I recently used the new AquaTech sound blimp SBC-5D for Canon 5D Mark II. The blimp is a departure from the long standard Jacobson blimp. The Jacobson blimp is a box and the AquaTech blimp is a form fitting case like a large firm glove around the camera. Overall, the AquaTech sound blimp is a pleasure to use. It looks and feels like an oversized DSLR. The hand straps allow for comfortable hand holding of the body, and the contoured shape is easy to grip.
The body has four points of control: the shutter release button, a rear playback button, the rear dial, and the back button (the asterisk or star button typically used for AE lock or focus lock.) The shutter button is a large fat button in the expected spot. It triggers the shutter via an internal release cable. It surprisingly requires a very firm press to trigger. It would be great to have the button be easier to press to help minimize camera shake. The playback button works great. It’s a metal button on the back that pushes through the case and presses the camera's playback button to review images. The back of the case has a rear window fitted for the lcd so you don’t lose the ability to review images when your camera is encased in the sound blimp. The rear dial first requires a press in motion before it will engage. This is to prevent accidentally changing your aperture. A clever design and it works well. The rear dial can cycle through images when in playback mode.
One great benefit of the AquaTech sound blimp is the lens barrels will zoom your lens when spun. This is a huge advantage in the field if you might need to change your focal length, and allows various crops of your subject if your stuck in one spot while shooting. Attaching the lens barrel is as simple as spinning it onto the body. To remove, a slight pull is required with an unscrewing motion.
I found attaching and removing the lens from the camera difficult. You can not pull or push the lens through the opening so you must remove and attach the lens each time. To attach the lens, you must first insert the camera to the AquaTech body then attach the lens around the front. This means of course your shutter is exposed. Around the lens opening, there is some padding and the fit is tight to get a lens through. To remove the lens, it’s difficult to press the lens release button on the camera. This is a design trade-off of having a fitted sound blimp body. The difficulty in attaching and removing the lens needs to be considered when planning a shoot. If you need to change lenses or remove your camera from the blimp, then plan on taking time or have an extra body and lens combination. Also, consider that noise is made when opening the sound blimp and removing body.
The camera shutter noise is not perfectly silent when shooting photos in the AquaTech sound blimp. It is muffled. If your expecting complete silence, you’ll be disappointed. However, I’ve used the camera on a film set and it was more than adequate. At a certain distance, the noise is barely perceptible.
Note the Canon 5D Mark III body will fit in AquaTech’s sound blimp for the 5D Mark II. You will lose two controls, the rear dial and the back button because they do not align. I typically use the back button for focus, so not having that button means using the shutter button for focus. The playback button works normally, but the window for the lcd is off center and will slightly crop into your viewable image. Not having the rear dial, means you can’t change aperture or review images past your last shot. If you want to use the 5D Mark III, it is perfectly workable in this housing.
In brief, The AquaTech sound blimp is a winner and a much welcomed product. The comfort, ease of use, controls, and ability to zoom lenses is a huge relief to photographers needing a sound blimp.