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I have the P9 and housing. It is easy to use with all the functionality available on the camera available when it is in the housing. The pictures without a strobe have been remarkably good and it is small enough to fit in my BCD pocket so it doesn't get in the way if there is nothing I want to take a photo of (Unlike my old MMII and strobe which was very awkward). I have found my pictures to be pretty good even when taken in the low light in the UK with no strobe.
Sorry I can't help on pricing. I got mine with the camera from Cameras underwater as at the time I got it they were about the only place in the UK that had the housings (staff in the Sony shops tried to tell me the housing didn't exist!).
I have also bought the adapter which allows me to use me MMII wide anlge lens with it and this can be useful taking pictures of larger animals close to you.
staff in Sony shops in the UK know Jack S***! That was my experience a few years ago when I tried to get a digital camera fixed. The Sony main office were not that much better.
Off my soap box!! The sony marine pack is probably best value for money - the others tend to be more expenive. I suspect if you buy it the states it will be $ for £ - a real bargain. I know they go for about £100 out here in Japan but I think you are looking at £200 back home or maybe $200 in the states - the last two are pure guesses.
One thing you have to be careful of is that the US & UK camcorders do not match. If the Sony housing has electronic controls that is fine, as you plug into the remote socket on the camcorder and it runs of the electrics. If the housing is manual (ie knobs on the outside twiddle levrs on the inside that then press the camcorder controls) then unless the US has the exact same model there is a chance that the levers will not line up.
The US may well have a model similar to the P9, but chances are the controls are set slightly differently.
I would advise purchasing a housing in the UK. It WILL be more expensive, but if anything goes wrong at least you can take it back to the place from where you purchased it without a problem.
Also, if the new Sony housings are the same as the old ones then the colour corrective filter can be attached to the outside of the housing, thus allowing you to remove it if you want to use video lights. A lot of housings don't allow that function, though some do.
P9 - very similar to the P5. Ofcourse Sony does something idiotic like switch the power button around so it can't be used in the p5 marine pack. Nice little point-and-shoot camera topside camera - though personally I find it very limiting underwater.
Re: Housing not matching camera you should have no problem. Bought my Olympus C5050 from the Aus. dealer but ordered the housing PT015 from japan-direct.com because I needed it for a dive trip and the Aus. dealer couldn't commit to delivery date. Fits no problem at all.
You should get the best prices in the US. Try japan-direct.com as well - Randy is very helpful.
A couple of weeks late, but I only just noticed your post. I bought a DSC-P5 (The previous version of the P9) last year when I was in Singapore, and bought the MPK-P5 with it.
I've taken a handful of photos with it, with satisfactory results, although I think that the results are as much if not more due to my lack of underwater photography experience, rather than the camera.
True, it does have limited flexibility especially when being used with the internal flash enabled. Enough for me to say that I would not suggest it for purchase as camera for primary use as an underwater camera.
However, I am happy with the photos that I have taken with it. If you (or your wife) already own the P9, there is no reason why you shouldn't purchase the MPK-P9 for some underwater photographs. The combination is probably not the choice of a professional, but for amateur photography it does just fine.
In Severna Park, on the Magothy River just north of Annapolis, MD USA
You should be able to find one on eBay for $1...
You should be able to find one on eBay for $165 or so. That's about wat I got when I sold one a couple weeks ago. There are usually four or five up at any given time. Search "underwater camera" or just MPK-P9 and they should pop up.
I am pretty informed on the Sony products the cameras are pretty much the same around the world if they share the same model number. So the P9 in the US & Europe usually the only difference maybe PAL vs NTSC, but that can be selectable depending on the device, I don't remember exactly, but the housing should be the same anywhere MPK-P9 and retails on ebay and such for about $150 and up.