Ewa Marine underwater scuba diving video camera housing, $5.

Many companies, like Ikelite and Sealife, make underwater camera cases. Some major camera companies also make underwater cases for their own cameras, like the Sony Marine Pack. These cases are very expensive because they must protect your very expensive camera. It can literally pay you well to know a bit about them so you'll know them when you see them!

Most people have already seen the hard plastic cases designed to hold a regular non-waterproof 35mm or digital camera so that it can be used for underwater photography. These cases are usually two pieces of hard plastic that clamp securely together, 'clamshell' style, with a rubber gasket to seal the two halves. The camera is inserted into the case, and the user controls the camera's different functions through various knobs and buttons that contact the corresponding controls on the camera inside.

That's the kind of underwater camera case I'm used to seeing, anyway. So I confess that I can't remember ever seeing one of these unusual Ewa Marine cases. This Ewa Marine case is made from thick, soft plastic, and to insert the camera inside, you just remove the three screws that secure the aluminum bars at the top, insert the camera, and then re-secure the bars to form the seal. Since the bag is made from a soft plastic, the controls are manipulated just as if you were holding the camera without a case.

At first glance, it doesn't look like this Ewa Marine case could really cost that much, does it? After all, it's just a rubber bag that keeps your video camera dry so that you can use it down to 33 feet underwater. And if I'd seen the ubiquitous 'Made in China' sticker anywhere, I wouldn't have bothered with it at all. But closer inspection reveals that this is a really high-quality setup. First of all, the front window is made from glass, and that sealing mechanism at the top is made from two pieces of aluminum channel that screw together very securely.

And then I noticed that little badge on the bottom of the case, which was the final indicator that this thing may be worth the five bucks the seller was asking for it. That little badge tells me that Ewa Marine cases are made in Germany, and what's also interesting is the fact that these bags are individually serial numbered. That little badge just looks expensive, doesn't it?

My close inspection of this case seemed to indicate that this case had never even been used. And when it comes to materials that could be subject to damage or wear, like the soft plastic of this case, inspection is very important!

Here's a final point that you must take into consideration when a seller is asking more than a few dollars for his or her underwater case. Underwater camera cases, especially the hard plastic varieties, are not 'one size fits all' designs. Because of its shape, and the locations of its various controls, each camera model requires a case specifically designed to fit that camera.

For a few dollars, I say just pay the money and take your chances. However, always be aware that a case you're looking at might fit a camera model that's obsolete, or maybe one that wasn't even that popular with consumers when it was first introduced. But at least in the case of Ewa Marine, the model of camera that the case fits is stated on the label.

This Ewa Marine soft case sold on eBay for $43.

Photo of Ewa Marine underwater camera case