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Goldfish all gone? Turn that empty tank into an underwater housing

By dpreview staff on Sep 2, 2013 at 02:00 GMT

If you have a digital SLR and don't want to blow two grand on an underwater housing, check out the alternative the folks at Digital Camera World came up with. Just put your camera into a clean fish tank, attach a remote shutter release cable, lower the tank into the water, and fire away. Naturally, this only works in calm water, so don't take it into the ocean unless you fancy buying a new camera.

Though the site mentions you have to take a lot of shots and check the results because you can't see through the viewfinder, it's worth pointing out that using an SLR with a swivel screen would allow you to compose while you shoot.

A Nikon DSLR in a fish tank starts its dive under the water. [Photo: Digital Camera World]

Feeling brave and want to try it for yourself? You'll find instructions via the source link below. And don't forget to make sure that fish tank doesn't leak before you take it for a dip!

Comments

Total comments: 71
12
D Ben
By D Ben (7 months ago)

9-8-2013, 8:15 PM PDT
Please consider the high quality ewa-marine flexible bag housing. Mine hasn't let me down yet--snorkeling, surf, or dust storms. I use mine with a Canon 7d, 16-35, and a 550 flash.

0 upvotes
JonLevi
By JonLevi (7 months ago)

I've been doing this for years! It was my dirty little secret which I shared willingly :P Thanks for outing this trick!

0 upvotes
JTHAIN
By JTHAIN (7 months ago)

We used to do this in TV news, but you needed a 30+ gallon tank to house the TV camera. It's also scary as hell to pull off. Then GoPros came along and this technique became extinct. Funny I hadn't considered it for stills until just now. Might be fun to get s shot of salmon spawning with my OM-D

0 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (7 months ago)

You can build a semi-custom case using 3/8" plexiglas, a gas purge valve, plexiglas fusing glue, silicone rubber, heavy duty rubber gloves, a jigsaw and some stainless steel bolts and screws. You build a glove-box. But test for water tightness before putting a camera in it!

0 upvotes
Roland Wantens
By Roland Wantens (7 months ago)

This is great news!
I can expect a lot of new members to my federation PACF (Professional Association of Camera Flooders). T-shirts come at a reasonable price :-)

0 upvotes
grablife
By grablife (7 months ago)

Was this from a deleted scene in Borat?

0 upvotes
Mario G
By Mario G (7 months ago)

When I started to read this article, before getting to see the picture, I actually thought that this was about completely submerging an upside-down fish tank into the water. Which actually sounds a better idea! You could then get some shots well below the water surface. Assuming that you manage to pull the whole thing down and keep the camera above the inside water level (and that it doesn't go up too much to reach the camera), and that the higher air pressure doesn't blow up the camera.

0 upvotes
dougeryb
By dougeryb (7 months ago)

Although not the greatest of ideas, I love the fact that DPR is posting unique ideas. What we consider bad ideas can often spark ingenious and unique ideas in the creative minds of others. I applaud DPR for going outside of the norm and jump starting creative thought and dialogue.

0 upvotes
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (7 months ago)

Waves not welcome. Watch your step. Don't trip, slip, or fall. Forget about using the viewfinder. Bring along backup cameras.

The casing would withstand depths up to near the rim of the acquarium, if you have the muscle and daring to submerge it that much.

0 upvotes
Paul Guba
By Paul Guba (7 months ago)

Stupid is as stupid does.

0 upvotes
polizonte
By polizonte (7 months ago)

I would put a P&S camera inside a glass bottom beer mug but the thought of putting my D800 + lens to an aquarium is scary ... maybe with a close-up lens, only in wading depths, with a floating the aquarium on a stable platform & overhead + wave protection.

0 upvotes
happypoppeye
By happypoppeye (7 months ago)

Please don't show Olympus this ...I can see it now ...the EM-2 ...bigger, better and waterproof ...all with a half size sensor

0 upvotes
Langusta
By Langusta (7 months ago)

Now let's wait for someone to put it on kickstarter with the limited edition that has a rain cover built-in.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

Instead of blowing $2,000 on a good underwater housing you blow your $2,000 Nikon and lens by immersing it in an aquarium (that's Latin, means it is made for water inside, not to keep water out).

A Zip bag probably works better!

1 upvote
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

Is this a new trend?!

Dumb Idea of the Week?

This week's DIW: Use your D4X as support for your car, when changing wheels!

Next week: Bullet-proof vest made out of discarded Canon DSLRs!

Following week: Use your old Hasselblads to build yourself a hide!

Then: Throw-a-camera competition!

Old favorite from our long series: dropping your camera from the Eiffel Tower - tips and tricks!

Have good day!

1 upvote
Sir Aglund
By Sir Aglund (7 months ago)

lol use your camera as a jack

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

The classic way is using a pail with a glass bottom - better in every way, as a aquarium has a lot of lift, for instance, a 20 liter one has a lift of about 40lbs, thus very affected by any kind of waves.

