While DSLRs give photographers great creative freedom and image quality, the cameras themselves don't cope too well with being exposed to excessive amounts of sand, mud, water or snow – which can be a pain if you get your kicks from shooting things like extreme sports. Outex is a weather and modular waterproof housing system for DSLRs that works much like a drysuit for your camera, and can protect your gear underwater to a depth of 10 meters (33 feet). The new "Big O" adds a big Outex LCD viewfinder window to the system.
Over the past couple of years, Outex has built up a loyal following of professional photographers who have opted for its unique camera housing over more traditional and often expensive underwater housings. Its camera-condom-like covers – which are made from a special latex compound with seals for the lens and viewfinder – have been used to shoot for clients including National Geographic, Red Bull and VOGUE, as well as the U.S. armed forces.
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The firm recently entered the collective photography consciousness after launching its new product, the Big O, on Kickstarter, and exceeding its funding goal in less than a week. The Big O differs from other Outex offerings in that it adds a large viewing window on the rear, providing visibility of the viewfinder and LCD screen (rather than just the viewfinder) – meaning it can now also be used by videographers and stills photographers who like to constantly check what they've shot.
The Big O is part of the Outex modular system, which sees users buying the right-sized housing for their camera body, and then the corresponding optics for their lens and viewfinder. Once the optics are fitted to the lens thread and viewfinder, the latex cover is pulled over the camera, and the outer rings attach to create airtight seals. Outex housings allow cameras to be used in conditions in which you wouldn't normally want to risk a pricey DSLR, including underwater, and have been IP08 tested to a depth of 10 m (33 ft).
Compared to traditional underwater cases, Outex options are generally smaller, lighter, cheaper, and offer a more tactile experience; the camera's buttons and rings can still easily be controlled through the latex. Although users will not be able to see their controls – so not a good option for absolute beginners – its makers say using an encased camera is like driving at night, in that you don't need to look at the gearshift, pedals, or steering wheel.
Outex housing systems are available for most major DSLR brands and body sizes, and there's also the ability to use a cover that extends around your flash, or lets you still use a tripod mount. Various kits are available online from Outex starting at US$250, but it will take a pledge of $375 on Kickstarter to get you the Big O, which is due to start shipping to backers from June, 2013.
The Big O pitch video can be viewed below.