When I had only been at Scubatravel a short while I posted a review of my new choice of camera kit, which was the Olympus OMD EM5 and it’s practical use as a large sensored, but travel friendly solution. Click here to see this review.
The All-In-One concept
And because of a quirk of it’s kit lens, it was able to be used with wet add on lenses, both wide and macro underwater all on the same dive.
At the time this was a bit of a revolution as wet lenses had up until then been a mainstay, and a key selling point of more traditional compact cameras,but hindered for high end use by a tiny imaging sensor.
Since then times have changed, but although we have more choice in general now and even compact cameras have larger imaging sensors, (see my series of reviews on the Canon GX7 and click here) there still isn’t a huge amount of choice to fulfil the needs of a person who demands the higher end publishable quality of a modern micro4/3 camera.
My Vision of the future with help from Dr T
So it’s a great pleasure and a big thank you to Dr Alex Tattersall from UWVisions who is the UK importer for Nauticam housings who has leant me his very own current choice of micro 4/3 mirrorless camera, the Olympus EM10mk2 and all the extra kit needed to make this an all-in-one imaging solution for the underwater photographer not willing to compromise whilst enjoying the ultimate in underwater flexibility.
This also kills three birds with one stone, as my own choice of current micro 4/3 camera isn’t very well and playing up a bit at the moment. So i’m very grateful Dr T could help me out at short notice, and as an added bonus I am producing a new talk to be delivered to the NUPG group in early July called “All in one Dive” please click here for the details
A talk I am aiming to show what you can achieve of high quality, in stills and video, wide angle and macro, all on the same dive.
And of course this gives me a great opportunity to share my thoughts on this setup in this blog.
Since the groundbreaking EM5 the first of the OM-D range from Olympus, which raised the quality and speed bar for micro 4/3 mirrorless cameras, there has been little change.
A few tweaks here and there, a faster focussing system, better internal processing, and it and it’s slightly cheaper little brother have retained that lovely retro styling so much beloved by beardy hipsters.
It is not a triumph of style above substance though, and as cameras go it is a bit of a powerhouse.
In short, Olympus brought out an EM10 and also an EM5 mk 2, but fairly shortly after brought out an EM10 mk 2, and to be perfectly honest the only real difference between the two was that the EM5 mk 2 had weather sealing, which is the only real practical difference to the end user. And the EM10 mk 2 represents awesome value for money and including its kit lens reviews here comes in at under £600
And as us underwater photographers are usually putting the camera into an underwater housing then weather sealing seems of little use.
So for our slice of the demographic the EM10 mk 2 delivers everything we need.
It even retains the legendary IBIS ( In Body Image Stabilisation) from the EM5, which really makes a difference at slow shutter speeds, and for use with video.
I’m not going to list the exact specs because DPreview and a whole host of other review websites have reviewed the camera to death such its it’s popularity.
Suffice to say it does the job admirably, as I hope the pictures will show.
No pressure on me though.
The Camera Lens
Since the original EM5 which had an unusual kit lens, a 12-60, which in equivalence terms is the same angle of view of a 24-120 on an old film or full frame SLR. This had a clever macro facility, but unfortunately to access this you needed a special zoom ring and port from Nauticam, which negated using a wide angle lens add-on.
SO me and a lot of others opened for a more standard 60mm port, which allowed the use of a specially designed zoom ring from Deepshots, which facilitated the very useful choice of either macro or wide on the same dive with additional lenses.
I have gone into this in greater detail in my original post.
Supplied with the EM10mk2 though, we have a much smaller, lighter and thinner kit lens, which goes from 14-42 (equivalent to 28-84 in FF), which we all realised would be a much better all round solution for underwater use than the earlier offering.
This requires a very slim 29mm port and a special zoom ring as this has a motor in the lens to propel the lens through it’s focal length range.
The Nauticam WWL and CMC
This short port allows you to use both the Nauticam Compact Macro Convertor and also the brand new Nauticam WWL wide angle lens adapter.
I have used both of these before, and they are more expensive than some alternatives, however the WWL in particular I was very impressed with by comparison with other manufacturers offerings I used on the Nauticam Canon G7X set up that I used and reviewed last year.
The WWL is quite large and heavy, as it incorporates a dome as part of it’s construction.
It weighs 1.24kg and is still 0.62kg negative underwater.
It feels very heavy duty, and now has the option of a buoyancy collar pictured to offset some of this weight.
One of the penalties of a lot of small camera systems is that whilst they may well be smaller and lighter on land, than their heftier DSLR cousins, because the Nauticam housings fit like a glove and there is no big airspaces as there may be with a fisheye lens on a DSLR they are generally quite negatively buoyant.
Make sure you’ve got protection before diving in.
Personally I don’t mind and factor in the camera as part of my weighting and trim set up, but am aware most don’t like the strain on their wrists and arms holding up something like this, so lots opt for buoyancy compensation of some kind attached usually to the arms ( or actually as part of the arms themselves)
The lens when used at the wide end of the Olympus power zoom 14-42 lens has a field of view of 130 degrees, not quite fisheye, but definitely very wide and more than enough.
It also retails at £944 inc VAT so isn’t a cheaper option, rather an alternative more flexible option. The buoyancy collar is an option at £44 inc VAT and the hard lens cap is £70 inc VAT. I would recommend both of these.
Optically it’s clear that Nauticam have learnt from the compromises of using wet lenses from other manufacturers on their systems, and having used the WWL before, albeit with other camera and lens combos, I am aware of the quality differences. And I experienced no really soft edges even at the wider apertures, when I used it with the Canon G7X.
It also benefits from being fully zoom through, this means that you are able to zoom and crop with the lens attached and still focus as close as the front element. An awesome advantage and I look forward to testing this aspect in particular.
Mighty Macro Marvel
The Compact Macro Convertor is much more manageable in size and is tiny by comparison weighing only 260g , it is a smaller version of the now legendary SMC which lot’s of macro and super macro users have used to great effect, but made more for smaller camera systems like this.
I’ve also used this lens previously on my own Olympus 60mm macro, and was very impressed with it’s quality and relative ease of use over and above alternative offerings. It retails at £277 inc VAT.
Ok, thats a quick look at the basic elements of the kit, the next time I post in this series I will have had a week using it all, and I will report on some of the other accessories I will be using with this setup to help make it more manageable underwater, i.e. the tray and arm system, and the handy lens holders.
Please keep checking back on the blog as I post at least once, often twice a week.
If you’d like to learn how to use this stuff, or any other type of photo gear from GoPro to DSLR I run itineraries suitable for all abilities, in lots of great locations around the world, so please click here and check out my upcoming itineraries. Where you can learn in a no pressure, and easy going environment.
Regards until next time.