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Full Article: Master Class Tutorial - Great Mandarin Fish Photos

Mandarin Fish Photos - an introduction

Welcome to the 2nd article in a series of Master Class tutorials on the Underwater Photography Guide. Today we are going to talk about photographing mandarin fish, which I consider to be one of the most difficult underwater subjects to photograph. Mandarin fish pose many challenges: they are shy, difficult to find, difficult to focus on, and the peak of the action moment only lasts for a brief second.

Mandarin fish generally mate almost every night at sunset, rising over the reef for a mere second or two before releasing their eggs and "fleeing the scene". Many of my mandarin fish photos have simply ended up being eggs with no fish in the photo.

In this article, I want to set expectations accordingly. Getting a great mandarin fish photo often involves a lot of time and effort in terms of research, practice, equipment purchases, and repeated dives. But I am confident that if you put in the work and follow these steps, eventually you will take a photo you will be very proud of.

 

mandarin fish underwater

 

#1 - Go where the Mandarin Fish are

Many dive resorts around the world have reliable dive sites with mandarin fish. Examples are Anilao, Lembeh, Dumaguete, Yap, Sipadan, Wakatobi and Palau.

 

#2 - Get the right camera / lens

You want to use the best underwater camera setup you can afford, in order to quickly focus in low light on the mandarin fish. With a compact camera, this type of photo will be very difficult, although using a Sony RX100 series or Canon G7X series camera will be better than using other compact cameras.

The next step up is a mirrorless camera with an Olympus 60mm macro lens. You can also use the Sony 90mm macro lens if you have a Sony mirrorless camera, but it is not known as the fastest focusing lens on the market.

However, the best option by far is a newer model NIkon or Canon dSLR with a 100mm or 105mm macro lens. Full frame cameras will give you more room for error with respect to composition, than a cropped sensor camera.

 

#3 - Get a red focus light

This is perhaps the most important advice. Without a good red light, your goal of a great mandarin fish photo becomes significantly more difficult. I use the Sola 800 photo light (mention this article for an additional discount from the Bluewater Photo staff). Mandarin fish do not like white light, and if you repeatedly shine a white light on them, it is likely that they will never leave the reef to mate.

female Mandarin fish

#4 - Learn how to find your own Mandarin Fish

It is not difficult to learn the habitat of mandarin fish, and where to find them on the dive site. They usually live in dead Acropora coral in shallow water. The dive guides will usually get you to the dive site before sunset, giving you time to slowly swim around the coral and look for some mandarin fish. Before the sun sets, they will be sitting still or moving slowly inside the coral. Your objective is the largest, fattest mandarin fish you can find - I've generally had the best overall luck with these.

 

#5 - Taking the practice shots

After finding your mandarin fish, you want to take some practice shots. These shots should not have the mandarin fish in them. Instead, you should take a photo of coral about 2 or 3 feet away, the same distance your great mandarin fish photo will hopefully be. I generally shoot at F9, ISO 400, 1/250th with my dSLR. Strobes should be pointed slightly outward, and the strobe power turned down so the coral is correctly exposed. 

 

#6 - Watch the activity

Your mandarin fish needs to find a mate. As sunset approaches, the mandarin fish and its mate will do a dance in the coral, hopping around and possibly eluding you. Keep a careful eye on your fish. The activity will gradually increase, and your pair of fish will get closer and closer together. You need to be ready for them to rise up and mate at any time.

 

 

#7 - Get the right angle and background

The problem with shooting fish in dead coral, is that the coral is often in the photo, and it does not make for a pretty background. Ideally you would find a pair of fish that are at a "high point" in the coral, so when they rise up, there is not coral directly behind them. It will help to get low, get close and shoot up. If there is coral in the background, you want it to be out of focus as much as possible. Using a long lens or zooming in if you have a compact, getting as close to the fish as possible, having the coral as far away as possible, and shooting at a fairly wide-open aperture will all help blur the coral in the background.

 

#8 - Be kind to the fish and give them space

Mandarin fish do not like lots of attention. They don't like divers getting close or hovering over them. They hate strobes. They hate dive lights. They don't like bubbles. They tolerate a little bit of red light. The more space, privacy and peace & quiet you can give them, the more likely they are to "do the act" and not be rushed doing it. You have to find the right balance between giving them space, and keeping an eye on them while they move around and increase their activity so you don't lose them or miss the moment.

 

#9 - Pray to the underwater photo gods

Even if you do everything right, the underwater gods may not favor your photo. Do not despair if the fish do not mate, or if they mate so quickly you miss the shot. I would plan on at least 2 dives on the site, on 2 different nights, so you get familiar with where the fish live, how active they become before they rise up, and have a better chance that they will mate on at least one of the 2 nights.

When the mandarin fish are about to mate, I like to watch the fish through the viewfinder, keeping my eye on the viewfinder and my finger on the shutter. Note that the first time you do a mandarin fish dive, it will be difficult for you to know when this moment will occur. That is why it is important to do the dive more than once.

They will rise up for 2 to 3 seconds, release the eggs, and then disappear. If you press the shutter too early, the fish will be too low, with too much coral in the background. You need patience to wait for them to rise up. As soon as they stop rising, that is the moment to take the photo. Take the photo too early, and they might separate before mating.

 

 

#10 - Book your trip! 

