By John Brigham
These exciting and super-portable Sony digital cinema cameras were built for travel. Find out how easy it is to set your camera body up in a housing and attach your favorite lens.
The FX3 and the FX30 are part of Sony's cinema line and have been go-to cameras for creative filmmakers. We're excited to announce the 200DL Underwater Housing for Sony FX3, FX30 Digital Cinema Cameras # 71480 that will let these filmmakers take their creative vision 200 feet below the surface.
Installing the Sony FX3 or FX30 into the Housing
Assembly of this housing couldn't be simpler. So let's just dive right into it. For this demonstration I've chosen the FX30.
First I’m going to take the housing, put it face down, and release the snap lid locks and lift the lever for all three of the back latches. Then put this to the side for the time being.
Next you'll remove the camera mount from inside the housing and line up the 1/4-20 bolt on the bottom of the mount with the 1/4-20 hole of the camera and I'm going to use a flathead screwdriver to tighten that down. Make sure this is nice and snug. You don't want any movement in this piece because any movement will translate to any misalignment in the controls.
Once that's nice and snug on there, take your controls and make sure they're oriented out of the way so that nothing will interfere during sliding this camera into the housing. Then, slide the camera mount and camera into the base inside the housing and realign your controls.
Now you can replace the back of the housing. One of the benefits of the back is it is fully clear and this o-ring follows an outside perimeter at all times, so it doesn't take any inside curves and it's very easy to maintain. There's actually no friction to overcome in this o-ring so you don't need any lubricant. All you need to do is make sure that this o-ring is clean and there's no debris on it or the sealing surface.
Once the back of the housing is properly aligned you can simultaneously push down on both the left and the right lid snaps and you'll hear them click into place, then do the same thing for the top. As you do that, you'll see this compressed o-ring. That gives you a nice visual confirmation that the whole back is sealed. Take the time to make sure that your lid snaps are locked in place so that they don't open accidentally.
The Ikelite system can be expanded for any shooting needs including the addition of an optional M24 accessory port for an HDMI 2.0 external monitor.
Attaching a Lens, Extension, and Dome Port
The next thing we'll do is remove the port cover. Store the port cover with your parts. Next I will pre-assemble the port solution for the lens I'll be using. For this demonstration I have the 50mm Port Extension and I like to use the Compact Dome Port for general underwater photography.
I'm going to make sure that the three thumbscrews are backed out so that they don't protrude into the inside diameter of both the port as well as the extension. I'm going to take a little bit of Ikelite lube on my fingertips and I'm going to run it around the o-ring of the extension. This lets me feel for any debris that might be there while applying lubricant to that o-ring. It doesn't take much lubricant. You're just trying to overcome the friction, this does not create the seal. And then I'm going to turn my attention to the port itself and check the sealing surface also for debris.
You'll notice on the extension that where it's lasered at the top, there's going to be a thumb screw there. And if you look at your port, there's going to be a thumb screw that corresponds to one of the shades: align this at the top so that thumbscrews correspond to the pockets in the extension. Then simply press the two pieces together. Now they're sealed. Take the thumbscrews and simply tighten them down, and that keeps it retained. Now you can set this to the side while we turn our focus back to the housing.
Remove the camera's body cap and take the gear sleeve and put it down into the port opening, teeth side down. Then take the retainer, put it down over the gear sleeve, and using the Retainer Tool you can snug that down.
Take your lens and remove both the back and front caps. Line up the tabs of your zoom gear (use the Port Chart to find the zoom gear for your lens) with the dot on the camera and orient one of the cutouts in the gear sleeve with that dot. Drop the lens down into place and you're going to feel it bayonet on to the camera. Rotate your gear sleeve using the knob on the side of the housing and confirm that your lens is actually zooming.
Take a little bit of Ikelite lube on your fingertips and just like you did on the port extension, run that around the o-ring on the front of the housing feeling for any debris while applying lubricant. Take your port and extension assembly, noting that one of these thumbscrews corresponds to the shade that's going to be at the top of your housing. These thumbscrews will correspond to the pockets in the port base. Align the port and extension assembly, simply press it on, and then tighten thumbscrews. Now the port is attached and this is a waterproof system. But, I'm going to take it a step further because I like to add extensions to both shutter and back button focus levers and I also like to add a right handle.
The Ikelite Compact Dome Port is smaller and easier to maneuver in the water, making it very streamlined as you swim around.
Adding a Right Handle and Trigger Extensions
I'm going to take the included hex key and loosen both set screws on each lever and then remove the lever. I will do the same thing for the shutter button.
Once you have both levers removed, we're going to add two extensions. So take your extension, place it on the control, use that same hex key to tighten it down. You’re going to want to make sure this is snug, but no need to over tighten this. Take your lever, and because this has an octagonal shape to it, you have orientation choices. Depending on your preference, you can angle your lever to be more comfortable for your particular shooting application. Once you've oriented your lever you can tighten both set screws, one opposite the other. Repeat this process for the back lever.
Get the gear: Trigger Extension v2 for Shutter or Back Button Focus
If you want a more in-depth video on this process, check out our video on How to Install Trigger Extensions.
Now, we can add our Right Hand Quick Release Handle with Extension by taking the two screws and the larger allen key that was included with your housing. You'll take the screws up through the tray and up into the extension.
The right handle option lets you add two Strobe Ball Arms. It is also nice because it makes it easy for you to hand your system up when getting back on a dive boat.
Vacuum Testing for Leaks
This next step is optional but one last thing that I like to do is to add a Vacuum Pump with a Gauge to the system. This is going to do a couple of things. It's going to create a negative pressure differential inside the housing, and that's going to let you check for leaks. Let's say you forgot an o-ring or something isn't maintained or there's a compromise in the seal - you'll notice that because it just won't hold a vacuum. The other thing is that it will do is to keep the back pulled toward the front, the port is going to be pulled towards the front so that if you find yourself in rough waters or surf, for example, you know that all of these pieces are basically being pulled together, which is a very nice feeling if you're in rough water.
To do this, simply push the button that releases the vacuum plug on the housing, take the vacuum pump barbed insert, place it into the valve, and you’ll hear it click. At this point, all you have to do is pump the hand pump.
I like to go for about 10mmHg on the gauge. But the most important part is that the needle doesn't move. Once you get it to 10mmHg but you notice that the needle is dropping slowly, that means you should reevaluate because you have a compromise somewhere.
Take the vacuum barb out of the valve and reinsert the cap for the plug on the housing. Let it sit for 15 minutes, check it again to make sure that it's fine and the needle is reading 10mmHg when reinserting the barb for testing. If I have the time, I will do this the night before and then the next day, right before I go out into the water.
Any time you take the barb back out, always make sure that you put the vacuum plug back in. I do use a little bit of the Ikelite lube on those two o-rings of the plug. It just makes it easier to go in and out over a week of diving and is just a good maintenance tip.
As you evacuate the air inside of the housing, that is what's creating the vacuum or the pressure differential. Surf photographers and divers in rough waters will especially appreciate this tool.
If you have any questions about the FX30, the FX3 or the housing application
Please feel free to shoot us an email to email@example.com.
John Brigham is the Vice President & head of product development at Ikelite. He was born with a flair for design and an entrepreneurial spirit as son of Ikelite founder Ike Brigham. He worked his way up in the business and is a natural fit in the R&D side of things. John dives the equipment as much as possible to test product and put himself in the "fins" of the user. You may also find him on the other end of an email or phone call when you reach out for product advice and support. When he's not underwater he's flying drones, setting off rockets, training his German Shepherd "T2", and spending time with his family.