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OMD - Olympus or Nauticam housing advice

OMD nauticam housing

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#1 Numbat

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 04:39 PM

Hi all, I need some advice please ( I did a search but couldn't find any answers)

I'm keen on an OMD with the 60mm macro. I mainly shoot in shallow water with low visibility. I'm finding it hard to decide between the Olympus PT-EP08 and Nauticam housing.

The Oly is significantly cheaper with the relevant port. Is there any good reason to spend more and go with Nauticam housing?

(Edit: I may also consider the 12-50mm or 8-18mm lens in the future. I believe that the Olympus standard port will accommodate both the 60mm macro and 12-50mm, while the Nauticam needs a port for each lens, making it even more expensive?)

Edited by Numbat, 27 November 2012 - 06:03 PM.


#2 jlyle

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 07:31 PM

I have owned and used Olympus housings and now own the Nauticam housing for the OM-D. IMHO, the Nauticam housing is a quantum leap ahead of the Oly housing. Smaller, ergonomically better, I can't say enought good things about my NA-EM5.

The 12-50mm port will also work for the 60mm macro lens. The advantage of the Nauticam port is full access to the macro feature of the 12-50.
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#3 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 01:11 AM

I low visibility shooting I would think that the 45mm might be better as a macro lens than the 60mm.

Alex

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#4 troporobo

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:01 AM

I switched from an E-PL1 in an Olympus housing to the OM-D in a Nauticam housing. There is no comparison in ergonomics or build quality, and IMHO the marginal gains far outweigh the extra cost.

Bear in mind that neither housing's list price includes a port, and that the Nautican and Oly flat ports for the 60 are both about the same price. If I am not mistaken, the Nauticam port will accommodate both the 60 and 12-50.

The Nauticam zoom/macro gear for the 12-50 is certainly expensive but is an engineering marvel that just about justifies it. I don't know how Oly handles the zoom/macro function with its port.

#5 Numbat

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 04:18 AM

I low visibility shooting I would think that the 45mm might be better as a macro lens than the 60mm.

Alex


Thanks for your suggestion Alex. I was considering the 45mm first due to the low vis, however I changed my mind as the minimum focusing distance is 4cm between the two (15cm vs 19cm), and the Olympus has a focus limiter for macro shooting (the 45mm only limits for non-macro distances, which is not practical for closeup work). The 60mm is also better weather sealed, might come in handy in a minor leak.

Does that make sense? Is being 4cm closer a deal breaker?

#6 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 04:34 AM

I have the 60mm, not the 45mm. But it is not the minimum focus distance that matters, more what you can fit in from a certain distance away. Say you have a golf-ball sized frogfish, with the 45mm, you can fit it all in the frame from a closer distance than with the 60mm. Therefore shooting through less water and getting a better quality image.

That said, the 60mm might be a better foil for the 12-50mm, which, with dioptres, would cover the 45mm focal range.

I am not convinced you need access to the macro button on the 12-50mm if you have a good dioptre like the Subsee +10. AFAIK, the macro button locks the lens at 43mm, so you cannot zoom in macro mode. Whereas if you have a good dioptre you can focus close and get macro performance over a wider zoom range.

I have not got a zoom gear for my 12-50mm, so I haven't tested/don't know which focal lengths can be used with different dioptres without cut off/vignetting,

Alex

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#7 guyharrisonphoto

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 07:14 AM

To the OP, as to your initial question, go with the Nauticam, without question. The design and ergonomics and construction quality are fantastic compared to the Olympus housing. Also, Nauti supports the 12-50 not only with full zoom function but also with the macro function as well. That same port supports the 60mm macro saving you at least $400 right there. I have that port and the dome for the pany 7-14mmm and everything is covered. Olympus does not have anything comparable in terms of ports, and the ports they do have are not any less expensive than the Nautis and far less versatile. Given all of this, saving a couple of hundred on the housing (given the cost of camera, lenses, ports, lighting, etc) just is not worth it, IMO.

I agree the 45mm gets you a closer in bad vis, but the 60mm has an advantage with more sensitive subjects and yes, the difference in distance is noticeable. I will say that I would have happily kept my 45mm because the quality is great, but it does not work in the 12-50 port (too far back from the glass), so I am selling it and keeping the 60, more for practical reasons that quality ones.

