Shapes, lines and beauty underwater

Shapes and lines underwater

The new Nauticam housing for the Olympus OM-D EM-5 II finally arrived a few weeks ago and while I was rushing things a little getting all the gear prepared, I decided to head to Pulau Redang on the east coast of Malaysia to test it out and just get comfortable with the photography side of the gear.  A new camera and housing always takes time to work out and this trip was no exception with some silly mistakes being made - need to remember to never rush things! I took a selection of lenses with me including the Kowa Prominar 8.5mm lens  for something different.  With the Kowa 8.5mm lens I manually pre-set my aperture and focus and managed to get a few nice wide angle photos while playing under the jetty.  It was nice to just play and see what could be achieved.

The Olympus OM-D EM-5 II and the Nauticam housing with two Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes worked brilliantly and I am quite happy with the initial photos taken underwater with this set up.  While I didn't get to play with the camera for photography as much as I had wanted to, however, I ended up helping out another couple of divers by filming some of their underwater documentary on coral propagation using the Olympus OM-D EM-5 II and the Panasonic 7-14mm lens.  Unfortunately some of their gear was stolen during transit to Pulau Redang, however, the gear matched my gear and I was able to help out.  A preview of the work by Silke and Anuar can be seen at https://vimeo.com/134047172.  I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the video coming from the Olympus OM-D EM-5 II and while this was not the main aim of my trip, I now know what the capabilities of the camera are for underwater video. 

On another note, an issue that I have encountered with the most recent update to the firmware (Version 1.2) with the Olympus OM-D EM-5 II is that if you assign the underwater mode to the Fn4 (HDR) button  it will force the Olympus FL-LM3 flash to fire even if it is switched off and not in underwater mode. I can understand it forcing the flash to fire in underwater mode as it is easy to forget to switch the flash on before entering the water but out of the water it is totally frustrating.  The solution is to un-assign the underwater mode to the Fn4 button.  I haven't had time to test it with other button assignments but I did test it on another camera and with another flash unit to ensure it just wasn't something dodgy happening with my setup.  Initially it was quite annoying as I sometimes like to use the little flash at night for creating effects in some of my street style photography and needed to remove it every time I didn't want it to fire.  Hopefully a fix will come for this in the next firmware upgrade.

Many of the photos below were shot with the underwater mode that was introduced with the firmware update - just to see what it could or could not do.  I was surprised at how well it did handle white balance, though I did find myself overriding the settings at times to get the shot that I wanted.  I feel that the setting would be best suited to those just starting out with underwater photography.  The wide angle shots under the jetty also used underwater mode at most times however, I used the strobes in manual mode to ensure that I had best control over the lighting.

Crown of thorns star fish - 60mm Macro lens, 1/125th shutter speed and F/16 with dual strobes (I usually don't shoot at f/16 but was playing)

Underwater mode - 60mm Macro lens, 1/125th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes

Underwater mode - 8.5mm Kowa Prominar, 1/160th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes

Underwater mode - 8.5mm Kowa Prominar, 1/200th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes

Underwater mode - 8.5mm Kowa Prominar, 1/100th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes

Underwater mode - 8.5mm Kowa Prominar, 1/100th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes

Underwater mode - 8.5mm Kowa Prominar, 1/100th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes

Pulau Redang and a palm tree

Underwater mode - 60mm Macro lens, 1/125th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes

Underwater mode - 60mm Macro lens, 1/125th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes + Nauticam Super Macro Convertor

Underwater mode - 60mm Macro lens, 1/125th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes + Nauticam Super Macro Convertor

the essential Clownfish shot - 60mm Macro lens, 1/125th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes

Underwater mode - 60mm Macro lens, 1/125th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes + Nauticam Super Macro Convertor

Underwater mode - 60mm Macro lens, 1/125th shutter speed and F/8 with dual strobes

Crocodile fish hiding in the sand

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