Sony RX100 IV Housing Guide

Complete underwater housing guide for the Sony RX100 IV, including Acquapazza, Fantasea, Ikelite, Nauticam and Recsea
By Brent Durand

The Sony RX100 IV is arguably the best compact camera for underwater photography and video. Packing a 20.1 megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor, the RX100 IV has one of the largest sensors in a compact camera body, delivering excellent image quality.

Pair the image sensor with features like 4K video recording, 720p super slow motion video, ultra fast processor, f/1.8-2.8 lens with a 5.2 cm minimum focus distance, and wifi, and it's apparent why this camera excels over many other compacts. Additionally, there are many underwater housing options. We will review these options (all available at Bluewater Photo) in this housing guide.

Read our Sony RX100 IV Review for Underwater Photography.

 

RX100 IV Quick Specs

  • 20.1MP 1.0-type Exmor RS CMOS Sensor

  • ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens (f/1.8 - f/2.8) with focal length 8.8 - 25.7mm

  • Lens minimum focus distance: 0.17ft

  • BIONZ X Image Processor

  • Super Slow Motion Video (maximum of 40x)

  • 4K Video Recording

  • 16 frames per second burst shooting

  • Front control ring (great for underwater settings adjustments

  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC

  • 180 degree tiltable LCD screen

 

 

Sony RX100 IV Housing Guide

We discuss each housing for the RX100 IV in detail, providing objective feature checklists and overviews. I've also asked two separate reviewers to provide hands-on commentary for each housing. Scroll down or use the quick links below.

Acquapazza   |   Fantasea   |   Ikelite   |   Nauticam   |   Recsea

Our Housing Summary

 

 

 

Acquapazza Sony RX100 IV Housing

Housing material:  Compact aluminum housing with aluminum port and threads. Acquapazza housings are anodized and available in 15 different colors!  Features a large LCD window for easy viewing.

Button material:  Brushed aluminum buttons, tiered for easy use by feel. Deep lobed knobs for easy operation.

Control labels:  Most labels engraved into aluminum at each control. May be difficult for some to see.

Shutter release:  Vertical lever on housing front. Housing ridge allows you to rest finger to help with precise control of shutter (i.e. for half depress).

Movie record button:  Tightly positioned right above rear control dial. It is unlikely to hit accidentally but requires greater thumb dexterity to depress.

Control dial placement (front and rear):  Front control ring dial is ergonomically placed at right forefinger. Rear control dial has been moved slightly up on housing back, above the buttons, into a more ergonomic position.

Overall ergonomics:  The housing feels nice for handholding and one-handed operation. Control action is smooth.

Inserting/removing the camera:  Easily drop into place and remove by tilting housing back.

Latch:  Press to close. Open by pushing top and bottom of latch. Housing uses one hinge on left side.

O-rings:  One of only two RX100 IV housings to feature dual o-rings. Very easy to inspect for debris.

Accessories:  Two M10 mount threaded accessory holes. Built-in flash strobe mask for fiber optic cables. Rails on rear LCD to attach a magnifying monitor hood (also good for viewing LCD in bright conditions).

Leak detect and vacuum:  No.

Housing weight:  26.2 oz.

Depth Rating:  100m (328ft)

Retail price:  $899.  On sale at Bluewater Photo for $799.95!

 

View more detailed purchase info and accessories:  Acquapazza Sony RX100 IV Housing

 

Personal insight, reviewer #1:

"I really like this housing - it is the lightest of all of the housings, has great controls, very ergonomic dials, no slippage in my hand. The flash up/down is implemented amazingly well, and the buttons are nicely separated from rear dial. I found it easy to use with one hand, and the record button hard to press accidentally. The port is a little longer, which means it may not be the best choice if you are using the internal flash. I like the latching system a lot. The housing has 4 solid mount points (screw in) but no hot shoe. One downside is that the buttons not labeled, and there is not a leak detector. But other than that, this may be my favorite RX100 IV housing."

