Jump to content


Member Since 23 Jul 2010
Offline Last Active Today, 02:12 AM

#363745 Comparison: Olympus m4/3 macro options

Posted by troporobo on Yesterday, 05:25 PM

I have been on a quest to shoot some small critters (we have pygmy seahorses at two local sites, and lots of other stuff) and looking to get ever closer. But UW gear is hard to get here and expensive and I could not find the sort of lens comparison that I needed to be confident of having the capability that I wanted. I was also curious about the running debate about the Olympus 12-50 lens and whether it is worthwhile getting the expensive Nauticam port and gear to access the 43mm macro mode or just using the 50mm normal mode plus a diopter.


So I put together this simple and somewhat unscientific test to show what is possible with the lenses commonly used by Olympus m4/3 shooters. Lenses are the Olympus 12-50mm zoom and 60mm macro.  Diopters are the Subsee +5 and +10. Camera is an E-M5, housing is Nauticam, and port is the Nauticam with zoom gear. The nudibranch "model" is plastic!  Cutting to the chase, here is what I found: 


60mm macro: Maximum native magnification obviously, diopters take it to 2.5:1 and provide closer focus but not much magnification difference between +5 and +10 diopters, very short working distance with diopters is a challenge.


12-50mm using 43mm macro mode: Usable native macro but not good enough for the smallest targets, not much additional magnification with diopters, working distance with diopters probably too short. 


12-50mm at 50mm normal mode with diopters: Using the +10 produces results very similar to the 43mm macro mode with a useful extension to working distance. However not good enough for my purposes.


Data and photos follow.  Full size versions can be found here: https://www.flickr.c...157656370044855




60mm macro







60mm macro with +5







60mm macro with +10








#363658 18 Years - A Story of a Broken Curse

Posted by troporobo on 27 July 2015 - 02:11 PM

Really beautiful work, and a great story that makes it more powerful.  I am so glad you posted this, because I share your curse.  I've seen plenty of reef mantas over the years but never an oceanic, despite modest efforts to track them down (including an expensive wasted trip hunkering down under a typhoon in Yap).  I need to pick better destinations, but luck and bottom time are all-important. Your shots are inspirational for the unfortunate!


As for improving the film, I have only one thought.  I've always felt that remoras detract from the manta's beauty and are a visual distraction at best.  They look like toads riding Ferraris. Could you remove them?  :-)

#363412 Diving trip to Batangas-Anilao+Poerto-Gallera.....few questions PLZ(my first...

Posted by troporobo on 20 July 2015 - 08:35 AM

September is indeed a risky month to plan a trip in the Philippines. It has nothing to do with wet or dry years, tropical storms can happen anytime and are more likely from August - October. You will probably be OK but there is always a chance of bad luck. If you want to be 99% sure, come in November - May.

However, one of the great things about Anilao is that you can find diveable sites in all but the very worst weather. Diving year round is likely (we have been going to Anilao every month of the year for over 10 years and i can count on one hand the number of times we have not been able to get in the water). The vis might suffer but if you're shooting macro that doesn't matter.

As for resorts, please search here, there has been a lot of advice. In addition to Club O and Crystal Blue, Acacia is very much oriented to photographers. Dive Solana does a good job too.

In my opinion, there isn't much advantage to combining Anilao and PG. They are close together and the dives and marine life are almost identical, with more diversity in Anilao. The only reason to go to PG is if you are looking for a more social place with restaurants and (sometimes dubious) nightlife. Neither are present in Anilao.

Alternatives with more variety include Dumaguete and Apo Island, Bohol, Coron (wrecks), and Malapascua (sharks). Other divers have their favorites, i am sure.

#361922 mirrorless beginner

Posted by troporobo on 07 June 2015 - 01:16 PM

Full disclosure: I'm biased so take this for what it is worth.  I am very happy with my EM-5 / Nauticam / Inon setup and feel it is a great all round system. I had only the Olympus 12-50 lens for a couple of years and was having a lot of fun with the macro capability and occasionally playing with semi-wide shots.  I like the ability to switch between the two perspectives on one dive. If you have not yet found the comprehensive thread on this camera look here:




I use two Inon S-2000 strobes.  It's perfectly possible to get by with just one for macro.  However anything other than macro is going to require a pair.  These strobes are no good at all for wide angle.  By the way, I had an Olympus housing several years ago and hated it, and have never regretted buying the Nauticam.  


I will eventually go for the EM-1, but I would not buy one now, as Olympus is likely to update that camera soon as they just did with the EM-5 Mark II.  Either the update will be worth waiting for or the original will drop in price!     

#361123 Hypselodoris from Bali?

Posted by troporobo on 15 May 2015 - 05:01 AM

I would have thought that a chromodoris on first sight. It seems very close to c. boucheti 

#360582 New to Diving and Underwater Photography

Posted by troporobo on 28 April 2015 - 04:32 PM

I would find it pretty hard to give generic advice on this question.  But you can learn a lot fairly quickly from on line resources.  Here are a few good places to start in no particular order:








Like others often recommend, I found that Martin Edge's book "The Underwater Photographer" is an excellent beginner's course to get up to speed.


