Contributed by David Haas
To say that I enjoyed shooting underwater with the "The World's Smallest and Lightest Digital SLR Camera"* would be an understatement! Canon has packed a huge 18 megapixel APS-C sensor into a body so small and light you have to hold it to believe it. Folks, this is a REAL SLR camera with speedy autofocus and much, much more.
The perfect match is a super-small Ikelite housing complete with a simple, elegant dome port with built-in zoom control! A compact camera mounting tray attaches to your camera's tripod mount. The tray does not need to be removed when changing batteries or memory cards, plus it features a tripod mounting location in case you're shooting some topside photography in-between dives. The camera slides into the front of the housing with the lens attached. There's no fiddling with zoom gears- everything interfaces seamlessly without adding anything to the zoom ring on the lens. Connect the TTL hot shoe, close the two locking latches, and you're ready to shoot.
The Canon 18-55mm IS STM kit lens can produce moderately wide angle photos, or zoom to shoot small creatures down to 6 inches or so. It's lightweight, compact and sharp. As advertised, the compact Dome Port also fits the very popular Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye lens with minor vignetting that disappears by 12mm. The optional Flat Port for the super sharp Canon 60mm Macro lens is very small, allowing you to get in close and frame tiny creatures.
I found that the built-in zoom sleeve can be taken out, allowing the use of a couple of other popular wide angle lenses. I tested a Sigma 15mm Fisheye and even the beautiful Canon 8-15mm f/4 lens (pre-set at 12mm). Both of these produced professional grade images behind the optical-grade acrylic dome.
I shot mostly with the 18-55mm kit lens, using both single and dual Ikelite DS51 strobe set-ups, and got consistent flash exposures easily.
Editor's note: The housing provides true Canon TTL exposure when used with a current model Ikelite DS strobe. TTL hot shoe, bulkhead, and electronics are installed standard in every housing, no separate converter or adapter is required.
Unlike compact mirrorless interchangeable lens (MIL) cameras, the SL1 body as comfortable to hold as any DSLR camera with a familiar control arrangement. It also sports a handy built-in viewfinder for easy composition in the sun or with moving subjects. In my opinion, this camera and housing combination is heads above current MIL cameras from Sony, Olympus, and others. It's a great step up for point-and-shoot underwater photographers, or a means for DSLR shooters to scale WAY down on a size and weight. I carried the housing, both dome and flat ports, plus a pair of DS51 strobes in a small rolling bag with room to spare for clothes, dive computer, prescription mask and more!!!
Next stop for me is the Philippines and this system just made my travel easier than ever!
* Among digital SLR cameras which use APS-C size equivalent sensors. As of March 1, 2014, based on Canon's research and claims. Ikelite does not confirm or guarantee this claim.
David is a professional photographer and Ikelite dealer. He travels the world shooting and teaching people how to get great photos underwater. Learn more at haasimages.com.