Epoque EHD-900 Ai Underwater Camera Kit - Design and Features

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

The overall build quality of the EHD-900 AI housing is extremely good. The plastic mouldings are very strong, the hinges are over-engineered and very durable, and despite its somewhat lumpen appearance the case is well finished. The locking mechanism of the pressure latch is metal, and the various components are screwed together. It's quite a heavy contraption, weighing a substantial 578g including camera, batteries and memory card, although it will just float in water with an almost neutral buoyancy of -40g.

Since it is made to fit a specific camera the EHD-900 Ai has several features that the one-size-fits-all Seahell design lacks. On the front of the case the most obvious feature is the flash window. This is linked via a periscope arrangement of mirrors to the built-in flash of the camera inside, directing the flash light up and outwards. There is a metal slotted clip around the flash window designed to hold a small plastic plate with a hole in it (supplied). This accessory allows the EHD-900 Ai to be used with Epoque's external underwater flash unit, which is triggered via a fibre-optic cable that plugs into the hole in the plate. The metal clip can also hold a filter (not supplied), necessary when shooting in deeper water because the camera inside the housing has no manual white balance control.

The back of the housing features a full selection of buttons including the zoom control, which connect via spring-loaded waterproof links to the buttons and D-pad on the back of the camera. The buttons are rather close together and could be a bit fiddly to operate while wearing wetsuit gloves, but they are set at different heights so it is possible to operate them by touch. The controls operate smoothly, and although I was only able to test it at a depth of about three metres it was quite easy to operate underwater.

The window on the back of the housing for the camera monitor is surrounded by a substantial shade which did help with viewing the monitor in full sunlight but which seemed to serve little purpose when submerged, and in fact made it difficult to see the screen at any angle other than right in front of the face. The shade is held on by four small screws, so it should be possible to remove it without too much trouble.

The housing comes with a small selection of accessories. There is the fibre-optic flash connector plate mentioned above, a spare O-ring seal and a small tool to help with removal and fitting, a small tube of silicon sealant grease, a bag of silica gel to help prevent condensation inside the housing, and a rather cheap-looking wrist strap. There is also a pouch and wrist strap for use with the camera should you wish to use it outside the housing. As we'll see in a moment, you may not want to do that.

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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