Underwater with the Olympus 60mm Macro lens and a Nauticam Super Macro Convertor

Nudi Branch at Pulau Redang

Macro Photography can be both challenging and rewarding, however shooting underwater can often be even more challenging then shooting on land.  I was on Pulau Redang for a couple of days recently and decided to test a super macro convertor manufactured by Nauticam.  This convertor is quite recent and at the website page (http://www.nauticam.com/product.asp?id=287) its claims are quite impressive when you read them.  I must admit after shooting this with the Olympus 60mm lens I was quite impressed.  This trip was about testing this convertor and I had also recently purchased a new set of prescription lenses for my underwater mask to ensure that I could see the macro subjects I wanted to shoot.  Some of these macro subjects were only visible through the view finder of the camera.  I was using the Nauticam housing with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the external 45 degree view finder (which can be a little challenging the first few times you use it when photographing subjects that are best measured in mm's). The following photos were mainly taken with the 60mm macro lens and the super macro convertor.  There are some wide angle photos that were taken with the Panasonic 7-14mm lens, though this lens was not used a lot due to the sometimes poor visibility.  Twin Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes were used at most times making the whole set up quite heavy with the additional view finder and super macro convertor.

While not an impressive photo by any means and taken with a wide angle lens, this photo of the nudibranch demonstrates the small size of some of the nudibranches that I photographed with the above described equipment.  The next photo is the same nudibranch taken with the 60mm Olympus macro lens and the super macro convertor.  For some reason I tended to shoot a lot of nudibranches and these are often the easiest subjects to shoot underwater with a super macro convertor.  The Nauticam Super Macro Convertor gives a multiplication factor of 2.3, allowing for some very impressive close ups.

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20 (Flabellina Exoptata - one of my favourites)

While there are many reviews about the quality of this lens when stopped down and the effects of diffraction creating soupy looking images with appertures of f/20 or f/22, I really did not notice it that much when shooting with the super macro convertor and my settings.  Many reviews claim that the sweet spot for this lens is f/5.6 and I would agree that the image is extremely sharp at this aperture, but this is not always the effect that I want when shooting with Macro.  Sometimes I do not want a lot of background in my image and other times I do want the background to tell a story.

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/125th sec shutter and f/2.8 - just playing with different apertures and shutter speeds

Soft coral, close up - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/22

Macro on top of a starfish - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/18 -

Fan Coral and glass shrimp (well camouflaged and only mm in size - not visible with naked eye) - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/18

This photo (and the next) was perhaps the most difficult photo I took while diving and shooting macro with the Nauticam Super Macro Convertor in Pulau Redang.  It was taken on the side of a rock wall in about 18m of water with a strong current.  I had been looking for small subjects to photograph and decided to stop at the fan coral and look through the view finder to see if I could see any small macro subjects to photograph and then I caught sight of two small eyes.  I was hanging on to the wall in the current, trying to remember to check air and ensure I had enough air and time to frame a few photos.  I also needed my bouyance to be perfect as I didn't want to wreck any of the precious environment that was surrounding me or consume extra air trying to maintain bouyancy.  While the first photo above was taken with some distance between my camera lens and the subject the second photo was taken with about 50mm seperating the glass shrimp from the end of the super macro convertor.  I also needed to get my lighting right and this was extremely difficult when shooting so close to the subject. I took about 15-20 photos to get a couple that I was most happy with.  I varied shutter, aperture and angle of lights till I got something that I was most happy with. Considering I first learnt photography with a film Nikonas II underwater, shooting digital has really changed the opportunities to improve and change your shooting methods on the fly.  These photos were also taken at the end of the dive and the batteries on one strobe were close to flat so at times some photos were a little dark on one side when the second strobe did not fire.

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/18

just funky - iso 200, 1/80th sec shutter and f/8 - taken while on a night dive

A clownfish - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/14. 

I said to myself that I would not photograph any clownfish during my diving at Pulau Redang, but I just couldn't resist adding another photo of clownfish to my collection

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/14

Not a Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/5.6

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20 - another extremely difficult photo due to its really small size (in mm's again)

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/13 (squat lobster Camouflaged in a feather star). 

This was an extremely difficult subject to photograph as the feather star kept moving and there was a strong current so all parts of the feather star were moving, it was difficult to get lighting and I had one hand hanging on to a rock to stop me from being taken with the current.  In these sorts of conditions you really need to know how to adjust camera settings on the go and be familiar with your camera.  For macro I tend to always shoot full manual mode as it allows me to quickly change settings as I need to.

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/16 (Facelina Rhodopos - approx. 8mm in size)

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20

Moray Eel - up close and without the convertor - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20

Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/20

Razor Fish - iso 200, 1/160th sec shutter and f/8

Puffer Fish - iso 200, 1/100th sec shutter and f/5.6

over-hanging coral - iso 200, 1/100th sec shutter and f/5.6

iso 200, 1/100th sec shutter and f/5.6

iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/18

A Grinner - iso 200, 1/250th sec shutter and f/18

A crab - iso 200, 1/80th sec shutter and f/8

Another Nudibranch - iso 200, 1/80th sec shutter and f/8

Blowing bubble rings on the safety stop - iso 200, 1/160th sec shutter and f/8

 

Comments

Gorgeous! Brings home why I used to dive (though I was mostly in much colder murkier waters in Maine). Thanks!

By Eben (not verified)

Thanks Eben - it really is an amazing environment and I do really enjoy diving in 28-30 degree waters :-)

Cheers
Shaun

By Shaun

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