Equipment Note: Nauticam D800 Housing

I have a D800. Yes, that’s a Nikon camera.

This might come as a surprise, as I’ve been a Canon shooter since switching from film (huh? what’s that?) to digital back in 2005 or so, but before that, I toted around Nikon F90x and F100 cameras.

Though it’s obviously a pain to schlep around lenses and accessories for two separate systems, there are pros and cons to both.

I don’t want to go into a full discussion of my rationale for adopting a split-photographic-personality here, because there’s a measure of technical gibberish involved, and I'm far too jet-lagged to compose (even somewhat) intelligible gibberish.

But rest assured…it’s about more than just chasing megapixels.


nauticam d800 handle comparison
Nauticam D800 housing handle comparison


Anyway, although I used Nikon cameras before, it’s taken me a bit of time to get reacquainted with the controls and functionality. The most irritating(!) difference between the two manufacturers is that you need to twist Nikon and Canon lenses in opposite directions to mount/ remove them.

And of course, taking any new camera underwater involves selecting a housing system…in my case, a Nauticam D800 housing. (I’m still using Zillion housings for my Canon cameras.)

I tested my D800 and housing (with a Sigma 15mm fisheye lens and Pro One dome port) when I was in Western Australia visiting with sea lions earlier this year, and I loved the set-up.

There was, however, one issue that I encountered. My hands are not particularly big, so the handles were spaced just a little too far from the housing for me. I had to stretch my index finger to depress the shutter.

In most circumstances, this shouldn’t pose a problem, but it was uncomfortable, and in low light/ slow shutter speed situations, this issue could magnify camera shake and result in blur.

Well…if you’re like me and have relatively small hands, there’s good news.

Nauticam has released a new handle configuration with spacing that is 10mm (0.39 inches) closer to the housing…just about perfect for me.

Taking into consideration the fact that you might need different spacing for different occasions (like when you wear thick gloves for colder water, for example), Nauticam provides spacers with the narrow handles.

When inserted between the new narrow handles and the housing, these spacers add back 10mm of length, taking you back to the same spacing as the original handles. Clever, eh?


nauticam Nikon D800 housing handle spacers
Spacers for the new Nauticam housing narrow handles


If you’re a Nauticam user and have never had a problem with handle spacing before, then you can pretty much ignore this information. But if you’re like me and have to stretch to reach the shutter release, the new handles are worth checking out.

One other thing…the grips of the new handles have been slightly modified as well, with four finger grooves instead of three. I haven’t tried the new handles in the water yet, but on land at least, the new grip shape feels better.


Nauticam Nikon D800 handle grips

Nauticam handle grip comparison

Disclosure: D800 housing and accessories on loan from Nauticam.