Sony a7R V & a7 IV // Setting it Up Ikelite 200DL Underwater Housing [VIDEO]

Sony a7R V & a7 IV // Setting it Up Ikelite 200DL Underwater Housing [VIDEO]

One housing protects two amazing Sony cameras at depths up to 200 feet (60 meters) with access to all important camera functions.

John shows you exactly how to set up your 200DL Underwater Housing for Sony a7R V and a7 IV mirrorless digital cameras. After installing the camera body, he walks through installing the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens and DL 8” Dome with Extension. Once everything is assembled, a quick check with a vacuum pump ensures that your system is ready to hit the water leak-free.

Check the DL Lens Port Chart for Sony Cameras to find the appropriate port for your lens.

Scroll down to read the video transcript.


 

Today, we're talking about the Sony a7R V and the Sony a7 IV. This system ships and is compatible with either camera, depending on what you're shooting. It's calibrated for the Sony a7R V, but it also ships with the camera mount allowing you to shoot the a7 IV too. Now, today, I'm going to be shooting the a7R V, so we'll focus on that. Let's just dive right into this housing and what it looks like.

Recommended Accessories

You'll notice that I have a few accessories added to this housing that are conducive to my needs and my shooting style. Initially, starting out with the dual tray and handle, you'll notice that I have the Right Handle on here. The reason I do that is I need the stability, and I also need two mounting points for my dual strobe setup. Because I have that second handle on here, I've added an Trigger Extension to both the shutter and the back button because I do back button focus. If you look on the left-hand side of the housing, I've added the USB-C Bulkhead and that is going to let me both charge my camera as well as offload my images without disassembling anything or opening up the housing. So let's just dive right in and get into assembly.

Installing the Camera in the Housing

So let's start by opening up the housing. To do that, I'm going to put it face down on my assembly mat. You'll notice that there are three lid snap levers that hold the back on. And I'm going to open each one of those individually. And to do that, I have to lift up on the locking lever, and then I can lift up on the lid snap itself. I will do that for all three of the lid snaps and then they simply lift up and over the hooks on the back. Now I can simply lift the clear back off of the housing, flip it over and set it aside.

Inside, as I previously mentioned, you'll notice that I have the USB-C Bulkhead, which goes to the USB-C lead, which will plug into the USB-C port on my camera. I also have the manual hotshoe, which is ground and trigger only. But I will swap this out for a TTL option as I build my strobe setup later. But to start with, what I'm going to do is make sure that these are set aside.

I'm going to take the opportunity to lift the back button focus lever up and out of the way. Then I'm going to make sure that all of my hub tires are pushed up, and that there's going to be nothing interfering with the camera as it slides into the front of the housing.

That takes me to the camera mount, which slides out of the base. Now you'll notice that it has a simple 1/4-20 screw that corresponds to the 1/4-20 port on the camera itself. If you look at this camera mount, you'll notice that there's an anti-rotational wall here, and that is going to actually butt up against the camera body. Use a flat-headed screwdriver to tighten that down onto your camera.

As you flip the LCD screen out, the anti-rotational wall on the mount is going to butt up against the portion of the camera body indicated in the picture above.

Now here is where you want to make sure that the mount is snug. No need to go crazy and over-tighten it, but you do want to make sure it's nice and snug on your camera. Any movement between the camera mount and the camera itself will translate to a misalignment of controls. Now that we have our camera mount installed, you'll notice that this still allows for a tripod, you can add your camera with the camera mount to a tripod and it allows your screen to move freely as well.

Now that I have the mount attached, I'm going to open up the port on the side of the camera so that the USB-C is exposed and plug in the USB-C hyper-flex cable. I'm going to slide the hotshoe all the way forward on the camera - that's going to be applicable whether I'm using the standard manual hotshoe that comes with the camera housing, or if I switch it to shoot the TTL hotshoe.

Now I'm going to line up the camera mount with the camera base, and I'm going to slide the camera into place until it's all the way forward. Take my back button control, rotate it down, check my hub controls to make sure that they correspond to the camera.

Before I close up the back, I'll take the opportunity to look at the sealing surface and make sure that it's clean and has no debris. Then I'm going to turn my attention to the back itself. Here I'm going to look at the o-ring. You'll notice that the o-ring is always following an outside perimeter and never taking an inside turn, that keeps it always in the same place. Now all I have to do, because this is a compression seal, is make sure that it's clean. I don't need to apply lubricant to this o-ring. That's actually a benefit because lubricant has a tendency to attract debris.

Once you've made sure the o-ring and sealing surfaces are clean, simply line up the clear back with the front of the housing, set it in place, and then we're going to tighten each of the lid snaps. Make sure to take all three and make sure they're up and over onto the hooks of the back. Then simultaneously lock the left and the right. I make sure they're pushed all the way forward, and then I give it a double check to make sure that the lock engaged and that they can't come up on their own. Then I'll come up and do the top one, same thing.

I also like to take an opportunity here to look at the o-ring itself and make sure that it gets compressed, and that it looks like everything is fine. In this case, we are good to go. This is one of the best features of our housings is the clear back. Not only do I get to see that o-ring seal and its integrity, I also get to see my camera and its integrity all throughout the dive and before.

The clear back on our underwater housings provide security by allowing you to see the integrity of the o-ring seal and your camera through the entirety of your dive.