Personal insight, reviewer #2:

"The colors are definitely a fun breakaway from the traditional black housings, and this housing performs well overall. All camera functions are accessible and easy to use. Personally, I am not a fan of the housing latch, as I feel it is very easy to undo. The controls are nice to manipulate and well positioned, and the shutter lever is very sensitive. I like the more secure M10 mount, but one downfall for the Acquapazza housing is that accessories such a monitor hood or diffuser can be difficult to get, or are not available. "

 

 

 

 

Fantasea Sony RX100 IV Housing

Housing material:  Compact and lightweight plastic housing with plastic port and threads. Clear housing back makes LCD viewing easy.

Button material:  Plastic caps with aluminum shafts. The buttons are tiered for easy use by feel, with wider inside buttons for quicker thumb placement.

Control labels:  Very clearly labled buttons and knobs.

Shutter release:  Vertical button. Button sits on top of the housing in an ergonomic position for hand-holding the housing.  

Movie record button:  Matches camera placement and is easy to reach/press. Downside is that it could be pressed by accident.

Control dial placement (front and rear):  Front control ring dial has been placed on left side of port, requiring use of left hand. Rear control dial sticks out past buttons for easy thumb operation.

Overall ergonomics:  The housing feels nice for handholding and one-handed operation, with a nice indentation for the thumb. Control action is smooth.

Inserting/removing the camera:  Very easy to drop in the camera. The LCD skirt on housing back is on springs to hold camera in place when housing closes. There is ample space for removing camera with fingers instead of tipping housing upside down.

Latch:  Twist to close. Depress a red lever and twist to open. At first glance this feels weak, but upon use it's apparent that the twisting motion creates very strong and secure closure.

O-rings:  One of only two RX100 IV housings to feature dual o-rings. Very easy to inspect for debris.

Accessories:  Cold shoe mount for accessory. Removeable flash strobe mask for fiber optic cables. Lens port adapter included for use of standard 67mm wet lenses.

Leak detect and vacuum:  Leak detect system is buildt in, positioned on bottom of housing to be triggered at first instance of water. Vacuum system not available.

Housing weight:  20.8 oz.

Depth Rating:  60m (200ft)

Retail price:  $499.95

 

View more detailed purchase info and accessories:  Fantasea Sony RX100 IV Housing

 

Personal insight, reviewer #1:

The Fantasea housing is a less expensive plastic housing. The latch is ok, I prefer the Acquapazza or Recsea latches. It is nicely labeled, but hard to single hand. The controls work well, but the dials need "grabbed" where on the aluminum housings they are easier to turn. There is a cold shoe mount point on top. It does have a leak detector. For the price, I give this housing high marks.

Personal insight, reviewer #2:

I have definitely been impressed by the housings being produced by Fantasea lately. They are well thought out and offer full camera control which is not something you get from every polycarbonate housing. While available the controls dials are a bit more challenging to work with, requiring the use of my forefinger and thumb to turn the dial, making this a two handed operation underwater. It is comfortable to hold in my hands, and with threaded ports allow for easy addition of different lenses to improve your photos and shooting experience.

 

 

 

Ikelite Sony RX100 IV Housing

Housing material:  Polycarbonate housing with plastic port and threads. Clear housing makes it easy to see the entire camera, including the LCD screen.

Button material:  Brushed aluminum buttons, slightly tiered for easy use by feel. Textured knobs provide more grip.

Control labels:  Most button labels are clearly engraved and easy to see.

Shutter release:  Vertical lever along right side of housing.

Movie record button:  Anodized red! Button lines up with camera and is sheltered by control dial to block accidental record, but still enough room to easily press.

Control dial placement (front and rear):  Front control ring dial has been placed on top of the housing, requiring use of left hand. Rear control dial has been moved up soas not to interfere with button operation and easier thumb rotation.

Overall ergonomics:  The housing feels a little bulky on land, but with neutral buoyancy in water you can reposition hand with finger set back onto trigger, reaching a comfortable position.

Inserting/removing the camera:  The RX100 IV erquires a tray to be attached to the tripod mount, which then slides securely into base of housing. It's very simple to slide the camera/tray in and out of housing, however the tray must be unscrewed in order to access the battery and memory compartment - a serious consideration since the battery lasts about 1 dive.

Latch:  Dual hinge latches will take any abuse you can dish out. Very robust and secure, however require two hands to open. The entire back of the housing is removed, versus the popular single hinge design that swings the back open.

