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Epoque EHD-900 Ai Underwater Camera Kit review

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6

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.

Liam

August 19, 2010, 1:20 pm

While I agree the camera itself looks terrible and no doubt would be even worse at depths of more than a few feet with available light further reduced, but how can a review of an underwater camera and case rated to 40m be complete without actually using it for its purpose? from the test shots it looks like you simply stuck it in the pond in your back garden?

Cliff Smith

August 19, 2010, 4:05 pm

Hey, I'll have you know I took it snorkelling in the sea at Exmouth, and dived down to at least three metres. It was freezing cold and I got sand in my pants, but I gladly make these sacrifices for our beloved readers! I'd love to have taken it deeper, but unfortunately I'm not a qualified SCUBA diver.

Hans Gruber

August 19, 2010, 7:54 pm

Epic, or should we say Epoque fail!





Nice chassis, shame about the engine. Same could be said of many celebrity socialites though this camera definitely ain't sexy.





A lot of effort (and expense) to protect a hopelessly under performing camera. So, why not just buy a waterproof digital camera instead? You'd be bonkers not to. But one question, is it possible to use this camera case with another camera? I guess the design has to be pretty tight so doubt it.





Will you be reviewing any further such products for DSLR users, Cliff? And if so, would it not be possible for TR to send you somewhere nice, like the Bahamas say, so you can get some proper underwater pics?





All in favour, say 'Aye!' Or even (in your best pirate voice), 'Aye aye, yarrr!' ;)

Otispunkmeyer

August 19, 2010, 11:08 pm

you know, you should really consider a weekly review of a terrible product. i was actually laughing at the complaints for the poor camera, honestly i enjoy it when a reviewer creatively rips a product a new one.





Jeremy Clarkson used to be epic at this kind of dressing down, in all his old books its the reviews of the terrible cars that entertained the most.





seriously have a lemon product of the week or something. it will be great.

Cliff Smith

August 21, 2010, 2:54 am

nooneinparticular - Sending me to the Bahamas is a great idea. I suggest you get some sort of petition started at once. I figure I'll need at least a month for a really thorough test.





Otispunkmeyer - I like this idea as well. I used to work on computer games magazines about 10 years ago, and I have to admit I used to really enjoy trashing a crap game. Writing a really scathing review is a lot more fun than writing fawning praise. Jeremy Clarkson is very good at it, but if you want to see a master at work try Charlie Brooker. I used to know him when he worked on PC Zone, and his media personality is exactly what he's like in real life.





However I wouldn't trash a product like the EHD-900 Ai just for fun. The actual case itself is superb, it's just the camera inside that's crap. With some constructive criticism maybe the MkII version will be better.

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