Watershot case for the Nokia Lumia 1020

This $300 case will let the Nokia Lumia 1020 go to the bottom of the sea

Fabien Cousteau and his team of aquanauts are spending 31 days underwater all in the name of science. The Mission 31 project (www.mission-31.com) is a combination of modern scientific exploration, tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and modern media to get the word out. And while all of that is in and of itself worthy of your attention, it's the fact that the team is using the Lumia 1020 that has our interest piqued.

In partnership with Nokia and Watershot Inc. (www.watershot.com), Cousteau's team can take the Lumia 1020 on their dives through a customized phone housing. That metal case can withstand 100 meters / 328 feet under the sea, which is extraordinarily deep. Watershot is selling a limited quantity of the specialty case, which cost $300 each. While not cheap by consumer standards, this is a specialty case for pros.

I have one, and this is an unboxing and quick tour of this magnificent piece of equipment.

Made from custom machined aluminum housing the case weighs 1.5 pounds (24 ounces). It also features:

  • Integrated universal tripod mount
  • Threaded Lens bezel for external filters and lenses

Watershot case for the Nokia Lumia 1020

It is ridiculous in the most remarkable sense possible. As you would expect from such a specialty product, it feels fantastic to hold and it is solidly built. The latch is easy to operate, as can be seen in my hands on video, and it has four buttons in which to use the Lumia 1020 underwater.

Watershot case for the Nokia Lumia 1020

Those buttons will allow you to:

  1. Turn the camera on; half-press to focus, full press to take image
  2. Power off the camera to conserve battery
  3. Toggle the Nokia Camera app between photos, video and smart sequence
  4. Review last image

As far as I can tell, they have thought of everything when using this case with gloves, underwater. You can even keep the Lumia 1020's lanyard attached, which is a good idea for easy removal from the covering.

Watershot case for the Nokia Lumia 1020

Although 'normal people' would never need such a case for their phone, it's a unique and fascinating piece of equipment that professionals could certainly use in adverse weather conditions, or when on recreational SCUBA dives.

I did manage to put it underwater, well, at least my sink, and it held up well. We'll see about taking into a pool or even the ocean at some point for some real fun. But no need to take my word for it, just watch the above video taken entirely on the Lumia 1020 by the Mission 31 team, and you can see how they're making use of it as we speak.

Follow Mission 31 on Twitter at @Mission_31 to see their photos and videos as they go live and let us know what you think about it comments! Interested in picking one up? Here's where you can buy it.


Reader comments

This $300 case will let the Nokia Lumia 1020 go to the bottom of the sea


This case is awesome. Mission 31 is awesome. Science is awesome. The Lumia 1020 is awesome. Everything about this is awesome.

Z2 is waterproof to 1,5meter in non - saline water(this means you can only use in fresh waters)... Taking it down to 100feet in sea would probobly kill it, not to mention that photos probobly wouldnt be nearly as good..so good luck with that ;)

Actually, what's the meaning of MSFT? Understood it's Microsoft but why MSFT, I just .. don't get it

You can't afford it.. Just don't waste your time thinking about it.. Unless you're trying to think of a way to convince your wife to let you get it.... Lol!

For a standrad consumer that may seem much. But as any UW photographer would point it's a bargain. Any uw camera gear (housings etc.) would normally start at +300$ plus for any camera, and can easily go up to 2000 $ just for the housing. The added bounus with a phone housing is that you can probably add buttons for emergency SMS etc.

It's crazy for a smartphone case. But for underwater cameras, that's a good deal though. For any specific camera waterproof cases, you have to be completely sealed to very deep and have specific buttons to control the camera. Therefore, always expensive.

I'm pretty sure there are consumer-grade cases that would be suitable for regular folks and that won't break the bank. Think of this as an industrial, professional version ;)

Not that I've made it, but it's something I've thought about prototyping. That and a 1520 camera grip...

its a pretty normal price for an entry-level underwater housing.
the housing for my shitty point-and-shoot was $300, which was the same price as the camera itself.

Just make one yourself. I used a tutorial on WPCentral to create just such a case. Gives me a lens hood with a filter ring on a standard camera grip.

Kind of hard to change the form factor of the successor to the 1020 with attachments like this.

Right, but as pointed out in the video it has a mount for an external flash. The Xenon wouldn't throw enough light underwater, so you'd need an external source. Watershot sells mounts for that, which is very common for underwater photo or videography.

Unless a xenon flash throws lesser light than led, I guess the 1020s flash would have been enough for close ups. I know for a fact that the Lumia 920s flash is pretty good for underwater photography..close ups that is.
But ya external light sources would be amazing!!!

Most underwater camera cases allow for use of the stock flash on the camera. Maybe something like that could have been made.

Yes, but the stock flash is nearly useless underwater anyway.  Not enough power, not wide enough coverage, and too close to the lens (causes "backscatter" which is reflections from particles in the water in front of the lens).  An external strobe is pretty much required for underwater photography unless you are diving in very clear shallow water.  Otherwise, you can take pictures, but they will be blurry, dim, and full of backscatter.  This is coming from someone who owns two high end underwater cameras and an external strobe.

its not the amount of light, its the position of the flash.
a flash that close to the lens would take a terrible picture... like you're in a snowstorm. thats why external flashes are way off to the side on arms.

I highly doubt the layout will change anytime soon anyway. You know how long it takes for them to update things so it would definitely be "a while" before they tinkered with the layout.

I agree that the case, science, mission 31, and the 1020 are all awesome, but I see a potential problem:
What if the Nokia camera app gets updated so the buttons for cycling through the camera modes are moved somewhere else on the screen? Then the case button for cycling through the camera modes is pretty much useless.

