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First Look – Ikelite Housing for Panasonic Lumix GH3

Ikelite has introduced a new housing for the Lumix DMC-GH3 camera. For those unfamiliar with Panasonic’s range-topping series of Micro Four Thirds cameras, the GH3 is the highly anticipated replacement of their GH2 which set the benchmark for many independent film makers as a highly capable/low cost HD video camera.  Like the GH2, the new GH3 offers those same tools and more to meet the needs of both indie filmmakers and photographers alike. You can learn more about the GH3, following this link: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Review

Ikelite housing for Panasonic  Lumix DMC-GH3 camera

Ikelite housing for Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 camera

To harness the full capabilities of the camera in the underwater environment, Ikelite’s housing for the GH3 is packed with a host of features, yet is also a very affordable system with a suggested retail price of $1,500 US (Camera, lens and lens ports not included).

Ikelite DS-160 Strobe

Ikelite DS-160 Strobe

To be expected from Ikelite, the GH3 housing includes full TTL or “Through-The-Lens” flash metering with Ikelite TTL compatible strobes.  When the GH3 is set to this mode, the housing translates direct electrical impulses from the camera to a TTL-enabled  external flash, allowing the camera to adjust exposure more accurately without the need to pre fire the camera’s flash. In-line communication between the strobe and the camera completely eliminates signal interference and false triggering that is caused by light rays bouncing off the water’s surface or another diver’s flash going off. Avoiding the need to fire the camera’s built-in flash also prolongs battery life and reduces recycle time between shots.

Rear view of Ikelite's new housing for Panasonic's GH3 camera.

Rear view of Ikelite’s new housing for Panasonic’s GH3 camera.

Exposure adjustments can be made directly through the back of the housing, allowing the photographer to either tweak the exposure slightly or take total control without taking a hand off the housing. Two pushbuttons below the camera’s LCD viewfinder act as a remote control for Ikelite DS-series strobes*. Access is provided to plus/minus exposure compensation in TTL mode, along with seven manual power settings in half-stop increments. Strobe settings are indicated by a series of LED lights and are plainly visible even at night.

Controls are customized to put all important camera functions within comfortable reach. Unlike other housings currently on the market, the Ikelite housing brings video record start/stop and AF lock out to the side of the housing for quick thumb access without requiring the user to take a hand off of the handles. Translating the movement via a lever control ensures that the video will start and stop without the shakiness typically caused by rear push button action.

Front view of Ikelite's GH3 housing

Front view of Ikelite’s GH3 housing

For a system such as this, Ikelite recommends a tray with dual handles is essential to good handling, underwater balance  and the attachment of external lighting. Aa aluminum tray with right- and left-hand rubberized grips is included with the  housing, providing a comfortable holding position, two quick release points for strobe and video arms, and tripod attachment holes. The complete handle assembly removes with just two screws for traveling.

An oversized knob smoothly engages a unique system of universal zoom gears. Two zoom sets are provided with each housing: one for use with most popular larger diameter zoom lenses and one designed for use with smaller diameter zoom lenses. Both sets are lightweight and easy to install with no modification to the lens required. A variety of dome and flat ports attach with four locking latches for maximum security and quick changes between dives.

Since the beginning (mid 1960’s) of the underwater photographic revolution Ikelite has been synonymous for their clear, see-through housings that combined durability with an affordable price, with features suitable for anyone from neophyte to pro photographers. Today, the polycarbonate blends used in Ikelite housings and strobes have become more specialized to produce clear and lightweight enclosures that are extremely strong.  And there’s no substitute for inspecting the actual o-ring seal once the housing is closed; a 100 percent clear back provides visual confirmation that the housing is watertight and dry before entering the water, as well as a full view of the camera while diving. The heavy-duty polycarbonate housing never bubbles or flakes and is fundamentally corrosion-resistant.

Like every Ikelite product, the Panasonic Lumix GH3 housing (model 6860.03) is designed, manufactured and assembled by hand in the USA, and each unit is individually tested for fit, function and waterproof integrity. The average assembly technician is a certified scuba diver and has over 16 years of experience building Ikelite products. Each Ikelite housing is backed with over 50 years of experience and service within the dive industry.


Suggested Retail Price for the housing is $1,500
(Camera, lens and lens port not included). Photos and specifications for this housing (Product No. 6860.03) as well as all other housing models can be found at

* Requires current model Ikelite DS Substrobe. Click here for strobe requirements by serial number. TTL circuitry does not operate with non-Ikelite strobes. Non-Ikelite strobes provide manual exposure only.

About the author  ⁄ Walt Stearns

Walt Stearns started as a freelance photojournalist in 1985. Over the span of his career, Walt Stearns has become known as one of the most prolific and frequently published photojournalists in boating, fishing and diving media, with more than 8,000 articles and 20,00 images published, as well as video work for broadcast outlets such as the Discovery Channel and the BBC to producers like Wild Horizon’s Ltd. Connect with me on Google+

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