A few months ago I was given the opportunity to dive with a Nauticam Enhanced 180° viewfinder on my Aquatica 7D housing. I’d always resited purchasing an enhanced viewfinder, convincing myself that I could see enough through the standard viewfinder that came with my housing (and previous Aquatica housings), and that I didn’t need to splash out on the upgrade. All of that changed the day I jumped in the water with this new toy.
The Nauticam Enhanced 180° viewfinder
Installing the viewfinder onto the housing was a lot easier than I was expecting. First the standard Aquatica viewfinder was removed, by simply removing a few o-rings inside the housing and sliding it out, then it was as simple as sliding in the Nauticam adaptor, attaching an o-ring, and sliding in the Nauticam viewfinder and attaching one last o-ring to secure it into place. A quick dunk test in the rinse tub to make sure everything was sealed, and I was ready to go.
Nauticam Enhanced 180° viewfinder attached to a Nauticam housing
My first impression of the Nauticam viewfinder before getting it wet was wow, this could be impressive. It didn’t add anywhere near as much weight or bulk to my housing as I’d expected, and looked promising walking around the boat taking photos. Of course I couldn’t put this to the test until I was under, so I got in for what would be my first of many dives with what would become almost a necessity for my SLR rig.
As expected, the enhanced viewfinder gives a larger, clearer and brighter picture of your image. What I wasn’t expecting was just how large, clear and bright it would be! With dive mask on, I could see the entire image through the 7D, as well as all the details of my manual settings, even with a few centimetres between the viewfinder and my mask. No more moving my head around trying to make sure everything I wanted was in frame, no more squishing my mask against the housing to try and get my eye as close to the camera as possible.
A tightly framed shot of a lizard fish, using Nauticam enhanced viewfinder on Canon 7D
I’ve since heard a comparison that if a standard viewfinder was a normal tube TV, the Nauticam viewfinder would be an Imax movie screen, and I’d have to say I agree with this. No longer do I find that the images coming out of the camera are better looking than what I’d seen in my head through the viewfinder, things look so good through the viewfinder that I’m now having to try harder to take a photo that looks better than what I was hoping for, which I’ve found has improved my photography. I’m also cropping my photos far less, as I’m finding it much easier to frame a picture correctly in camera. Even ‘shooting from the hip’ has become easier, with the camera held out at arm’s length in front of me I still get an idea of what the camera’s shooting at.
The Nauticam enhanced viewfinder also has an external knob for eyesight compensation. Perfect for those who are either long or short sighted. Being able to change the Diopetric adjustment while on the go would also be a huge benefit for those who may need it, meaning you can adjust it without having to open the unit up. While I didn’t think this would ever interest me as I do have fairly decent eyesight, there’s been a couple of times where I’ve jumped into the water without realising I’d bumped the diopetric adjustment on the camera’s body itself and the image looked blurry. Not a problem, as I was able to correct it using the Nauticam viewfinder’s adjustment know.
Glass shrimp living in an Anemone taken with Nauticam enhanced viewfinder on Canon 7D
After a few days diving with the Nauticam enhanced viewfinder, I did have to take it off to give it back to its owner. I didn’t realise how much I would miss it when I started using the standard viewfinder again, so the very next day I ordered my own one. I’ve now done a few months diving with the Nauticam viewfinder on my Aquatica housing, and have to say it was a very wise investment that I would highly recommend to anyone shooting with a dSLR.