If you've ever contacted us about a technical question then chances are Steve Johnson helped you out. He's been servicing Ikelite customers' housings for over 25 years and he's seen it all. Steve shares his recipe for success in this DO's and DONT's video to setting up your 200DL or 50DL underwater housing.
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Zoom Gear Retainer
The zoom gear retainer does what its name suggests. It holds your zoom gear or focus gear in place. When you first get your housing, the zoom gear retainer is holding the port hole cover in place. To remove the port hole cover, you’ll want to have the zoom gear removal tool which also comes with the housing.
Insert the tool and rotate it counter-clockwise until the retainer comes loose from the housing. The most important thing to remember is that you want to have the zoom gear retainer in place whenever you’re using a zoom or focus gear. Without it, the gear will slip and will fail to engage properly. We leave the zoom gear retainer installed on the housing even when we're not using zoom or focus so that it doesn’t get lost.
Proper port alignment is key to preventing leaks, so these next few steps are important! There are three recesses in the port mount base. These recesses line up with the thumbscrews on your lens port. The top recess is indexed with a divot on the front of the port mount. You need to align one of the ports thumbscrew with the recess on top of the housing.
Once you have the port aligned, push it all of the way on until it stops. It should be even against the housing port mount and uniform all the way around. Tighten down the thumb screws with your fingers. They should rotate easily all the way until the head of the thumbscrew is flush with the port mount. If you’re struggling, you may not have the port seated properly.
You only want to use a hex key if your fingers don’t reach the thumbscrews. Avoid the urge to snug the thumbscrews tight. Over-tightening the screw can damage the mount or cause it to break the piston seal and leak.
Dome Shade Alignment
If you're using a dome port, the shade has larger and smaller projections. You want the larger projections on top and bottom. Misaligning the dome shade can cause vignetting with certain wide angle lenses.
The seal on the back of the housing is virtually fail-safe as long as you have the three lid snaps closed and locked. You DON’T lubricate the o-ring on the back of the housing. Lubricant can attract dirt, sand, and lint to your o-ring. You DO want to lubricate the o-ring on the front of your housing and any port extensions. These are piston seals which require a very light coating of lubricant to slide in easily without twisting or rolling.
We don't recommend taking the o-rings off the port mount or extensions to lubricate them. Just put the smallest amount of lubricant between your thumb and forefinger and run it around the exposed surface of the o-ring. Do this whenever you need to remove the port and re-install it. At the end of a dive trip, you can remove the o-ring completely and clean the groove underneath with a lint-free cloth.
It's always important to pay attention to your housing control orientation when you’re assembling your housing. Be mindful of any controls that need to be pulled out of the way or rotated in a specific direction to install or operate the camera.
Once you have everything put together we highly recommend using a vacuum pump to check for leaks prior to entering the water.
Keep in mind that you should never be getting water or humidity into your housing as you dive. Water droplets and fogging are signs of a leak that should not be ignored. Do not continue to put a camera inside of your housing unless your last dive with the housing was 100% dry.
We've created a downloadable DO's and DON'Ts guide for your reference - Get your copy now!
If you have any questions about housing assembly or anything related to underwater photography, reach out to us via email@example.com.
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Steve Johnson has been a team member with Ikelite for 28 years. In that time he's worked within almost every aspect of the company but has mainly focused on the service department. Outside of work you can catch Steve scuba diving, snorkeling, spending time with family and his chocolate lab rescue Maplesugar.