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Member Since 23 Nov 2012
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 07:46 AM

#348404 Sony A7 with 24-70 & Nik 15mm

Posted by deepbluemd on 30 May 2014 - 12:54 PM

I agree with the previous comment about the importance of fast autofocus. I have both a Sony A7r and an OMD EM-1 and have shot them both extensively on land. While I love the image quality of the full frame sensor, and have seriously considered a Nauticam housing for it, I decided to house my EM-1 primarily because of its much faster/accurate autofocus. While shooting underwater, whether its in current, surge, less than gin-clear water, or low lighting conditions, one does not need any help producing blurry out-of-focus images.

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#324240 Olympus OM-D E-M5

Posted by deepbluemd on 11 January 2013 - 04:40 AM

I am not for a second suggesting that the equipment is more important than the photographer. Ansel Adams said " you don't take a great photograph, you make it". And no where is the dependency on the photographer more true than underwater photography, especially if you step back and consider what we do. We immerse ourselves in a foreign medium where a simple mistake can be deadly. We have to learn to dive and become certified before ever pulling a shutter. We ensconce our camera gear in clunky housings to protect it from the elements, but making it cumbersome and unwieldy. And we shoot in a world where the spectrum of available light is so skewed that unless you know how to add it back, your pictures look like crap. And we try to shoot subjects that may dart around so fast you barely have time to fire off a shot. So the UW photographer must overcome many obstacles not faced by our land based counterparts. But all these reasons also reinforce the notion that we can take all the help we can get from high quality equipment....

#324219 Olympus OM-D E-M5

Posted by deepbluemd on 10 January 2013 - 07:41 PM

Just to play devils advocate, or at least offer an alternative view, I think the 12-50 one-size-fits-all solution needs a little deeper consideration. In all honesty, I'm a little puzzled by the support it has received on this forum. It may be a great option for some, but may not be what others are looking for. At the very least, I think potential buyers should do their homework, and consider their own underwater photography background and interests. After reading all the reviews I could find about the 12-50, I wasn't even sure I wanted to buy it but it was offered with the camera body at a decent price and I thought it would be nice to have topside and I was curious about it for UWP. Here was my hesitation: the professional photographers and review sites that have carefully addressed the lens properties have been largely unimpressed with the 12-50 (see reviews by Thom Hogan, Ming Thein, Lenstip, pekkapotka, etc). The lens has been described as having "average image quality, awful distortion, and lacking in microcontrast". Its been called the "jack of all trades master of none", and described as a "swiss army knife- handy, but ultimately does not distinguish itself at any one task". Potka and Hogan have both said that the lens is better suited to video than still photography. While there have been other reviews of the "oh its not that bad" variety (Steve Huffington etc), its still not a lens that has garnered lavish praise from the professional MFT community, say the way the Olympus 60mm Macro has. My own impressions, from my own shots and the ones I've seen posted, are that the the prime lenses (8mm, 60mm, 45mm) offer better image quality. So while the 12-50 probably offers the greatest zoom flexibility, and the Nauticam port probably enables the lens the best, it still won't be my first choice if I'm aiming for top image quality from the EM5 system. Buyers should also recognize that the Nauticam port is one of the most expensive non-dome ports available and is also the only port/gear I know of that requires a detailed set of instructions on the mechanism assembly which involves the installation of 12 tiny screws to complete. This may prove cumbersome if you decide to end diving for the day and shoot the 12-50 topside and removal and replacement of the mechanism becomes a non-trivial decision. Also, shooting at 12 mm wide in a flat port won't be ideal if your goal is true WA images, and 50 mm macro (even with 2x crop factor) doesn't really feel macro enough compared to what I've been used to shooting (nikon 105 +/ - a 10+diopter) . Having performed my own careful comparisons in the swimming pool (shooting a silly orange & green toy), as well as topside comparisons, I'm not totally disatisfied with the 12-50 performance on the EM5. In fact, given the reviews, it was better than I was expecting. But after pixel peeping in Lightroom and examining image quality comparison to my other two lenses, I still would rate the image quality higher from the 8mm fisheye and the 60 macro lenses.

An UW photographer's setup is a deeply personal choice, and should reflect one's diving interests, photography knowledge and skill, and at least for most people, financial considerations. (I've yet to read a post where somebody said, "money is no object, what should I buy?") For me when starting out in UWP, I shot digital compact cameras (G9&11) so I understand the appeal of zoom capability on a single dive. But as time has gone on, and I've taken on DSLR gear, I find myself diving more frequently in locations that favor a single type of UW photography. For example, I spent a month in Indonesia last year, 3 weeks of which was in Lembeh. Consequently, my 60 and 105mm lenses were the only lenses on my d7000 while muck diving. Once I tried shooting WA but the visibility made this a pointless exercise. Conversely, if you are going to Socorro or some other pelagic destination, you may never take off your 10-17, 8mm fisheye, or whatever WA option you have available. Therefore, if you are the kind of diver that typically dives places with a predominant underwater focus, getting optimal image quality from deadicated primes, as opposed to flexibility, may be the best route. So when I considered getting an EM5, my own goal was not to seek a single lens/port solution to all my diving photography needs, but rather to purse the best image quality I could find. I went with 8mm Pan as a surrogate for my tokina 10-17, and the oly 60 mm macro in lieu of my nikon macro glass.