I've been using cut off pieces of 5-8" clear (1/4" thick) polyacrylic tube, with a flat piece of polyacrylic glued to one end of it, and another to the opposite end, but that with a big hole in it (big enough for your camera!), but with a flange, and then you bolt a flat piece to the flange, after having treated the mating surfaces with Vaseline. Now the camera is fairly waterproof enclosed, so I tend to secure the lid with just two, or three bolts, to make it easier to turn on, before securing the lid!

Now what, you might ask. Well, I use my IR remote in a small zipper bag to control the camera. Works very well, indeed! Never had a leak, and works in rain, too! Some cameras have remotes that can control a lot, some can control just a few functions, so you have to compromise ;-)!

0 upvotes
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (7 months ago)

A glass bottomed pail would be useful for shots downwards, but if you want to shoot sideways (like in a swimming pool) the aquarium is a great idea. Of course, the risk is not small, but it is certainly an interesting technique ...

1 upvote
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

Kim, with that Nikon you really have no idea what you are taking photos of - I'd say the only way is pointing it downward, so you can see the display!

A NEX would have worked much better, but evidently they had a Nikon to ruin, so that is what they used (haven't seen any results, though). Or an OM-D, or ....

0 upvotes
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (7 months ago)

Well, I shoot the G5 and GH2 and both have fully articulated LCDs ... but, remember that we are not dunking the aquarium all the way ... just maybe half way. And the screen will be visible if you get your head under with swimming goggles on ...

Where there is a will, there is a way :-)

0 upvotes
GaryJP
By GaryJP (7 months ago)

One worry is that in most fish tanks the glass is inside the metal frame, because they are designed to resist more internal pressure. Here, you are subjecting the tank to EXTERNAL pressure, which makes it easier for thew glass to cave in.

2 upvotes
chj
By chj (7 months ago)

Are you going to test this against the other underwater cameras? My guess is, it's not going to be the winner. :\

0 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (7 months ago)

i think zipper bag is a better option....

0 upvotes
edu T
By edu T (7 months ago)

Another sign that the world needs a digital Nikonos... baaadly!

5 upvotes
Cetonid
By Cetonid (7 months ago)

I seriously thought of doing this for amphibians, but it is just more than I was willing to pack into the field. Instead, I use a ccdtv security dome attached to the front of the lens. It limits me to shooting at a 45 to 90 degree angle, but way easier to use while hiking a creek canyon.

0 upvotes
Nigel Wilkins
By Nigel Wilkins (7 months ago)

Nice one...need broken glass in rock pools!

0 upvotes
Nexguy
By Nexguy (7 months ago)

Photo Caption: A Nikon DSLR in a fish tank starts its dive under the water. [Photo: Digital Camera World]

Note to DPR: No matter how slow the news day, resist the temptation to link to random articles like this. Or put a smiley in the title so we know you're not serious.

Note to Digital Camera World: Congratulations on the perfect Rube Goldberg solution on how to destroy a pretty nice camera.

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (7 months ago)

Now, THAT is dumb.

1 upvote
peterpainter
By peterpainter (7 months ago)

and it's not even 1st April today!

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
DonM999
By DonM999 (7 months ago)

What's missing is ballast to keep the tank reasonably submerged and stable, otherwise it will take some effort to hold it down. The bottom of fish tanks is glass, the bottom should be protected with plywood on both sides. Use towels inside the tank to absorb stray water before it can reach the camera.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

Exactly! And why on earth no protective lid?! Doesn't need to be water-proof, just spray-protection!

1 upvote
gollywop
By gollywop (7 months ago)

Fish tanks are designed and braced to withstand low-head water pressure applied from the inside. They are not designed and braced to withstand water pressure of any head applied from the outside. This idea seems to me to be particularly ill-conceived, even in "calm" water.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

Agree, 100%! In a swimming pool, with nobody else in it, maybe ...

0 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (7 months ago)

Sounds very fishy to me!

1 upvote
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (7 months ago)

DPR is obviously desperate for "news" content.

0 upvotes
10kzoom
By 10kzoom (7 months ago)

"Though the site mentions you have to take a lot of shots and check the results because you can't see through the viewfinder, it's worth pointing out that using an SLR with a swivel screen would allow you to compose while you shoot."

Another alternative is to put a small mirror behind the camera at about a 45 degree angle. The LCD image will be upside down but still very helpful in composition.

And to all the Nay Sayers - you either
a) don't have any imagination or initiative and don't appreciate those who do.
b) think the idea is cool but your jealous you didn't think of this idea.
c) never heard of Angus MacGyver.
d) afraid to get your feet wet because you don't like water.
e) don't like fish because your pet goldfish bit your finger when you were 3 yrs old.

3 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

Not everyone are willing to risk a functional camera for taking surface shots - a wave and it is good bye!

MacGyver is a work of fiction - not the best authority on making things that work - why not A-Team as well?!

1 upvote
Langusta
By Langusta (7 months ago)

f) have an underwater camera or housing (even for a cheap point and shoot)...sth that could get the job done better

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (7 months ago)

I can see someone walking around with this rig and tripping or stepping off of a ledge... See if the warranty covers that!

0 upvotes
Elliot234567
By Elliot234567 (7 months ago)

This is a really bad idea, and it seems kind of irresponsible to post this here. DPR should be giving good advice, not advocating something that could destroy one's equipment.

