I’ve been an avid underwater coral photographer for many years now but more recently I decided to step up to the challenge of making dive videos. It will be sad to bid farewell to the trusty Olympus Pen Camera and housing that has served so well for many years but I for one am ready, and eager, for an upgrade.
When searching for a camera with higher megapixel count, higher resolution video, high dynamic range, higher frame and bitrate, it was super easy to zero in on the Panasonic Lumix GH5. Finding the perfect housing to take this celebrated camera diving was a much bigger challenge.
Naturally, the three big underwater camera housing manufacturers came to mind- Ikelite, Nauticam & Aquatica. I researched these extensively before ultimately deciding to go hands on with them at the annual DEMA conference. It’s simple to compare some specs and pricing online but for such a long term investment, it’s important to consider other details like size, ergonomics and personal preference in real life.
The 200DL is Ikelite’s housing for the Lumix GH5. Like many of their designs, this housing consists of a basic PVC & polycarbonate box with button and dials on the back and sides. The buttons on the back correspond very closely to the controls of the GH5 but the side controls are less intuitive in placement.
At $1695 the Ikelite DL200 is the least expensive ‘brand name’ housing for the GH5. Of course you still need to consider a quality dome port ($449 for the 8 inch) plus any port extensions, handles and a tray to put it altogether. [Ikelite]
The NA-GH5 is Nauticam’s housing for the Lumix GH5 and was one of the first available on the market. This machined aluminum housing follows the shape and size of the GH5 more closely but there is a considerable amount of extra bulk to allow for flash triggers, cold shoe mount and other passthrough controls.
Priced at $2,650 the NA-GH5 is the most expensive of the name brand housings for the Lumix GH5. At this price range the housing is already about as much a complete kit from the other big two brands, but again you still need to add a dome port (around $495), port extension. This is probably one of the top choices for serious professionals who need a lot of advanced features and controls but it’s also one of the most expensive choices. [Nauticam]
The AGH5 is Aquatica’s housing for the Lumix GH5 and like the Nautica, it is also machined out of solid aluminum. However while the Nautica is made in China, the Aquatica is made in Canada and it has the smallest overall size, closely following the shape and contours of the GH5 camera. This smaller size is easier to grip and the buttons and dials follow the layout of the GH5 camera the closest.
Priced at $1799, the AGH5 is a little bit more than the Ikelite DL200, but $850 cheaper than the Nauticam NA-GH5. With comparably priced dome ports (around $579), extensions, zoom gears etc. you can get a pretty complete Aquatica set up for the price of a bare Nauticam housing. [Aquatica]
For such a significant investment, the choice of housing and design will ultimately depend on preference and desired application – photo, video, macro, etc. – and your overall budget. I am just now dipping my fins into the prosumer level cameras and housings, so it’s outside my wheelhouse to really compare and contrast the Ikelite, Nauticam and Aquatica in great detail – the manufacturer’s official webpages and vendor videos will be great for that.
Since I will be focused on doing video with my GH5 I haven’t really discussed (or considered) the different flash triggers for strobes and focusing more on video lights. Definitely be sure to follow along as I feature three more housings for the GH5 from lesser known manufacturers, and then unbox the brand and model I ultimately decided to purchase.