You won't get a great mandarin fish shot reading this article. :)  Here's some great opportunities to get a great shot

Anilao Dec 2017 (1 spot left)

Anilao April / May 2018 with Erik Lukas & Mike Bartick

Dumaguete June 2018 at Atmosphere Resort

Lembeh at NAD Resort in Oct 2018 (email for details)

 

Mandarin fish with eggs

Full Article: Retra Flash Underwater First Impressions

Retra UWT is known best for its beautifully constructed optical snoot, which they dubbed the Light Shaping Device. The company created a buzz in early 2017 when it announced production was beginning on their new Retra strobe. I pre-ordered two immediately. Production has been understandably slow as Retra seems to be making sure they put out a product that is top of the line and has been thoroughly thought through. I am still waiting on my own personal pair, but through Bluewater Photo, managed to get a pair early to take for a few test dives. Conditions were far from ideal, but I made do!

Price: $825.00

 

 


Purchase the Retra Flash


 

The new Retra Flash, here fitted with the wide angle diffuser that comes standard with each strobe.

 

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • 100W/s 
  • GN30 in comparison with two strobes - see comparison here 
  • GN18 (absolute measurement on land) 
  • Recycle time @100%: 2s (4x eneloop pro), 1s (8x eneloop pro) 
  • Number of flash @100%, 0.5Hz: 450x (4x eneloop pro), 900x (8x eneloop pro) 
  • 300 lumen pilot light 
  • Pilot light burn time @100%: 3h (4x eneloop pro), 6h (8x eneloop pro) 
  • 5400K color temperature (4500K with wide angle diffuser) 
  • 110º beam angle 
  • 9 manual exposure levels 
  • S-TTL with +/- 2 F-stop adjustment 
  • Slave mode with smart pre-flash cancellation 
  • 4 level battery indicator for eneloop batteries 
  • Electrical connector options: S&S 5 pin, S6, N5 and Ikelite 5 pin 
  • Inon and Sea&Sea dual compatible optical connector 
  • Length = 120mm 
  • Diameter = 102,5mm

 

IMPRESSIONS:

I'm coming from using mainly Inon z240's, S&S D1/D2's/01's, and a few Ikelites here and there. The Retras were promising simplicity, durability, power, and high end functionality. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't skeptical. 

 

A coldwater gorgonian attached to a piling of the Eureka Oil Rig off Southern California. Not the most exciting of scenes but nice to see the potential of the Retras. Nikon D850, Nauticam Housing, Nikonos 13mm, 2x Retra Flash w/Wide angle diffusers on 1/4 power. 1/15, f5.0, ISO 320

 

Well, as soon as I unboxed the test pair, I was sold. Not only do the flashes look amazing (and gear aesthetics is obviously the most important aspect of underwater photography!), but they are built like tanks. The aluminum body, the smooth, large dials, the built in mounting ball (removeable via allen key)...everything working together to produce a small, powerful package.


Front of the Retra Flash showing the bulb and the four circles that indicate battery life. The bayonet style wide angle diffuser on the right comes with two small diagrams to show exactly how to mount and lock the diffuser onto the front of the flash.

 

I personally am not a huge fan of lab tests. I like to know how gear performs in the real world and what features the strobe has that will benefit photographers in the real world. The built in battery indicator on the front is fantastic, although not really visible with the wide angle diffusers in place. But it is certainly nice to know how much charge the strobes have left. Speaking of diffusers, the bayonet style attachment of the diffusers onto the front of the flashes is quite nice and assures diffusers can't get knocked off or pulled off accidentally while underwater.


On settings on the left, power settings on the right, pilot light in the middle, fiber optic port bottom right, electric sync port bottom left, battery compartment top.

 

There are nine power settings on the the back of the strobes, all easily chooseable with the large, smooth dial. The flashes take electronic or fiber optic sync cables (both Inon style mount and S&S style mount), and have corresponding settings based on which you are using. The dial that activates the strobe has several different notations. OFF, ON (the setting to use with electrical sync cables), STTL, SL (the setting to use with fiber optic cables), and SOS. An easily pushable pilot light is centered in the back of the strobe, with multiple power settings. The battery compartment (sealed off from the rest of the strobe) is a screw in/screw off, with perfectly decipherable instructions inside the battery compartment as to how to load the batteries.


For standard fare macro shots, like of this Bluebanded Goby, the Retras put out a soft, diffuse light that spreads nice and evenly. There are several accessories I ordered with my own pair that will allow for more creative lighting but I do not yet have access to them. Nikon D850, Nauticam Housing, Nikon 105mm VR, 2x Retra Flash on 1/8 power w/wide angle diffusers. 1/250, f6.3, ISO 64

 

Speaking of batteries, over four dives and 500+ shots, I still didn't run out of battery, and that was without using the optional external battery pack. However, when the battery levels start getting low, the Retras did start to not be able to keep up with the 5fps I had been shooting previously. Recycle time normally is instantaneous at half or lower power.

 There is little doubt in my mind that the Retra Flash is a solid alternative to other leading strobes, and I am eagerly awaiting my own pair so I can continue to use them for the foreseeable future. The simplicity, build quality, power, (and of course aesthetics!) make this an enticing strobe in a small package whether macro or wide angle is the main focus of your photography. Next up I will be running a trip in Anilao, Philippines this December! (One spot left on my trip!) Hopefully I can put the strobes and all accessories to good use.

Pre-order the Retra Flash Now

Join Matt in Anilao and try out the Retra Flash


Dual Retra Flashes attached to Nauticam D850 Housing



Full Article: Nauticam D850 Review

Nauticam is known for producing functional, ergonomic, customizable, and durable housings. The new Nauticam D850 is no exception. All the levers, buttons, and wheels on the aluminum housing are clearly labeled so there is no guessing as to what button you are pushing or wheel you are spinning.