2 upvotes
Jeff Peterman
By Jeff Peterman (7 months ago)

If I was going to do this, I'd attach some handle to the top so that there was less risk of dropping it in, I'd attach a rink of Styrofoam around the top edge on the outside so that it would be certain to float fairly high if I did drop it, and I'd cover the top with plastic to protect from splashes. Then I'd not use it anyway as it wouldn't be worth the risk, except with an old body/lens.

2 upvotes
Tee1up
By Tee1up (7 months ago)

LOL.
I can think of a dozen reasons why this is ill advised.

No ... it's even worse than that. Get a proper housing or buy a dedicated water camera.

2 upvotes
DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (7 months ago)

I think this is a brilliant idea and I recommend it to all Nikon owners.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
DonM999
By DonM999 (7 months ago)

I'll bet you own a Canon.

1 upvote
Photoman
By Photoman (7 months ago)

It is better to drown a Canon and claim insurance instead of waiting for the shutter to die.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

DotCom Editor is a terrorist as he wants to rid the world of Nikons - we got the proof here!

0 upvotes
Eamon Hickey
By Eamon Hickey (7 months ago)

My friend Nick Didlick, a professional photographer and Nikon School Instructor, has been doing this for years with a very cheap and simple setup.

He uses a plastic trash can that he buys at the local drug store, cuts a hole in it near the bottom, then expoxies the cover glass from a 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 picture frame over the hole (on the outside of the trash can).

I've seen some nice shots of trout and other fish that he's taken in rivers and creeks using his "BucketCam", as he calls it. But, yes, he has pushed it a little too far into the water and doused a camera once or twice. He likes to dry them on the heater vent of his car during the drive home.

1 upvote
Biowizard
By Biowizard (7 months ago)

I'll stick to using my TG-1 thanks ...

0 upvotes
GodSpeaks
By GodSpeaks (7 months ago)

Yeah, like this is a good idea... NOT

0 upvotes
duchamp
By duchamp (7 months ago)

What a great idea! Think of wireless connection for full camera operation: changing settings, choosing focus point, viewing and reviewing.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

Oh, wireless controls do love water! Especially salt water!

0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (7 months ago)

Good to see the recruitment drive for a new editor finally bearing fruit. Meanwhile, over at Gearshop....

2 upvotes
RobG67
By RobG67 (7 months ago)

YAY!!!.

No, I don't think so...

0 upvotes
_sem_
By _sem_ (7 months ago)

Pioneers of underwater photography used similar devices (though rather a metal housing with a window) turned upside down, a la diving bell

0 upvotes
Langusta
By Langusta (7 months ago)

LOL
some potential benefits:
- optical quality of a used aquarium has a potential of interesting artistic filter effects
- you can leave the fish inside for extra ghosting
- if you need to service your camera, you can keep it floating in the water that entered the aquarium to facilitate accurate troubleshooting
- having a wired remote allows you to recover your camera without soaking your hands in that muddy lake
-...

2 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (7 months ago)

maybe rig it so that the camera does not sit right on the floor of the aquarium. At least you get a period of grace before any water ingress starts to float the camera.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

I loved that extra ghosting idea!

Have heard that if you accidentally drop your camera into sea water you should immerse it in fresh water - here you get the container included - just change the fluid and everything is fine!

1 upvote
Paul De Bra
By Paul De Bra (7 months ago)

This is generally a bad idea! Be very careful with the choice of fish tank!
A fish tank is designed to keep water in, not out. It can withstand the pressure of the water in the tank that is trying to pull the fish tank apart. It is not designed to withstand the pressure of water pushing on the glass towards the inside.
I remember in the old days you were not even supposed to empty a fish tank completely (to clean it) because the loss of pressure could already spring a leak. So you have to be very careful to check whether your fish tank can withstand pressure from the outside. Not all fish tanks will survive being dipped in a lake.

4 upvotes
groucher
By groucher (7 months ago)

You've had some rotten inventions on DPR but this takes the prize. A better idea would be to use an Otter case or similar, modified with a perspex window, camera operated by wireless remote. Much safer and more effective.

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (7 months ago)

Hey, we didn't invent it - Digital Camera World did. Don't shoot the messenger :)

1 upvote
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

Jeff Keller, That was the lamest excuse I ever heard for publishing anything!

0 upvotes
Ghostboo
By Ghostboo (7 months ago)

Why not just buy a submarine?

1 upvote
Nukunukoo
By Nukunukoo (7 months ago)

There MUST be a third picture they forgot to post that really shows how clever the contraption is. Otherwise...

0 upvotes
mais51
By mais51 (7 months ago)

Must be a sloooow news day

2 upvotes
kimchiflower
By kimchiflower (7 months ago)

what could possibly go wrong?

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
16 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

Nada! Nothing! Inget! Rien!

1 upvote
tinzi1
By tinzi1 (7 months ago)

Hum...i can't exactly tell what it is but something doesn't seem right with this setup.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (7 months ago)

It's that sinking feeling, I know, I know!

0 upvotes
Total comments: 71
12