Nauticam just announced the availability of the NA-LX100, the new housing for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100. But I have already sold several units due to its popularity…
This rig offers the discerning underwater image maker access to the advanced capabilities of the LX100 camera, which despite it’s size, pack a significant wallop in terms of functionality. Video shooters should take special notice here – this system joins the Nauticam family of 4K capable video cameras. The NA-LX100 is ready to capture amazing Ultra HD video, whether it be in a pool, a stream or at 100m depth.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
Camera manufacturers continue to pack larger sensors and more competent image processing into compact cameras. The LX100 is an exciting example of just that, with perhaps more solid features per square inch than any other camera on the market. For starters, there is a true Four Thirds sensor, cleverly used to support the multiple aspect ratio creative option on the camera. Then there is the very fast lens (f1.7 at the wide end, and f/2.8 zoomed), with a very useful 24mm – 75mm equivalent range. Using the equivalent aperture comparison technique, this lens is on average at least a stop faster than Canon G7X and G1XII, Fujifilm X30, Sony RX100II and RX100III, and the Panasonic LX7, across the entire focal length. This graphic from DPReview illustrates the point.
But the biggest new feature here is 4K video. Panasonic has managed to squeeze 100Mbps 4K video into this compact camera. And unlike that ubiquitous POV camera, the u/w videographer gets control over things like the FOV (zoom), aperture, shutter speed, white balance, gain, photo style (contrast, saturation, noise reduction, sharpnes). Panasonic understands video, and it shows in this camera.
The LX100 is also interesting in how it manages aperture and shutter speed controls. With both of these, the dial is a click stop type, so for example, aperture can be set by looking at the dial itself, rather than or in addition to looking at the monitor. Instead of having a mode dial, the user simply choose a specific aperture, or sets the aperture to auto. Shutter speed is done similarly. This is actually a very elegant way of controlling exposure… rather than having to switch modes, the user simply decides whether he or she wants to use auto or manual aperture, manual shutter speed (or ISO for that matter).
Nauticam first “supported” the LX series with the LX5 in early 2011, recognizing the image quality and capabilities of this compact system. The housing for the LX7 followed suit in 2013. The NA-LX100 benefits from this lineage, and is the most refined of the LX housings to date. This is a compact underwater housing designed to allow the user to harness the full potential of advanced compact camera in water.
All of the basic functions and ergonomic enhancements that Nauticam users have grown to know and love are incorporated in NA-LX100. The housing is machined from a solid block of aluminum, then hard anodized to seal out corrosive salt water. It is closed via a simple, yet secure locking rotary latch. The right side of the housing is sculpted to fit the palm of the user’s hand, and Nauticam’s two-stage shutter release lever provides clear differentiation between the half press and full press shutter release positions. All functions are clearly labeled, and an M16 accessory socket allows an optional vacuum valve to be installed.
The LX100 camera presents some unique challenges to the housing designer – the aperture ring, aspect ratio dial, and on/off switch, in particular. Although this necessitates pre-setting these three controls when inserting or removing the camera, this housing does provide the user complete and very ergonomic control over these vital functions, even going so far as to label the stops/positions for all three controls.The NA-LX100, like the NA-G7X released earlier this month, features the new Nauticam interchangeable port system for compact cameras with long throw lenses. Called the “N50” mount, it allows optical solutions to be precisely dialed in for maximum performance in water. Ports are attached via a bayonet fitting, and locked securely in place.
Zoom lever lock.
The zoom lever is placed for easy access allowing the video maker smooth zooms. A locking ring prevents over zoom when using the short port.
This housing also includes handle brackets for use with the optional Flexitray or Easitray, providing additional stability – important when shooting high resolution video.The Nauticam leak alarm and vacuum monitoring system is installed as standard equipment. This system provides an audible and visual alert to any water entry in the housing, and when combined with an accessory M16 Vacuum Valve (#25612) the water tight integrity of the system can be tested before ever entering the water and monitored during every dive.
The NA-LX100 is the most rugged, ergonomic, and well designed option to take this powerful, yet compact camera underwater.
Is This the End of the Mini-Camcorder for Underwater Video?
For years, the small camcorder was the preferred way for many people to capture underwater video, but that has changed. With the advent of SLR, mirrorless, and now compact cameras that can shoot high quality video, there has been a seismic shift away from the camcorder. Now, with the LX100, a small and inexpensive beast of a video camera that can autofocus as well as most camcorders, the need for the expensive and bulky dedicated video recorder setup may indeed be over.