Installing a Zoom Gear & Lens

Now that I have the camera body installed, I'm going to add the lens. Today I'm going to be shooting the Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G lens. I'm going to set the housing down face up and remove the retaining ring and protective cap that came with the housing, exposing my camera.

Now I can take the body cap off the camera, drop in my gear sleeve, take my retaining ring, drop it in place and using my retaining ring tool, I can tighten this down. Again, this just keeps it in place, so I don't need to go crazy and over-tighten it. Do check to make sure that the gear sleeve turns when I rotate the zoom knob on the housing.

I will take note of the white dot on the lens, the white dot on the camera body, align those two, lock the lens in place. After it's been added on, I double-check to make sure that my drive is zooming the lens and we are good to go there.

Installing a Port Extension & Dome Port

Now, in this case, I have the need for a 28mm Port Extension and I'm going to be using the large dome port. So we're going to go ahead and put those together. To do so, I'm going to take a little bit of the lubricant between my finger and thumb and run it around the port sealing o-ring on the housing. I'm also going to visually inspect it and feel for any debris, you can feel something on an o-ring oftentimes before you ever see it.

Check your extension and put some lubricant on the sealing surface there, the sealing surface is that vertical wall just past the thumb screws. Make sure that each of the thumb screws is backed out and not protruding to the inside diameter of the extension.

You'll notice that there are three thumb screws on the extension that correspond to the pockets on the base of the housing. Align the thumb screws with those pockets then press down equally around the circumference until it pushes flush with the face. Then you can tighten up the three thumb screws. This is just a finger-tight application, you don't need to use a tool.

The three thumbscrews on the dome port will correspond with the shade. The hood of the shade should be at the top - or noon position - of the housing, as pictured above.

Now we're going to repeat that process for the o-ring on the extension and then finally the dome port. On the dome port, again, make sure that the three thumb screws are backed out and apply a little bit of lubricant to the inside diameter. Now take a look at the back of the dome port. You'll notice that one of the three thumb screws corresponds to the shade. That is going to be the top or the noon position on our housing. Ensure all three thumbscrews are backed out, and again the extension has the same pockets that the port base did. I'm going to line up the thumb screws with those pockets and then evenly press down until those two pieces go together and then tighten up the thumb screws. 

Now if you ever have to take this assembly off, you can do it just the way we put it together one piece at a time or you can take off the dome and extension together as one assembly. That is that as far as assembly goes. But there's one more step I like to take and that is creating a vacuum for this system.

Using a Vacuum Leak Detection System

To do so, all we need is the Vacuum Pump because the housing comes with the valve pre-installed. And all we have to do is push the button on the side of the valve and that will release the cap, which is tethered, and it will allow us to put the barb of the vacuum into the valve. You'll hear it click into place. Now all we have to do is pump the hand pump.

I've pumped it to 10 mmHg on the gauge. Now, the number that you choose is not critical. What is critical is that the needle is not moving, because if the needle's moving, that means air is transferring and if air is transferring that means water will transfer. So now that I've pumped it to 10mmHg, I'm gonna go ahead and remove the vacuum pump itself, again, by pushing the button on the valve, removing the barb, and then making sure that I re-plug the valve. I re-plug the valve as a habit -you're going to be making sure that you don't leave the cap out, which would be bad if you went to depth as it would eventually let water in.

Ideally, I would have done this the night before. Set my system up, create a vacuum, shot some pictures, make sure I had a card. The next day, I would have reinserted the vacuum gauge, checked to make sure that I still had a pressure differential, meaning that it would have held overnight. Now, that's a perfect scenario, but if you don't have that opportunity, go ahead and give yourself at least 15-20 minutes before you recheck the vacuum.

It's important not to leave the vacuum valve attached, because if this valve itself is compromised, it could give you a false reading that you have a leak in the housing when you don't, when there's really something wrong with the pump. 

It is important to note that you will go diving with this under a vacuum. When you create a vacuum on the housing, it reinforces all the closing mechanisms, in addition to ensuring that you didn't miss an o-ring. It is also important to note that you will not be able to disassemble your system when it's under a vacuum, because all of the ports are going to be pulled together.

One last note on this vacuum, especially with this USB-C system. If I take the bulkhead cap off to offload an image or charge my camera, I will lose vacuum past that circuit board inside the USB-C bulkhead. Which means I will have to redo the vacuum every time I charge or take the images off my camera. That's still way more convenient than having to disassemble the system, so it's still a huge benefit.

The button located on the bottom of the valve on the hand pump will release the vacuum on your housing when you are ready to disassemble. 

Lastly, in order to release the vacuum: you can release the vacuum one of two ways. First, by pushing the button on the bottom of the valve of the hand pump. Or, if you don't have this and you need to access it, you can simply insert a pencil and you'll notice that inside the valve itself, once you take the cap off, that there's a little white button and you can push and that will release the vacuum.

Other than that, you're good to go diving! If you have any questions whatsoever about this system, adding strobes or lighting, or really anything underwater photography related, feel free to shoot us an email to ikelite@ikelite.com - our team are always happy to help.

  

 

John Brigham Ikelite Vice President

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.

 

Additional Viewing

Sony a7R V Underwater Tips & Set Up [VIDEO]

Sony a7R V Underwater Photos & Mini-Review

Sony a7R V Underwater Camera Review with Sample Footage [VIDEO]

Sony a7 IV Underwater in Socorro [VIDEO]

Sony a7 IV Underwater Housing Photos and Review

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