July 2011

I have really enjoyed using my new Fantasea FP7000 housing for one of my favorite cameras--the Nikon Coolpix P7000. I like this camera because it has a lot of quick, easy-to-use dials, and the housing allows fast use of all but one of them.


The housing is relatively easy to hold without any strap or bracket, but a strap and/or a second handle would make it easier.

There are lanyard holders just above and below the grip, and I will experiment with making a proper strap.

A strap would also improve using the zoom control when you hold the camera with only one hand. My hands are not very large and strong, so I have to grip the camera with both hands while zooming. Fortunately, I rarely zoom, and neither should you, but it is great to be able to when you need to.


It takes only one or two dives to get a good feel of how to quickly change exposure controls. The main drawback to housing this camera is that one exposure control dial is not accessible through a housing. A simple work-around involves setting the Av/Tv button to toggle the f-stop and shutter speed control via the same command dial. The small extra work to toggle from aperture to shutter speed is well worth it for us manual exposure fans. Remember, unlike the Canon G and S series cameras, this camera will still fully support TTL strobe exposure even when the camera is set for manual exposure control. If you do not yet know why this is so important for most of your really great photos, come on down to Grand Cayman in the Caribbean and take a class with us, or sign up for a private course over the phone. Go to www.cathychurch.com/Classes.html for more information.

For those preferring a program mode, start with A (aperture priority). The command dial will change your aperture and the camera chooses the shutter speed. The all-important EV control (offering a full + or - 3 EV) is right at your fingertips at the upper right corner on the back of the housing.

The back is smooth and clear allowing a good view of the camera's large LCD.


There are two ports to accept two standard fiber-optic (Sea and Sea style) cables. And if you forget to pop up the strobe before you put it in the housing--no worries, there is a button for that, too. An external TTL flash, such as the Sea and Sea YS110alpha, is fired by the camera's built-in strobe via a fiber optic cable. The exposures are beautifully controlled for you by the camera. If you wish to alter the exposure, use the flash EV control which is relatively easy to access. To do this, I set the dial on the top left for MyMenu where I have placed the five most common menu items that I need that are not already available through this dial.


I chose the Flash +/-, card format and auto focus mode as part of MyMenu. I touch the easy "Quick Menu" button, and whatever menu choice I used last reappears. This is usually my Flash +/-. Just hit OK and then adjust up or down. Several other functions available through this dial, (including White balance, ISO, quality and bracketing) allow easy access without going into a set of menu options.


The large square lens port provides full wide angle coverage without being overly large. To complete the system, there is also a wide-angle lens (BigEye Lens FP7000) that can be added and removed underwater.

With a Sea and Sea YS110Alpha strobe and a nice Ultralight arm, you just have to aim and shoot. All controls work as advertised and the fast response of the camera is good. The shutter button sits right under your finger.

The whole system is wonderful and of course the photos are beautiful.


I am very pleased that we now have this option for our avid underwater photographers who want both a small and affordable camera system along with program, TTL and full manual controls.

For more information on renting, purchasing or learning how to use this system in Grand Cayman, contact us at cathy@cathychurch.com, and visit us at www.cathychurch.com.

Enjoy your underwater photo journey,

Cathy Church


Cathy Church has been photographing the beautiful underwater world since 1967. She has a Masters degree in Marine Biology, and is recognized as one of the world's foremost teachers and authors on underwater photography. She received the NOGI award for the arts (a national U.S. award) in 1987, the DEMA "Reaching Out Award" in 2000 and was inducted into the Woman Divers Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2000 she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame in March 2000 and was admitted to be a member of the Explorers' Club. She was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in 2008.


A versatile photographer, she is well known for many styles of photography from documentary and editorial to the gallery art you see here. She shot the award winning Cayman Islands underwater poster "Wonderland," and has done extensive work for such clients as Kodak, Nikon, Dolphin Cruise Lines, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands. She was a photo editor for Skin Diver magazine for 15 years and her work has appeared in dozens of books and magazines, including five of her own popular books (co-authored with the late Jim Church) on photo technique and an instructional video. For fourteen years she produced serious black and white photography, spending long days in the darkroom to make her limited edition fine art black and white prints.



Her coffee table book "My Underwater Photo Journey" was published in 2004. When hurricane Ivan destroyed her darkroom, and as she developed her digital techniques, she is now producing all of her imagery digitally. Her new "Imagination collection" was released in 2009.

Cathy and Herb Rafael were married in Grand Cayman in 1991. They teach underwater photography and operate Cathy Church's Photo Centre and Gallery at Sunset House Hotel. Herb's photos have appeared in Skin Diver Magazine, the cover of Scuba Times, and several other publications as well as advertising campaigns for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Herb handles the marketing and sales, while Cathy concentrates on the photography, teaching and technical side of the photo centre. They both are dedicated to making sure that each customer is best served in whatever way they can.

Back to Top