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Pomacentridae

Micro 4/3 Lens Recommendations

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Hi All,

Just invested into the micro 4/3 system for underwater photography. I've already bought the 60mm f/2.8 as my macro lens.

Was hoping for suggestions on what lens is good for general photography, close focus, wide angle shots?

I am not sure where to begin. I've always done macro so not sure what to look for in a wide angle/ general shooting lens. 

I am considering the Olympus 8mm f1.8 for wide angle/close focus work. But with the 8mm and 60mm that seems to leave a large focal range in the middle that I am unable to cover.

Thanks

 

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The 8mm Fisheye is a good choice. Alternatively you can cover the inbetween buy using a 14-42mkII lens and using the WWL-1 Wetlens. I'd prefer the Fisheye for two reasons: It's lighter and it's wider which will be useful for most shots. I would not bother with any of the larger domes and rectilinear wides (8-18mm, 7-14mm etc). I also don't think lenses like the 12-40 PRO or similar are that useful underwater. 

People seem to look at lenses with a completionist mindset, trying to cover all the focal lengths, but it's really not necessary to cover everything from the start. WWL-1 or Fisheye is the choice you have really.

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30 minutes ago, hyp said:

I would not bother with any of the larger domes and rectilinear wides (8-18mm, 7-14mm etc).

Why is this so? Could you expound on the reasoning? I have zero experience with those.

33 minutes ago, hyp said:

I also don't think lenses like the 12-40 PRO or similar are that useful underwater.

Why are the mid-ranged focal length not that useful for you? Is it because those ranges are typically not wide or close enough for underwater use?

37 minutes ago, hyp said:

People seem to look at lenses with a completionist mindset

Haha I feel that is me in my case -- wanting to complete it. If the advice I get is the 8mm and 60mm will cover most underwater photo subjects, then I'll be happy with just those two!

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The 8mm is a good lens, however I would temper that advice as I think it has a lot to do with what sort of subjects you are shooting.  The 8mm is great for reef scenics and big schools of fish  but potentially not long enough for shyer animals like some sharks. 

Diving temperate waters around Sydney I use the 12-40mm a lot, perfect for weedy sea dragons (about 350-400mm long) they stress if you push too close to them, it's also good for schools of fish you can't get close enough to, things like giant cuttlefish and large nudis on the same dive -  It focuses down almost on the dome and you can fill the frame with a 60-70mm long nudi at 40mm focal length and there are no issues using the 170mm Zen dome that is quiet compact.  Really depends on the subjects around your site. 

Another somewhat expensive option is the adapted Canon 8-15mm fisheye which zooms from full frame fisheye to something equivalent to the horizontal field of view of a 13mm lens (67° x 50° field - 88° diagonal).    I'm mixing up rectilinear and fisheye fields of view to explain this.  Fisheyes stretch most in the corners so an 8mm FE has 180° on the diagonal or about 130° horizontally which is equivalent to a 10mm lens.  When zoomed to 15mm the horizontal field is about 67° which is the same horizontal coverage as a 13mm rectilinear lens but has the diagonal coverage of an 11m lens.  all on m43 format. 

So the 8-15 gives coverage from an 8mm fisheye to 13mm rectilinear which is about the same as an 8mm fisheye lens plus a 7-14 rectilinear.  You need to buy an n85 - N120 adapter, a 30mm extension ring the Canon zoom gear and the 140mm Nauticam glass dome port so the costs add up on top of an already expensive lens.  You save on buying a separate dome to cover the 7-14 lens but can't use the 12-40.  If you went with a 12-40 you could use the same dome for the 7-14 and possibly use that with 8mm FE, at a cost of losing a bit of close focus capability from having a bigger dome.

There's also arguments over whether to use the 100mm size dome or the bigger 140mm Nauticam dome for the 8mm fisheye.

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Rectilinear wides need big domes (e.g. 7" for the 8-18) so that you can get sharp corners. They are good to use underwater (I personally use one, because I got my setup used), but if you are starting fresh the WWL with a cheap kit lens is about the same price or cheaper as a Panasonic 8-18mm and big dome. If really straight lines are important to you (wrecks) than they are still a good option. The other benefit is that this setup will be quite good for splits. For everything else I feel the 14-42mkII + WWL gives superior image quality and is also more flexible, giving a wider range of useful focal lengths, because it's basically two lenses in one. 

A fisheye behind a small dome is probably the most economic wideangle and since I got mine I've rarely used the 8-18mm. The only reason I don't have a WWL-1 is that I can't afford one.

