Photography Reviews

Photography Equipment Review—The Seashell SS-1 Waterproof Camera Case

As digital photography becomes more popular, it’s only natural that photographers who also enjoy snorkeling and SCUBA diving would want to take their cameras below the waves. If you would like to combine these two interests, then, until recently, you only had two choices: purchase a custom underwater housing that is built for your compact camera or one of the waterproof digital cameras. The downside of a custom case is that one may not be available for your camera and they cost hundreds of dollars. The downside of waterproof cameras is that you can’t take them to SCUBA diving depths, so they are limited to snorkeling or just a few feet from the shore.

Read real customer reviews of the Seashell SS-1 Waterproof Camera Case here.

Now, you have another option: the Seashell SS-1 Waterproof Camera Case. It is a less-costly alternative to custom-made dive cases and allows you take compact cameras to greater depths than waterproof digital cameras. Because of the ingenious design of the SS-1 (and the SS-2 model), it can be used with most front-lens compact and ultra-compact digital cameras, and will keep them waterproof to approximately 130 feet (40 meters). The Seashell SS-2 case is specifically for compact cameras with corner-mounted internal lenses. The two Seashell models are priced between $140 and $170, depending on the retailer.

Every Seashell is a two-piece, clamshell-type case molded from heavy-duty, clear plastic, except for trim areas and buttons, which are available in red, blue, purple or orange. The case opens with a strong, metal-pivoted hinge and a spring-loaded, pressure clasp with a sliding lock. The front of the housing is a glass window through which light enters the lens. The perimeter of the rear panel is sealed with a resilient O-ring. You can secure the Seashell to your person with its neck strap or wrist strap. Plus, you can connect various accessories, such as lights to the housing, with its metal tripod bush.

Although the Seashell SS-1 is compatible with most compact cameras, including compact and ultra-compact cameras with as much as 5x zoom capabilities, it is limited to cameras that are 101mm x 65mm x 29mm, and those with on/off and shutter buttons on the top of the camera. Compacts with very long zoom lens and Panasonics with slider switches are less likely to be securely enclosed.

Another reason the SS-1 is such a wonderful solution for underwater photography at popular diving depths is that the case can be modified with a series of silicone rubber cushions to accommodate many compact camera bodies. The case kit includes a sheet of 1mm to 10mm, rectangular cushions; smaller, round cushions; and self-adhesive foam cushions. Each are placed in various places inside the case. The sides, top and bottom of the case are modified with the rectangular cushions, the front with the round cushions and the back with the foam cushions. Part of the rear cushions is removed, so the monitor can be seen.

Installation of the cushions for your specific camera body is relatively easy, with the aid of the step-by-step instructions and a measuring schematic. What takes a bit more time is to select the actuator rods of the correct length and screw them into position, and then, with the spanner included in the kit, carefully maneuver them, so the two button linkages match the camera’s on/off and shutter buttons. If your camera has small buttons, then it may be more difficult to use them effectively, since the button linkages are built to accommodate larger buttons for a snug fit.

With only two buttons on the SS-1 case, you’ll only have control of power on and off and the shutter release. This means you must pre-set your camera’s auto mode and underwater scene mode (if it has one) before diving into the deep. You won’t be able to use your camera’s built-in flash either, so pre-select the off position. Underwater flash units can cause problems, such as reflections from particles in the water. In many cases, a larger ISO number or a longer shutter speed is a preferable technique. 

If you’re like most people, then you don’t have many opportunities for underwater photography, so that’s why the Seashell SS-1 case may be your best solution. It cost much less than custom housings and it can be used at much greater depths than waterproof digital cameras. All of which will result in better photos and a portfolio of underwater life that few digital photographers have.