The NA-D850 features the patented Nauticam bayonet port lock mechanism and the electro-optical converter like the one found on the D500 and D5 housings, along with a new lever to easily toggle between AF modes. Of course, the housing also provides access to all important camera functions. Users of other Nauticam DSLR housings will feel right at home. The housing handles faultlessly in the water (as it should).

 



Purchase the Nauticam Nikon D850 Underwater Housing


 

Jump to Section:

What's New?       |      Whats's the Same     |     Recommended Lenses and Ports     |     Useful Accessories

 

WHAT'S NEW?

  1. ELECTRO-OPTICAL CONVERTER - The biggest addition, for any non D500/D5 Nauticam users, is the Nauticam electro-optical converter that comes built in. This allows photographers the use of fiber optic cables with cameras that lack a popup flash and also doesn't require an extra flash trigger. The trigger connects to the camera via the hotshoe mount. I LOVE this feature. It allows rapid fire shooting with fiber optics, no extra flash trigger, seems more reliable, and means the housing doesn't need to be quite as tall. The batteries for the converter come with the housing.

  2. ISO LEVER - Another significant change (and D500/D5 users will already be familiar with this) is the new location of the ISO button over by the trigger. Immensely helpful for topside photographers as it allows more intuitive changing of ISO without taking your eye off the shutter. For underwater photographers however, this means the ISO lever is now positioned directly behind the shutter release on the right hand side of the housing. Unless you have the world's largest hands, changing the ISO requries taking your finger off the trigger, which isn't ideal. That said, after a few dives, it is easy to figure out a solution to changing the ISO quickly that will work for you and anyone coming from the D500/D5 will undoubtedly already have figured this out.

  3. AF TOGGLE LEVER - The D850 features a nice lever that allows much easier, faster, and more intuitive changing of the autofocus modes.

 

WHAT'S THE SAME?

  1. LEAK DETECTION - Like all Nauticam housings, the leak alarm comes built in. However, for more peace of mind and to ensure your housing is watertight, the addition of a vacuum system can be invaluable.

  2. AND PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING ELSE - Nauticam has taken an approach that works well. All their housings are easy to learn and do not vary too much between cameras of the same family (DSLR vs DSLR or Mirrorless vs Mirrorless). This makes for a quick learning curve and allows users to feel right at home no matter what housing they pick up.

 

Recommended Lenses and Ports:

Macro:


Nikon 105mm f2.8G VR Macro

Ideal for the smallest of the small critters, shy creatures, etc

Port Options:

  1. Nauticam Macro Port 87
  2. Nauticam Macro Port 60 + Nauticam 30mm Extension Ring

Nikon 60mm f2.8G Macro

 Perfect for palm sized subjects and bigger. Can be used for smaller subjects but not as ideal for that as the 105.

Port Option:

  1. Nauticam Macro Port 60

 


Wide Angle:

FISHEYE: 


Nikon 8-15mm 3.5-4.5G Fisheye

 Best fisheye overall for Nikon full frame sensors

Port Options:

  • Option 1 - This is really the smallest dome you would want to use with this lens on a full frame body like the D850. High quality optical glass dome, the small size allows for better close focus wide angle opportunities. You can use a 4" dome but will be compromising image quality. The removeable shade is important here as it allows the lens to be used at the 8mm end for full circular fisheye images.

Nauticam 140mm Glass Dome Port w/Removeable Shade + Nauticam 20mm Extension Ring + Nauticam Nikon 8-15mm Focus Gear

  • Option 2 - The best option across the board optically. Keep in mind the dome is large and heavy. Rewarded with top notch image quality though.

Nauticam 230mm Glass Dome Port + Nauticam 20mm Extension Ring + Nauticam Nikon 8-15mm Focus Gear


Sigma 15mm 2.8 Fisheye

The budget option but focuses very close, is quite sharp and much cheaper than the other lenses listed. Be careful though, not every copy of this lens is sharp and the D850 high resolution sensor will show any flaw in the lens.

Port Options:

  • Option 1 - This is really the smallest dome you would want to use with this lens on a full frame body like the D850. High quality optical glass dome, the small size allows for better close focus wide angle opportunities.

Nauticam 140mm Glass Dome Port w/Removeable Shade

  • Option 2 - The best option across the board optically. Keep in mind the dome is large and heavy. Rewarded with top notch image quality though.

Nauticam 230mm Glass Dome Port

Option 3- The acrylic dome is far cheaper and far lighter than the glass options. It is not quite as good optically as glass and scratches easier. However, scratches on acrylic domes are removeable unless it is drastic.

Nauticam 8" Acrylic Dome Port


Nikon 16mm 2.8 Fisheye

Sharper, more expensive than sigma, but does not focus as close. The 16mm uses the exact same port options as the Sigma above.

Port Options:

  • Option 1 - This is really the smallest dome you'd want to use with this lens on a full frame body like the D850. High quality optical glass dome, the small size allows for better close focus wide angle opportunities.

Nauticam 140mm Glass Dome Port w/Removeable Shade

  • Option 2 - The best option across the board optically. Keep in mind the dome is large and heavy. Rewarded with top notch image quality though.

Nauticam 230mm Glass Dome Port

  • Option 3 - The acrylic dome is far cheaper and far lighter than the glass options. It is not quite as good optically as glass and scratches easier. However, scratches on acrylic domes are removeable unless they are dramatic.