But I also have the 12-50 for the same reasons articulated by its supporters, so please note that this is NOT an anti-12-50 post....this lens offers something unique, I get it. Those that argue that the zoom capabilities of a 12-50 allow you to shoot every subject in a single dive are right..... you can, or at least you can shoot a wider range of subjects than with primes. And thats a good thing. But for me, I enjoy the idea of checking out a diving location, looking at water visibility, the amount of sunlight, the color of the water, and learning about the potential macrolife, and then making a decision of whether to shoot macro, WA, or something in between. This way, when I dive, I'm in the mindset of looking for creative image opportunities for the equipment I'm carrying, and I'll happily watch a beautiful spotted eagle ray cruise by and then resume hunting for tiny critters with a macro lens on my camera. I don't feel shattered that I missed a picture of the ray. For me, I've become more interested in creating interesting images than in documenting what I see underwater. And I know somebody will write back and say they can do that better with a zoom lens, fine, to each his own. As I said at the outset, this is an alternative view to that being repeatedly recommended in previous posts.

So the best advice is to do your research, read the reviews and opinions of those in the know, and assess your own diving and UW photography needs, and get the lens and port options you feel best align with your interests. You can improve your diving skills, learn to do better creative lighting and composition, and learn to adjust the feature set of the camera, all to improve the quality of the images-- but the image quality of an individual lens is a fixed property of that lens.

just my 2 cents.

(Leaving for a liveaboard on the GBR tomorrow....can't wait!)

#323762 Time to Upgrade: Oly OM-D EM-5 vs. Nikon D7000

Posted by deepbluemd on 03 January 2013 - 05:40 PM

Tough Decision!

I have both systems, except both are in Nauticam housings: OMD Em5 with Pan 8mm fisheye, Oly 60 macro and Oly 12-50 zoom and the d7000 with 105 macro, 60 macro, Tokina 10-17, shooting with z240s and S-2000s. Ok, I know what you are thinking....so NO I'm not a spoiled gear ho, my wife shoots one of the systems when we go on dive trips --she's rarely underwater without a camera in her hand. Also, I've owned Ikelite systems as well, so I know there is a $ appeal of going that route too.

Anyway, I am honestly am not sure what system I would choose if I had to pick one, they both have their pros and cons. The OMD EM5 just won the dpreview camera of 2012, and I think that honor is well deserved. Certainly the OMD setup is more compact, easier to travel with, and I have to say I'm really impressed with the easy ergonomics of diving with it, especially holding the housing directly with the right hand instead of a handle. Also the EM5 has the most amazingly customizable menu, and I love the large OLED monitor while shooting underwater. You can hold the system out at arms length sometimes to get a shot and still see how you are framing a subject, live! Very cool. I'm leaving mid-January for 2 weeks in Australia but will only be on the GBR for 4 days. We've decided to only take one system and its going to be the EM5, partly cuz its new for me and I want to learn what it can do, and partly because of the reasons I've stated above. But if I were going to be diving the whole 2 weeks, I think I'd deal with the heavier and bulkier system and take the d7000, mostly because I might give a slight image quality nod to that system. Its a proven, high quality system, and has great glass options both above and below water. Plus I love shooting supermacro and the 105 plus a Macromate lets me shoot the really tiny stuff. The optical viewfinder lets you see incredible detail before pulling the shutter.

But I can tell you, the thought has actually crossed my mind to sell the whole d7000 system to downsize the kit to make it easier to fly, travel and dive with cuz lugging two camera setups is a pain. My initial experience with the EM5 has been that positive. But one other thing that is also holding me up, is that I am very impressed with the Nauticam NA-D7000 housing. Its fantastic. There is a big difference in the build quality and feel between the EM5 and D7000 Nauticam housings with a big edge to the latter.

Anyway, there's plenty of threads discussing features of both setups but I think you can get amazing shots and have fun with either system.



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#321998 Olympus OM-D E-M5

Posted by deepbluemd on 04 December 2012 - 05:28 PM

Thanks to those for sharing their ergonomic setups.

I think the configuration being described above is illustrated in a few of the attached photos, minus the hand strap which simply attaches to the right hand side of the housing. An M10 Strobe mount (aka 10 mm or 1 cm diameter threaded ball mount adapter) fits into a threaded, reinforced slot at the top right side of the NA-EM5 housing near the Fn2 button and top control dial. I took a few photos of the stripped down system without a port or fiberoptic cables, just to show the Flexitray with single Left handle, and the M10 ball mount adapter, each with a single strobe arm. As mentioned previously, this allows you to have a better hand grip on the right side of the housing for shutter and button control, but allows right and left strobes to have separate attachments, and the cold shoe slot is free for a ball mount adapter for focus/video light. Here ya go:

Attached Images

  • NA-EM5 strobe mounts 1.jpg
  • NA-EM5 strobe mounts 2.jpg
  • NA-EM5 strobe mounts 3.jpg
  • NA-EM5 strobe mounts 4.jpg