The adapted fisheye zooms mentioned by @ChrisRoss are an even better solution than just a pure fisheye. They give you a full fisheye but also the option to zoom in a little bit. This is probably the best solution there is, but also complicated with multiple adapters (one for the lens, one for the port) needed. Like the WWL-1 I don't have one because I can't afford it.

Lenses like the 12-40 are good for fishportraits. I just think that unless you own that lens already for topside, it's a bit too much investment for something which you will not use all that often unless fishportraits are you favourite type of photo. I own the Olympus 12-50mm and put that into my domeport on a dive in Bunaken once and was annoyed the whole dive, because it was not wide enough for reefscapes and I could not close enough for macros. 

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Hi Pomacentridae,

First, there is the option to take a very good standard zoom (ideally with internal zoom and focus - I am not shure such a lens exists) behind planport and use together with wet lenses for macro and WA, but I do not have experience with this, so cannot say much...

 

I only can tell what is useful/not useful for me personally, from the lens/port combinations I own:

#1.: WA-rectilinear.: Indeed the Pana 7-14 behind Zen DP170 does not give good IQ, especially at 7mm (I almost never use this combination any more). Maybe the Pana 8-19 behind Nauticam 180 gives better results, both because the Nauticam port is a larger section of the same sphaere, compared to Zen and also because 8mm is not as wide as 7mm. There are reports in this forum that real good IQ with rectilinear WA in this range can only be achieved with larger domes, the optimum beeing the Zen DP200 (that is, unfortunately, not sold any more; there is still sold an identical/similar (?) port by AOI, but I did not read in any forum that someone was testing it so far).

#2.: WA-fisheye.: IQ is excellent, already with the Zuiko 8mm (likely identical with pana 8mm), but as Chris says, the Canon 8-15mm (with Metabones 1x Smart adapter) is much more versatile as it allows to zoom in to some extend, what is often very useful. I use it both with Nauticam 140 and Zen DP170, in both cases IQ is brilliant. Eventually it could be used also with Zen DP100, but I do not have this very small dome, so cannot say. Also the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye (with Metabones 0.71x speedbooster) gives practically the same IQ with both domes to my eyes (However, what you save with the cheaper Tokina lens (that is a lousy lens over the water) you spend at least partially for the extra price of the speedbooster, compared to the glassless 1x adapter). To my personal opinion and preferences a fisheye is highly desireable for WA with MFT, a zoom fisheye even more...

#3.: "Normal" range: Like Chris, I am excited about the Zuiko 12-40mm Pro, behind a domeport (Zen DP170, in my case). Due to the domeport, the IQ is brilliant at 12mm (As good as the fisheyes above) and you can zoom in as far as to 40mm. This lens is the optimum for fish portrait, but also for shyer animals e.g. schooling hammerhead sharks (not the feeded ones!).

 

In case you go for a domeport, I would buy the N120 versions and use with N85-N120 adapter: You need different extensions anyhow for the different lenses, even when using a port with built in extension. The N120 with appropriate extension/adapter costs more in the beginning, compared to a N85 port with built in extension, but when you, at some time, grade up to another camera system (APS-C or FF) you can continue to use the N120 domeports. You have to check the portcharts to see what extensions you need...

In case you go only for a fisheye, the Nauticam 140 is the optimum, since it is reasonably small, eventually the DP100 will work also. If you want to use also the 12-40mm Pro (and/or the 7-14mm), I would go, at least at the beginning, with the Zen DP170 N120: With the N85-N120 34.8mm adapter you can use the Zuiko 8mm as it is. Add a 35mm extension and you can use the Canon 8-15mm (1x) and with a 25mm extension you can use the12-40mm Pro and the Pana 7-14mm. The Nauticam 180 likely works a little bit better with the 7-14mm (still not the optimum), but you have to check out the extensions by yourself...

Wolfgang

Edited by Architeuthis

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3 hours ago, hyp said:

Lenses like the 12-40 are good for fishportraits. I just think that unless you own that lens already for topside, it's a bit too much investment for something which you will not use all that often unless fishportraits are you favourite type of photo. I own the Olympus 12-50mm and put that into my domeport on a dive in Bunaken once and was annoyed the whole dive, because it was not wide enough for reefscapes and I could not close enough for macros. 

