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I was lucky enough to have been able to use the new Nauticam NA-EM5 housing for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 yesterday. I didn't have the time to do a full review, but managed to have a long dive with it.

 

i-BP7WZM6-M.jpg

 

I was also somewhat hampered by never having handled the camera above water! The housing and camera's owner Brett Thorpe of UK retailer Divelife and I literally swapped cameras underwater. I should also state at the outset that I have not used any other housings for this camera, so cannot compare it to anything else on the market. So some brief thoughts are appropriate.

 

The housing is very small and compact, and despite Brett's somewhat "interesting" lighting that was attached to it, seems well balanced in the water. On the left hand was the zoom control, a nice easily found knob. It features two ribbed control dials that allow for separate shutter speed and aperture settings. I find that this is much more user friendly than sharing these controls via a menu or control pad function.

 

i-tbnMrWs-M.jpg

 

I found the camera's EVF to be quite useful, even with the standard viewfinder. Given that I am used to magnifying and 45° viewfinders, the standard version felt somewhat awkward to use. It is just a question of getting used to it though. I can certainly see how the use of magnifying viewfinders with EVFs opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

 

The LCD screen can be tilted within the housing (prior to sealing it). This is very convenient for shooting video. The housing's window gives a full view of the entire LCD. The camera's on-screen display (and that of the EVF) gives a great deal of information.

 

i-xrcZHQW-M.jpg

 

Brett described how he finds accessing the camera's controls easier in the housing than on the camera body itself. Certainly, the controls seem well spread out on the housing. I was not using gloves, and had no issues using any of the housing controls at all. The shutter release is large and sensitive, and the housing has a "thumb groove" that provides a grip on the reverse. When using the tray grips, the shutter falls easily to hand. The video activation lever is quite small, but the lever is designed to stand proud of the housing body, so can be used easily. In fact, all the levers seemed to use this design, which makes them very functional despite their size.

 

i-cn2qtsK-M.jpg

 

This camera and housing combination would be incredibly well suited to any fast moving action (whale sharks, whales, dolphins, sailfish etc). Swimming with this housing is incredibly easy! Depending on the subject, combining it with small strobes will make a really useful tool. I do not think it replaces an SLR system for most underwater situations however. The camera and housing size is a compromise, and the controls, whilst very good, are not as easy to use as those on a larger housing.

 

One last though that is not relevant to the housing or camera's performance, and is entirely subjective, but the OM-D E-M5 is one good looking camera! I always felt that Olympus SLRs were iconic, and I think that the designers of this camera have managed to faithfully replicate this in a EVIL camera.

 

I would welcome any further questions about the housing or camera and will do my best to answer them if I can. Thanks to Brett for his images.

 

Adam.

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Hi Adam,

 

Just packed one to take on the Wetpixel Whalesharks expedition in the morning. Although not in such an unusual configuration.

 

Alex

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Saw a few big ones (whalesharks) in Malpelo in June. This one was about 50ft long.

post-4197-0-28778500-1343417050_thumb.jpg

Edited by John Bantin

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Congratulations on your 8,000th post Alex! and looking forward to Nr. 8001, especially if it is about your first experiences with the OM-D EM-5 and its housing.

 

Bart

Edited by Glasseye Snapper

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Hi Phil,

 

That first shot is truly an aw(e)fish, or did you leave out the J unintentionally. Very promising for macro and some of the wide-angle shots I have seen are great too. In terms of being a low-compromise SLR replacement the two remaining items on my checklist are viewfinder clarity and ability to autofocus on fast moving small fish, yellow/bluehead/rainbow wrasse ... Have you used the camera/housing long enough to have an opinion on that?

 

Bart

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You need to contact Nauticam about that, I did not do the posting.

 

AF with wide angle lenses is fast with lenses like the 12mm F/2 and 7-14 F/4, 9-18 or 8 fisheye you will not be disappointed.

 

Macro with the Panasonic 45mm or any macro lens for that matter is as much about technique as AF speed to me. Olympus has announced a 60mm macro coming later this year which should be excellent because it has a switch to limit the lens to a very short range of focus, like 1:1 to 1:1.1, 1:1 to 0.4 meters and so on.

 

How well the viewfinder will work for you is the same issue as it would be with any DSLR. Some housings like the Olympus E-M5 have no piclup finder (bad for viewfinder), the Nauticam NA-EM5 housing comes with a pickup finder which I am using now (much better) I have on order the replacement LCD window for the NA-EM5 housing which will allow me to use my Nauticam 45 degree viewfinder (excellent). The down sides are EVF's use battery power, I have done over 225 images with the 45 macro and a +10 C/U lens which involves some hunting as it would with any DSLR macro setup. Image quality in the viewfinder to me is as good or better than an APS-C size viewfinder image. If you go to a 35mm size sensor you will have a bigger image in the viewfinder.

 

Have you read the review by Alex Mustard posted on Wetpixel, if not you should it may help you further in making a choice, http://wetpixel.com/i.php/full/alex-mustard-reviews-olympus-om-d-e-m5/

 

The upsides become even more compeling when you add the Nauticam housing at its $1350.00 price point and the excellent lens choices offered by Olympus and Panasonic.

 

Phil Rudin

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Thanks Phil, I read Alex's review but he used it in the Olympus housing and he was not happy about the clarity of the viewfinder in that housing. Good to hear the standard Nauticam finder is already much better with the option to add an external viewfinder, something I will definitely consider. I like to hunt for small fish including some like wrasse, anthias and damsels that are hard to keep in focus even on DSLR, well at least on my old Canon 20D. But I can live with it if that is the only area where the m43 lags noticeably behind its bigger brethren. Maybe the greater DOF of the smaller sensor will be of some benefit to get a higher percentage of keepers.

