Earlier this week I reviewed the Seashell SS-1, a relatively inexpensive underwater case able to fit most compact cameras and dive to a depth of 40m, but with only limited camera control. As I noted in that review, there are also custom-built underwater cases for many popular compact cameras that include full control linkages, but these are usually quite expensive, starting at around £200-£250. The Epoque EHD-900 Ai is a cheaper alternative, a 45m-depth dive case that comes complete with a digital compact camera and full control linkage, but priced at under £200. There are plenty of non-waterproof cameras that cost more than that.
As a brand the Japanese company Epoque is quite well-known in the world of underwater photography, and makes high-quality custom cases for several popular digital cameras, including a case for the Leica M8 digital rangefinder camera that costs over £4000. Leica owners are notoriously protective of their beloved and incredibly expensive cameras, so if they're prepared to trust them to an Epoque housing that at least should be some reassurance of quality and reliability. It also makes a range of underwater photographic accessories such as lighting units and add-on lenses, some of which can be used with the EHD-900 Ai.
If you're used to the sleek modern designs of most current waterproof digital cameras the first thing that will probably strike you about the EHD-900 Ai is that it is not particularly pretty. Underwater cases aren't built to win beauty contests, but some, for example the Seashell SS-1, do at least make some token effort in the direction of fashion, with colour coordinated trim and fittings. Even among such oddly-shaped company the Epoque stands out as being uncompromisingly functional. Like most dive cases it is a two-part clamshell design made of thick polycarbonate and ABS plastic, with a glass front port a strong metal-pivoted hinge and a massive pressure latch. The back section is translucent, but the larger front section is made of plain grey plastic with no trim or colour.