I just received my 12-50 port and gear. It is phenomenally versatile, but, I will say, that using the macro function requires very close working distance at the closest focus, but with very good results ndeed (this is in my on-land testing of the housing). There is a range of focus available at the macro setting so you can move in and out over a certain range to adjust magnification, but it is true that the focal length is fixed at 43mm. Personally, I do not think a diopter would be better as the time involved in carrying it and putting it on and off is a pain compared to the "instant macro" function of the port. I guess a flip adapter might help (for another $220 . . ). You would also need quite a powerful/expensive adapter to get the same magnification of the lens' built-in macro function (another $200). So, to get the same magnification and speed of the port, you would have to buy the port ($450) and then spend an extra $400-450 anyway. I decided to go with the port. YMMV.

#8 decimal86

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:05 AM

Hi all, I need some advice please ( I did a search but couldn't find any answers)

I'm keen on an OMD with the 60mm macro. I mainly shoot in shallow water with low visibility. I'm finding it hard to decide between the Olympus PT-EP08 and Nauticam housing.

The Oly is significantly cheaper with the relevant port. Is there any good reason to spend more and go with Nauticam housing?

(Edit: I may also consider the 12-50mm or 8-18mm lens in the future. I believe that the Olympus standard port will accommodate both the 60mm macro and 12-50mm, while the Nauticam needs a port for each lens, making it even more expensive?)


i had the opportunity to examine both Olym and Nauticam casings, yes Nauticam is more expensive. but look at the construction and the locking feature? the ergonomics? the ease of removing ports?

i have the 12-50mm, the Pany 45mm and the Olym 60mm. in my opinion the 12-50mm makes for an all round dive lens. and the attachment for using every feature of this lens in the casing has to be seen to be believed. it was like ironman wearing his suit for battle!! honestly

i plonked down my hard-earned money (as i am sure yours) and got myself a Nauticam.

i have great difficulty removing the ports from my PT-EP01. maybe i am weak, i dont know..

and Nauticam made sure you can use your LCD display by making it tilt!!! kewl..

i know my money is well spent

Edited by decimal86, 28 November 2012 - 09:08 AM.


#9 Phil Rudin

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 08:30 PM

I am also in the Nauticam camp and think that all things being equal that the NA-EM5 housing is the most cost effective if you don't already own several ZEN or Olympus ports.

First the ports are more easy to change with the new port locking system on the Olympus EM5 housing the problem is that Olympus designed the port locking system with the old Olympus ports, adapters and 43 lenses for the DSLR systems. This is the arrangement that I believe Alex used when he first reported on the camera and housing system. If you carry those ports over you are using the 170mm glass port for the 8mm 43 (not M43) lens. Most of the Nauticam ports (not the 12-50 with gear) are a bit less expensive than going to the Zen or Olympus DSLR glass ports.

Next if you want to use the EVF like I do and I have mounted the Nauticam 45 degree viewfinder to my housing you just can't do that well with the Olympus housing.

As other have stated the build quality of the Nauticam is second to none for this camera and as a total system Nauticam is just way ahead of Olympus.

Phil Rudin

#10 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 11:51 PM

I just realised that I never answered the original poster's question, having got distracted by warning Numbat off the 60mm for low viz diving.

I was fortunate enough to try both housings before deciding which to buy. I bought the Nauticam. But I didn't buy the 12-50mm port, which was out of my price range.

Alex

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#11 Numbat

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:37 AM

Thanks all, your advice has been much appreciated.

I'm now convinced to go for the Nauticam housing.

And after some thinking, I might go for the 12-50mm instead of the 60mm, which gives me around x0.7 magnification, and that's not too bad on a micro four thirds sensor. Shame that my Inon 67mm close up lenses won't fit the Nauticam port for the 12-50mm, and have to get 77mm ones.

Was wondering what kind of macro capabilities will the 12-50mm give you in a standard port, without engaging macro mode.

Edited by Numbat, 29 November 2012 - 02:39 AM.


#12 Jock

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 04:57 AM

Hi Numbat,

just buy a step-down ring 77mm->67mm, and you can use your Inon lens!

The 12-55mm port from Nauticam is for sure worth its money, but still, it is expensive. I found a zoom gear for the 12-50mm lens. From what I see in the pic it will let you zoom manually or electronically (you cannot change the mode within a dive), but will NOT give you access to the camera's macro mode. This gear costs a mere 95 EUR and can be used with any port for the 12-55mm lens.