The 12-40 actually gets better magnification than the 12-50 if you can't access the macro switch.  I would agree at Bunaken I also wouldn't use the 12-40 most dives, but in temperate waters there's no shortage of subjects and not all of them fish - in murky waters using a 60mm macro for subjects bigger than maybe 150mm long is asking for trouble as the camera AF grabs particulates instead of the subject and if it doesn't backscatter is plentiful.  In Sydney we have giant cuttlefish, octopus, weedy sea dragons, blue groper, large seahorses, small sea fans, sponge gardens and nudis big enough for the 12-40.  I also put it to good use diving in California and also took it to Exmouth Navy pier and to shoot grey nurse sharks on sites a little out of Sydney.  Again it depends on where you dive the most and the type of subjects you find there.

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In the mediterranean sea where i am i only use the 8mm Pana with a 3.5" dome (nauticam) that is super compact super sharp and lets me do CFWA even with some nudibranch shot. For macro the 60mm is excellent. (But i also use the 30mm Pana).

Mid range is a bit hard to get. But useful in tropical waters and to get sharks etc. I used the 12-50mm oly at f 8.0 and a flip-on CMC installed in the 4" semidome port with reasonable success. But i would recommend the 14-42mm pana mk2 with wwl1 or wwlc.

Andrea

Sent from my LG-H870 using Tapatalk

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There are some good posts about using standard zooms in this thread. Goes to show that what we need really depends on what we want to shoot.

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Hi @ChrisRoss and @Architeuthis, thank you I appreciate the feedback. I agree that it'll greatly depend on what you are shooting. In my mind, I've categorized them into wide, mid-range and macro.

For the wide-angle, I might stick with the 8mm fisheye given the cost/complexity of the other rectilinear/zoom fish options being proposed. I saw that with the Olympus 8mm there is an in-camera fish eye correction to rectilinear. Do you have any thoughts on that? Was wondering if the 8mm might be good for shots where I need straight line straight (with the correction).

For the mid-range, I do have both the 14-42 and 12-40 already. The 12-40 I use it as my main lens above water and the 14-42 I got a free port for it already. Are there any advantages the 12-40 over the 14-42 that might make getting a port for the 12-40 worth it in the future for me? I am trying not to sink too much money into my system (despite it being very tempting to get everything under the sun), so I am very happy with just making do. At the end of the day just want a versatile system that I can use to shot wide, mid-range and macro.

Hi @hyp, thanks. I'll look into the WWL option given I already have a 14-42 with a port -- seems to be a versatile mix. I will weigh it versus getting a dedicated 8mm lens and small dome port. Any thoughts on what type of WWL is best? The options seem to be Nauticam WWL-1 (Expensive at 1,400USD), AOI UWL-09 PRO (a little cheaper 1,100USD) , Inon UWL-H100 (Cheaper 700USD). The inon seems to be very attractive given the size and cost.

Edited by Pomacentridae

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The 12-40 in a dome walks all over the 14-42 in a flat port at the wide end.  The corners are going to be quite ordinary through a flat port.  They will of course improve with a wet lens.  At the long end the magnification on the 14-42 variants varies  among the many variants.  The 12-40 gets 0.3x at 40mm so at min focus the frame covers 58mm across the horizontal axis.

The INON is not zoom through so more limiting and also not as wide 100° vs 130°.  You can get the dome for some variants but it's a dry dome with an o-ring seal so you can't take the dome off underwater  and suddenly the lens is not so compact.  You can put it on a flip mount to quickly increase your field of view, more so if the dome is not installed.

Note that comparing fisheye and rectilinear is a little tricky the 8mm FE is 180° diagonal and 130° across the frame  the WWL is 130° on the diagonal which seems a lot smaller but on the horizontal axis it covers about 110 -115° or so, which is closer to the filed of view.  Fisheyes stretch the corners a lot more so than the horizontal and vertical field. 

While in theory you can take the WWL off underwater, in practice it's a big heavy lump of glass you don't want to drop so you need to put it somewhere - but where??  It heavy even UW so if you get your rig near neutral and take it off it's likely to go positive - which is really painful so ideally you want to stow attached to the rig - probably on an arm, but probably not ideal.  I think it's a Panasonic variant that's recommended as the best match for a WWL and you need to have the recommended port for your variant to avoid vignetting and loss of field of view - the front element needs to be close to the port glass.

You also need to remove it UW to burp it to clear air bubbles from between WWL and flat port glass before you start shooting- the bubbles tend to cling.   If you don't remove it to get the 14-42 range you have a roughly 10-30mm rectilinear equivalent field of view that focuses down to the  front element. 

