My Rig: Sony DSC-RX100 with Meikon Housing, Inon UWL-100 Type 2, and Sea&Sea YS-01

RX-100, Meikon Housing, Inon UWL-100, Sea&Sea YS-01

With the first dive trip with my new underwater photography rig in the bag, I return with my impressions of my current dive photography rig: Sony DSC-RX100 in a Meikon Housing, an Inon UWL-100 Type 2, and a Sea&Sea YS-01. It is safe to say I am quite happy, but not without a few complaints.

Just a few, short months ago I was diving with the same camera and housing I owned for the better part of 10 years. The trusty Ikelite housing kept my Canon A720 IS safe from salty death. It’s 67mm threaded aluminum port allowed me to slide my Inon UWL-100 wide angle lens on quite easily both above and below the water’s surface. However, this camera was quite dated and touted a mere 8 megapixel resolution and an abysmal (by today’s standards) 640 x 480 @ 30fps video resolution.

Sony DCS_RX100

The Sony DSC-RX100 is the first of three generations of the RX100 product line. While not the hottest “prosumer” compact camera, the initial reviews raved of it’s 20 megapixel resolution, large sensor, and HD quality video capture. The features and functions of this camera can be found elsewhere so I won’t go into great detail here. But what I will do is explain the experiences of an amateur underwater photographer with 10 years of experience behind him.

Meikon Housing (via Monoprice.com)

Combining the camera with the Meikon underwater housing nets you a very compact package. However, unlike the Ikelite and Sea&Sea housings, the Meikon housing does not afford you the opportunity to control the jog wheel on the back of the camera. This means if you have to commit to a few extra maneuvers to control the aperture and shutter speed in full manual mode. I did find that once I was able to dial in the highest shutter speed for the depth of my dive, changing the aperture was very easy to do with the front program ring.

RX100 with UWL-100. Notice the lack of vignetting.
RX100 with UWL-100. Notice the lack of vignetting.
A720 IS with UWL-100. With a noticeable amount of vignette.
A720 IS with UWL-100. With a noticeable amount of vignette.

What I really enjoyed about this housing was the 67mm threaded port on the front of the housing. It’s close proximity to the RX100’s lens virtually eliminated the vignetting in the UWL-100. This was quite a shocking difference from the Canon/Ikelite combo I previously used. However, that very same port does not have any drainage holes like the Ikelite housing. The pros and cons of this missing element cancel each other out, in my opinion. The good thing about not having drainage holes in the port means you can create over-under shots much more easily. The bad thing about those same missing drainage holes forces you to mount your lens underwater. The potential of dropping your ‘glass’ underwater and potentially scratching the lens is nerve wracking. However, I found having water between the lens and the housing’s flat port dramatically increases your field of view.

Another thing I am not too happy about with the Meikon housing is the position of the closing hatch. The hatch was placed on the right of the camera. The unfortunate thing about this placement is that I found myself unintentionally fidgeting with the top release button. Of course if I were to depress the button my mistake I would have most certainly had a flooded camera on my hands. It took a little bit of conscience avoidance to keep my hands away from the dangerous flood gates. Furthermore the latches that are used to close the housing are made of a high density polycarbonate. While I had no issues with these plastic latches in particular, I would think that over time they may wear down and make the housing door more difficult to keep closed. This is something I will have to keep my eye on over the next few months.

Sea&Sea YS-01

The Sea&Sea YS-01 worked flawlessly with both the camera and the housing. This reliable little beast served me well by supplying plenty of light for two dives on a single charge. In fact, I found for most of the photographs I had taken only needed 1/3 of the full power to illuminate my subject. While I did not splurge for the Sea&Sea fiber optic sync cable, I was able to take a cheap optical audio cable to perform the same function. In fact, I used a 1″ pvc pipe and a hair dryer to create the pig-tail in the otherwise straight cable.

