Note: This review was published by John Bantin on Divernet's Diver Magazine. The original review can be found by visiting this link.

August 2011

Howard Rosenstein of Fantasea Line was an early Red Sea pioneer credited with discovering the wreck of the Dunraven. Now back home in Israel, he runs a company making camera housing and accessories. It’s named after his last dive-safari boat, Fantasea II (that’s now called Pelagian and is alive and well operating in Wakatobi, Indonesia).

Fantasea Line specialises in making underwater housings for compact cameras, mainly the Nikon Coolpix range.


Coolpix P7000

When compared with the latest generation of compact cameras coming from other manufacturers, the high-end compact Nikon Coolpix P7000 is a bit of a brick. It seems even bigger than my Canon G-series compact, which has been criticised for the same reason and it’s a lot bigger than the now popular Canon S95.

However, in common with the Canon G it looks like a proper camera in that it has knobs and dials and far fewer of the controls are hidden deep inside a menu system. It gives an old photographic dinosaur like me much more confidence in thinking I know how to get the best out of it.

That proved important because it appeared that when Howard sent it to me with the Fantasea FP7000 underwater housing, he omitted to include the instruction manual. The first thing I confirmed was that it shot RAW files as well as a range of various quality jpegs (and combinations of the two).


As Kurt Amsler, one of the most experienced and successful underwater photographers in the world, once told me, “If you don’t shoot RAW files, you’re missing the whole point of digital photography.” RAW files allow you to go back and adjust everything apart from focus and the choice of subject, on your home computer, long after that moment underwater when you pressed the button.

Fantasea FP7000


Because the camera is larger than some other compacts, the FP7000 housing is necessarily larger too, and because the camera has all those knobs and dials, the housing has to be equipped with more complex controls that just a few buttons to access a menu.

I was bemused when an English gentleman abroad recently described a problem with his housing as “taking water”. Others might have described the incident as a disastrous flood that made their camera toast. The FP7000 housing is levered open via a locking cam knob at the side. The lock needs an opposite and opposing action to the knob.


There are double O-rings to protect it from leaks and this means it takes quite a squeeze to open or shut it after the camera drops in snugly.

One top command dial control needs to be lifted to allow you to do this easily and I noted that there is an internal matte black rubber shroud that fits around the extending lens to prevent internal reflections on the front glass. There are three other command dials that are linked to rubber covered wheels that engage precisely with the rotating dials of the camera when you hinge the housing’s back closed. It’s also a good idea to line up the markings on the outer dials with those on the camera, although it’s not essential because all is revealed on the camera’s LCD as you operate them.

I did find dropping the camera into the housing was a bit too seductively easy and on more than one occasion the bottom button that operated the main command dial made no contact, so I was careful to make sure that this works before committing myself to the water. I never really discovered why this happened but quickly reinstalling the camera if it didn’t work first time seemed to fix the problem.

Among all the controls available on the housing, there is a big zoom control but I recommend you stick with the lens at the widest position and use your fins to physically zoom closer instead. That way you’ve always got the minimum amount of water to shoot through.

Haven’t plastics come a long way in fifty years? They’re even making the latest American-built airliners out of plastic now. I noted that although this housing door is made from a heavyweight clear Perspex with black plastic fittings, everything felt precise and of high quality. The front half is matte black plastic and feels equally solid and nicely engineered too.

A lot of you may have looked at this housing and dismissed it because at first glance its front glass appears not to accept a wide-angle lens. Of course Fantasea has thought of that and it accepts the company’s own range of Big Eye ancillary lenses that are specifically designed for it. Similarly it has an accessory shoe and a standard tripod bush that will allow it to take almost any flashgun mounted. There is the facility to connect two fibre optic cables to synch off-board flashguns with the camera’s own inboard flash and should you wish to rely simply on that flash alone for lighting your subject, the connection board slides out to reveal it. There’s even a button to allow you to pop up the inboard flash should you forget but you cannot pop it down again once the camera is enclosed in the housing.



There is no doubt the FP7000 is tough. I got a copy of an email from the boys at Nikon Professional Services who were recording some extreme kayaking. They ran an 80 foot wall (25m) descent and got some nice results while another housing of another make, used for some similar drop, got broken!

It toughness goes along with a certain amount of meatiness too. It’s a bit of a brute. The camera itself seems to have the minimum delay between pressing the button and getting the picture, which promises to avoid those pictures of fish rapidly leaving the frame.


It’s not my remit to make comprehensive reviews of photographic equipment. If you want to know more about the Nikon Coolpix P7000 I suggest you go to:

I can tell you that this Nikon is designed to take pictures in very low light levels without that annoying digital noise or ‘grain’ and it has the advantage of offering several different user-presets so that you can switch to at a moment’s notice and it offers white-balance bracketing to help you get those underwater colours spot on if you are only shooting jpeg files. Naturally, in common with nearly all other recently introduced compacts it will shoot video clips too. In the mean time, should you choose to buy the camera, I suggest this tough and shockproof Fantasea FP7000 underwater housing will not disappoint.


John Bantin has specialized in having a great time. Based in London n the '70s and '80 he was first a photographer for Penthouse Magazine but graduated to doing the photography and film-directing for many Award-winning advertising campaigns for which he got paid megabucks. So much so that in 1992, he took a year off to go diving. Twenty years later he's still doing it and has developed a reputation instead for being a scurrilous hack, feared by diving resorts and equipment manufacturers alike yet he still knows how to get a picture in focus. He is too often mistaken by the non-diving public for Sean Connery or Prince Michael of Kent, both of whom are very much older.





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