The Meikon CN-17 vs. Canon WP-DC54
This BLOG POST was written by the Danish Underwater Photographer: René Hrumpf.
He was the first to purchase the new Meikon housing for the Canon G7X camera from me.
He also has the Canon housing for the same camera, and this post is about his experience with both the housings.
The article has been updated after the author has dived the Meikon housing about 40 times.
Scroll down and read the update!
A house for the G7X
Sturdy, that’s the word that comes to mind when I have the Meikon house in my hands the first time. But what do I really know. My personal experience is limited to similar polycarbonate housings, so if you are familiar with aluminum housings, your experience may be different. However, the buttons on the Canon house feels both smaller and wiggly, in particular the button for accessing the front ring, compared to the Meikon house. The hinge of the lid on the Canon house is clearly also loose compared to that of the Meikon house. Along the same lines, the camera fits precisely into the Meikon house whereas it is slightly loose and “rattling” in the Canon house.
Anyway, most, if not all housings today, have very similar specifications, at least for Canon cameras, which is what I’m interested in. As it happens, I own both the Canon WP-DC54 and the Meikon MK-CN-17 houses so I can compare them directly. The specifications are practically identical; the differences are in build quality and accessibility of the functions, which are in principle identical, but not in the real world. And of course the double O-ring, moisture sensor and the 67 mm thread in the Meikon house.
When you read the specifications for UW houses, you’ll always notice something like “complete camera function control” or “offering full functionality”. Useless comment in my opinion, since I haven’t seen a dedicated house without full control for years now (have had several Canon Ixus and Powershot houses). However, complete camera function control may be achieved in many different ways. Some more cumbersome than others and it would be nice if the uw housing manufactures describe the function more precisely. I know, it doesn’t matter if you only shoot pictures in “Auto” mode. And it’s not super important if you shoot in Av or Tv mode since you don’t really need to control more than one parameter (I’ll get back to that), but I’m solely shooting in manual mode and need to have reasonable easy access to both shutter speed and aperture.
Use with gloves
Since I dive in cold water, the pressure buttons and wheel buttons have to be accessed even with dry cloves on. This is possible with the Meikon house, but not really well for the Canon house. For at start, the buttons on the back of the Meikon house are clearly marked, as opposed to the Canon house. More important, the buttons are larger and taller than on the Canon house, making it much easier to manipulate the controls if you are using gloves. And even more important, the springs are harder. The springs on the Canon house are too soft. At 20-25 m depth, several of the buttons are stuck at the bottom position and it is impossible to take pictures. Bummer. The springs on the Meikon house works perfectly down to 40 m as far as I can tell. To be fair to Canon, I’ve seen this on earlier Meikon houses and other much more expensive houses as well, so it may come down to model or even individual build quality.
The wheels and size
I use the Front ring for adjusting the aperture, but it is virtually impossible on the Canon house for two reasons. The shape and size of the knop on the left side of the port makes it difficult to grab and turn it, and the mechanism has a tendency to slip on the front wheel, ie. no action. Very very annoying I can tell you. Not so on the Meikon house – the knop could be bigger but is sufficient to do its job, and the internal mechanism is far better than Canons. It works every time so far.
I would like to access the rear control wheel (for adjusting shutter time) in the same way, but unfortunately, this is not possible on any of the two houses. On both houses, you have to use a combination of the pressure buttons on the back to do the job. Annoying yes, but doable, in particular on the Meikon house with the superior buttons. If you want that particular dial function, you need to purchase something way more expensive, like a bulky Ikelite house or one of the aluminum houses. Did I forget to mention that both houses are fairly small? Very nice size.
This is obviously less of a problem if you shoot in Av mode. Use the front ring to adjust the aperture value and let the camera automatically adjust the shutter time – no need for the rear dial. If you want a bit more control, there is a nice exposure compensation dial, which is accessible on both houses.
One very annoying “feature” of the G7X camera is the build in flash. Both houses allow you to raise the flash, but the only way to retract it again is by pressing it back down using a finger. Fortunately, you can turn off the flash anyway if you don’t need it, using the menu, which is accessible via the buttons on the back of the camera. And don’t laugh – it’s a nice feature, which was absent in earlier Canon cameras. If you fired the flash once, you were stuck with it for the rest of the dive. The Canon house has an accessory flash connector adaptor, whereas the Meikon is build to mount the connector and since the acrylic is black there you will not have problems with flash light flair.
Where Meikon wins with lengths
One final very nice feature of the Meikon house, is the shutter lever, which makes focusing and taking the picture so much easier than the round wiggly button on the Canon house. It is very easy to use and is something all housings should have.
Oh, and a final final nice feature – the Meikon house is equipped with a 67 mm thread from birth, for filters, wide angle and macro wet lenses. The port on the Canon house is rectangular and need a threaded adapter for this additional equipment. I use a flip adapter with my Canon house, which actually works nicely. But I think, in light of the advantages of the Meikon house, my Canon house is reduced to a backup thingy, and frankly, I don’t think it will ever make it out in the water again.
40 dives something…
An update of the article:
…40 dives or so later with Canon G7x and the Meikon house.
The first impression was sturdy. It still applies – excellent house, sturdy and works almost flawlessly. Ok, one button was stuck a couple of times at depth. But hey, have seen it happen to expensive houses as well, and generally no complaints from me.
Actually, I did wine a little bit about not being able to adjust the shutter time by using the rear wheel. Now, as it happens, it is actually possible. The primary function of the rear center button is to access the menu system. So if you press the button, turn the wheel you can choose a bunch of things which I never use. But if you just squeeze the center button gently and turn it, the shutter time is adjusted! And it’s even fairly easy to do even with thick gloves.
“So apology to Meikon” – the house is bloody excellent and both aperture and shutter time are adjustable simultaneously via dials rather than the horrendous Canon system, that wants you to press multiple buttons at the same time.
Images taken by René Hrumpf using the Canon camera: