My Arctic Ikelite System // Jacques de Vos' Underwater Housing Gear [VIDEO]

My Arctic Ikelite System // Jacques de Vos' Underwater Housing Gear [VIDEO]

By Jacque de Vos

When freediving with orcas near the Arctic Circle, it's important to have equipment that works. Jacques de Vos shows you how he sets up his Canon EOS R5 inside of an Ikelite 200DL Underwater Housing. Watch the video below or scroll down to learn more about Jacques' arctic Ikelite system.

I'm an underwater photographer, Ikelite Ambassador, expedition leader and founder of Arctic Freediving and we just finished our season here in the Norwegian Arctic. Today I'm just going to talk to you about my equipment and what I use in terms of my Ikelite gear and cameras.

Canon EOS R5

At the moment, I'm using the Canon R series, specifically the R5. Primarily for its video functions is why I made the biggest change, but also due to the focusing system and the fact that it delivers raw video at very high frame rates and the stills also look amazing.

Fisheye Lenses

In combination with that I typically shoot with fisheye lenses, switching between primarily the Canon 8-15mm f/4, which is an EF lens as well as the old school 15mm f/2.8. Both these lenses are EF lenses and I combine them with the R5 using the RF to EF adapter from Canon.

canon r5 with ikelite housing jacque de vos

There are no definitive "bests" in photography - but the Ikelite crew does love Fisheye lenses for underwater use. Read the full article Why You Need a Fisheye Lens to find out more.

Underwater Housing

The camera obviously I use in conjunction with an Ikelite R5 underwater housing. And quite simply I've got the 8in Dome on the front as it is now for both of these lenses. I do not need a port extension so I can screw this straight on to the housing case itself.

In terms of setting up the housing, it's pretty simple. You just make sure all your control knobs are out of the way, drop the camera in the housing, readjust the controls to make sure they making contact with the relevant buttons, then get down the two side latches first and then the front.

Vacuum Check System

Typically after this, I will do the vacuum check using the vacuum check system on the side. And that comes with most of the new housings from Ikelite.

ikelite r5 housing with trigger extension

The Trigger Extension kit from Ikelite helps make shooting more ergonomic depending on what works best for each individual photographer.

Trigger Extension

Alright, so in terms of what I have on my housing: you'll notice the two thumb and index finger controllers and this is for the shutter as well as focus for back-button focus.

The front one has the extension kit on it simply because it makes it easier for me to use the the shutter. The thumb I don't really use the extension simply because my thumbs are long enough to hit the button so I don't really have to reach over. I can reach both of these fairly easily.

USB-C Charging & Data Transfer Bulkhead

On this camera I installed the USB-C Bulkhead System, which allows me to connect the camera to a USB cable without taking the camera out of the housing. Depending on which camera you have, that allows you to either charge your camera or also to transfer files straight out of the camera onto your computer.

It's a great system to have, especially if you don't want to take the camera out and redo the whole setup process for your housing.

Jacques’ Extras

Just some other small extras: I sometimes add stickers and things to my housing just to make it a little bit more individual. It's not uncommon for people to have a similar looking Ikelite housings on our trip, so it's an easy way for me to see which one is mine.

Something which catches a lot of people's eye is the fluorescent pink I have on the underside of my 8inch dome. The simple reason I have that, or the main reason I have that now, is when you're in the water, especially if you have boat traffic or jet skis or anything around and just quickly want to catch someone's attention on the surface, I always have the housing in my hand and so it's the easiest thing to just flip up the housing and you'll very often just see the fluorescent pink, tends to catch eyes. It's a small extra, works for me.

jacques de vos dome port color for visibility ikelite underwater housing

Jacques brightly colors his dome shade for visibility while diving in high traffic areas. 

Trim Weight System

Apart from the system right there, something which I add due to the size of the 8in Dome is the Trim Weight System, also from Ikelite. It's very simple, it’s just the screw and you can attach any normal dive weight which you will find on most of your liveaboard or dive centers anywhere in the world.

It's very easy to use. You flip the housing on its back. You have this sliding block which just threads into a screw thread in the bottom of the housing, align it and screw it in. And depending on the size of your dome or the extensions you're using with whichever lens you have, you can position this thing more towards the front or towards the back.

Having this just makes my housing nice and neutral when I have it in the water, and on mine I'm using about one kilo which offsets the dome port and the system I have here. 

trim weight system for ikelite underwater housing

Neutral buoyancy and perfect trim are important to underwater imaging whether you’re shooting photos or video. Learn how to attach a Trim Weight System to your housing.

Flex Mount Kit for GoPro

Finally, just to get some extra shots, I sometimes use an action camera. This is the old flex arm system from Ikelite but they also have the more modern joint arm with the clamps that you can use. Either system works great. This you simply just attach on top, it pops in and you can position the camera however you want, which is great for topside stuff or just having it run as you take stills. 


Ikelite Ambassador Jacques de Vos
Ambassador Jacques de Vos  started out shooting photos and video underwater on his days off as an engineer in the oilfield services. After progressing through scuba instructor and commercial diver certifications, he took up free diving. Before long, Jacques gave up both engineering and compressed air to become a full time photographer, videographer, and free diving instructor. Completely self-taught, Jacques has won several prestigious international UW photography awards; his photography has been published worldwide in several books and publications, and he now also works as a camera operator on projects for companies like the BBC and Red Bull.  Jacques now spends several months a year free diving with Orcas in Norway and travels the world the rest of the time. Read more... 



Additional Reading

Freediving with Orcas in Norway 

Using Ikelite Housings in Arctic Cold or Extreme Heat

Achieve a Perfectly Balanced Mirrorless or DSLR Housing [VIDEO]

Why You Need a Fisheye Lens Underwater

Never Take Your Camera Out of the Housing! // USB-C Charging & Data Transfer Bulkhead [VIDEO]

Using a Trim Weight System for Balance and Stability Underwater

Adding a GoPro to Your Ikelite Underwater Housing [VIDEO]

How to Install a Trigger Extension on Your Ikelite Underwater Housing [VIDEO] 

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