Parting Words

In all, I feel that the combination of camera, housing, lens, and sub-strobe fit nicely to create a compact and powerful rig. The vignetting with the UWL-100 is minimal, yet mounting the threaded lens to a plastic thread is somewhat frustrating. The Meikon housing does not provide access to all the functions of the camera, but your creativity can be unleashed with a few extra clicks and twists. The price of this setup is relatively cheap considering just how expensive other RX-100 housings on the market are today. However, it is safe to say Meikon has put together a sold housing that is acceptable to the amateur underwater photographer.

14 thoughts on “My Rig: Sony DSC-RX100 with Meikon Housing, Inon UWL-100 Type 2, and Sea&Sea YS-01

  1. Hey mate, how do you change the shutter underwater? I’ve tried to set the front ring to shutter but that doesn’t work.
    Do you simply leave shutter at 1/30 or 1/60 and let aperature, iso and your strobe do the rest of the work?

    1. It’s a little tricky using the RX100 with the Meikon housing in a full manual operation. The lack of a jog wheel control on the back makes managing the aperture and shutter speed impossible right from Manual mode. However, there is a work around.

      1. Change the mode dial to Shutter Priority and set your desired speed using the front ring.
      2. Then change the mode dial back to Manual and use the front ring to set the aperture.

      The shutter speed will persist as you move between these two modes, effectively allowing you to control both aperture and shutter speed. Hope that helps!

  2. Hi, this is almost the exact setup I am looking for. I have a UWL-100 type 2 and dual YS-01 from my current setup and I wanted to utilize as much as the components I have. Going with some of the cameras with wider lens would have required a different wet lens and going with a micro 4/3rd would have required a setup not unlike going to a DSLR. That’s why I’ve been stuck using my old Oly 5050 and had a separate panny P&S for video. After so many missed shot and too embarassed to show fellow divers of my 240p video (the panny flooded on first dive on a few trips where HD video was real important), I thought it has to be time to upgrade.

    A few questions.

    Since I don’t shoot manual too much, but instead jump between a few preset modes, does this housing allow for such easy access.

    I use manual white balance quite frequently, since I don’t have the camera, I don’t know if the jog dial is needed to access such function.

    A big issue I had with my setup is if I zoom my lens toward the telephoto end, more and more of the edge gets blurry until to the point where only the center is in focus. I had to remove the wet lens if I had to do any zooming. I presume it has something to do with the nodal point of the camera’s lens moving farther away from the wet lens’s eye relief distance, causing the blur (it looks similar to looking thru the wet lens and pulling your eyes away. The edge starts blurring more and more). Is there such issue with this setup?

    Is this a single or dual o-ring housing? I had flooded 2 cameras on my single o-ring’d panny housing in its limited use and am vary wary of such.

    1. Yes, the camera and housing allows for quick access to three presets via the camera’s mode dial. As for white balance, that can easily be managed via the function button or customized directional pad on the rear jog dial. While the rear jog dial cannot be turned, you still have access to those valuable direction pad buttons.
      I can say with the UWL-100 type 2 the most distortion is found at the the widest wide angle setting. I typically zoom to 1.2x as that is the closest to 35mm, which is what the lens was created for.
      And finally the housing employs a single o-ring. I too have concern with flooding, but more so with how the camera latches operate. The latches themselves are composite (plastic) and the release buttons are very close to where one would grip the camera. However, a camera tray minimizes that concern.

  3. any one trouble like my case? I put Camera to housing but lens cannot move due to case design for lens moving too small for its

    1. Interesting. No, my camera fits nicely in the housing. The only issue I have found is the dial that controls the front ring sometimes is too hard to turn, but not impossible.

  4. Oh thank christopher, I am really trouble with it I found that when close the case my camera can not move lens freely but open back door of case it is normal who know what problem of this case design? my Camera RX100 M1 and case also for RX100 Meikon

  5. What kind of macro capability can the RX100 have with the UWL-100 lens? The RX100 has pretty poor macro capability on its own (I have everything except a housing). Can a 1″ subject fill the whole frame? I would hate to switch back and forth between the wide lens and a close-up lens. What I can with my current camera is take the lens off and set the camera to super macro mode, but when I do that, the TTL flash is disabled and I end up having to set up the camera’s flash in slave mode adjust the strobes’ output setting.

