This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase after clicking on these links, I receive compensation at no cost to you. Thank you for helping to make these free tutorials possible!
Shooting with a waterproof camera case was top on my list of things to do when we drove the Pacific Coast Highway last summer. I’ve seen so many inspirational photos taken in the surf or in tide pools – I really wanted to see what the process was like.
In this article, I’ll review the Digipac Waterproof Camera Case and give you some tips that I learned the hard way. Don’t try to use this case without reading through my suggestions for using it!
Dicapac Waterproof Camera Case Review
After lots of research, I bought this Dicapac case because of the combination of good reviews and a good price.
The model I purchased and link to in this article is the size that works for my Olympus OMD EM5 mirrorless camera. Make sure you choose the size you need before ordering!
If you are in the market, it’s important to distinguish between “waterproof” and “underwater” before you shop. Waterproof means that your camera shouldn’t get wet while it’s in the case, even if you submerge the camera. Underwater cases, on the other hand, are solid and protect against the water pressure that will be exerted on your camera if you are deep underwater – when you scuba dive, for instance.
I’m not a diver, so I didn’t need a hard case. And that’s a good thing – they start at about $1000!
As one clever Amazon reviewer said, the Dicapac Waterproof Camera Case is a glorified zip lock bag. And that’s pretty much true! It is flexible plastic – sturdier than zip locks, of course. The plastic is similar to the clear plastic rafts that you see in pools during the summer.
In spite of its similarity to a sandwich bag, the case worked well. It protected my camera, first and foremost, and I used it to take some photos that I am proud of.
Below are some observations I made while using this camera case.
- The instructions say that you should test your case before using it. And I did. I stuffed it with paper towels, sealed it up and let it float in a full sink for an hour or two. After the soaking, I inspected the paper towel. It was perfectly dry. That calmed my nerves about getting my camera wet.
- Sealing the case takes several steps. More on that below. While the process felt low-tech, it worked. Even after using it several times, my camera stayed dry each use.
- Putting the camera into the case is like zipping your child into a too-small winter coat when he has all his layers underneath. It takes pushing, tugging, stuffing, and frustration, and it’s essential you get it right the first time.
- The case has a removable lens protector with clear polycarbonate at the end for your camera lens to shoot through. It also includes an extension tube so that you can shoot with a “longer” lens. Read on to see why “longer” is in quotes!
- I used my Olympus OMD-EM5 with this case. I was able to shoot with my physically shortest lens, the 25mm, with the lens extension tube. However, even with that tube, both my 12-50mm and my 40-150mm were too large. This case is not meant for long zoom lenses, or short ones, for that matter. (Of course, each mirrorless camera and lens combo is different. You should compare the case specs to your lens sizes before you buy.)
- The case has a finger insert so that you can reach the shutter button with your right index finger. You could possibly change any settings that are near the shutter button, but it wouldn’t be easy.
- The makers of the case say that the polycarbonate lens is “dustproof, fogproof, sandproof, snowproof, waterproof.” I was worried about the lens protector fogging up, and it didn’t! The image quality was not significantly different than shooting without the case.
- The case comes with a couple of desiccant packages to insert as the case dries. Many people order extra packages.
Waterproof Camera Case Review Summary
The most important thing I can tell you about this case (after the fact that it does protect your camera), is that you won’t be able to pop the camera in the case, take some “wet” photos, take the camera out of the case for regular photos, and then put it back into the case right away. Especially f you are at a sandy beach!
You need to know going into this process that it is awkward and a hassle and not something you want to do several times a day, especially if you are on vacation. From what I can tell, all waterproof cases are equally as frustrating to use.
If you are reading this article, odds are that your heart is already set on taking some sort of underwater photos. If that’s the case, you just need confirmation that your camera will be safe. And yes, my camera was definitely safe using this case. It stayed clean and dry.
While I did take many photos with the entire camera or just the lens underwater, I found that I enjoyed the flexibility of being able to take photos of my kids playing in the water without worrying about getting the camera wet. I also liked photos that were taken just above the surface of the water, maybe as a wave was rolling in. My point is that you will get a lot of use out of a waterproof case even if you aren’t trying to shoot creatures on the ocean floor or kids underwater in the pool.
Also, the lens will inevitably get water drops on it. I found that I loved the bokeh created by these water droplets. Don’t feel like you need to clean that lens every time you bring the camera out of the water.
Ok, that’s my review. The case worked. If you are going to use this or any other waterproof case, prepare yourself for some hassle. Prepare yourself for some amazing photos, too!
My Best Tips for Shooting with the Dicapac Waterproof Camera Case
My favorite thing about shooting with this case wasn’t just the photos. The process was challenging. I had to think hard about camera settings, camera placement, focus, and how to get the best photo given my environmental constraints.
In my Guided 365 class, we work had to make setting exposure, focusing, and composing a great photo subconscious. If you don’t have to think so hard about settings, it’s much easier to create a work of art. However, things can get boring when you work by rote. I enjoyed the challenge of making these shots work.
Here is what I learned from trial and error – I hope these tips save you some time.
Test the Case
This is an easy one. When you test the case in your sink, put rocks or something heavy inside the paper towel. Otherwise, the case will float and won’t be tested on all sides.
