Best Tips for Setting Up, Protecting, and Maintaining Surf and Underwater Camera Housings

What will be covered in this blog

  • Camera fogging
  • Dome port scratches
  • O-ring maintenance 
  • Pro tips 

Top  tips on how to stop your surf housing and under water housing from fogging up?

  1. Never leave your underwater housing in the sun.
  2. Keep a moist towel over it when out in the open, especially in the hot sun. Allowing the sun to shine on your underwater case can produce condensation, which can dry it out and cause salt crystals to form later when you dive.
  3. Always keep one or two anti fog / moisture inserts in side the waterproof housing.
  4. To reduce moisture inside the housing, try to set it up and close it in a cold, dry location. It's an excellent idea to stay in your nice, air-conditioned accommodation. On a hot, humid day, sitting outside on the boat can be a bad idea and cause fogging.

When is fogging most likely to happen?

  1. When it's hot on the surface and cool underwater, fogging is more likely.
  2. When changing lenses and batteries on the boat or in a humid area with the housing open.
  3. If the inside of the housing has been exposed to water or moisture. 


How to protect your housing?

  1. The most common way to damage a water proof housing is during entry and exit in and out of the water. Don't jump into the water with your equipment; always have it given to you. If you have a wide angle dome port, cover it immediately after exiting the water to avoid scratches.
  2. If feasible, soak the underwater case in fresh water for a few minutes after each salt water dive. If the salt water has dried out, soak it for longer. If feasible, "work" the buttons and controls while the camera is underwater for a few seconds. After that, towel-dry the housing quickly.
  3. Don't leave your camera in the rinse tank unattended after your dive. Many, many stories begin with the phrase "it flooded in the rinse tank."
  4. Every year, have your housing serviced by the relevant authorities.
  5. To avoid getting your dome port scratched, keep it covered with a neoprene or saver cover as much as possible. I use a saver cover on my dome port to enter and exit the water. 


Best tips for Maintenance of O-rings and seals 

  1. Clean and relube the o-rings and grooves after each dive day: the housing o-ring, the port o-ring, and the strobe battery compartment o-ring. After a few dives, do the same thing with your sync cord o-rings.
  2. Do not oil the o-rings excessively. Just a smidgeon is sufficient. Use only the o-ring grease recommended by the manufacturer.
  3. To clean the o-ring groove, I used a q-tip and a high-quality paper towel. Remove the o-ring first, then clean the groove with a q-tip and a paper towel underneath it. Wipe the o-ring gently, being careful not to stretch it. I normally use my fingertips to wipe the o-rings clean, gently feeling for any dirt or particles. If the o-ring has sand on it that won't come off or is really unclean, wash it. Remove any hairs or dust from the groove using an air blower, and relubricate the o-ring with the lube recommended by your housing manufacturer. Examine the o-ring one more time before replacing it, being cautious not to stretch the o-ring. 


The most important tips for underwater surf housing maintenance?

  1. Maintainance must be performed in a relaxed, uncrowded, well-lit environment.
  2. Preferably before you go diving.
  3. Many floods have been caused by rushing this procedure or executing it in a small boat!
  4. Before and after closing the housing, inspect it thoroughly to ensure that nothing got caught in the groove, such as a hair or the o-ring.
  5. Close your housing quickly after inspecting the o-ring and surfaces.
  6. Always conduct a test shot with your strobes on after preparing your camera.
  7. Make that it took a picture that was properly exposed.
  8. Check the ISO and JPEG/RAW quality settings on your camera.
  9. Make sure the camera can focus.

What are the most common mistakes in underwater surf photography?

    1. You will almost certainly dive underwater with the lens cap
    2. The lens set to manual focus.
    3. Capturing the entire session at a terrible ISO
    4. Capturing the entire session in the wrong format.
    5. Not having a memory card in the camera
    6. Going out with a flat battery


Always test your housing in a pool or ocean without the camera after receiving a new housing or after repairs to ensure it is leakproof. Weight down the housing to help sit at the deepest point of the pool / ocean for a long period of time


What are the most common reasons for underwater surf camera / housing to flood? 

  1. Closing the housing and having a cable caught in the o-ring, or a huge hair, is the number one cause of flooding. This has happened to a lot of individuals before, so be cautious when closing the housing. As the housing closes, nothing can touch or lay on the o-ring. So you can see, close it in a well-lit location.
  2. Over time, salt and dirt accumulate in the o-ring grooves. Clean the grooves with a qtip rather than a a paper towl.
  3. Failure to adequately secure sync cords; always double-check these guys.
  4. Floods have occurred when people jump into the water from a high vantage point with their gear, causing the gear to slam into the water. Please bring your gear into the water gently, or have it handed down to you.
  5. Always double-check the underwater camera housing screws and latches to ensure they are securely closed. This will almost certainly result in a housing leak. The dome port's latches, tabs, or clips are coming undone or are not properly secure. Certain DSLR housings, such as Ikelite housings, are more affected than others. If necessary, double-check your port lock before immersing your camera in water.
  6. Check that your O-ring is in position and that it has not popped out. Although it may seem apparent, always double-check the o-rings before closing the housing to ensure that they are fully seated in the groove.
  7. When removing cable cords, make sure that salt water does not drip onto the metal contacts. 


What can I do if my under water surf housing leaks? 

  1. Keep your cool.
  2. Keep your housing in one place so that any water collects on the bottom.
  3. Surface safely.
  4. Open the housing, and thoroughly dry everything. 



What can you do if you scratches your Dome Port?

No worries if you scratch your acrylic dome port on the outside; even if it has some terrible gashes, it can be "meshed out." Light scratches on the outside will normally not hinder your images because they will be "filled in" with water underwater and will not be visible in photos, but they may reflect the sun in sunny water shots. Here's where you can get the dome port repair kit. Glass dome ports are not compatible with this method. 


How to cleaning your housing, lens, port and camera?


For lens cleaning we highly suggest using specific equipment such as a rocket lens blower, a lens pen, lens brush and lens paper. There are loads of decent cleaning kits available on Amazon. 

Dome ports and lenses should be cleaned regularly.

Your lenses and ports will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Extreme caution needs to be taken when cleaning a plastic dome. Always use a blower to remove dirt and dust, followed by a dunk under water and a soft brush, then wiping it away with lens paper. This holds true for ports and diopters as well. I apply a few drops of lens cleaning to half of the lens tissue paper, then wipe the glass clean. Then I use the dry side of the lens paper to wipe away the liquid until the glass is dry.

When not in use, always store camera lenses with the lens caps on.

In dusty settings, avoid changing lenses. To avoid getting dust on your sensor, change your lens as soon as possible. When your camera is not using a lens, the sensor should be looking down to prevent dust from landing on it.

If you're travelling to a vacation for underwater surf photography,

Before packaging your housing away, remove the primary housing o-ring and place it in a ziplock baggie. O-rings can be dislodged by the pressure of an airplane. You don't want to learn this the hard way, believe me.



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