Nauticam 8" Acrylic Dome Port

 

RECTILINEAR: 


Nikon 16-35mm f4.0 VR

The most popular and versatile choice but requires a big dome port for acceptable image quality.

Port Options:

  • Option 1 - The bigger the dome, the better, for shooting with rectilinear wides. Image quality will be improved the larger the dome. As of now, the Nauticam 230 is the most popular big dome for Nauticam Systems. They do make a 250mm dome that for whatever reason does not seem to be used much. Although I would guess that is because of the size.

Nauticam 230mm Glass Dome Port + Nauticam Extension Ring 80

  • Option 2 - The acrylic dome is far cheaper and far lighter than the glass options. It is not quite as good optically as glass and scratches easier. However, scratches on acrylic domes are removeable unless they are dramatic.

Nauticam 8" Acrylic Dome Port +  Nauticam Extension Ring 70

 

 

USEFUL ACCESSORIES

 

 ** For the full press release from Nauticam on the NA-D850, Please visit this link! http://www.nauticam.com/product/17222/

  


Purchase the Nauticam Nikon D850 Underwater Housing


 

Full Article: Nikon D850 First Underwater Impressions

For most underwater shooters, the D850 may well be the best DSLR ever made. In the past there has always been a compromise between speed and high resolution. No more. The D5 autofocus system that the D850 inherited, plus the 7 frames per second will be more than enough for just about every situation underwater. The dynamic range and ISO performance will be hugely appealing to wide angle shooters, and the resolution to allow insane detail and ability to crop heavily will appeal to macro shooters. 

 

 

 

 

Jump to Section:

KEY FEATURES       |      UNDERWATER PERFORMANCE       |       SENSOR       |       AUTOFOCUS/SPEED
ISO PERFORMANCE     |     RECOMMENDED LENSES     |     UNDERWATER HOUSINGS         CONCLUSION


KEY FEATURES:

The highlights that will be important to underwater shooters and differentiate the D850 from its predecessor the D810

  • 45.75 megapixel Full Frame BSI (Back-Side Illuminated) Sensor 
  • The world's best autofocus system taken from the Nikon D5 (153 AF points, 99 cross type) 
  • Can focus center spot down to -4EV
  • Improved low and high ISO performance over the D810/Improved Dynamic Range. 
  • 7fps, 51 shot raw buffer 
  • True full frame 4K video 
  • Max flash sync speed 1/250s 
  • XQD/SD card slots

 

UNDERWATER PERFORMANCE

Recently I took the Nikon D850 and the new Nauticam D850 housing out for a few dives in SoCal. Most of my recent underwater photography has been with the Nikon D810 and Nikon D500. The D850 is sort of a mashup between those two cameras so there wasn't much of a learning curve. Below I've touched on several of the areas that I feel will be important to underwater photographers interested in the Nikon D850.

 

INCREDIBLE SENSOR

The 36 megapixel sensor in the D810, for a long time, was held up as the gold standard for DSLR image quality. It was hard to imagine any improvement over that camera in terms of image quality, but the D850 seems to have succeeded. The resolution of the upgraded sensor is staggering and the dynamic range is at least as good, if not better, than the D810. Which is nice considering the higher resolution sensor, and the fact that underwater photographers often have to deal with high contrast scenes underwater, especially for wide angle shooting.



A coldwater gorgonian attached to a piling of the Eureka Oil Rig off Southern California. Not the most exciting of scenes but it shows the potential for the dynamic range in the D850. I definitely could've pulled more details from the shadows as there is plenty of detail there and the highlights aren't blown. Nikon D850, Nauticam Housing, Nikonos 13mm, 2x Retra Flash w/Wide angle diffusers on 1/4 power. 1/15, f5.0, ISO 320

 

AUTOFOCUS SPEED

The Nikon D810 and the Nikon D4 had the same autofocus system. However, the D4 was noticeably faster, especially in low light. With that said, I was expecting the D850 autofocus to lag noticeably compared to the D5 (which I have not used) and the D500 (which I have used extensively). The latter two cameras have entirely separate processors JUST for the autofocus, while the D850 does not. The D850 legitimately surprised me. I spent a while shooting Bluebanded Gobies on some recent dives. For those who have dived California, Bluebanded Gobies are a well known subject. The are beautiful, but excruiatingly painful to photograph. They are small, skittish, live in the typically dark California waters, and like to hang out in the dark, beneath overhangs. The D850 locked onto the small fish pretty much instantaneously without the need for a focus light.


Bluebanded Goby. Nikon D850, Nauticam Housing, Nikon 105mm VR, 2x Retra Flash on 1/8 power w/wide angle diffusers. 1/250, f6.3, ISO 64


 -My two preferred modes for the D850 when shooting macro are (AFC-3D) 3D tracking and Dynamic 9 Point AF (AFC-GRP 9). 3D tracking locks onto the subject and then follows it around the frame and Dynamic 9 Point activates 9 autofocus points that are movable in a group around the frame. For wide angle shooting, especially of fast animals, I like to use Continuous AF (AFC-Auto). It does a much better job of keeping up with moving subjects than I ever could myself. 3D tracking is also nice in these instances but unlike Continuous, the camera must lock into the subject at the center of the frame before and THEN will follow around the frame whereas AFC is constantly following from the first touch of the focusing mechanism. AFC Continuous is what I used for the Sea Lion picture at the top of this article.