CAUTION: Before you buy, check with the seller if my statements are correct - I only THINK it works this way...

Jock

http://www.unterwass...-zoom-gear.html

Edited by Jock, 29 November 2012 - 04:59 AM.

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#13 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 05:18 AM

That gear looks really interesting, Jock. Do you think it will fit in the Nauticam 60mm port. I could certainly live without the macro function of 12-50mm, as I already own several wet dioptres.

Does anyone have this gear yet? Or should I be the guinea-pig and order it?

Alex

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#14 guyharrisonphoto

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 06:44 AM

Hi everyone, I just posted, in the OM-D thread, some measurements and info from my testing of the 12-50 macro mode in the Nauticam port. I think you will it find of interest when deciding whether to get the zoom gear or not.

Bottom line, the 12-50 gives, in 35mm terms, 1:1 magnification. You can fill the frame with an object roughly 24x36mm. This is true "macro" under any definition. Remember that m43 carries a 2x magnification factor over 35mm, so 1:1 in m43 is actually 2:1 in 35mm.

The 12-50 set-up is absolutely remarkable, combining this "true" macro with semi-wide scenic capability and zoom for fish portraits.

This macro performance is with no diopters to further degrade the image, and no hassle of carrying/installing the diopters underwater, and no expense for diopters themselves.

If you want more magnification, for ultra-macro, you can get it. The "regular" 1:1 magnification is at 2" working distance from the front of the port, so further magnification with diopters is possible with care, although it will be tricky as you will be very close. Still possible, though, for static subjects like nudis or anything else that is not spooked. Having this ultra-macro possibility on a standard/wide lens is unprecedented. Talk about "do it all!!"

For larger subjects, there is a range of about a few feet for focusing in macro mode, so you can back off to do larger subjects as well without having to switch to regular zoom mode.

There is no comparision to trying to save money by foregoing the gear. The port alone is $450.00. The gear adds an extra $350 if you buy them together.

Consider the alternative. The port at $450 to save money. But then, a diopter at $200. Then a flip adapter at $200 if you want any sort of speed in switching modes. Already more expensive, and you cannot even zoom the lens! That is, to me, a wholly unsatisfactory solution that deprives you of the "all in one" aspect that you want this lens for in the first place.

There is a post above that suggests, for another $150.00, you might add a zoom gear that will work but you cannot access macro mode. Thus, for $1,000 you have a makeshift rig that will let you zoom but require external accessories for macro and, probably, will not give you the same versatility or speed of operation as the port and gear. If you are buying from scratch, it will be less expensive to buy the port and gear.

Edited by guyharrisonphoto, 29 November 2012 - 08:53 AM.


#15 Numbat

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 07:15 AM

Bottom line, the 12-50 gives, in 35mm terms, 1:1 magnification. You can fill the frame with an object roughly 24x36mm. This is true "macro" under any definition. Remember that m43 carries a 2x magnification factor over 35mm, so 1:1 in m43 is actually 2:1 in 35mm.


That's not exactly right, below is cut and paste from the Olympus site for lens specs:

Maximum Image Magnification: 0.36x
35mm Equivalent Max. Image Magnification: 0.72x
Minimum Field Size: 36x48mm (at Macro mode)

For the stuff I like shooting, I'll be needing some diopters on a regular basis.

Edited by Numbat, 29 November 2012 - 07:17 AM.


#16 guyharrisonphoto

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:50 AM

Of course, if you want really tiny, you are better with the 60mm lens which gives you much better working distance and allows diopters much more easily. My comments were in using the 12-50 all around, including the macro capability it brings to the table. I would not use it at all if dedicated ultra-macro is your main thing.

When I want to go macro only or ultra-macro, I have the 60mm which fits perfectly in the same port (saving some $$ there),

But, if I am on a dive with the 12-50 when I am shooting coral scenes and schooling fish, and come across an anemone with a small shrimp inside, or a feather duster, or a blenny, I am ready! That is what is so nice about the lens.

Don't know about the Oly specs, only what I measured in my test. A SD card is 24x32. There might have been a sliver of background showing around the card, but did not seem near 36x48. Will check again, though.

Edited by guyharrisonphoto, 29 November 2012 - 08:57 AM.


#17 Ryan

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:07 AM

I get the same reproduction as Guy, NOT 36x48.

