Featuring John Brigham
Canon’s R6 and R6II and two are excellent full frame mirrorless cameras. The larger body style offers the bigger battery pack so you have a much longer shooting time. It has In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), and the larger body translates to a DL housing and that lets you use our USB-C Bulkhead.
If you're not familiar with this, our USB-C Bulkhead basically lets you either transfer data or charge your camera all through the housing. It's an extremely useful advantage when you're shooting for a week long trip and you don't want to have to disassemble your system. Learn more!
Before you start any assembly of any camera system, you're going to want to do yourself a favor and check your camera. Make sure that all of your settings are the way you want them to be, especially with an interface through the housing. Like you've heard me say many times before, the best way to get underwater photos that you like is to know your system and know it very well.
What I like to do is make sure you have a memory card installed that's formatted to your preferences and a fully charged battery. These are the things that you don't want to find out after you fully put your system together.
Attaching the Mount to the Camera
After you've done that, let's turn our attention to the housing itself. You’re going to set the housing down on its port opening. You'll notice that there are three levers that will lock the back to the front, and they are lifted by releasing the lock and lifting up on the lever, pull over the hook, and now you can take the back straight off. We'll set that aside for right now.
For this system you have two different camera mounts, one for the Canon R6 and one for the Canon R6II. In this case, we're going to be using R6II. So I have the corresponding camera mount and there is a 1/4-20 screw in the bottom of this camera mount that corresponds to the 1/4-20 female port on the camera. Align the screw to the port and then basically use a flathead and screwdriver to make sure that that camera mount is snug to the camera body.
Any movement between the mount and the camera will translate to control misalignment. So make sure that the mount is on there relatively snug.
Installing the Camera into the Housing
From there, we'll turn our attention to the inside of the housing. Make sure your controls are free and out of the way. When the camera slides in place, I like to pre-position my controls. They're all direct drives, so they're very reliable.
Take your hotshoe, make sure your lens release is in place. Now, what we can do is we can take the manual hot shoe that comes with the housing. This is ground and trigger only, but it can be swapped out for a TTL hotshoe for a TTL system to shoot our TTL strobes. But for now we'll just stick with the manual hotshoe. Take that and insert it into the top of your camera, making sure that it's pushed all the way forward.
Then align the camera mount with the base inside of the housing, position your cords, and then you're going to want to make sure that your direct drive controls all correspond to the controls of your camera.
Closing the Housing
At this point, we can put the back of the housing on. Now, if you look at the back, you'll notice that the o-ring follows an outside perimeter at all times and will never take an inside turn. This is useful because that o-ring doesn't want to fall out of an inside turn. It'll always follow the outside perimeter. Furthermore, this back is completely clear so we can see the o-ring as well as the camera through the back. When we put this back onto the front, you'll actually see that o-ring compress. You know that it is sealed.
Because it is a compression seal, that means you do not need lubricant on this particular o-ring. That being said, you do want to make sure that it is clean and free of debris, and the same thing for the sealing surface of the front, you can do this by running your finger across it and feel things beyond seeing them.
Take the back, align it on to the front like so, and then take each of the lid snaps and place them over the hook of the back. Simultaneously press down on the two left and right, and then finally the top. You can pull up on them to make sure that the lock was engaged.
With the Ikelite clear back you can visually confirm that your sealing surface and your o-ring got compressed and are keeping your camera dry.
Adding Shutter & AF-ON Trigger Extensions
From there I like to take the housing, put it on its bottom and take the shutter lever and the back button lever off and put an extension between the levers and the housing. What that's going to do is it's going to make those two levers reach out to my hand when I put the dual tray and handle on.
In order to do that, you'll loosen the two set screws in both levers and remove them. Once you have the levers removed, we're going to put on the extensions. Now, you can put these extensions directly onto the housing and then put the levers on. But what I like to do is I like to put the levers on and then put the assembly onto the housing. I'm going to make note of where that set screw is, where I want my lever to be approximately. You'll notice that there's an octagonal shape that corresponds, and I'm basically going to roughly align it, and then I'm going to tighten the lever down to the extension. Make sure you tighten down both set screws and that the set screw of the extension is not protruding to the inside. Now when I go to put the extension and the lever assembly onto the housing that set screw is easily accessed at the top.
You'll do this process for both the shutter and AF-ON (back button focus) levers.
Attaching a Dual Tray and Handle
Now that we have the extensions on, we'll easily be able to access both levers when we use the dual tray and handle system.
First I'm going to go ahead and take the housing and flip it over. You’ll notice there’s buttons for the quick release arms on the handles if you're using strobes, we want those to face you when you have the housing in use. Then basically I'm going to align the small opening of the teardrop over the feet of the housing and take a flat insulating washer over both screws. Get that screw started into the foot of the housing, and same thing on the other side. Use a flatheaded screwdriver to snug both of those up so that they're nice and tight.
Now both of those levers are very easily accessed without me having to strain my hand to reach for them. That is as simple as getting the camera installed into the housing.