Edit: Not meant to be a repeat of taymur's post, I was writing it before that was posted.

Good point! Hopefully they won't! lol

One solution would be that Nokia/Microsoft just release a 'special' version for this hardware, which in essence would be what we have now, but with a separate Store listing e.g. 'Nokia Camera Aqua Edition'.

Wait, I thought he said the case was for pros, so why does Daniel have one? Just kidding Daniel...you do great reporting. I do think its cool that the 1020 is getting some more exposure for its power as a camera (no pun intended). Can't wait to see what some of Cousteau's shots look like

he said it was for pros, but it obviosuly isnt. no pro is going to trade their fancy underwater DSLR setup for a cameraphone.

this is amazing for the recreational market, though!

Nice, congrats! I did around 100 feet in a shipwreck dive, which was super cool. I used to have Advanced Open Water Diver certification, but that lapsed years ago.

I'm pretty sure PADI recreational certs are good for life (although you should probably take a refresher if you haven't gone in a while)

congrats! once you get comfortable enoguh to really start to look around you, you'll see all kinds of amazing things!

But according to the title,I can take to the bottom of the seas! Your article states specifications at "only" 100 meters! That's a big difference! ;)

I'd say sensational, maybe hyperbolic, but not clickbait. It's not like you clicked there was no substance, which is what I traditionally think of as clickbait. Instead there's a hands on video, unboxing, photos, and context of the larger Mission 31 project. There's an original story here that you can't find anywhere else.

But hey, to each is own!

Forget about optical zoom, is there a way to use the existing zoom? Like you would get when you scroll your finger up the screen? If not, then no sale!!! LOL...

How would they charge the 1020 underwater I wonder :P, given this doesn't hold a separate power pack or does it? (Guessing the flash attachment will have it's own power source).

Edit: Oh dozy me, they aren't in the water 24/7 lol.

That is plenty deep.
PADI Open Water certification recommends a max depth of 20m
PADI Advanced Open Water certificaiton recommends a max depth of 40m

to go below 40m safely, you really need to have technical dive training, where you use exotic air mixtures and such... its not a common thing for recreational divers. professional divers would probably have fancy DSLR setups, so even though this review said "for professionals"... its really more for recreational divers.

long story short, 100m is fine, even with a large saftey margin.

That is a really cool case, not one I would ever use, but still awesome. My uncle is a Cuba instructor and goes diving all the time. I'll have to show him this.

Fantastic review Daniel, thank you. As a seasoned diver and having played with both video and photography I was immediately attracted to this -- I use a GoPro Hero 3+ with light & motion lights and camera arm -- but could easily see bringing something like this on casual shore dives without sacrifycing any usability. For what you get (machined aluminum housing rated to 100m) the price is very reasonable. The GoPro's acrylic housing is rated only to 40m and that limit is easily reached over here in Southeast Asia and Micronesia. Please release a version for the 1520...

Cheers [\]

you don't want the on-camera flash when you scuba dive.
have you ever taken a picture with a flash in a snowstorm? its like that but worse. if you havent... the closer the flash is to the lens, the worse the picture is underwater because all the particles floating in the water will reflect the flash and totally ruin your picture.

if you're going to use a flash, you at the bear minimum need a difuser (which is still total shit), or an external flash.

And, with that case you can easily (and SHOULD) add an industry-standard light tray, which would allow you to put true strobe and a true video light on it.  Or dual strobes.  I find the video light I use with the SeaLife DC1400 Pro Duo gets me better results even with stills than the strobe does.  For those interested, check out my YouTube page, Ceti Fox Productions, and see some of the video I've shot with it.  And, if someone wants to get me an early birthday present of the Watershot case, I wouldn't be adverse to that ;)


At 100m deep, you think you can take a steady photo with a phone camera? kind of joking...

How would it be different with any other underwater camera?  You realize that all underwater cameras are really just regular cameras with very expensive, specialized housings, right?  The Lumia, having optical stabilization, would actually be a better candidate than most.  But one downside is that ALL your adjustments are screen menu based, not using a hardware button to move through the settings.  Cameras typically used for underwater have various hardware buttons that the cases are designed to activate so that you have full control of settings.

Pretty cool case...

but unfortunatly if there are any software updates that change the location of the on-screen buttons, the two rear buttons won't work as intended.
also, unlike a normal underwater camera, there is no way to use any of the other settings... like manually adjusting exposure etc, with this case. although, that being said... unless you're a professional underwater photog, auto is enough. if youre a pro, you probably have an underwater DSLR housing. you really only need the top buttons.

If I had a 1020, I'd seriously consider this.

As a scuba instructor and budding underwater photographer/videographer, and proud owner of a Lumia 1020, I am excited to see all this.  I just really wish I knew this case was coming last year before I bought the SeaLife DC1400 Pro camera.  Don't get me wrong, I've not regretted getting it and it does a fantastic job.  But with the exception of the built-in filters for shooting at depth, I bet I could add standard optical filters on the Watershot case on the Lumia 1020 and accomplish the same.  Fantastic info, Daniel.

Damn... Where was this when we went to Hawaii last year? Went snorkeling several times. Wanted to take my 1020 with me into the sea so bad, you have no idea.

What if developers revamp the UI of Nokia Camera, and change the buttons' position on the screen. Just think about it, lol 

I have to wonder though, the buttons on the screen, will they work with the new camera app in WP 8.1? It looks like they designed the buttons for the WP8 camera app