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I would recommend the Panasonic 8mm over the Olympus 8mm, yes the Oly is F1.8 but I dont think we will ever shoot at f1.8 underwater.  The Oly is also a lot longer than the Pana lens so you might need to get an extension ring depending on you set up, for my Epl10 I needed to get an extension ring to use the Oly I did not for the Pana.  I also have the 60mm macro and its a great lens.  These are the only two lenses that I am taking underwater at the moment.

 

I also have the Oly 12-40 F4 Pro and I'm looking to get the Oly 40-150 f2.8 Pro and Oly 42mm (non pro) in the near future, these would be used for topside photography.

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3 hours ago, Dann-Oh said:

I would recommend the Panasonic 8mm over the Olympus 8mm, yes the Oly is F1.8 but I dont think we will ever shoot at f1.8 underwater.  The Oly is also a lot longer than the Pana lens so you might need to get an extension ring depending on you set up, for my Epl10 I needed to get an extension ring to use the Oly I did not for the Pana.  I also have the 60mm macro and its a great lens.  These are the only two lenses that I am taking underwater at the moment.

 

I also have the Oly 12-40 F4 Pro and I'm looking to get the Oly 40-150 f2.8 Pro and Oly 42mm (non pro) in the near future, these would be used for topside photography.

I have the Panasonic and find it has purple fringing in the corners - it's mostly removable in post processing but not 100%.  This might be due to a different wavelength cut off filter on Olympus vs Panasonic cameras.  Here's a thread on the topic:

You will definitely need more extension for the olympus - just consult the port charts. 

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Just wanted to add this to the topic as I found the video very relevant to my questions:

 

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On 1/19/2021 at 2:05 PM, Pomacentridae said:

 

For the wide-angle, I might stick with the 8mm fisheye given the cost/complexity of the other rectilinear/zoom fish options being proposed. I saw that with the Olympus 8mm there is an in-camera fish eye correction to rectilinear. Do you have any thoughts on that? Was wondering if the 8mm might be good for shots where I need straight line straight (with the correction).

 

I realised I didn't answer this one - sounds like a good  idea, I've never tried it , but any time you start doing stuff like that you degrade image quality and if it's already degraded could produce some odd results potentially?  This link has some samples:  https://www.creativeislandphoto.com/blog/8mm-fisheye-correction

note that it gives slightly greater field of view than a 7mm rectilinear and the corrected image is a jpeg - maybe not ideal for UW as it gives you less correction head room.

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I think the correction is also available to the RAW file in Olympus Workspace. Also most other foto editors have reasonably good defishing options. The good thing about the Olympus option is mostly, that you can compose with the correction mind, because it already shows on the camera display. 

 

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2 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

I realised I didn't answer this one - sounds like a good  idea, I've never tried it , but any time you start doing stuff like that you degrade image quality and if it's already degraded could produce some odd results potentially?  This link has some samples:  https://www.creativeislandphoto.com/blog/8mm-fisheye-correction

note that it gives slightly greater field of view than a 7mm rectilinear and the corrected image is a jpeg - maybe not ideal for UW as it gives you less correction head room.

I also think that de-fishing in camera is not really required (I presume it only effects the JPEG, not the raw file, but do'nt know since I do not use it).

I often de-fish the 8mm fisheye images later in Lightroom, not 100%, just a bit until the image looks the optimum for my taste. Both complete fisheye look as well as 100% de-fished is sometimes to harsh for my taste...

 

Wolfgang

Edited by Architeuthis

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2 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

note that it gives slightly greater field of view than a 7mm rectilinear and the corrected image is a jpeg - maybe not ideal for UW as it gives you less correction head room.

From my I understanding in the Fisheye correction mode, it will record both a corrected JPEG Image and the Uncorrected RAW image. You can do WB and undistort the RAW in Olympus Workspace.  I've also looked at Architectural and Real Estate Photography forums, the opinion is mostly positive when it comes to the corrected results with no discernable artifacts.

2 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

any time you start doing stuff like that you degrade image quality and if it's already degraded could produce some odd results potentially?

I try to think of it as image enhancements haha I've done work in the laboratory before where we map and measure lens properties and we code corrections for distortions. Based on what I know, I think the Olympus algorithm is similar in process (the correction is calibrated for this specific lens). But we don't know, I'll do some experiments once I am able to get the 8mm and test in the pool.

Edited by Pomacentridae

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