QUICK REVIEW: “WHITE LABEL” NB MK-S100 PRO HOUSING VS CANON WP-DC43
Here’s a story of what Canon should learn from others
For some weeks now I have had on my table an unbranded white box with an unbranded underwater housing inside that is the shape and size, almost an exact copy of the Canon WP-DC43 casing for the extremely popular PowerShot S100 camera. The housing is made in China (so is the WP-DC43) and is called, according to the user manual, the MK-S100 and on the housing there is a text that reads – NB-S100 pro. I’m not sure what the NB stands for but it sounds to me like it could stand for “Non-Branded”. Also my sources in Beijing say that in Beijing slang NB can also mean “fu*** good” . Whichever or neither is nearer the truth we might never know
The housing itself has the same 40m depth rating and all the same controls and accessories that you get with the original WP-DC43 housing. Although the housing seems to be intentionally copied from the WP-DC43 there are three big differences, which makes this product interesting and is also the reason why I’m writing about it. The NB-S100 housing is like an evolutionary DC43 housing with all the bits Canon should have added to their housings aeons ago. Firstly and most importantly the housing comes with a 67mm port thread for wet lenses, so you could actually use Inon or whatever brand lenses on the camera without spending extra for lens adapters. The makers of the housing have simply replaced the useless front bezel on Canon’s version, which is there only for looks and whacked on a hard plastic ring with 67mm thread. Secondly the housing comes with two Sea&Sea- type fibre optic cable adapters for your external strobes. This is such a simple thing to add to any housing and should come as standard on every one. The final handy thing is the accessory shoe for spotting lights; the NB-S100pro comes with a small and sturdy metal shoe for all your night diving needs. Why oh why Canon don’t you put these things on your housings?
Another strange difference is an extra button on the top of the housing. It looks to me like the case was originally made for the canon S95 camera as it had the ring function button next to the power button on the top. The S100 has now lost this button but apart from that is almost exactly like its previous incarnation, the beloved S95, which despite misleading articles of late, is no longer available. The user manual also mentions the S95 model but as I don’t have any S95’s laying about I can’t be sure if this model would actually fit an S95. Next time I get my hands on one I will try. There are some other minor differences like the strangely thick O-ring and the housing clasps which seem to vary from the original design but in my hand it feels just like WP-DC43. In use, I’ve noticed some small differences also. For example, the buttons are harder to press, which might be due to the stronger shaft springs. This is not necessarily a bad thing as many Canon housings are subject to sticking buttons once they get older especially if they have not been cleaned carefully. With tougher springs this could be avoided to some extent. I did have some trouble with the front control wheel knob as the teeth of the gears seem to be slipping against the S100 control wheel. With a bit of a push while turning the control it is still useable but not as smooth as the original housing. Otherwise the housing feels in use as nice any Canon WP model.
To use the Canon WP-DC43 housing with a lens and an external strobe unit you need to spend at least an extra £150 just for the adaptors. With NB-S100 pro housing you get all this and the housing costs in the UK only £20 more than Canon’s version. Canon should learn from this housing. It has all the bits a proper underwater housing should have. These add-ons can’t be that expensive that to add that them would justify their elimination from the designing process. To me this is just pure ignorance on Canon’s part. The designer-copycat of the “Non-brand” housing seems to understand underwater photography or at least is humble enough to listen to the customer’s needs.
The NB-S100 pro is a decent purchase if you can get your hands on one. Be quick though as Canon’s pan-global unnecessarily-violent copyright police force (if such thing exists) might be getting ready to raid the NB-brand’s lair somewhere in the deepest and darkest corner of Shenzhen.