 

We should have a lot more details very soon from Alex's current trip.

 

Bart

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@ Bart - I took it today, but didn't take it in. Will definitely make sure I dive it tomorrow.

 

Alex

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Here are a few shots from the OM-D E-M5 here in Mexico. All available light - investigating dynamic range. Using the Nauticam housing, Panasonic fisheye.

 

Cenotes:

 

Eleo in Lightbeams:

post-713-0-09141900-1343770652_thumb.jpg

 

Mario in beam:

post-713-0-56821800-1343770510_thumb.jpg

 

Shark (or is it a tadpole):

post-713-0-54683200-1343770871_thumb.jpg

 

Alex

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Woooowww !! The whale shark !!! Please Alex could you give us the exif of your pictures especially the last one smile.png

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Hey Alex,

So what do you think about the dynamic range; hard to see from the images, but they do not seem even close to what you got with your D4

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Hey Alex,

So what do you think about the dynamic range; hard to see from the images, but they do not seem even close to what you got with your D4

 

It's a bit hard for the poor small OMD to be compared to such a powerfull camera than the D4 ):

Edited by girelle

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Olympus OMD, Nauticam housing, Panasonic 8mm and two D1

 

post-3476-0-07129900-1343820552_thumb.jpg

Edited by fotosub70
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Great use of the 8mm fisheye on an wounderful subject.

 

Phil Rudin

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Can anyone that has used the Olympus E-M5 underwater tell me if they noticed any ttl lag when using this with a strobe. I have read in some other reviews that users have experienced ttl lag with the combination of the official Olympus housing and non-olympus strobes.

 

Shaun

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I did not notice any lag with my rig when shooting ttl. I have the Nauticam housing and Sea and Sea D1 strobes using fiber optic cables.

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Yes, there is a little lag when using the OMD with TTL optical with the YS-D1s. I'd rather not have any shutter lag, but in most cases, it's not so much as to be a problem and the perfect flash exposures every time more than make up for it. When I really can't afford the shutter lag or wait for the internal strobe to recycle, I use the 1/64th power setting on the OMD's internal strobe, and go completely manual. In this case, there is no shutter delay.

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Thanx heaps - I don't see the ttl lag as being a major issue as most of my subjects are fairly stationary - was just looking for confirmation on how to deal with this. Any ideas on how the E-M5 handles video under water with focusing?

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You will wan to use manual focus with video. Continuous auto focus will hunt continuously, just like almost any other camera. If you are using the 8mm fisheye, just set it at around f8, prefocus on say, your fin, and the depth of field is so huge that you're good to go for most subjects.

 

Thanx heaps - I don't see the ttl lag as being a major issue as most of my subjects are fairly stationary - was just looking for confirmation on how to deal with this. Any ideas on how the E-M5 handles video under water with focusing?

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Yes, there is a little lag when using the OMD with TTL optical with the YS-D1s.

 

Note that on the OM-D you should set Menu -> Shooting Menu 2 -> RC Mode -> Off. If RC Mode is on there will be a lag when shooting TTL. I can't really see any lag with RC Mode off.

Edited by coroander

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Thanks Hermit Crab. I have been shooting with RC Mode Off. The TTL delay is there and relates to the pre flash. Like I said, it's not that bad and the perfect flash exposures every time more than makes up for it. Those who have been shooting with compact cameras will probably not notice it at all. Those who are used to their 5D MKIII with YS-250's will definitely notice.

 

There is no way to eliminate the TTL delay except by going completely manual. The other issue that slows you down in rapid fire shooting is the recycle time of the camera's on-board flash. And you can minimize that by setting manual strobe power to 1/64.

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I have posted some images taken with the new 60mm macro lens here, http://www.digitaldi...art=15#lastPost

 

Hi Phil,

 

How do you rate it compared with the other macro lens options?

 

Alex

 

Note that on the OM-D you should set Menu -> Shooting Menu 2 -> RC Mode -> Off. If RC Mode is on there will be a lag when shooting TTL. I can't really see any lag with RC Mode off.

 

Thanks Hermit Crab. I have been shooting with RC Mode Off. The TTL delay is there and relates to the pre flash. Like I said, it's not that bad and the perfect flash exposures every time more than makes up for it. Those who have been shooting with compact cameras will probably not notice it at all. Those who are used to their 5D MKIII with YS-250's will definitely notice.

 

There is no way to eliminate the TTL delay except by going completely manual. The other issue that slows you down in rapid fire shooting is the recycle time of the camera's on-board flash. And you can minimize that by setting manual strobe power to 1/64.

 

Thanks for the info, guys.

 

Alex

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I have used the Panasonic 45 macro for some time now and I like the longer range of the 60mm and the focus speed better. IQ looks about the same to me with the Olympus having a slight edge. Until I see a quality 25/30 mm range macro I will hold onto the 45mm for larger subjects. I will be shooting the 60 with the focus range locked and with a +10 closeup later this week.

 

I also used the Olympus 50 macro (outstanding lens) for years with my DSLR systems but do not want to go to the adapter and extended port when I think the 60 is as sharp a lens and has much faster focus.

 

I would love to see a tele converter in the 1.4 to 1.5 range for the 60 macro and the 8mm fisheye.

 

Phil

Edited by Phil Rudin

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