I had a chance to dive a couple of times last week with the Nikon D90 in a Nauticam NA-D90 housing with dual Inon Z-240 strobes fired optically, plus the Nauticam 180º External Viewfinder. I'd like to report my impressions and I'm including some images from those two dives.
First and foremost, I loved shooting the housing. I have to admit that it took me a little while to get into the Nikon groove as I am normally a Canon shooter, but once I had everything figured out it felt great. It didn't take me long to enjoy the TTL despite the fact i've been shooting manual for so long.
The viewfinder is awesome... and I think the external adjustment is simply wonderful. There's nothing more frustrating than starting a dive with your diopter adjusted a little off. Just a quick turn, and it is in focus. The large, corner to corner viewfinder image makes confirming fine focus easy, and eliminates any question about cutting off important elements of a composition.
The Fiber Optic TTL worked well. Point, pull trigger, and wham, perfectly exposed. The D90 is a little slow to recycle the internal flash sometimes, but having TTL is worth it for me in macro shooting situations. In situations where I needed faster shot to shot times, I tried setting the camera to manual flash out put (C. Fn. e2, choice M) and then to a lower power (1/128th power). This allowed me to fire the strobes on manual, and I could fire away at about 1 frame per second continuously until the buffer filled up. So really, you kind of get the best of both worlds, TTL and the ability to shoot manual with a quicker recycle time.
I loved the ergonomics. The handles are perfectly sized for my hands, and all the important stuff is in reach. The AE-L/AF-L button is awesome. Thumb on it, finger on shutter - perfect. This button can be set up a few different ways in the camera's custom menu. In its default orientation, the button locks both focus and exposure. It is absolutely critical to be able to reach this button from the handle without removing your finger from the shutter release, as you'll use it frequently to stop a macro lens from hunting in low light/low contrast situations.
The shutter release lever is very sensitive, making it easy to feel the half press position for focus. Both the front and rear command wheels are within an easy reach from the handle, and I was able to learn their position quickly, allowing me to operate them by feel without removing my eye from the viewfinder.
I've been very impressed with the feedback cycle to the designers that we have. When we've made suggestions to improve these housings after using the pre-production units, Nauticam engineers have done a great job incorporating them into final production models. I have every reason to think this will continue, and that we will continue to refine the design while standing behind our early adopters.
These shots were taken on a couple of dives at Blue Heron Bridge near West Palm Beach, Florida. This is a great spot to try out a new underwater camera housing - if you want to arrange a a demo dive with a Nauticam, contact me here.