 

ISO PERFORMANCE

After the autofocus performance, the high ISO capabilities of the D850 were what interested me the most. Obviously at low ISO's, the D850 shines. However, high resolution bodies historically don't usually fare as well as their lower resolution relatives, because of the smaller pixel size. The D810 was never a camera I enjoyed pushing very far into high ISOs, and I absolutely hated to go above ISO 800. The D500 in my opinion can be pushed a bit more. The shot below with the D850 was taken in near darkness at ISO 2500. Yes, there is clearly noise present, but nowhere near as horrendous as I anticipated and the dynamic range even at this high an ISO is still remarkable as plenty of detail could be pulled from the shadows. It does not match up to the pro bodies cameras like the D4 (and the D5 is even better), but it also has drastically more resolution so the fact is can even be mentioned in the same sentence as the other two is quite remarkable. 

 

Diver beneath the Oil Rigs off Southern California. Taken on an extremely dark and cloudy day. Nikon D850, Nauticam Housing, Nikonos 13mm, Natural Light, 1/200, f4, ISO 2500

 

Recommended Lenses:

To get the most out of such a high resolution sensor, the best quality Nikon lenses will need to be used.

Macro:

  • Nikon 105mm 2.8G VR Macro 
  • Nikon 60mm 2.8G Macro

Wide Angle Fisheye:

  • Nikon 8-15mm 3.5-4.5G Fisheye - Best fisheye overall for Nikon FF 
  • Sigma 15mm 2.8 Fisheye - The budget option but focuses very close, is quite sharp and much cheaper than the other lenses listed. Be careful though, not every copy of this lens is sharp and the D850 high resolution sensor will show any flaw in the lens.
  • Nikon 16mm 2.8 Fisheye - Sharper, more expensive than sigma, but does not focus as close

Wide Angle Rectilinear:

  • Nikon 16-35mm 4.0 - The mose popular and versatile choice but requires a big dome port for acceptable image quality 
  • Nikon 20mm 1.8G - Small, compact, sharp, doesn't NEED as big a dome as the 16-35

 

UNDERWATER HOUSINGS:

 

Nauticam Nikon D850 Housing - $3,800

Ikelite Nikon D850 Housing - $1,695

Aquatica Nikon D850 Housing - TBA


Sea & Sea Nikon D850 Housing - TBA

 

CONCLUSION:

The closest competitors to the D850 are the Nikon D810, the Canon 5D Mark IV/Canon 5DSR, and the new Sony A7R III which is not yet available. The D850 may well be the best DSLR ever made for underwater photography and it will be hard to really find fault with it. I'm having trouble myself resisting buying one. Anyone purchasing a D850 and corresponding housing should rest assured they have a camera that can produce images with market leading quality.

Thank you to Bluewater Photo for providing the test camera and Nauticam housing for use on this initial review, and I hope you can join me a trip next year (1 spot left on the Anilao trip I'm running next month)

Full Article: Best Underwater Settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Camera

Navigation:

Olympus has long been a forerunner in high quality mirrorless cameras, with models that not only work well topside, but also work wonderfully underwater. The OM-D E-M1 further pushed the quality of these cameras with more professional body style and functionality. Now, with the release of the E-M1 Mark II camera, Olympus continues to improve on these great mirrorless cameras.

Learn about the E-M1 Mark II in our full Review.

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II offers 4K video recording, improved autofocus, a megapixel increase from 16 to 20 MP with improved image processing, improved battery life, and faster sequential shooting, among many other upgrades. The only downside is that the high shutter sync speed of 1/320th on the E-M1 was reduced back down to 1/250th with the Mark II.

Below I've compiled several good starting camera settings for different shooting situations. Folling that is a list of the most important, or required settings that are crucial to change on your E-M1 Mark II when shooting underwater. Last, we'll take an indepth look at the menu system of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II so you can fine tune your camera for the best underwater shooting experience.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Shooting Settings

Settings for Macro with the 45mm or 60mm Lens:

  • Manual mode, F16-22, 1/2500th, ISO 200

  • Auto white balance, camera flash on "fill in flash", Strobe on TTL

    • Or set the strobe to manual power and adjust power as needed

    • For manual power set the on camera flash to manual to save battery life (see below for instructions)

  • TIP: Shoot at lower F stops like F5.6 or F2.8 to try to get some better bokeh and a blurred background

  • TIP: You'll need to open up your aperture to around F8 when shooting fish; at F22, your strobes won't "reach" very far and the photo will look black.

  • ** These settings are also useful with the 12-50mm lens in Macro Mode **

Settings for Macro using a standard zoom lens (14-42mm / 12-50mm) with a wet diopter:

  • Manual mode, F16-22, 1/250th, ISO 200

  • Auto White Balance, camera flash on "fill in flash", Strobe on TTL

    • Or set the strobe to manual power and adjust power as needed

    • For manual power set the on camera flash to manual to save battery life (see below for instructions)

  • Zoom all the way in

  • Shoot at lower F stops like F8-F11 to try to get some better bokeh and a blurred background, you can open up to F2.8, but will have a very small depth of field

  • Remember working distance is limited when using a wet diopter, move carefully to avoid spooking your subject and get very close.

Back to Top

Settings for Wide Angle with 8mm Fisheye or 9-18mm lens:

  • Manual mode, F8, 1/125th, ISO 200 

  • Auto White Balance, camera flash on "fill in flash", Strobe on TTL

    • Or set the strobe to manual power and adjust power as needed

    • For manual power set the camera flash to manual to save battery life (see below for instructions)

  • Important: use the shutter speed to control your ambient light (background exposure). A slower shutter speed (e.g. - 1/60th will let in light when shooting in darker waters, a faster shutter speed will allow less light in when shooting in bright conditions).