O-rings:  Very easy to visually inspect, remove and clean.

Accessories:  No accessory mount provided on housing. The strobe mask is now inside of the housing - much nicer than the older velcro mask kits on the outside of the housing. It supports 1 or two fiber optic cables.

Leak detect and vacuum:  No.

Housing weight:  43.5 oz.

Depth Rating:  60m (200ft)

Retail price:  $549.95

 

View more detailed purchase info and accessories:  Ikelite Sony RX100 IV Housing


Personal insight, reviewer #1:

 

The Ikelite housing seems to be bulletproof, very strong construction and the housing most likely to survive being run over by a tank. If you live in the USA, you have access to excellent service if there are any housing issues. The clear design means you can immediately see if water were ever to enter the housing. Downsides are the weight of the housing, and the fact you need to unscrew the housing from the tray to change the battery.

Personal insight, reviewer #2:

The Ikelite housing is a classic, back to basics underwater housing. Completely clear it allows you to see the o-ring seal as well as how your buttons are interacting with the camera, which makes troubleshooting any issues fairly simple. Controls are not moved and can be more difficult to access, but everything works smoothly and consistently. The biggest issue I have is that the zoom control is not spring loaded, which means once you reach the desired zoom level you need to turn the knob back to center to stop the camera from zooming in further. The shutter is OK, but not as sensitive as other options and the housing is definitely largest out of all choices. One nice benefit is that it is made in America and they have great customer service and support with their housings.

 

 

 

 

Nauticam Sony RX100 IV Housing

 

Housing material:  Compact aluminum housing with aluminum port and threads.

Button material:  Plastic caps with aluminum shafts. The buttons are tiered for easy use by feel. Knobs have different size lobes for best ergonomics.

Control labels:  Most labels engraved into aluminum at each control. Very clear and easy to read.

Shutter release:  Vertical lever on front of housing. Wide lever and indentation create a natural place for the finger to sit. Nauticam has also included a new shutter release trigger extension, which places the trigger at fingertip when using handles (see photo below).

Movie record button:  Red button matches position on the camera. Open placement for easy reach but not likely to start recording accidentally.

Control dial placement (front and rear):  Front control ring dial is ergonomically placed at right middle finger. Rear control dial has been moved slightly up and to the right side on housing back into a more ergonomic position for thumb.

Overall ergonomics:  The housing feels nice for handholding and one-handed operation. Control action is smooth.

Inserting/removing the camera:  Easily drop into place and remove with fingers.

Latch:  Twist to close. Open by pushing red button and twisting. Very secure. Housing uses one hinge on left side.

O-rings:  Easy to visually inspect, remove and clean.

Accessories:  M14 and M16 bulkhead ports to support optional vacuum check and external monitor. The housing top also has a coldshoe mount and one M10 mount threaded accessory hole.

Leak detect and vacuum:  Yes. The housing is sold with leak detect system and light/switch for the vacuum check system, however vacuum bulkhead must be purchased separately.

Housing weight:  29.6 oz.

Depth Rating:  100m (328ft)

Retail price:  $995

 

View more detailed purchase info and accessories:  Nauticam Sony RX100 IV Housing

 

Personal insight, reviewer #1:

This housing feels *slightly* little bigger than the other aluminum housings. It has 2 bulkheads so you can use a vacuum system or a video monitor. I found it a little harder to handhold in 1 hand, and if you did the record button could be easily pressed accidentally, but not that easily. It has a hot shoe and 1 screw-in mount point on the side. The buttons labeled really nicely, and it has a leak detector. It has some nice features that make it worth the price it is at.

Personal insight, reviewer #2:

Nauticam housings are always very appealing. Designed to accomplish anything you could want the housing to do, short of making you an espresso, they are loaded with extra features, are well laid out and have nicely labeled buttons. On the flip side there is alot going on inside which can make it more difficult to insert the camera, or troubleshoot if something isn’t working right. An abundance of accessories from diffusers, vacuum bulkheads, lenses and more make this a system you can easily expand upon. I am a big fan of their locking system as its basically impossible to accidentally open the housing, in addition the shutter button is nice and sensitive making it easy to focus and take photos. 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recsea WHS-RX100IV Aluminum Housing

 

Housing material:  Compact aluminum housing with aluminum port. Port has a quick-adapt system for using standard 67mm wet lenses. Smallest housing for the RX100 IV.

