Waterproof Case for LX-3: Nereus DC-WP500
Feb 15, 2009
I bought the Nereus DC-WP500 for 600NTD (~$18 USD) in Taiwan. Here’re some of my initial experiences with it, along with a disappointingly inconclusive result.
The website for this product is
. The DC-WP500 is basically a thick plastic bag, with a hard plastic tube (which I’ll call the “tunnel”) and a polycarbonate lens. I’ll refer to the DC-WP500 as “the bag”.
First off, there are too many individual parts to this case. It has two hard plastic strips: one (“male strip”) with 3 threaded screws, and another (“female strip”) with 3 holes matching the 3 screws of the male strip. The strips are shaped on the inner sides so that they fit like a puzzle. The bag itself also has 3 holes, and then there are 3 captive nuts. Having so many parts means something can be dropped or lost along the way.
The waterproof seal is created by clasping the bag and female strip between the male strip and 3 nuts. Unfortunately, while not difficult, sealing the bag takes a bit of time. You need to unscrew the nuts, pull the female strip off the male strip, take the bag off the male strip’s threaded screws carefully, put the camera in, and reverse the process. Other products are faster and easier than this, such as the DicaPac which essentially uses Velcro.
Prior to use with my camera, I conducted a leak test as instructed by the leaflet in the box. I put a paper napkin in the bag, tightened the nuts snugly, submerged it in water, moved it around, fiddled with it, left it for a few hours, and found it to be perfectly dry when I took it out. So far, so good.
FIT / FUNCTIONALITY FOR THE LX-3
The LX-3 fits rather well in the bag. The circumference of the tunnel fits the LX-3 lens almost perfectly, allowing only a bit of movement. As a precaution, I put a rubber band around the base of the lens to act as padding for when the lens knocks around in the tunnel. Not the prettiest solution, but made me feel a little better. I’d recommend using a wider rubber band. However, this makes changing settings near the lens (AF/macro/MF and aspect ratios) more difficult.
Using the buttons on the LX-3 presents no problems. Turning the camera on/off, zooming, using the joystick, and changing between record/play modes are feasible, but get more difficult when the bag is wet and your fingers slip against the bag’s plastic surface. For those controls, you need to press the soft plastic down to do it. This is where one becomes concerned with the durability of the plastic - and if you're like me, creating scratches in the plastic... which may or may not become bigger problems down the road. The aspect ratio switches can be reached by pulling the camera lens out of the tunnel. I didn’t try the AF/macro/MF switch, staying with AF the whole time. The mode wheel on top of the camera is the most difficult control to use because it doesn’t grip well against the plastic bag. Again, I took a rubber band segment and looped/tied it around the wheel. This created a less-slip ring, and prevents damage to the Nereus case. Still, getting from P to movie mode does take a bit of patience because the bag doesn’t have enough extra material to allow you to rotate the wheel very far each time.
Keep in mind that you need to continuously press the LX-3 camera into the tunnel – otherwise, you’ll have photos where 1/5 of the side and bottom blocked by the inside of the tunnel (see photo below). This removes any possibility of taking photos with one hand, or doing self-photos. Even with your lens pointing straight, when fully zoomed out, there will be some slight vignetting in 1 or 2 corners. This is because of the 24mm wide angle. Zoom in slightly (or crop later) and you're good.
Should remove lens cap and keeper string before putting LX-3 in bag.
Can remove polycarbonate lens from the tunnel to take clear pics when dry.
Make sure the Nereus lens is clean if shooting in Auto, otherwise camera may macro focus onto fingerprints, for example.
Make sure you have enough battery life before going underwater.
Having a camera you can take underwear is fantastic and can make other tourists envy you. I didn’t expect to take professional photos in the water, but rather just enjoyed the novelty of snapping shots I couldn’t get before.
The real question is: DOES IT LEAK?
I don’t know.
I went in the water twice (two different days) – and for short periods of maybe 10 - 15 mins each. The first time was snorkeling where I noticed condensation forming inside the bag which concerned me a little. It wasn’t enough to do any damage, but I wasn’t sure if it would worsen. The second time, I did have a little teeny bit of water find its way in. I promptly got back up on the beach, took out my camera, wiped it down, wiped the inside of the case, put some tissue in the bag with the camera, sealed the bag, and went back to play. It might have been just simply an issue with not screwing my waterproof strips tight enough. Unfortunately, I won’t know the answer to this until I go surfing in April/May.
I should note that I didn’t put a desiccant pack in, because I left them at home before going on vacation. I’m sure that would have helped at least with the condensation. Also, I’m beginning to think the condensation could be normal because the water was cool, which would cause humidity in the air in the bag to collect at the surface.
As I said, it’s an inconclusive result… but I can say there was no severe leaking. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed having the option of taking my camera into the water with me. Beats carrying my camera high above the water’s surface like a soldier’s rifle.