One topic that pops up from time to time is official GoPro waterproof housing vs unofficial counterparts, and the pros and cons associated.
The most common argument against the unofficial waterproof housings, is the assumption that they all leak, and official housings are the safe bet. I can tell you from personal experience, even brand new official housings can leak. I acquired and brand new H4B, that had a very slight leak through the shutter button seal, but I didn’t sweat it, because I found this leak before using it with my cam inside, I leak tested it.
Leak testing is a habit you should get in to with ANY new housing, imagine discovering your new housing has a leak, while your cam is inside, tragedy! So how do you test housings? A deep bucket or tub is ideal (or pool/ large body of water), submerse the housing as deep as possible, and look for any air bubbles rising that indicate air is escaping through a leak, and where the leak is. If you dont notice any leaks, double check inside the housing for moisture when you open it back up, in case you missed an air bubble or two. It can never hurt to be thorough!
One trick to ensure all seals work well, is apply a petroleum based lubricant to all seals, this includes wiping the back door seal, to ensure it is dust and grit free. And also applying a few drops in the top of each button (all 3) from both sides (inside and out), push the button several times to feel for smooth action, and to work the oil right into the seals. This will both lubricate them, and act as an additional sealant. After this, dab down inside the housing with a clean cloth to ensure theres no drips left over, and housing is completely clean. Leak test again to ensure the leak/s are gone. If leaks persist, theres a good chance that seal is shot.
I’ve come across two different housings in the unofficial market, the first is an exact match to the official GoPro waterproof housing. The second, has a square lens, as opposed to the rectangular lens (longer on width than height) of the official units. This may not be a problem for some, but for those of you who use lens filters, you’ll find that the filter frame will be a looser fit (or wont secure at all). There is also a slightly different back door design, the issue here is, the non standard design has a lower latching point at the top of the backdoor, this means you can’t use aluminium replacement clips, and some have been known to unlatch a little easier. These variations only apply to the Hero 3 and 4 housings, not the Hero 5.
Using the official GoPro housings will see about the same average leak rate, but official will cost a lot more. If you go aftermarket, make sure you can see a side shot of the housing, and if the backdoor latching point is higher than the housing, thats the one to get. Of course, this only applies to Hero 3 and 4 housings, and not the new Hero 5 housings.
One more thing I will mention, the plastic back door clips are known for breaking at the most frustrating moments, Aluminium replacement clips are cheap, and guaranteed to never break. Great peace of mind…
Apply a little gear oil into the button seals, this will lubricate the inside O ring, ensuring it lasts longer, and will provide a little more assurance of a positive seal. Just be sure to use an oil thats O ring compatible, failure to check, could result in that O ring degrading faster, which will then allow your housing to leak!
Simply give the inside of the button a couple of drops, push in and out several times to work the oil in, repeat once, then wipe away excese with a cotton cloth, easy!
Find our waterproof housing below, which also has an upgrade option to include an Aluminium clip.