Button material:  Plastic caps with aluminum shafts. Rear of housing has a control wheel, so instead of pushing buttons, you press the side of the wheel as you would on the camera itself.

Control labels:  Controls not labeled but there is a sticker on left of housing for reference.

Shutter release:  Horizontal lever on front of housing. While not as ergonomic for hand-holding, the horizontal action of the shutter lever is ideal when using a tray and handles (like a DSLR).

Movie record button:  Red button is moved to upper right of housing back. It is nestled against a plastic shield to avoid accidental recording but still easy to press.

Control dial placement (front and rear):  Front control ring is an actual ring on the port, which requires the left hand to spin. Rear control dial rotates and presses to mimic the actual camera control dial.

Overall ergonomics:  The housing is nice to handhold and operate controls. The front control ring requires a second hand, and the shutter trigger direction feels ideal when using handles.

Inserting/removing the camera:  Easily drop into place and remove by tilting housing.

Latch:  Press to close. Open by pressing a lever while also pulling the latch away from housing. Very secure.

O-rings:  Easy to visually inspect, remove and clean.

Accessories:  One M10 mount threaded accessory hole and a coldshoe mount.

Leak detect and vacuum:  No.

Housing weight:  27.7 oz.

Depth Rating:  100m (328ft)

Retail price:  $920

 

View more detailed purchase info and accessories:  Recsea Sony RX100 IV Housing

 

Personal insight, reviewer #1:

The recsea housing is small, and will support a "quick adapt" system for wet lenses that is very nice. The buttons and dials work well, although the large front dial can be a little hard to turn. This housing not the easiest to hand hold with a single hand, you will want to use 2 hands or a tray and handle. Because of where the record button is, it might be pressed accidentally. The control dials a little hard to reach with one hand compared to the aquapazza. The buttons are labeled off to the side which is OK but not nicely labeled like the Nauticam or Fantasea. The latch works really well and it is secure when shut. One note - the shutter pulls towards you, which I don't mind and find easy to use.

Personal insight, reviewer #2:

I like the Recsea housing, it feels very solid in my hands and the integrated dials mimic the actual Sony camera nicely. I find it easier to turn the control wheel on the back of the housing without activating other camera functions by mistake. The large dial that surrounds the port is nice, however I am not able to manipulate it well with just one finger, so I need to remove my hand from the side of the housing to really control the camera. Its easiest to do on the left hand side, making this a two handed operation housing. The other downside is that the controls are not individually labeled, so unless you memorize your camera buttons, make sure to refer to the included key on the back of the housing. 

 

 

Sony RX100 IV Housing Summary

Bluewater Photo has published a one sentence summary of each housing in their Best Compact Cameras for 2016 guide, and we feel that each housing fits a different person. All the housings offer access to great macro and wide-angle wet lenses, letting you get the most from the RX100 IV.

If budget is a factor in your purchase, then the Fantasea RX100 IV housing will deliver the best value. For those on a budget who want a tough housing, then Ikelite is the way to go. The Acquapazza housing sits at the medium budget level, offering the improved ergonomics of the more expensive housings in a compact package with an undisputed cool factor (anodized colors). On the more expensive side, we have the Nauticam and Recsea housings. The Recsea is easily the most compact housing, however the Nauticam has very clearly labeled and ergonomic controls, plus aluminum port threads and optional vacuum check system.

Best Value:  Fantasea ($499.95)

Easiest O-ring Maintenance:  Ikelite ($549.95)

Most Compact:  Recsea ($920)

Best Value to Advanced Ergonomics:  Acquapazza ($899.95 - on sale for $799 at time of publication)

Ergonomics with Most Accessory Options:  Nauticam ($995)

 

Be sure to check out all of the Sony RX100 IV housings on Bluewater photo and call or email with any questions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.
BrentDurand.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is managing editor of the Underwater Photography Guide, an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Interested in joining Brent on a photo workshop? Email Bluewater Travel for more info!

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