  • TIP - when the sun is in the photo, set the shutter as fast as possible (1/250th), and you'll need to stop down your aperture to F16 or F22 to avoid blowing out the highlights

  • TIP - for ambient light photography, you may need to open your aperture to F5.6 or F4 and increase the ISO to ISO 400, 800 or 1600 to let in more light.

Note: These settings also are great for starting points for shooting with a kit lens (14-42mm), and for fish portraits with the 60mm macro lens.

Back to Top

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Set Up for Underwater Use

The E-M1 Mark II works well straight out of the box, and some of the features that needed to be changed in previous models are now set default, making it an even easier transition to underwater.

1) Live View Boost - this is very important due to the way we shoot underwater. Many shots, macro specifically, are taken with very little ambient light coming into the camera. If left off the LCD on the camera would appear black, making it impossible to compose your image. The E-M1 Mark II offers the ability to set the Live View Boost depending on your shooting mode. Here are our recommendations:

  • Manual Mode - ON1 - this is the default and means your LCD will not display the exposure settings, but rather will show a bright screen for the best viewing. Note - this is actually the camera default.
  • Bulb Time / Live Composite - you can skip for underwater
  • Others - ON1 - this is for any other setting (P / A / S and Art Modes). Since these are auto settings, which should adjust other settings automatically you should always be able to compose based on the LCD, but to be safe turn ON the Live View Boost to always have a bright easy to see screen image.

2) EVF Auto Switch - the E-M1 Mark II offers an electronic viewfinder and the camera is set up to automatically switch between the LCD and the EVF when you put your eye up to it. This is problematic underwater, as the rear housing door will trip the sensor and the view will always be on the EVF. Follow these steps to disable the Auto Switch.

Custom Menu -> I: EVF -> EVF Auto Switch -> OFF.

3) The Flash - if you are shooting with an underwater strobe, do not forget to attach the accessory flash to the camera. All uw strobes fire via fiber optic and require the flash to fire from the camera.

4) Flash Modes - if you are using a strobe with TTL you will use the single lightning bolt "Fill in Flash" mode on the camera however, if you are planning to use the strobe in manual mode* you can save battery life by changing the flash mode to "Manual Value" through the quick menu. This is also beneficial because using the internal camera flash at a lower power means less recycle time and helps eliminate any delay on being able to take a picture.

OK -> scroll to flash icon -> scroll over to select "Manual Value Flash" -> Press Info to change flash power -> scroll to 1/64th power -> OK to confirm

*Remember - if you change the flash mode on the camera, you are also changing the pre-flash. When shooting manual flash on the camera, make sure you are using a no pre-flash mode on your strobe.

5) Rear Control Buttons - the default setting on the E-M1 rear arrow key buttons controls only the focus point, limiting the functionality of those buttons. You can customize two of the buttons instead to gain quick, one-touch access to important features.

Custom Menu -> B: Button/ Dial/Lever -> Button Function -> Key Function (option with the four arrow key icon) -> Direct Function -> OK

Now you have access to change the right and down arrow key controls on the back of the camera. (Up gives control of Aperture / Shutter Speed without the dials and Left gives control over the focus point, these are NOT customizable). You have the same options for both customizable buttons, I suggest reviewing each and picking the ones that best suit your needs. For example, I left my camera at the default to have direct access to the flash mode via the right arrow key and direct access to the sequential shot/ timer mode for the down key. (The sequential shot is not something used much underwater but I find i use it alot topside, so it was important to have direct access for me.)

6) Rec View - this sets the length of time an image review is displayed after taking the picture. Default is 0.5 seconds. For underwater use, 2 seconds is usually recommended so you have a chance to quickly gauge that exposure and focus look good before taking another picture. If 2 seconds is too long, set it to what you desire, or simply press the shutter halfway down to cancel the review after taking a photo.

 Set Up Menu (wrench icon) -> Rec View

7) Picture Mode - the default is natural, but jpeg shooters may prefer Vivid

NOTE: this does not affect RAW files

Accessible through the SCP / Quick Menu or Shooting Menu 1

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OM-D E-M1 Mark II Button & Auto Focus Set Up:

The auto focus set up on the E-M1 Mark II is very similar to the E-M1. The camera will work smoothly right out of the box, for for more control, you can set up an advanced autofocus system to aid in your underwater photography.

Set Up for Nauticam Housings

The Nauticam Housing is designed much like their DSLR housings with built in handles and a leverl style shutter release. They reposition buttons to make a more streamlined user experience and help you have the right controls within easy reach. Here are our recommendations to take full use of the AEL / AFL button and advanced focus options.

Button Functions (Custom Menu -> B: Button / Dial / Lever -> Button Function)

Previously you had to assign, or reassign some buttons to create an advanced autofocus system, now that is no longer needed. Scroll through the options in the setting to choose special functions you'd like control over. For example Fn1 is well placed on the Nauticam housing to act as your "One Touch White Balance" control... Here are the options I selected:

  • Fn1 - One Touch White Balance (useful for video and ambient light shooting)
  • Fn2 - MF - this allows you to quickly switch between Manual Focus and your current focus mode (S-AF or C-AF). This comes into play when using the AEL / AFL focus lock feature.
  • REC - I leave this as record, for quick movie capture.
  • AEL / AFL - I leave this as is so you can have access to the focus lock function
  • All other customizable buttons - I have not changed any of those, you can view the options and decide what works best for your shooting style.

