Tips for Shooting Underwater

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by nstelemark, Nov 19, 2015.

  1. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    I figured a few folks here might have some tips to share ;)

    I only snorkel with an E-PM1 and housing (bought during the Oly blowout) and really not that often. There are times I've wanted a strobe but I simply can't justify the price for the small amount of use it will get.

    I ran across an Oly system chart for the E-PL5 and they listed a flash diffuser for the built in flash PTDP-EP05 and it looked like it would work well with the E-PM1 housing. This is the diffuser: Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 7.49.09 PM.

    Without the diffuser the built in flash is essentially useless:

    P1010517.

    With the diffuser the results are pretty impressive:

    PB190531.

    you can see the diffuser reflected in the monitor.

    I hope this saves someone a $ or two at some point.
     
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  2. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    563
    Aug 16, 2012
    Sunshine Coast, Qld Australia
    Maria
    Hi Larry
    Do you have any underwater pics to share.
    I have just picked up a used EPL5, 14-42 lens and the Olympus housing for a great price so looking for any tips you might have.
     
  3. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    In no particular order:

    1. Make sure you store the housing with the main (red) o-ring removed. If you store it with it in it will gradually flatten.

    2. Don't go overboard with the silicon grease for the o-rings.

    3. Soak the housing in fresh water after you use it.

    4. Don't be afraid to just take the shot. Sometimes the results can be great:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    5. If you are snorkelling windy days can suck.

    6. Get close to the subject if at all possible.

    7. Get a supply of small desiccant pouches. There is a little recess below the body where they are used in these housing. This helps prevent fogging in the housing.

    HTH

    I decided to take the plunge this year and get a dome port for my 8mmf1.8 pro. It cost as much as the housing and e-pm1, but I am hoping the results will be worth it. I should have some shots next week with the dome port.
     
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  4. ArcticaMT6

    ArcticaMT6 Mu-43 Regular

    71
    Jul 11, 2016
    Seattle, WA
    Honestly, the money you spent on the port would have been better spent on a pair of strobes. Light matters way more than anything else underwater. Sure, you wouldn't be able to use the fisheye, but you would end up with properly lit shots that will be sharper and have better color. The built in flash isn't powerful enough for underwater use. Plus, you need to get the flash away from the housing or else you will get a bunch of backscatter. You can see backscatter in the second image at the top. A YS-01 strobe works great and can be found used for $250 semi-regularly. Add some arms, and a sync cable and you have a decent starter strobe setup. Wetpixel is a good forum to find used underwater photo equipment on.

    Couple other points:
    You can store it with the O-ring in. My housing had been shut with the o-ring in for several years before the first time I used it. Took it out, greased it/cleaned it, and have been using it ever since. No leaks.
    Don't soak it in freshwater. Just rinse it. Push all the buttons while you are rinsing it in freshwater. Take it out and let it dry before opening it up to get the camera out.

    2 strobes used here, YS-01 and a YS-D2.
    31671458635_742e981bd5_b.

    One strobe used here, a YS-01
    31092761795_b8afbc98d1_b.
    31092772905_0f692e94d0_b.

    Those were all taken with the kit 14-42mm lens and an E-PM1 with the normal flat port. About as cheap as a mirrorless rig as you can get. Stop it down to f/5.6 or f/8.
     
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  5. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    If I was diving rather than snorkeling primarily, some strobes would be first on my list. But there is plenty of light generally while snorkeling. And last year when these shots were taken the water had been stirred up by weeks of strong wind:

    PC240666.

    Divers were disappearing less than a body length away. This shot was at 12mm to give you the perspective. A strobe would have turned a lot of the shots from that week into a sea of white with reflections from all the sand.

    Strobe for snorkeling?

    The common advice is a short soak to get the salt out of the controls, or a longer soak if the housing has dried first:

    http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/underwater-housing-maintenance

    You may be lucky with your o-ring but I guarantee it is getting flat. Personally I would have ordered and installed a new one already. Flooding is a rather permanent problem :drinks:.
     
  6. ArcticaMT6

    ArcticaMT6 Mu-43 Regular

    71
    Jul 11, 2016
    Seattle, WA
    That's the purpose of the strobe arms. To get the strobe away from the housing. You reduce or eliminate the backscatter. Most of my dives are in conditions with low visibility. 20ft is considered a good day in Seattle's waters. General rule of thumb is the distance between the camera housing and the strobe should be about equal to half of the distance from the subject to the camera. Strobes should not be pointed directly at the subject, but straight ahead or slightly outward.

    My o-ring is just fine. I inspect it after every couple of dives. I have another one for backup. There are no leaking issues and I dive on average once a week down to depths of around 100ft. Should a flood happen, it's not a big deal. A replacement PM1 with 14-42 generally goes for about $100-150 now.

    You can dive without a strobe if it's crystal clear caribbean waters during the middle of the day, and as long as you are shallower than about 10ft. Other than that, you need a strobe.
     
  7. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    Exactly, you just described my use case.

    When using the 12-50 as an example for snorkeling the strobe arms would have to be 3-5 feet long a lot of the time. That is really not going to happen. :flypig: eg:

    [​IMG]

    This was my point about snorkeling vs scuba. If my use case was scuba I would want a pair of strobes.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  8. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    Personally I'm pretty pleased with the 8mm1.8Pro in a dome port:

    PC228517.