The Olympus OMD EM-1 Mark II accompanied by the Nauticam housing and accessories has so much to offer the underwater photographer that we are going to have to cover this review in two parts. In this one, we will focus on wide angle underwater photography. For this we have two options, the 8mm lens and port, or the kit lens, with the WW1 wet lens.
We got this system to replace one of our SLR systems to reduce the weight of the equipment we were carrying overseas. With luggage restrictions getting ever more strict, and neither of us getting any younger, investing in a high quality, yet smaller, more compact, lighter system seemed like a good idea. We have had the opportunity to use this system on two diving trips now: one to The Bahamas and one to Egypt.
The first thing you notice about the Nauticam housing is the quality of the build. It feels solid. But then on closer inspection, there is much more to admire. The vacuum leak detection system included in our housing gives peace of mind when setting up the equipment and subsequently going diving. Green light and everything is going to be alright! The handles are sturdy, fitted securely to the housing with no movement or wobble and positioned so that you can access every button without removing your hands from their primary position. The camera locks securely into position in the housing too. In fact, everything in the set-up procedure gives you the confidence to take it diving.
Our initial tests were with the Olympus 8mm lens and the corresponding dome port. We used this in The Bahamas whilst diving with sharks and it was a challenging environment to get used to a brand new underwater photography system. But, with intuitive controls, this was made easy by the Nauticam team. Everything is where it should be, as you go to change settings in the camera.
Our second dive with the system was a bucket list dive for us – Tiger Beach! We had some concerns that after only a couple of dives, would we be able to get the shots we wanted? Even though the visibility was not perfect, and the sharks did not come in quite as close as we would have liked, the camera and housing performed really well, and changing settings was effortless.
Our second time out with the system we decided to switch to the Olympus kit lens, 14-42mm zoom, with the Nauticam WW1 wet lens attached on the front. The WW1 screams of quality, but this pin sharp image quality also makes the lens heavy, which is resolved by adding a float to the lens to give your wrists a rest. WWL-1, paired with an Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ Lens provides a full zoom through the ultra-wide angle field of view. Our tests showed this combination has excellent corner sharpness and clarity.
The WWL-1 will focus on its front element for unmatched close focus wide angle performance, and full zoom through means you can zoom to crop in-camera for tighter framing. This option gives the user incredible versatility on shot selection. One minute you can be shooting a wide reef scene and then, you can zoom through the lens and be shooting small fish, without having to change any lenses. Alternatively, if you encounter a super-macro critter, the simple bayonet mounting system, allows you to switch to a macro wet lens and be shooting tiny nudibranchs with ease.
So far, we have only had the chance to explore the wide angle underwater photography this system has to offer, and we are impressed with the quality and ease of use. We also love that it weighs significantly less than our old DSLR system. Next time out, we will be using the macro wet lenses on some tiny critters. Watch this space for our thoughts on how the Nauticam NAEM1II housing for the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II performs in this field of underwater photography next month.
For more information please visit the Nauticam websites:
For UK click here
For USA click here