Focus Settings for the Nauticam Housing - use this advanced set up to allow you to split out the focus from the shutter release. This can be extremely useful for macro shooting.

  • AEL / AFL - set the Auto Focus Lock settings to separate focus from the shutter based on the focus mode on the camera.
    • S-AF - Mode 1 - this is the default, standard focus on a camera. Press the shutter half way to focus, all the way to take a photo. I leave S-AF as default for topside and underwater wide angle shooting, when I don't want to miss a focus, and am often needing to refocus between shots.
    • C-AF - Mode 3 - this separates the shutter release from the auto focus so you can refocus the camera from the AEL/AFL button and not risk taking a photo. I use C-AF primarily for video, so it is helpful to be able to refocus mid clip and not risk having the clip split by taking a photo.
    • MF - Mode 3 - same as C-AF, this separates the shutter release from the auto focus so you can lock focus and then take as many exposures as you like without refocusing the camera. When using this mode on Manual Focus you get the ability to both manually focus the camera with a focus gear in the housing, or use the AEL/AFL for auto focus. It is a perfect set up for shooting macro.

Now that you have set up these modes, you can shoot a picture "normally" (half shutter to focus) when in S-AF mode. Simply press Fn2 to swith from S-AF to MF focus mode and now when you press the shutter release halfway nothing happens. Focusing is done through the AEL/AFL button, or manually with a focus gear on the lens. This is perfect for macro shooting when a macro lens, like the 60mm, may hunt some and not lock exactly where you want. A minor adjustment towards or away from the subject brings your focus in line much easier than trying to refocus the lens. In addition, by using Fn2 to switch between focus modes, you have both a wide set up (or topside) and a macro set up ready to go at the touch of a button. You will not have to dig through the menu to fix focus options again.

Using the 1:2 Lever on the Camera - the 1:2 lever is a nice addition to the Olympus Cameras, allowing quick change of controls without many button presses. You can ignore this feature or assign it however you like, here are the functions to set this up.

  • Custom Menu -> Fn Lever Settings -> Fn Lever Function
    • I chose to leave this on Mode1 which means when you flip the lever it changes the function of the two primary control dials on the camera. Mode 3 may also be useful if you switch between video and photo shooting and want more than the quick record option or clicking the mode dial around to the dedicate movie mode.
    • Switch Function - OFF - I do not use the HDR / AF button on the left of the camera when underwater, so I don't have the 1:2 affect the modes of that button.
  • Fn Lever / Power Lever - If you want to be able to have single hand control, you can move the ON/OFF function from the dedicate power lever to the 1:2 lever switch. I don't need this, so just leave that option at Fn for function control.
  • Dial Function - here is where you can select which specific function each dial controls based on the position of the 1:2 lever. This is broken down all the way to specific shooting mode, giving you a lot of control on the set up of the camera. My primary shooting mode underwater is Manual, so scroll down to the M option and click OK. I don't change the 1 position function (Shutter and Aperture.. but you can flip them if you prefer aperture on your rear dial). Then press INFO to get to the function options when the lever is in the 2 position. I choose WB (white balance) and ISO. Click OK to save.
    • Now that this is set up, you can test it. In manual mode, with the lever in position 1 the shutter speed and aperture number will be green, or active. If you rotate the dials you'll see those change. Now flip the lever to position 2 and you'll notice that the ISO and WB icons are now green. If you rotate the front dial ISO changes. Click OK to save. If you rotate the rear dial, you can select a White Balance mode. OK to save. To get back to shutter and aperture, just flip the lever to position 1.
    • You can set it up as you like for all other shooting modes (P / A / S / Menu / Playback)

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Set Up for Olympus Housings (PT-EP14)

Improvements have been made on the Olympus housing, making it a nice option for those on a budget. However, unlike Nauticam, Olympus does not move controls around much on the housing, so some compromises have to be made regarding set up.

You can set up an advanced auto focus system by splitting out the focus function from the shutter, but as the AEL / AFL button is not repositioned, it is somewhat harder to reach and not recommended for use in this scenario. Instead, reassign the Fn1 button to control AEL / AFL, then follow the mode set up below.

In addition, with the change of the accessory flash, you no longer have to use Olympus' dedicated underwater mode to get the flash to fire. This means you do not have to assign that function to a button, and gives you more custom control over how your system is set up.

Preparing the Camera for the UW Housing - follow these steps to ensure the camera is ready to be installed in the housing.

  • Remove the camera strap and any filters from the lens.
  • Remove the Eye Cup from the Electronic Viewfinder

If you leave those items attached you may not be able to install the camera (strap for example). Others, like a filter or the eye cup, can put pressure on the housing and lead to a flood.

Focus Settings for the Olympus Housing - use this advanced set up to allow you to split out the focus from the shutter release using the Fn1 button for focus. This can be extremely useful for macro shooting.

