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Underwater DSLR Rig in a box. Or a bag.

This is a gear intensive sport, no doubt about it. Combine that with the fact that airlines are turning into absolute misers when it comes to baggage, and it's no wonder that some people are abandoning DSLR's for smaller cameras. That's a shame, though, because giving up on DSLR means giving up on significantly better image quality, better lenses, shallow depth of field, fast focus.... ouch.

The Canon T2i with a Nauticam housing, along with a small dome like the Zen Underwater 100mm Fisheye dome and small strobes like the Inon S-2000 or the Sea&Sea YS-01 might be just the antidote for this. I wanted to see just how well a rig like like packed, so I assembled a representative set of gear and a couple of candidate pieces of luggage.

I started with a Pelican case, model 1510. This is a popular size Pelican because a) it is carry on legal and b) it has wheels and a handle.

The Pelican 1510 - Carry on size with wheels

DSLR rig in a box

A complete T2i setupThe Pelican handled more that I thought it would. I was able to pack the housing, camera, viewfinder, 3 lenses, 2 ports, a port extension, zoom/focus gears, strobes, arms, clamps, and a focus light into the box. I had some room to spare so I added a battery charger for the camera, plus a spare battery. Still more room, so I added strobe batteries, 8 cell battery charger, charger for the focus light, spare o-rings, and o-ring grease.

Basically, a complete DSLR rig, with not one but three lenses, a macro port and a dome port, plus everything else needed, all in a carry-on sized box. With wheels.


Ok, so then I tried to see how much I could fit into a large camera backpack, but not too large; the kind that would fit under the seat in front of you. Maybe like the Tamron Evolution 8. My thinking was that I'd be able to fit the housing and the 18-55, with one port and two strobes, and that's it. The backpack is pretty narrow, so I had to remove the handles from the housing, but once I did that, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I could fit in there (the same could be done for the Pelican, of course, which would let you put even more gear in there). I was actually able to get all of the same gear into the backpack, plus my laptop went nicely into the laptop pocket.

The Tamrac Evolution 8 Backpack

Nauticam NA-550D housing in the backpack

Fully loaded

All of the gear from the backpackYes, you read that right.... a complete DSLR rig plus a laptop... in a carry-on sized backpack.

Here's a list of what I packed:

  • Nauticam NA-550D
  • Nauticam 180º viewfinder
  • Nauticam 0.66x standard viewfinder
  • Canon T2i body
  • Canon 18-55 lens
  • Canon 60mm macro lens
  • Tokina 10-17mm fisheye zoom lens
  • Nauticam Compact Port 15 + port base + covers
  • Zen Underwater 100mm fisheye dome port + cover
  • Nauticam 20mm extension ring + cover
  • 2x Inon S-2000 strobe
  • 2x Nauticam Fiber Optic cables
  • Light&Motion Sola 600 focus light
  • Sola 600 charger
  • Canon LC-E5 Battery charger for T2i
  • 2x LP-E5 battery for T2i
  • 8 LSD NiMH batteries
  • PowerEx 8 cell battery charger
  • 2x Nauticam M10 strobe mounting balls
  • 2x ULCS Inon adapters
  • 7x ULCS clamps
  • 2x ULCS 8" arms
  • 2x ULCS 5" arms
  • ULCS hotshoe adapter
  • ULCS adapter for Sola
  • Nauticam Zoom gear for Canon 18-55
  • Nauticam Zoom gear for Tokina 10-17
  • Nauticam Focus gear for Canon 60mm macro
  • 2x Nauticam lubricant
  • Spare housing o-ring
  • Spare port o-ring
  • Spare Inon o-rings
  • Inon o-ring grease
  • 15" Apple Macbook Pro (in the backpack only)


All of that, in one carry-on sized bag. Now there's no excuse to shoot with less than a DSLR.