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#18 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:21 AM

I think this is a very interesting debate. And the right solution will depend on your interests as a diver. Plus there are a still a few unknowns in the alternate strategy that I want to discuss here.

I think the Nauti-porty for the 12-50 does look an engineering marvel. And if you are generally a 12-50mm diver then it should be looked at seriously.

However if you are less of a generalist and more of specialist, which does sound more like our OP here, then you might be considering the 60mm macro as your main lens and the 12-50 as your option. In which case the dedicated 60mm port is attractive and you are probably considering buying a dioptre too (or already own one).

So to look this option: get the cheaper Nauti flat port for the 60mm and then sometimes use it with the 12-50mm, zoom gear that Jock links (which we don't actually know works) and sometimes a dioptre like the almost industry standard Subsee. This would still give you the full zoom range of the lens - although it might vignette at the 12 end behind the port (not tested) and you would loose the macro button capability.

Negatives of loosing the macro button are that you would loose the close focusing macro capability at 43mm. However, add the Subsee and you get all that back and more. First you get more magnification (see test below) if you want it. And you can zoom the lens while shooting macro too. Not being stuck at 43mm, but having a macro zoom lens.

It is worth noting that you could also achieve this on the 12-50mm port with a step ring for and a Subsee for that too.

I just did a quick test with the 12-50mm and my Subsee and found I got LESS macro magnification with the lens's macro mode i.e. 43mm (example a, below) then I did without access to the macro mode, but with the lens zoomed to 50mm and my Subsee in front (example b, below).

SARD12_am-34656.jpg
Both photos taken at minimum focus. Not this is a larger CF card (see the D800 lag thread!) and not a SD card. BTW the Subsee shot was 3.2 seconds handheld!

Guy raises two good points against using a Subsee or similar.

First that it might degrade image quality. Certainly cheap dioptres do so noticeably, but the Subsee is very good optically and I don't see this as an issue here. Many, many underwater photographers use and love their Subsees (or similar) and everyone is impressed by the image quality. But choosing a good brand is important and I have tried plenty I wouldn't want anywhere near my camera!

Second that screwing them on and off is a pain. One of the things I have praised Nauticam for is the fact that they have screw threads as standard on their ports, and they wouldn't do this if people didn't use them And second, as i just said, many underwater photographers use external dioptres very happily on everything from compacts to SLRs, often carrying several strengths on caddies on their strobe arms.

Alex

p.s. One other general comment worth making about using the 12-50mm @ 43mm for macro is that the widest aperture is f/6, which will impose some limitation on focus speed and shallow depth of field macro.

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#19 Jock

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:04 PM

Alex,

your thoughts about the 12-50 vs the 60mm port are absolutely correct.

I just wrote a mail to Manfred Werner who sells the zoom gear and asked him about the specs and compatibility. Maybe he will answer personally, or I will forward his comments.

Jock

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#20 guyharrisonphoto

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 04:19 PM

Alex, I liked your idea of a diopter as a method of having a "macro zoom" I just might try one, after all, for some versatility in macro work. I had a nautican 77mm flip adapter ordered for the 12-50 port which I might try to go ahead and get, along with the subsee +5. Maybe will give some sort of CFWA at the wider end of the zoom.

I can say, for sure, that the zoom will vignette at the wide end in a smaller 67mm port. How severe I don't know but it will probably turn the lens into a 14 or 16-50 zoom.

In the photos above, I notice "blooming" around the white and red lettering in the diopter shot of the CF card. Actually, while I like the magnification of the diopter, I think the image quality is noticeably contrastier (??) and and cleaner with the macro mode engaged as opposed to the diopter. Maybe the long exposure has somethign to do with it, but I do not notice any motion blur.

Ain't that image stabilization something else in the om-d?!

For my shooting, I predict it will fall into the following:

25% dedicated macro and ultra/macro (using 60mm in 12-50 port)

25% ultra wide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) scenics, wrecks, and big critters (using 7-14 in dome port)

50% general shooting on reefs with everything from wide scenics, schooling fish, bigger critters (turtles, smaller sharks), large sponges, and macro as the opportunities present themselves. (using 12-50 port/gear).

Also, about the same percentage of video. I do hope that someone makes a manual focus gear for the 60mm macro that will work in the 12-50 port, as I find the AF of the camera in video mode to be not very good and prefer manual focus for macro.

Edited by guyharrisonphoto, 29 November 2012 - 04:20 PM.