DEMA 2007: Olympus America

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Olympus Imaging America #208
October 31, 2007 - 3:05PM

Olympus America's booth at DEMA represents the second time Olympus has represented their underwater products at DEMA.

Olympus compact cameras have always been very popular in the underwater photography community, and I personally knew probably dozens of people who used their venerable C-4040 and C-5050 cameras in red PT housings. With the introduction of the Four Thirds standard, Olympus is now pushing their tiny Evolt E-410 SLR ($700 w/lens) and professional E-3 SLR. Olympus doesn't make a housing for the E-3 yet, but it does make the PT-03 housing for the E-410 SLR.

The PT-03 housing for E-410 SLR has both wired and optical bulkheads, officially supporting TTL with Olympus strobes. The wired bulkhead is proprietary, but 10-Bar (coverage coming) has an conversion cable, and someone in Germany can swap out the bulkhead for you as well. There is a nice underwater system chart in their product literature which shows what ports and accessories you will need for specific lenses, but I can't find it anywhere online. I have asked Olympus to send it to me so I can put it up on Wetpixel.

Olympus was also showing the PT-037 housing for the SP-560 UZ ("ultrazoom", with 18X optical zoom -- not so useful underwater, but cool on land). The SP-560 is a high-end compact camera, featuring RAW shooting and full manual control. It is compatible with Olympus' shared flash system, the UFL-1 (which also has accessory arms available), but because Olympus is still weak on strobe options, I'd probably recommend going with a third-party strobe and using optical sync.

Olympus also offers housings for pretty much all of their Stylus series compact cameras. One Stylus, the 790 SW, is both shockproof and waterproof, and can be submerged up to 10 feet without springing a leak. There's a built-in LED focus light when used in supermacro mode, too. A float strap for buoyancy is available (so you don't lose the 790 SW if you drop it while snorkeling or rafting), and all of the housings (probably) support counterweights for neutral buoyancy. Styluses in housings are all buoyant without counterweights.