support you years down the road. You also want a housing that will allow you to adapt to a new camera body. I chose aquatech because it’s the choice of housing in the surf industry. Each time I have a question, an issue or need service they have been incredibly helpful. And for god’s sake don’t buy a generic housing. If you are going that route go find a cheap camera body and lens to experiment with made-in-china housings.
  • Do a lot of dummy checks during the shoot. A lesson I am still learning.


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