Scarlet-breasted Maori wrasse
Underwater Photography




WWFShark Project


Nikon D7000 with Aquatica AD7000

The D7000 was introduced by Nikon in September 2010. Rapidly this camera became the favorite tool for underwater photographers for good reasons. Most important is the good low light performance, which allows to use this camera up to ISO 800 without much increase of noise and up to ISO 3200 still usable. This allows to use smaller apertures and still get well exposed pictures with ambient light or under mixed flash/ambient light conditions. In addition, pictures taken with 14 BIT in the NEF (RAW) formate are more likely to be still usable when underexposed. The 16.2 "good" mega pixels also allow some more cropping without sacrificing the picture quality too much.

There are many more features of the D7000 to like for underwater photography. One is the better autofocus system compared to the older cameras (especially the D80). In particular useful for macro and fish photography is the new 3D tracking. In this mode the active focus sensor can be selected as in single point autofocus. Once focus is locked, it follows a moving object and calculates where the focus should be (in three dimensions!) at the time the picture will actually be taken. This works great e. g. for fast moving fish in blue water. Amazingly, almost every shot is in focus. The D7000 is a quite complex instrument. An excellent Guide with detailled explanations and lots of tips is Thom Hogan's "Complete Guide to the Nikon D7000".

Right from the beginning it was clear that this camera would be a great success in underwater photography, and within a couple of months several underwater housings came on the market. I selected the Aquatica housing, which is made of aluminum and quite compact and robust. The housing has a smooth, black coating and is machined on a 5-axis CNC machine to fit the D7000 precisely. The downside of the small volume is that the weight is quite negative, and some buoyancy compensation should be attached to the housing (I use Stix Floats with my U.L.C.S. arms). Basically all camera controls can be used underwater, and all work amazingly smooth and precise. This housing is by far better than any other housing I used before.

Table 1. Lenses and port/extension combinations I use with the Aquatica AD7000 housing. The product numbers in parenthesis refer to the Aquatica catalogue.

10-17+ TC
Nikon 40 Nikon 60 Nikon 105 Nikon 105
+ TC
Macro Port
no Extension     x x    
  + 28.5 mm Ext.
  + 39.5 mm Ext.
8'' Dome
custom made
x x        
4'' Dome
+ 16.5 mm Ext.
x   x      
  + 28.5 mm Ext.
  + 39.5 mm Ext.



Table 2. D7000 settings I use for underwater photography and videography. The settings are loaded as user settings U1 and U2, and esily accessible with the mode dial. This is just to quickly start, everything can be adjusted underwater.

Menue   Custom Setting U1 (UW Photo) U2 (UW Video)
Autofocus A1 AF-C Priority Release Focus
  A2 AF-S Priority Focus Focus
  A3 Focus Lock-On 2 3
  A4 Focus Area Illumination Auto Auto
  A5 Focus Point Wrap Off Off
  A6 Number of Focus Points AF39 AF39
  A7 AF Assist  Off Off
  A8 AF Live View/Video AF-S AF-S
Metering/exposure B1 ISO Increment 1/3 1/3
  B2 EV Increment 1/3 1/3
  B3 Exposure Comp Off Off
  B4 Center Weight 8 8
  B5 Fine tune Exp Off 0
Timers/AE lock C1 AE Lock Off Off
  C2 Auto Meter Off 16s 30m
  C3 Self Timer 10s, 1, 0.5s 10s, 1, 0.5s
  C4 Monitor Off 20s, 20s, 1m, 10s, 10m 20s, 20s, 1m, 10s, 10m
  C5 Remote On 5m 1m
Shooting/display D1 Beep Off Off
  D2 Grid Lines On On
  D3 ISO Display ISO ISO
  D4 Viewfinder Warning On On
  D5 Screen Tips On On
  D6 CL Shooting Speed 2 fps 3 fps
  D7 Max Cont Release 100 100
  D8 File No Seq On On
  D9 Shooting info display Auto Auto
  D10 LCD Illumination Off Off
  D11 Exp Delay Mode Off Off
  D12 Flash Warning On On
  D13 MB-D11 Battery  LR6 LR6
  D14 Battery order MB-D11 MB-D11
Bracketing/flash E1 Flash Sync Speed 1/320 1/320
  E2 Flash Shutter Speed 1/30 1/30
  E3 Built-in Flash Mode TTL TTL
  E4 Modeling Flash Off Off
  E5 Auto BKT Set AE/flash AE/flash
  E6 Bracketing order N N
Controls F1 Power Switch Info Info
  F2 Center Button Reset Reset
  F3 Fn Button Flash lock Flash lock
  F4 Preview Button DOF DOF
  F5 AE-L/AF-L Button AF-On AF-On
  F6 Command Dials Off, Off, On, Off Off, Off, On, Off
  F7 Buttons and Dials On On
  F8 No Carrd Lock Lock
  F9 Reverse indicators Default Default
  F10 MB-D11 AE-L/AF-L Default Default
Other Settings   Storage Folder 107 107
    File naming DSC DSC
    Slot 2 Overflow Overflow
    Image quality NEF + JPG Basic NEF + JPG Basic
    Image size Large Large
    JPEG compression Optimal Quality Optimal Quality
    NEF recording type lossless lossless
    NEF recording bit depth 14 BIT 14 BIT
    White balance Auto PRE
    Set Picture Control Standard Standard
    Color space sRGB sRGB
    Active D-Lighting Off Off
    Long exp. NR On On
    High ISO NR Off Off
    ISO sensitivity value 200 400
    ISO sensitivity auto control Off Off
    Movie Settings 1080, 24, high, A, 2, ON 1080, 24, high, A, 2, ON
    Remote 2s 2s