Set the Camera Before You Do Anything Else
I totally learned this one the hard way. While you can access some of the settings on your camera using the finger insert, you can’t do much. This insert was made for pushing the shutter button and not much else. This is how I set my camera.
- I suggest shooting in Raw. Underwater white balance is tough! Raw files will provide better white balance edits. It will be easier to adjust exposure as well, and you will need it!
- Use either Aperture or Shutter priority mode on your camera. Manual mode requires too many exposure changes. This won’t be possible.
- I shot on Aperture mode. Most of my photos were taken at f/6.3, and the others at f/14. I chose f/6.3 because I wanted a depth of field deep enough that I wouldn’t miss focus easily. I used f/14 only when I was taking photos of the setting sun and wanted to capture a starburst. Don’t make your aperture so small that you have to slow down the shutter speed – it’s hard to hold that camera still when it’s in the waves!
- Switch your camera to manual focus. Yes, you heard that correctly. Manual focus. The kind where you spin your lens dial with your hand in order to set focus. If you let your camera autofocus, even if you choose a particular spot to focus on, it will focus on the water droplets that get on the case’s lens protector. On manual focus, you won’t be able to spin the lens ring in order to focus. Instead, set your focus on something at a given distance in front of you. Why? Remember that cameras focus on a distance, not a subject. So, if you set focus on something that is 2 feet in front of you, you will know to position your camera 2 feet in front of anything you want to shoot. Once you manually focus, your focus won’t change again until you change it. Yes, it is limiting to have to place every subject a set distance from your camera, but it’s the best solution I found.
- Now, if the lens is completely underwater each time you shoot, the droplets won’t be an issue. In this case, you might try to set your focus on the middle focus point and center all of your subjects. However, as I said above, I liked shooting just above the water much more than I expected to. You won’t be able to shoot above the water without using manual focus OR cleaning your lens protector each time it gets wet.
Insert the Camera into the Case & Seal It
Now that you’ve set your camera, let’s stuff it into the case.
- Do this indoors if you can. Since you need to take the lens off of the camera body, you want to avoid getting sand or dust onto your sensor.
- Remove the lens protector from the case.
- Unvelco, unfold and unzip the case.
- Turn on the camera and set it using the tips above.
- Turn off the camera.
- Remove any lens filters that you might have – if you use them with this waterproof case, your image quality will suffer.
- Remove the lens from the camera.
- Insert the camera body into the case.
- Attach the lens to the camera.
- Attach the lens protector onto the case, using the extension if necessary.
- Place the included foam spacers under your camera if it needs to be higher.
- Work the air out of the case.
- Seal the zip lock. (This step is what gives zip lock baggies their name. Line up the ridge on one side of the bag with the groove on the other side and pinch them together.)
- Roll down the top tightly and velcro.
- You’ll have to practice shooting blind. My Guided 365 students know all about this. There are times when you just can’t look through your viewfinder, so you need to think in terms of what the camera is looking at rather than what you are looking at.
- Take several photos of each subject, changing your distance from it and your perspective between each. Shoot from above, below, at the same level as, etc. Changing your distance is important so that you can make sure that some of your shots are in focus – remember that you are focusing for a specific distance rather than a specific subject.
- Carry a small towel on your shoulder (if you won’t go completely underwater yourself) so that you can clean the lens. This is especially important if you are shooting above the water – you’ll need to remove the water droplets. The polycarbonate lens protectors are fairly scratch resistant, but if you want to be extra careful, consider using a large microfiber glass cloth. (Don’t use this cloth on your camera lenses – just on the lens protector case!)
- Consider leaving the droplets on the lens protector for some shots so that you can play with the resulting bokeh.
- Make gentle movements with your feet, or wait for the sand to settle after you move to a new position.
- And of course, respect & protect the life you find in tidal pools or anywhere else underwater.
- When you are finished shooting (remember that you aren’t going to take your camera out and put it back in quickly), follow these steps to remove your camera:
- Dry the surface of the case.
- Release the velcro and unroll the top without releasing the zip lock.
- Dry the case again to make sure that there is no water left that might fall on your camera as you remove it. Make sure to dry the top and the lens protector areas very well.
- Remove the lens protector.
- Take the lens off your camera.
- Hold the case upside down and remove the camera in a downward direction.
- Release the zip lock.
- Take your camera out of the case.
- Replace the lens and any lens filters that you removed.
- Make sure your camera is perfectly dry.
- You should dry the case completely before using it again. This is where those desiccant packs come in handy.
- Inspect the case for any holes or wear and tear before using it again.
Ok. That’s my Dicapac Waterproof Camera Case review. If you have questions – or you have other tips to make shooting with it easier – use the comments below.
Want more free tutorials like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for my email list using this form. You’ll receive your first of many benefits from being a Digital Photography for Moms subscriber: access to my freebies library, where you’ll find actions for Photoshop & Photoshop Elements, presets for Lightroom, and much more!
You’ll also receive weekly newsletters and news about photography learning opportunities.
After you sign up, check your email for a message asking you to confirm that you want to subscribe to my email list. Click the link to confirm, and you’ll receive info on downloading your freebies after that.