I can perhaps ad a photo later, but I have started using the Thinktank Airport International (roller) and I put the camera body and lenses in a small shoulder bag that fits within the "personal item" limits. I put a padded photo bag insert into the shoulder bag. I have started doing this because increasingly I see even "legal" bags being forced into checked baggage or gate checked because the overhead bins get full or some gate agent is overly aggressive.
I am less concerned about the potential resulting rough treatment for the housing and ports than the camera and lenses. I also figure housing and ports are less appealing to steal than a camera and lenses. So far I have not had any problems with the roller, but I am sure my turn will come.
I am able to get an E-M1 housing with tray and arms, two z-240 strobes, 170 dome, 100 dome, 12-50 and 4" ports in the bag along with a focus light and miscellaneous small things (spare parts, fiber optic cables, bulb blower, microfiber cloth, some batteries, . I don't usually take all of the ports and sometimes take different ports and I then move clamps or something else into the bag.
I have very, very little experience with underwater video, but from that experience and from what I have read, it is very difficult to do a good job "mixing" video and stills. They require a different mindset, different subjects, different lighting issues and so on. So, I have never worried much about video on my stills camera. I have a gopro and have played with that a bit and on occasion will take that on a dive instead of a stills camera. If video was more important to me and especially if I felt I needed high quality video and photo in one camera I would get the GH4. But for now I will, from time to time, take a short video with my stills camera on a dive, but it is just a minor thing.
I am sure there are those who can readily switch from taking nice stills to taking nice video and back again, and I am sure there are even more who would insist they can do that, but for me that just isn't what I am looking for.
FWIW, although I cannot judge this for myself, I think the video ability of the E-M1 is not so bad:
It wasn't long ago folks were raving about the video from the GH3. I suspect the E-M1 is capable of producing can take much better video than I can shoot.
I think if I wanted a camera to "take along" on dives rather than really having a goal of doing dive photography, I think I would get a Canon S120 or Sony RX100 and Nauticam or Recsea housing. I'd use a ULCS tray and single handle with an Inon S2000 strobe and then either have a red filter I could attach for video or maybe use dual handles and put the strobe on one and a video light on the other. That choice might change with a bunch of new camera models coming out between now and Photokina in September.
If instead you get the 12-50mm to be honest performance is quite average and the images soft in my opinion
So if you want to invest in the EM1/10 make sure you have budget for the best lenses and port, if you try a 12-50mm in the hope of having one size fit all you get results worse than a compact like the Sony RX100...
While I am not the greatest fan of the 12-50, I don't think I would go that far. The lens seems to do best in the wider focal lengths and from wide open to about f5.6. Everything I have read confirms the lens it at its worst around 50mm. At around 12-20mm or so and at wider apertures the lens is actually fairly good. It's macro is not bad. This also might be one argument for using the fancy Nauticam gear, as opposed to the "Austrian gear" solution. Placing the lens at 50mm and using a diopter certainly puts the lens in its weakest performance opportunity.
The lens' claim-to-fame of course is its versatility and for many users that makes up for less than stellar performance. While the best lenses cost a premium price, If one does not need the macro option there are a number of relatively low-cost lenses that are quite nice, such as the Panasonic 14mm and the Oly 9-18. Another lens that gets no attention for underwater use but has gotten very good reviews is the Panasonic 12-32. It is small and relatively inexpensive and if it worked in a 4 or 4.3" port it could be interesting.
The big thing, though is that if one used a Panasonic or Oly and is disappointed in the results, or simply wants to take full advantage of the options, it is a simple matter to swap ports and lenses. Even if one is only going to use the one lens, the upgrade path is clearer and easier with an interchangeable lens camera than a compact. The RX100 is a very nice compact, but considering how much I enjoy using the 8mm and 7-14 lenses I think I would be unhappy with the single zoom lens on the compact.
At the moment, I am really looking forward to getting the 12-40 with Zen dome in the water.
With that additional information I tend to agree. You are familiar with the Oly menus and quirks and if you are willing to buy an M10 body then that would be a good way to go. Ports can be used on another housing if you later up-size and from what I can tell, the M10 offers quite good IQ in a small package and the housing for it should work great with a single strobe on one side and a strap on the other. You can still run two strobes without adding a second handle or add another handle as well if you later want to. It seems that you would not likely take advantage of a lot of the "bells and whistles" of the E-M1 and its housing underwater, and the M10 body and housing will only cost about $200 more than the M1 housing alone.
If you need another Oly lens, look for one of the Oly bundles where they discount the lens with the body and that might make up the $200. If you are looking for a one-lens solution, consider the 12-50, either in the 4" semi-dome port or if macro is important, in the special Nauticam port that allows use of the macro function of the lens, although that is expensive.
