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Olympus E-Pl1; good beginner camera?

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What is the opinion on the Oly E-Pl1 as a beginner camera for underwater photo? I am on a budget and plan on using it for free diving. I have seen setups for under $1000. Is it decent enough that I will not outgrow it quickly, and are there any other options recommended for a setup?

 

Thanks!

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I would say yes, its a good starter camera with room to grow. I had one for a couple of years and got good results once i figured out the basics. Lighting was the biggest hurdle for me with this camera.

 

A couple of tips that might help: the new Oly 12-50 is a much better lens than the 14-42 that usually comes with the E-PL1, with better range at both ends and quite usuable macro; the Oly housing is just OK but the Nauticam is way better in functionality and handling; and the Oly strobes are not at all useful on that camera but the Inon S2000 are a great match.

 

All that said, my move to an EM-5 in a Nauticam housing was a quantum leap in every way, so if you can stretch the budget its worth considering. Another option, since you will be free diving, would be a Canon S110 and a couple of wet lenses, a setup that can also produce very good results from a very compact rig.

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Would it be worth only buying an EM-5 with the nauticam housing, and not purchasing flash for now (just because of budget)? I am mainly interested in wide angle, so in clear water, is there usually enough ambient light to get a good shot (at least while learning)? Thanks for all the info.

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Hi,

 

If you are only using it for free diving in clear water you can probably do without any strobe for now. If your budget stretches to the EM-5 with the Nauticam housing….. Go for it. If your taking wide angle shots you probably want to think about a dome port though, that is going to add to the cost depending on your lens choice.

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. . . so in clear water, is there usually enough ambient light to get a good shot (at least while learning)?

Yes, you can get good shots, as long as you learn about white balance and are shooting close to the surface in very clear water. Here is an example, shot with my former E-PL1, at about 5m on a bright day, with white balance adjusted on the computer afterwards:

 

8247404840_734505918f_z.jpg

 

But be warned, you will eventually want additional light! For example, I cannot think of a way to properly expose a reef scene with a bright surface visible (much less a sunball) in the frame without a strobe

Edited by troporobo

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