Ports for Underwater Camera Housings
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Skip Navigation Linksunderwater Photo Course :: (2) Equipment Guide :: Underwater Camera Housings :: Digital Underwater Cameras :: D-SLR Ports

Ports for Underwater Camera Housings

U/W Photo Course

Learn u/w photography the easy way!


The removable port is an integral feature of the underwater camera housing for DSLRDigital Single Lens Reflex Camera. A camera that uses a mirror to redirect the image projected onto the film into the viewfinder. The mirror flips out of the way when the button is pressed to take the picture. cameras. There are two basic types, the dome port (for a wide angle lensA wide angle lens is one that has an angle of view significantly wider than a normal human perspective. Typically less than 28mm (on the 35mm system).) and the flat port (for macro lensesAn extreme closeup lens.).

  • Flat ports are necessary for focal lengths longer than 28mm. They are especially important to flat-plane lenses for macro photography.
  • Dome ports are used to maintain the angle of view with wide-angle lenses. See lenses for further details.

trade secrets! Things the pro's don't want you to know! On land a dome port acts like a window but underwater it behaves like a negative lens. It forms an apparent image of the subject for your camera to see (which appears closer) but which corrects for refractionThe bending of rays of light as they pass from one medium into another e.g. from air to water or from air to glass.. The apparent object distance varies according to the curvature of the dome. The laws of physics therefore dictate that bigger domes give sharper pictures!

Ports comprise of an optical element held in an aluminum tube which is physically attached to the housingA casing or box with waterproof seals designed to contain a camera or other equipment in such a way that it can be used underwater. usually by bayonet mount (and sealed by a user serviceable o-ringThe rubber ring that seals underwater camera equipment.).

For dome ports there is usually a Shade to avoid flareFlare is unwanted streaks of light on your photos caused by lens imperfections and/or pointing the camera at the light source. and maintain contrastthe difference in desity between parts of an image. High contrast for example denotes larger differences with blacker blacks and whiter whites., which may be removable to suit different lenses.

Port elements are made from acrylicPoly methyl methacrylate. A clear plastic with good optical properties. Used for many dome ports. Trade names Perspex Plexiglass. or glass but, contrary to what you may think, acrylic is the best material to construct a port from because it is easier to repair scratches, does not tend to mist up, and is cheaper. The best acrylic ports are injection molded rather that vacuum formed.

geat advice! The optimum size for a dome is 8". This corrects for refractionThe bending of rays of light as they pass from one medium into another e.g. from air to water or from air to glass. above and below water. This is useful for over/undershots that cross the surface boundary i.e the camera lens is half-in and half-out of the water showing subjects above and below shots. Domes smaller than 8" may require you to put a diopterA unit used to express the power of magnifying glasses. Also used as a name for screwin magnifying lenses which can be fitted to the front of a camera lens. lens on in order to focus properly (and this is a piece of optical trash you should avoid). A 6" dome is a good compromise.

Zoom lenses are a special case. You can use zooms no wider than a 28mm behind a flat portA flat glass or plastic port that fits onto the front of the video housing (with no diopter). Zooms wider than 28mm must be behind a dome portLens port constructed as part of a sphere of uniform thickness for wide-angle underwater photography. (with diopter).


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