Adding the Ikelite Dual Tray and Handle make your system ergonomic and provide a quick release handle for strobe users.
Installing the Canon RF 10-20mm Lens and Zoom Gear
Now it's a matter of putting a port on. The port that you choose is going to be dependent upon the lens that you choose. We accommodate many different lenses. Check out the port chart for this housing.
Today I'm going to be using the RF 10-20mm lens from Canon. This is a very wide zoom lens, so I'm going to use the large DL 8inch Dome Port and DL 28mm Port Extension. In order to accommodate this lens and zoom it, I'll need the Zoom Gear # 5509.26.
To install begin by removing the retaining ring, this is the same retaining ring that was holding the port cover in place. Preemptively remove the body cap from your camera, take the zoom gear and simply drop it down until it sits on the shelf with the tabs facing away from the camera body. Now we're going to replace the retaining ring, drop that into place and then thread it down.
Now take the back cap off the lens. Check to make sure that your switches are set in the position that you want. I recommend Auto-Focus and Image Stabilization being on.
Then line the red dot of the lens with the red dot of the camera and you're going to roughly position the pads so that they don't interface with any of the protrusions on the side of the lens and then slide the lens through the gear sleeve and pads. You'll feel the friction fit and then feel for the bayonet and then twist the lens on just like you would normally.
I like to take this opportunity to turn the drive gear of the zoom and make sure that I am actually zooming the lens.
Installing the Dome Port
Next I take a little bit of the Ikelite lubricant between our finger and thumb and you're going to apply a very small film to the ring of the 28mm extension and feel for any debris or anything that might compromise the seal and visually inspect to make sure you don't have any hair. Take the opportunity to make sure that the three thumbscrews are backed out and free of the inside diameter. Check to make sure that the sealing surface is also clean and free of debris.
Let's turn our attention to the port itself and we're basically going to do the exact same thing, make sure that the three thumbscrews are unscrewed so that they're not protruding into the inside and check the sealing surface as well.
You'll notice that when you look at the full dome port, that one of the shades corresponds to one of the thumbscrews. That is what we're going to have at the very top of the housing with the noon position. So I'm going to align that thumb screw with the thumb screw of the extension, which corresponds to the pocket of the extension. That thumb screw is going to go into that pocket, press down into place, and then all you want to do is hand tighten the three thumbscrews of the port. The seal occurred when we put the two pieces together, so there's no need to use a tool here, the thumbscrews are basically just keeping this retained.
Now, since we've already unscrewed the three thumbscrews of the extension and they're not protruding to the inside, we've checked the sealing surface and now we've made note of which one of these thumbscrews corresponds to the shade itself you know that'll go at the top.
When attaching dome ports and extensions, always check the o-ring and sealing surfaces both visually and tactically to ensure there is no debris.
If we look at the port mount of the housing, you have the three pockets and that will accommodate the three thumbscrews. And before we put that on there, we're going to do the same thing we did before taking a little bit of the Ikelite lube and you're going to make sure that there is a small film applied to reduce the friction on the o-ring of the port mount itself and feeling for any debris, visually checking for any hairs that might be there. Take your port, make sure it's clean, and then line up that top thumb screw with the pocket. Place on and press down and then tighten the three thumbscrews.
At this point, we've accommodated the 10-20mm lens with the large dome port. Now we can accessorize the housing further if we want to. Let's say we're shooting video and we really want to trim this out. Well, what we can do is add the Trim Weight to it.
Checking for Leaks with a Vacuum Detection System
Now your system is good to go. But, one more thing before we go - we're going to create a vacuum on the housing. Now, the housing comes with a vacuum port pre-installed. So all you have to do is get the Vacuum Pump with Gauge.
Using the Ikelite vacuum system does a couple of things. One, it makes sure we don't forget any o-rings. It lets us check to make sure that the system has a waterproof integrity. If air isn’t getting into the housing, that means water won't get to the housing.
Also, creating the vacuum inside basically reinforces all of the closing mechanisms. So if you find yourself in a rough surf, all of these components are being sucked back together and it really makes for a strong bulletproof style system.
In order to create a vacuum, all we have to do is push the release button on the valve and it'll take the cap out. We replace that cap with the barbed end of the vacuum pump, and from there it's as simple as pumping the hand pump.
We recommend keeping your housing under a vacuum which reinforces all the closing mechanisms and makes your system more robust.
Now, the number that you choose to pump to is not what's critical. What is critical is that that needle doesn't move. Once you've reached a number, I suggest going to 10 or 15 mmHg (but again, the number that you choose is not the most important part). Watch the needle - make sure that it doesn't drop down.
Now, in order to make sure that we've isolated the housing completely, what I like to do is I like to create a vacuum. I will release the pump and put the cap back in. If you can get away with doing this overnight, even better. But even 15-20 minutes, let the housing sit. Then reinsert the barb of the pump and it will jump right back to the vacuum that you created.
So if you have any questions about the system, the vacuum system, the USB-C system, anything that I mentioned here, shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.