NA-LX100 Feature Checklist
Secure, easy to use locking latch
Ergonomic controls with size, shape and color differentiation
All camera controls accessible
All controls clearly labeled
Popup flash lever
Dual fiber optic bulkhead
Integrated leak detector and optional vacuum check
Cold shoe mount
Interchangeable port mount
Standard port offers full zoom through
1/4-20 tripod or tray mounting holes
Sculpted, sensitive shutter release
M16 bulkhead port for vacuum valve
Handle brackets for Added Stability
Handle Brackets shown with optional Flexitray and Right Handle.
The New N50 Port System
Because of the specific camera and lens function of the Panasonic LX100, a special port system is required to fully realize the potential of accessory wide angle lenses underwater.
The NA-LX100 “standard” port, supplied with the housing, allows full zoom through and is wide enough to be shot with the lens at full wide with no vignetting. An optional flip mounting attachment (25107 M67 Flip Diopter Holder for NA-LX100 Standard Port) allows use of standard accessory macro lenses. This port is ideal for mid-range fish portraiture style shooting, close-up, and macro with add on wet-lenses.
N50 Port System for NA-LX100, showing standard port, short port, and dome port.
A dome port solution is also available, restoring the in-air field of view of the lens with some zoom through possible. This is a lightweight configuration that offers a surprisingly wide angle of coverage. This port is called N50 3.5″ Acrylic Dome Port (#38702).
NA-LX100 shown with optional N50 3.5″ Acrylic Dome Port
An optional N50 Short Port with M67 Thread for Wide Angle Lenses (#38701) is also available, offering precise placement of wide wet-lenses very close to the camera’s lens at its wide angle zoom position. Zoom through is not available with this port, but it does offer the widest coverage possible with minimal vignetting for wide angle photography. Testing indicates that the Inon UWL-H100 (either in the m67 mount or the LD mount) is an ideal wide angle lens for the NA-LX100.
Compact Macro Converter
The Nauticam Super Macro Converter shook up the super macro shooter world last year when it was released, bringing more sharpness and less distortion to an underwater macro lens than had ever been seen before. Building on that success, Nauticam is nearing release of a new and similar lens, this time designed for compact camera lenses. The Nauticam Compact Macro Converter (CMC), as it will be called, will become the ideal closeup lens for this and other similar compact cameras.
Shot with NA-G7X and prototype Compact Macro Converter, by Alex Tattersall
Nauticam Vacuum Check System
Amazingly, the engineers at Nauticam managed to squeeze in the Nauticam vacuum monitoring and leak detection electronics. By default, it serves as an audible and visual leak detector, but add a Nauticam M16 Vacuum Valve, (p/n 25612) and it becomes a vacuum check system. The vacuum monitoring system provides early warning for any problem with watertight integrity – which means peace of mind when shooting underwater.
M16 Vacuum Valve
Enables vacuum check system, allowing for check of watertight integrity
Compact Macro Converter; add on lens that provides close focus macro with minimal distortion
M67 Flip Diopter Holder
Enables quick installation and removal of the CMC underwater by flipping lens in place or out of the way
Simple tray with comfortable rubberized hand grips
Adjustable tray with comfortable rubberized hand grips
Wider Flexitray, also allows for tripod use
Right handle for Easitray or Flexitray
Ball for Easi/Flexitray
1″ Mounting ball for either tray, allows mounting strobes/lights using Nauticam arms/clamps
Comfortable handstrap for right side of housing
Longer version of handstrap for larger hands
Enlarge the view of the LCD; easy to see in bright sun, and can adjust diopter
LCD Magnifier Rails
Allows installation of LCD Magnifier
Ball adapter (Inon)
Allows mounting of Inon strobe
Nauticam mounting hardware
Carbon fiber buoyancy arms
Arm that provides extra buoyancy to offset heavy lights or strobes
Fiber optic cable for Inon Strobe
Allows fast, accurate automatic flash exposure (TTL) over fiber, with no sync cables to flood or corrode
Fiber optic cable for Sea&Sea strobe
Allows fast, accurate automatic flash exposure (TTL) over fiber, with no sync cables to flood or corrode
Recommended Third Party Accessories from Inon, Keldan, i-Torch
Inon UWL-H100 28m67 type 2
Recommended wide angle wet mount lens
Powerful, reliable strobe with excellent coverage
Smallest strobe, ideal for travel
Imaging light with Wide & Red light options
Keldan Video 4X
Compact 6000 lumen video light
25107 M67 Flip Diopter Holder for NA-LX100 Standard Port
Details and Specifications
Depth Rating: 100m
Dimension: 180mm (W) x 128mm (H) x 140mm (D)
Model Number: 17710 USA Retail Price: $1200 + local TAX & VAT Available Jan 20, 2015
Lars KirkegaardLars is one of Scandinavia's very experienced photo/videographers with many years of working as both an active member of the Scandinavian Underwater Community, an underwater photographer, studio photographer, TV-videographer and as a Graphic Arts specialist.
Owner of FOTOGRAFIT.eu