Looking at other people's work and trying to understand how they made an image is a very good way to learn.  There's Wetpixel of course, sites of the pros, competition results, the Nat Geo photo if the day UW category, lots of Flickr groups, etc


The trick is remembering all that you need once under water!


Finally, if you are a new diver, the most important advice I can think of is to get good at diving before even thinking about taking the camera along.  Buoyancy control, safety, and making sure you don't run out of air come first and need to be close to automatic.  You don't want any chance of photography distracting you from staying alive!

#359985 xenia crabs: two for the price of one

Posted by troporobo on 13 April 2015 - 05:36 AM

Thanks a lot guys, you've given some great ammunition. If only I had not just ordered a new BCD and air integrated computer . . . clearly my prioritization of life support over imaging needs a rethimk!

#359057 OM-D with +5 or +10 diopter for 12-50mm Olympus?

Posted by troporobo on 21 March 2015 - 05:17 PM

OK, so I found a local dealer willing to let me test with my setup (Olympus m.Zuiko 12-50 lens in Nauticam flat port).  I tried the SubSee +10 in the Nauticam flip adapter.  My objective was maximum magnification (we consistently find pygmy seahorses on our local dives) so I did not test permutations at constant distance.  As luck would have it I forgot to check my camera battery and it started flashing red on the first test shot so I had to rush, hand-holding a heavy housing over a poorly lit sales counter, hence these images are not very good, but they show the most important parameter which is maximum image size.  


First, the lens at 43mm macro mode, no diopter.  Closest focus is about 50mm from the front of the port. Horizontal image size is about 35mm:




Then, same 43mm macro mode with the Subsee +10.  Closest focus is actually touching the lens, resting the front of the Subsee on the edge of the ruler.  Horizontal image size is about 28.5mm:




Finally, for those without the Nauticam gear for this lens, I tried The Subsee +10 at 50mm (normal not macro mode).  Closest focus was about 50mm from the port and horizontal image size is about 32mm 





I conclude that this combination doesn't do what I was hoping, as the relatively small increases in magnification (about 25%) is offset by the loss of working distance, which would make approaching and lighting anything animate just about impossible.  


Also for those hoping to save on the cost of the expensive Nauticam zoom port and gear for the 12-50 lens, it seems you can save $400 by buying the macro port and Austrian zoom gear, but end up at nearly the same image size as the 43mm macro mode, and need to spend about an extra $400 or so for the Subsee and flip adapter.  


So for now I am going to stay happy with the versatility of the zoom lens, and buy the 60mm macro.  Once I have that lens, then maybe the Subsee will produce the results I am after.  

#356480 A few shots from Lembeh

Posted by troporobo on 11 January 2015 - 04:14 PM

Excellent images all.  I especially like your use of plenty of negative space and the jet black backgrounds.  I struggle with backscatter in these shots as we are usually shooting around a lot of turbidity in the muck, so will eventually start playing with a snoot also.   Nice work!

#354434 Unidentified Halgerda from Cenderawasih

Posted by troporobo on 17 November 2014 - 09:46 PM

The closest match I could find on Nudipixel seems to be Halgerda willeyi.  It's documented range (a triangle from Taiwan to Australia to Egypt) ) is huge.







#353658 Nudibranchs of PNG

Posted by troporobo on 24 October 2014 - 02:18 AM

Really fantastic work Dustin!  I can truthfully say I have not seen nudis like this before, and they are my favorite macro subject.  Thanks a lot for sharing.  

#352777 Papua New Guinea - Rolling in the Deep

Posted by troporobo on 21 September 2014 - 01:51 PM

Nice.  I'll have to try that setup with stills. Thanks for the tip.

#352720 Papua New Guinea - Rolling in the Deep

Posted by troporobo on 19 September 2014 - 03:26 PM

Absolutely gorgeous work!  Thanks for posting.  I especially like the macro sequences at the beginning, they are so well lit.  Speaking of which, how did you light the anemone that begins at about 2:50 to look like it is glowing from within?

#350798 PNG Baggage restrictions

Posted by troporobo on 25 July 2014 - 05:51 AM

Are you sure you can't check baggage all the way through? I've done it after arriving at BNE on at least 4 different airlines. Just go to the transfer desk, show the bag claim number, and they do the rest. Seems weird that it would require entering Australia only to check in again, rather than going to the transfer desk while in transit. But I have not had to do this myself so can't be sure.

If you did have to go through immigration and customs with your luggage, check in upstairs, then go back through the process the other direction, 2 hours is comfortable. BNE is not large and rarely very congested, and once you're checked in you're safe.

#349318 Hairy frog fish right ???

Posted by troporobo on 22 June 2014 - 02:41 AM

Not sure, but I think you are right.  Anyway, that is a spectacular photo!  Very nicely lit for such a tough subject.  Where did you shoot it?


You have some very nice shots in your Flickr galleries also.  The porcelain crab on a blue anemone is really something.