Since the birth of the Sony’s RX100 range, Canon compact cameras have been considered somewhat lower spec in comparison. They have also been quite a bit cheaper than the Sony cameras although they have shared the same Sony-made sensors. The RX100 range of cameras have sported a superior video functionality as most of them have been capable of high bit-rate UHD footage for some time now. Canon compacts like the G9X MKII and the G7X MKII came only with rather basic 1080p capabilities. The company is now finally stepping up their game with the new PowerShot G7X MKIII, that has the ability to capture 4K footage at 30fps. The new G7X MKIII camera inches closer to its rivals like the RX100 MK VA in functionality while still being slightly cheaper. On paper, the G7X III should be the perfect underwater compact camera and I’m sure there will be lots of housings available for this model, but as usual, Nauticam has managed to bring theirs out first.
Canon G7X MKIII Features
Apart from the newly acquired ability to capture UHD video footage, the G7X MKIII has not changed much from the previous very popular MKII. From the outside, the camera looks very similar. With the two cameras side-by-side you can see that the new MKIII version has a re-designed larger front ring, which might be the main reason why new housings are required. On the top of the new G7XIII you can also see the slit of the newly designed and improved stereo mike.
The G7X MKIII has gained a new DIGIC 8 processor and newly designed stacked 1” CMOS sensor that lets you capture up to 30 frames per second in fixed focus mode. This mode will also work in RAW. I can definitely see some use of this rapid-fire mode in water as long as you remember that no external UW strobe can keep up with this.
The MKIII lens is still the same fast 24 - 100 mm f/1.8 - 2.8 glass that could be found on the previous version. Although this lens appears to be a perfect point and shoot lens for general use, in water, inside the housing it is less so. Due to its design and size, there are some limitations when it comes to using external wet-interchangeable lenses. More on this later.
Nauticam NA-G7XIII Housing features.
The biggest new feature with the Nauticam’s housing for the Canon G7X MKIII is that it can also be purchased as the so-called Pro package. Almost all Sony and Panasonic compact housings by Nauticam, for a while now, have been available as the Pro package that include the Flexitray handles with strobe ball mounts and the vacuum leak check valve. These packages proved to be extremely popular as 90% of my customers have opted for these instead of the housing on its own. You can save a chunk of money by buying the all-important accessories in one go. One of the biggest draws for the Pro packages has been the extremely handy Nauticam trigger extension, which has shipped with the housing but can only really be used with the Pro package (or by separately getting the parts in the pro package). I’m glad that Nauticam has decided to offer the NA-G7XIII housing with this option.
With the NA-G7XIII housing, like with all Nauticam compact housings you get essentially the same features that come with the company’s professional DSLR housing, but just in a smaller scale. The NA-G7XIII housing is extremely ergonomic and easy to use in water. All the buttons are easy to reach and control. The integrated vacuum leak check/moisture alarm is also included and the vacuum leak check valve is pre-installed on the M14 bulkhead (note that if you buy the housing as “non-pro” the valve is not included).
The NA-G7XIII also includes the exchangeable N50 port system. This port system is Nauticam’s answer to the well-known lens issues with the Canon G7X range cameras. Due to the long and physically quite large lens on the G7X MKIII most external wide-angle lenses are unusable with the camera once it is inside a fixed port. The lens simply sits too far back from the port glass when in the wide-angle position and instead of taking pictures through the external lens you end up taking pictures of the rear of the external lens. This means that many standard wide-angle and fisheye lenses like the Inon UWL-H100, the Weefine WFL-02 and the Fantasea/AOI UWL-400 simply do not work. Their lens elements are too small and are designed to work only when the “internal” camera lens is very near.
Nauticam’s simple solution is to change to a shorter port. The housings ships with the standard port that allows the full movement of the lens. But if you want to add a wide-angle lens then you need to get the N50 short port. This shorter port limits the camera zoom to about 55mm but allows the use of even smaller diameter wide-angle lenses. The downside is that if you try to zoom too much the lens touches the port glass from inside and you will need to restart the camera. The N50 short port is available with M67 thread for 3rd party lenses and now also with Nauticam’s own bayonet system aimed for the WWL-1 lens. Also available is an N50 3.5” dome port which allows the use of the full zoom range while keeping the original view angle of the lens. This might be a good choice, especially for videographers.
There is now a small crop of large diameter wet wide-angle lenses on the market that could be used with the standard port or with any other future fixed port Canon G7XIII housing. At least Fantasea is bringing out one soon. These lenses like the Weefine WFL-01 and the aforementioned Nauticam WWL-1 can be used to a satisfactory result with a long port. However, the image quality is never as good as with the shortened port as you will need to zoom in a bit to get rid of the black edges. Quite a bit of softness is also visible at the edges of the frame, especially with larger apertures. Stopping down your aperture as much as possible with these lenses is a must. Another downside is, of course, the size of these lenses. They are big and heavy! Also, they are not cheap! In my opinion, these lenses should only be used in case you can’t use the short port for some reason.
The G7X MKIII will undoubtedly be a popular camera underwater and while the Nauticam housing is the only case currently available many other companies will follow. Fantasea has already said that they will bring one out although this housing will be a fixed port on and not great for wide-angle work. An up and coming Italian company Isotta already had a removable port housing for the G7X MKII. I’d be surprised if they wouldn’t introduce a housing for the new model soon.
It’s worth remembering that the port/lens size is only an issue with wide-angle lenses. Most M67 close-up lenses can be used without issues.