NIKON 1 J3 underwater & nikon WP-N2 housing review


i have been diving and taking pictures with my nikon1 j3.

It was my first serious underwater camera  ( apart from my 3 d camera, 3d camcorder, and my new sony a7 full frame).

I used to have a go pro. But I drop it after discovering the go pro have a distortion underwater, and cannot take still photos properly, and cannot allow you to get access to creative  controls. Even in video wide angle, there are distortions and peripheral astigmatism, possibly due to the flat design lenses and housing of the go pro.

My old gopro got flooded, do to weakness of the closing mechanism, so watch out for the closing mechanism. if in doubt, buy a new housing for the gopro.

this is my usual set up: (my camera)




NIKON 1 J3 review:


why i like the nikon 1 j3 for underwater:

  • very fast autofocus. nikon 1 series are the only few cameras that both have the phase and contrast autofocus built in. The focus is versatile, precise and fast, making it faster than most dslr. Fast autofocus is important for underwater use, as most fish areshy and swim very fast away.
  • the ONLY camera i know of, that can be taken underwater, that can record full HD video, and allow you to take snapshot pictures in FULL resolution at the same time!  This function allow the underwater cameraman to get both those previous videos moment and still photos. Other cameras only take snapshot in 2 meg if you are shooting video at the same time
  • It also allow shooting still in difficult situation (whale sharks, fluo) where there is a lot movements or currents, and in situations where like most divers, you do not have the luxury of time, or private guide, so you only have a few seconds to make the shot and at the same time taking video of that rare animal behavior
  • Very easy to change settings underwater. It has a recent memory changes function. you can recall the most used changes in 1-2 click
  • it allow TRUE underwater panoramic picture. very easy to make, just scan. can the DSLR do that? panoramic underwater photos are so cool
  • the image sharpness is great
  • It allow versatility of video: allow you to shoot super slow mo, or at 400fps. Very useful for rare subject like stargazer or other animal feeding behavior

So can your DSLR do all that while keeping a small form factor to be able for snorkeling whale shark?

The weakness of the nikon1 j3 underwater:

  • shooting with flash only allow shutter sync 1/60, making the creative control of the background more difficult (getting black background)
  • camera heats up if you do continuos video after 35 min. it has a auto turn off feature. Heat is a problem with the small nikon diving housing wpn2
  • resolution is less than full frame sony A7 (my other new full frame underwater camera)
  • limited lens selection with the underwater housing, only 10-30mm available

THE TECH SPECS of nikon 1 j3:

effective Pixels

14.2 million
Sensor Size

13.2mm x 8.8mm
Image Sensor Format

Storage Media

Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution

15 frames per second with AF; 30/60 fps with focus locked on first frame
ISO Sensitivity


HD: 1920 x 1080/60i
HD: 1920 x 1080/30p
HD: 1280 x 720/60p
HD: 1280 x 720/30p
Slow-motion: 640 x 240/400fps
Slow-motion: 320 x 120/1200fps
Motion Snapshot: 1920 x 1080/60p (plays at 24p)
Audio file format: ACC
Movie file format: MOV
Monitor Size

3.0 in. diagonal
Monitor Type

TFT-LCD with brightness adjustment
Battery / Batteries

EN-EL20 Lithium-ion Battery
Approx. Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth)

4.0 in. (101 mm) x 2.4 in. (60.5 mm) x 1.1 in. (28.8 mm)

Approx. Weight

7.1 oz. (201 g)


NIKON WP-N2 Waterproof Housing:

WP_N2_front.high images img_01 product_02 images (1)

pros of the nikon wp n2 underwater housings:

  • versatile
  • small and extremely light
  • nikon made, all the controls are easy to change.
  • Shutter button is a lever and very responsive
  • standard 67 mm thread. allow you to put wet lenses, macro, uv filter and remove it underwater
  • has cold shoe for spot light or other accessories mount
  • DUAL optical out for flash, allow TTL shoots, very convenient
  • tinted screen allow to see the lcd and preview pictures easily and accurately underwater
  • comes with all the required accessories
  • locking mechanism is easy and fool proof
  • O ring so far has been good, minimal maintenance required


  • Inside the waterproof housing, the nikon j3 heat up easily after more than 30 min of continuous video
  • then you have to wait up to 5 min for the camera to cools down.  Possibly missing crucial shots
  • zoom sometimes works, sometimes don’t. Not as responsive
  • difficult to order replacement O ring for this case (hello nikon ??!)






2 thoughts on “NIKON 1 J3 underwater & nikon WP-N2 housing review”

  1. Hi. Thanks for your great review & pics.
    I was thinking of buying a J3 & WP-N2 (heavily discounted).
    RE: the 1/60 sec flash sync; is that the fastest it shoots ? However I would have thought that at 1/60 & slower you would be getting “too much ambient light” in the background sometimes instead of black background. On a main UW expert photo website they said that 1/60 is quite normal sync to use. I wanted to clarify this – in case it is the deal breaker issue to force me to look at better (but too expensive) options.
    The reason why I am keen on the J3 is that the WP-N2 takes the 2 stage wide angle wet lens combo options; UWL 100 & Dome Port; giving about 100 & 141 degrees angles of view. Whereas to do that with my current camera Oly E-M5 or Sony A6000; is going to cost a lot more.
    How would you rate the 1″ sensor of the J3 vs your FF A7 for UW; for photo & video ? Can the J3 do nearly as well if you pump up the ISO. I couldn’t quite work out which one of your images are shot by the J3.

    1. hi.

      1/60 is the max flash sync. slow but workable for most situations.
      Increasing the shutter speed flash sync would be useful for fast moving fish and reduce blur
      But the autofocus on nikon 1 is so fast that it is not a problem anyway.

      1 inch sensor is quite good. My fluo pictures are taken at 3200 iso and there is no noise.

      All the images so far are taken with nikon 1 j3 only. I will upload the a7 pictures later.

      the major advantages of nikon 1 and nikon wp n2 housing is like you said: you can use wet lenses and wet filter easily and cheaply. Also, it is the ONLY camera in the world i know of that can take full resolution pictures while doing video simultaneously !! The advantages it will allow you to get shots that are extremely hard to get: fluo, whale shark etc where the autofocus will not work well due to low lights or due to bubbles created by the whales shark.

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