Macro divers have crazy long dive times. Mostly because we don’t move and don’t really breathe. You almost forget how to live on the surface.
See you underwater!!
I’ve talked about the G9 before, but let me talk about the hardware along with some notes.
Focus Torch. I put it on a longer arm. My goal was to get it out and above the end of the SMC-1 so that it shines down on top of the subject. I play with it sometimes and make it . This does 2 things. First, it reduces the backscatter because it doesn’t illuminate dirt in the water between the lens and the subject. Second, it keeps the lens port from blocking the light on the bottom of the frame where the subject almost always is.
Multiplier-1. This is a new thing for me. I used to use a Saga +5. I’m hoping that the optics work better as far as depth of focus: any depth that I can gain is a positive thing.
Lanyard. I added a lanyard clipped across the top to use as a carrying handle on land. I don’t really need it in the water, though. Maybe if I can just unclip it and store it in the water or right before a dive, that would be good.
See you underwater!!!
There are a handful of photos there, be sure to check them all out.
Light Ring. I’m a big fan of light rings. That’s why I got the housing at $800 instead of the $300 Olympus version: it had an optional light ring (also at extra cost). What the light ring means to me is smaller, more portable size, both in the water and in my pack.
Right-Side Handle. I’m doing a lot of drysuit dives here in Boston. The thick gloves make it hard to hold the camera and push down on the shutter button. A handle gives you much more positive control over the camera. More importantly, a handle lets you work the camera with just one hand and reduces task loading so you can do other things with your left hand while you shoot.
Trigger. I love my triggers. Nauticam handles do a good job of having a trigger mechanism. The trigger gives you much more fine finger control for shots and it isolates the firing motion from how you hold the camera. This means better focus because you don’t move the camera while you fire the shot.
Width. With the two handles, it makes the camera wider. That makes it harder to fit into some cracks and get close for some shots. It isn’t an issue with my G9 because it has a port that sticks out towards the subject instead of a flat camera body. However, the left handle on this setup can be removed, which is how I’ll be trying this setup for a handful of dives.
Lanyard Length. I use this same lanyard with my G9, which is a bulkier camera with arms and strobes. It works because that camera needs more space. But with the TG5, I want to hover close to the bottom to look for subjects or even tip head-down and look at things closer more often. It seems like the camera is hanging down too much. The TG4 setup I have also does this. This means that I need to hold the camera with my right hand and that’s less than optimum. So what I’m going to try is to just add a ring and bolt snap to the back of the right handle instead of the full lanyard.
Dedicated to Light Ring. The light ring is screwed into the M52 mount on the front of the lens glass. You can’t really take it off during a dive. You can’t use any other accessory like a diopter with it. I think this is a minor issue.
I have 3 camera setups that I’m using now, and I use them (or not) at different times. Like most things in life, it’s all a tradeoff between simplifying the dive, flexibility in photography, and image quality.
I have a Paralenz and my wife has a later-model GoPro. They just clip onto your BCD and you don’t need to worry about it unless you find something to shoot. They’re good for wide-angle point-and-click shots and the GoPro with a Backscatter Flip magnifier means that you can take pretty decent macro video and OK macro stills if you add some torch light.
When to take:
Protip: most divers have pictures of everybody else. Try diving with other photographers and make a “photo sharing pact”.
I had been borrowing my wife’s TG4 with Olympus housing (OK, it was originally mine but then I traded her for her EM-10II because it has a fully manual mode). Now I have a TG5 with a Nauticam housing and light ring. Both of the TGs are pretty cool cameras and if you have the experience and skills you can take some really good pictures. In fact, a good photographer with a compact camera can blow away lesser photographers with a $25000 camera setup.
When to take:
Protip: take a SMB, tie it down where you find a good subject, and come back on the next dive with the big camera.
The G9 is a mirrorless Micro 4/3 camera that does awesome macro. With a Nauticam housing, it can take all sorts of accessories.
When to take:
There are even some times when I don’t take a camera. *gasp* *cue shock and awe*
When to not take:
See you underwater!!!
One of the things to keep track of is a set of starting exposure settings that you can set your camera up with before you get into the water. Add it to your pre-dive and camera setup checklists.
My starting setup for macro with the Olympus 60mm macro lens:
My starting setup for supermacro with the Nauticam SMC-1 and the Olympus 60mm macro lens:
Shutter speed of 1/125 is a tradeoff. At 1/80 and slower, you get streaking from backscatter and camera movement. However, at speeds above 1/250, the flash won’t sync.
Stacking wet lenses/diopters gives you a thinner plane of focus. So with the diopter, I use as small as aperture as possible to give me as much focus depth as I can get.
I’m somewhat surprised how much brighter my photos are without diopters.
On deeper, darker dives, you might have less ambient light so you need to use a focus torch.
I try to take an action camera for the wide-angle shots when I’m doing macro dives. But I don’t have the setup yet to take macro when I rig up for wide-angle. The closest I’ve seen is a guy who mounted a TG5 with a removable cold-shoe mount on top of his Lumix GH5.
Maybe I should have a rule for hermit crabs like I do for clownfish. I find them everywhere in Massachusetts in the shallows.
Very good comparison video of macro lenses for M43. Makes me think a little bit more than usual….
I think that just about everybody doing underwater macro with a M43 (Panasonic G9, GH5, etc and the Olympus OMD-EM1/5/10) is using the Olympus 60mm Macro. I haven’t seen any debate about this at all.
The reason that we all use the 60mm is because more magnification is good and the image quality of this lens is good. And hey, that’s what everybody else uses, so why not? However, I wish there were other good M43 macro lenses: a 100mm or 120mm would make me very happy although it might not be useable underwater.
But, we also have wet diopters (wet lenses), and they change the lens game considerably. I myself have both a Nauticam Supermacro converter SMC-1, a Saga +5, and an Inon super-wide macro (bug-eye). I’m have the additional magnifier for the SMC-1 coming next week for even better supermacro, although for the past 18 months I’ve been a heretic and stacked the Saga +5 on top of the SMC instead because the price is right.
My thinking goes like this:
What’s the point of all this? Well, everything in photography is a tradeoff. The more you understand what decisions you’re making, the more you can adjust when things don’t work out the way you intended. And I’m a huge believer in being able to adjust to conditions and just keep shooting.
See You Underwater!!!