I thought I would spend some time today chatting about my experience with the SPL A-Series Surf Housing. I have used it paired with my Canon 7D MkI.
Living in South Africa, getting anything specialized is a bit of a pain. At the time we had no local housing manufacturer. Thankfully I was lucky enough to find this surf housing on a classifieds website. I already had the Canon 7D so this was a really good find for me. I ended up buying the housing along with the old Canon 15mm F/2.8 Fisheye lens. (A great little lens if you can find one)
I must have had this surf housing for around 3 years now. Having been in all sorts of surf conditions from flat to 8ft+ and not once had any major issues. The main structure being made from aluminium is understandably extremely rugged.
I was a little concerned about the O-ring being fixed to the surf housing, but have not had any issues with this and have not needed to replace it. I have however made sure to keep the o-ring lubricated with the silicon grease that was provided.
Hearing that a few people had managed to strip the plastic wing nuts, was sightly concerning. These wing nuts are imperial and being in a metric country they are a bit harder to come by. Thankfully I have not had to worry as none have stripped in all this time. SPL do supply a few extras in case they are misplaced or stripped.
At one point I had a small hiccup with the two stage trigger switch which started misfiring. I contacted SPL looking for a replacement, but remember thinking the cost was far too much for a switch. Taking it on myself to open it all up, I discovered that the trigger cable was faulty. Quickly dismantling an old remote trigger allowed me to replace the SPL trigger and it worked perfectly.
Personally I have only used the Dome port. Successfully using both the Canon 15mm F/2.8 Fisheye as well as my Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens in it with great results. The dome has developed some slight scratches on the front which have been caused by the neoprene protective cover seemingly rubbing on the port. To this point it does not affect image quality from what I have seen, but it is a little annoying.
Having only tried this surf housing and only holding two other brands, the weight of the SPL was great. Considering the metal construction it was light and comfortable in hand. (Weight is about 3 lbs with fisheye port and pistol grip). The other two manufacturers used composite construction and actually felt heavier in comparison.
How much did the surf housing cost?
Price wise, a new base surf housing and port is somewhere around the US$1700 region. With extra ports and controls available at an extra cost. It comes with the pistol trigger and a side handle which a lot of manufactures have as an optional extra.
I unfortunately only had the base model with no extra controls other than shutterspeed and manual shutter release. There was a switch on the back plate to select video mode and a button to actuate the record button. This switch had some rubber attached which enabled toggling the live view/video mode, but the glue did not hold and mine came off.
In conclusion it is a really great strong surf housing that will give you years of reliable service. The housing is extremely well constructed. SPL’s reputation is excellent, with many top surf photographers using their water housing in some of the harshest surf conditions around the world. I highly recommend getting the extra controls on the housing. Enabling you to have more functionality while you are in the water. While the base model is less complicated, I really missed having a review and back focus button. Wingnuts are a little time consuming to tighten and loosen every time, but are a pretty sure fire way to know you are well sealed. They do however do some damage when the inevitable happens and you get a water housing smashed into your face while swimming.
If you would like more info on this surf housing click over to http://splwaterhousings.com/spl-a-series-dslr-camera-waterhousings/a-series-spl-waterhousings-for-canon-cameras/a-series-canon-7d-waterhousing/ and read up about it there.