There is a lot more flexibility in custom settings in the E-M1 and the Nauticam housing, including separating out the focus and shutter release functions. Just take a look at the number of buttons and dials on the housing and then consider that many of these can be assigned functions by the user and you will get an idea. Keep in mind that I know that to be the case but have not used the camera and housing, so the details of doing these things would be better explained by Phil Rudin and others and you can also find sources on the internet about the various setting options.
As far as the handles go, if you would normally use dual handles on a housing, the E-M1 housing and handles are no more bulky and possibly less so than other options and can be removed if desired. If you prefer to use a single handle on one side and then grip the housing on the other, I think the GX-7, E-M5 or E-M10 housing would be better although you could just use the E-M1 housing with a single arm or even no arm. Generally the benefit of two handles is that they provide the best placement and support for dual strobes, especially if they are the larger and heavier strobes. Some people also simply prefer the use of handles to hold the camera while others prefer to grip the housing. Some of this depends on the type of photography planned as well.
Your comment "I plan to use on flash, and maybe sometimes even without flash. I don't want to be dominated by photo equipment during diving, but I want to take good images of special moments/subjects during my dives" makes me think the E-M1 is overkill for what you want, and suggests to me that a smaller and simpler housing is probably what you want at this point. If you are diving with a an E-M1 and housing with dual arms and strobes, it will be a major factor in your dive. You might prefer a compact camera and housing over an interchangeable lens camera and housing with multiple ports.
Perhaps keep an eye on the classifieds and look for an older M43 camera and housing or something like a Panasonic Lx7, Sony RX100, Canon G or S series, and so on, and then if you decide you want something more you can move up...
Based on my experiences with a similar setup, I think you should consider getting getting the Stix Jumbo floats. http://stores.4gdphoto.com/
I use heavier strobes, a different tray and usually use a different port, so it is hard to be precise, but I would guess you would want to put 2 jumbo floats on each 8" arm and one jumbo float on each 5" arm. Possibly just four jumbo floats will be enough. You can increase or decrease the number of floats or swap some jumbo floats for large floats as you need. Of course some people want their rig to be neutral and others want it to be slightly negative.
If you are so inclined you can calculate the in-water weight of all your stuff and the flotation of each float and come up with a pretty precise mathematical computation of the flotation you need. I tend to just experiment and try to get what I want.
The floats are available from the manufacturer and from most of the usual online underwater photo stores.
Obviously this needs some extensive testing. I suggest we send a dedicated and unbiased researcher (that would be me) to the Caribbean for a grueling two-week regimen of test dives. I will thoroughly document the testing process and advise you of the results upon my return home. In regard to funding this research, please send a PM and I will send you my paypal address.
Now about this Scotch Mist; does adding lemon peel to a nice whisky really create an enjoyable beverage? I have my doubts but could probably experiment with that as well during the above two-week research project. No additional funding would be required for this. Plus, I could watch for condensation on my glass as I go from an air-conditioned room to the patio and supplement the fogging data.
No worries, I am fine. I am still inclined to think the vacuum offers some added seal at the surface but there clearly is a difference of opinion on that. It doesn't change anything for me either way, so I am perfectly content watching you more science-oriented types duke it out. Nothing much to watch on television lately anyway.
FWIW, I already decided to get the vacuum installed for its intended benefit and don't plan on treating the housing differently than before. I try to have the housing handed down to me from a boat. I was just wondering if there was any valid reason to believe a leak was less likely due to the vacuum at times when the housing is not otherwise under pressure. Curiosity more than any sort of buying decision. I am not really concerned about a cracked port or viewfinder. I see those as fairly unlikely for me and I suspect with or without the vacuum, such damage would most likely mean game over.
I am not sure you will get a lot of responses on this thread. FWIW, it is my opinion that the 14-45 is a slightly superior lens than the 14-42 but for underwater use, the differences would be minimal. Either is okay as a general purpose lens, and you can do decent macro with either lens and an adapter and close up lens, but neither is ideal for macro or wide angle. I would suggest deciding which you think is of more appeal (wide angle shots, including close focus wide angle, or macro shots of small things. If the former, look at getting a 7-14, 9-18 or 12mm lens, or my favorite, the 8mm fisheye. If macro, then get the 45 or 60mm macro lenses available for your system. If money is tight, you can do decent macro with what you have now, so I would look at a wide angle lens (unless wide angle is just not your interest. You will need to add a strobe fairly soon as well, although you can do a fair bit of natural light wide angle.
I would make this suggestion, though: Wait until you have been diving for awhile before dealing with the photography. Carrying a camera around complicates buoyancy and task loading at a time when you need to be focusing on diving skills. When you are feeling quite comfortable with your diving skills, then add a camera into the mix. For some this happens fairly fast; for some it takes awhile.
Now a shameless plug: I have a housing and ports for the GF-1 for sale in the classifieds and would be happy to make you a good deal on some or all of what I am selling.