    I noticed you don’t have any vignetting in the picture, but when I but up the UWL-100 directly against the camera, I see vignetting. Does the vignetting go away once underwater?

    1. I agree that the RX100’s macro capability is something that is left to be desired. However, I find close focus wide angle photography is done quite well with the UWL-100. While not recommended, macro photography can be accomplished with this setup but not without some editing in post. Think of it this way: you can hammer a nail with a brick, but why not use the right tool for the job? The same applies here with using a wide angle lens for macro photography. The purpose of wide angle photography isn’t necessarily to fill the frame with small subject, rather it can give the photo a sense of scale for that same small subject. Hence the implementation of close focus wide angle.

      For example, take a look at the following two images taken with the RX100 and UWL-100. The first is a macro shot taken of an arrow crab in Islamorada, FL that has been cropped in post. While some areas are out of focus such as its claws, the eyes are nice and crips. You can even make out colonies of hydroids around the edge of the photo!
      Macro Arrow Crab

      And here is the un-cropped version of the image. If memory serves me right, I was about 4 to 6 inches away from the subject which should give you an idea of the type of work needed to achieve the previous image in post processing.
      Arrow Crab Uncropped

      As for the vignette, there is some present around the edges of your photos while underwater, but not nearly as much when you shoot ‘dry’. I would also suggest that you let the space between the lens and the housing to flood before shooting underwater. I do this by taking the lens off and replacing it as I descend to the reef. Having water between the housing and lens will also help with vignetting. Below is a wide angle shot taken with the UWL-100 with no post process cropping applied.
      Vignette Example

  6. Thanks for the info. I forgot about cropping, since my prev camera was 5mp, I rarely crop, Plus, I hate post processing work, taking up to days to do slight color correction and scatter removal. The closeups, I usually just shoot it right and leave it untouched, since the bulk of my time would be spend fixing the non-macro shots.

    This housing doesn’t have little holes in the side of the lens port where the threads are to let in water after the lens is mounted? My old camera had that.

    BTW, I only see the first picture with the arrow crab, not the others.

  7. I finally got to use this housing with the camera. Without the dial, all the features of the Function button becomes useless since to adjust those settings preset under the Function button, one has to use the dial to set them. So the function button’s quick access to ISO & Focus mode becomes unavailable. I remapped White Balance to the Left button so I can do manual white balance, but I was getting out of range error on almost all instances. Luckily I tested the manual white balance on a blueish underwater image as a test so it was kind of white balanced for deep ocean.

    Also, if I am in one of my Preset mode which is Manual, I wasn’t possible to change just the shutter speed if I switched to “S” since I didn’t change from M to S, but from Preset to S. What resulted is that all the orig settings from the last time S or M was used appeared. Maybe I could have M set to same as my preset mode and use that instead of Preset 1. I still have preset 2 to for strobe less wide angle w/manual WB.

    1. Hey L_W, as I understand your comment, you are not able to reproduce the workaround from Christopher. I also had issues first, but only because I set the front ring functionality to “aperture”. If you set it to “Standard” you can switch to mode “S”, set the shutter speed by using the front ring, change back to mode “M” and change the aperture using the front ring.

    2. Hi Jan, I indicated I shoot in Preset modes, thus if I jump out to “S”, then all the settings I have had in the preset modes gets overridden by whatever it was in “S”.

      My Preset modes includes:
      “M” with forced flash (so my external strobes will light up), default shutter speed to estimated longest flash duration and lens slightly zoomed in to avoid vignetting
      “A” with no flash and wide aperture, lens slightly zoomed in, WB set to manual WB (with pre-defined WB loaded). Slightly higher ISO. For shooting subjects a little farther away
      macro mode – “A” forced flash with lens zoomed in max, small aparture.

      If I dont use Preset modes, I would have to change 5-6 settings every time I want to go from strobed portrait to scenery to macro.

      A solution might be to use “S” in my Preset mode, and then use exposure compensation to fine tune the aperture up and down. I will have to anti-compensate the flash exposure setting if I am using the flash.

What do you think?