The biggest complaint of the A3e was the use of film. The APS format is still slowly growing, but now I wonder if it is still doomed to failure by the emergence of the digital cameras. 1 hour processing is limited, and in Mexico or Central America I couldn't find it at all. This forced me to take 8-10 rolls of film with absolutely no feedback on how I was doing. Still, APS was necessary - that format allowed for a camera with the same form factor as the disposables that were used in the A1 and A2 series.
Nevertheless, the A3E was clearly more popular than the A3. Motorized film advance took away the common lament of the stuck winder. And even the pricier APS film is much cheaper than disposable units. Another problem was the tendency of Kodak and Fuji to change their designs slightly, rendering them incompatible with the housing. This lead Ikelite to make the 4th generation Aquashot one housing a reloadable 35mm camera. It improves upon the the 3 series in many ways, removing most of my complaints.
1) 35mm film. We've covered this one.
2) internal water correcting lens. No more removing the lens to brush off bubbles! On the downside, you can't elect to remove it underwater, and it is intended for use only to 6-8ft max.
3) big viewfinder! I remove my plastic target from my 3 series and just eyeballed it, but with the A35 you can actually look through the camera.
4) This camera is a bit more wide angle than its predecessors.
a 5) The camera flash doesn't need to be activated like with the Fiju Endeavor 10 model. That was a bit problem for me with one housing. It also doesn't keep charging up the flash like the E10 did.
5) optional camera tray with strobe arm. This makes the camera neutral in weight, and of course gives you the ability to aim the strobe.
6) the new strobe is more powerful. Perhaps too powerful with highly reflective subjects.
There are a couple little issues to be aware of:
1) On many, if not all of the cameras, the flash goes off every time. Generally this works out well, but there are a few occasions where you wouldn't want it going off (kelp siloutte shots, for example), and it of course drains the batteries a tad faster. Just turn off the strobe or cover up the sensor if you want an unlit shot.
2) The long strobe arm gives you a lot of choices in aim, but also the ability to miss! I attached an UW laser pointer to mine to deal with this. You can also use that to have the beam measure out 2 or 3' away for the best close shots.
3) When using the original (simple) strobe arm, I had a problem with the slave sensor not being triggered. I needed to press my finger into the flash deflector so it would stick out far enough. Ikelite may have released a fix for this already. Another problem that I briefly encountered was that my AQ/S strobe seemed to be pointing too high for the subject, and only the top inch of the image would be bright. But I switched over to the new strobe and strobe arm before I could pinpoint this potential problem.
By now I think I've done 8-10 rolls of film, mostly in not so great conditions. I keep missing the clear days! Still, it's come along nicely already. Part of this is due to general experience, but it doesn't hurt that many of the gotchas of the past have been removed. You can look at some samples pics taken early on. Unfortunately, my October Fiji trip has been cancelled, so it will be a while before I get to tropical waters. I'll have to enter A3e pics for this year's Aquashot contest. So it goes.