  • Button Function -
    • Fn1 - AEL / AFL - because the Fn1 button is better positioned to use for focusing.
    • Fn2 - MF - this allows you to quickly switch between Manual Focus and your current focus mode (S-AF or C-AF). This comes into play when using the AEL / AFL focus lock feature.
    • REC - I leave this as record, for quick movie capture.
    • AEL / AFL - you can ignore or assign for one touch White Balance.
    • All other customizable buttons - I have not changed any of those, you can view the options and decide what works best for your shooting style.
  • AEL / AFL - set the Auto Focus Lock settings to separate focus from the shutter based on the focus mode on the camera.
    • S-AF - Mode 1 - this is the default, standard focus on a camera. Press the shutter half way to focus, all the way to take a photo. I leave S-AF as default for topside and underwater wide angle shooting, when I don't want to miss a focus, and am often needing to refocus between shots.
    • C-AF - Mode 3 - this separates the shutter release from the auto focus so you can refocus the camera from the Fn1 button and not risk taking a photo. I use C-AF primarily for video, so it is helpful to be able to refocus mid clip and not risk having the clip split by taking a photo.
    • MF - Mode 3 - same as C-AF, this separates the shutter release from the auto focus so you can lock focus and then take as many exposures as you like without refocusing the camera. When using this mode on Manual Focus you get the ability to both manually focus the camera with a focus gear in the housing, or use the Fn1 for auto focus. It is a perfect set up for shooting macro.

Now that you have set up these modes, you can shoot a picture "normally" (half shutter to focus) when in S-AF mode. Simply press Fn2 to swith from S-AF to MF focus mode and now when you press the shutter release halfway nothing happens. Focusing is done through the Fn1 button, or manually with a focus gear on the lens. This is perfect for macro shooting when a macro lens, like the 60mm, may hunt some and not lock focus exactly where you want. A minor adjustment towards or away from the subject brings your focus in line much easier than trying to refocus the lens. In addition, by using Fn2 to switch between focus modes, you have both a wide set up (or topside) and a macro set up ready to go at the touch of a button. You will not have to dig through the menu to fix focus options again.

Using the 1:2 Lever on the Camera - the 1:2 lever is a nice addition to the Olympus Cameras, allowing quick change of controls without many button presses. You can ignore this feature or assign it however you like, here are the functions to set this up.

  • Custom Menu -> Fn Lever Settings -> Fn Lever Function
    • I chose to leave this on Mode1 which means when you flip the lever it changes the function of the two primary control dials on the camera. Mode 3 may also be useful if you switch between video and photo shooting and want more than the quick record option or clicking the mode dial around to the dedicate movie mode.
    • Switch Function - OFF - I do not use the HDR / AF button on the left of the camera when underwater, so I don't have the 1:2 affect the modes of that button.
  • Fn Lever / Power Lever - If you want to be able to have single hand control, you can move the ON/OFF function from the dedicate power lever to the 1:2 lever switch. I don't need this, so just leave that option at Fn for function control.
  • Dial Function - here is where you can select which specific function each dial controls based on the position of the 1:2 lever. This is broken down all the way to specific shooting mode, giving you a lot of control on the set up of the camera. My primary shooting mode underwater is Manual, so scroll down to the M option and click OK. I don't change the 1 position function (Shutter and Aperture.. but you can flip them if you prefer aperture on your rear dial). Then press INFO to get to the function options when the lever is in the 2 position. I choose WB (white balance) and ISO. Click OK to save.
    • Now that this is set up, you can test it. In manual mode, with the lever in position 1 the shutter speed and aperture number will be green, or active. If you rotate the dials you'll see those change. Now flip the lever to position 2 and you'll notice that the ISO and WB icons are now green. If you rotate the front dial ISO changes. Click OK to save. If you rotate the rear dial, you can select a White Balance mode. OK to save. To get back to shutter and aperture, just flip the lever to position 1.
    • You can set it up as you like for all other shooting modes (P / A / S / Menu / Playback)

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Specific Menu Settings

The Olympus E-M1 Mark II has an extensive menu system, with the ability to control, customize or select many options to create the perfect camera for your shooting style. In this section we've listed out all the custom menu options on the E-M1 Mark II as they relate to underwater photography. This info is helpful for fine tuning your camera for the best underwater settings. If a menu item is not listed that is because it does either does not affect shooting pictures or does not affect a setting that would be used underwater.

Shooting Menus

These set your cameras defaults, general settings that it will revert to after shutoff.  

Shooting Menu #1 

Picture Mode  - This menu sets the look of your pictures, it is completely a personal choice to change, I prefer Vivid, because it enhances reds & oranges. NOTE: this only affects photos shot as .JPG, RAW images will not be affected.

Picture Quality (pixel icon)  - Sets the default quality mode for the camera. Set this to RAW for still images, default for video is FullHD Fine, leave it there unless you know you want a lower quality. 

*Note: if you do not have software on your computer that can read and edit RAW files then leave it set to .jpg (LF). I highly recommend shooting RAW for the most flexibility with in computer editing. 

Image Aspect - Leave at the default standard image aspect ratio of 4:3 unless otherwise desired.

Digital Teleconverter  Leave at default of OFF.  

Shooting Menu #2 

Bracketing* - Leave at default of OFF

HDR* - Leave at default of OFF

Multiple Exposure* - Leave at default of OFF

*These settings all control creative photo styles. You may choose to experiment with them, but for most normal shooting situations you'll leave them off.

Flash RC Mode - Leave at default of OFF

** NOTE - If you are using the Olympus UFL-2 strobes, you can increase your shutter sync speed with the PEN and OMD cameras to 1/500 using the RC feature of the camera and strobes. Check out the strobe manual for this, but it can be very useful for getting great sunbursts in wide angle shots

 

Custom Menu Options

The custom menu offers more detailed camera adjustments, however, these can get overwhelming. When in doubt leave it at the default, unless otherwise noted in the Important Settings section above.

Menu A1: AF/MF

AF Mode - I recommend setting this to S-AF (single AF). This is default for still images but not for video. C-AF, continuous auto focus, I find is too slow to accurately catch moving subjects and often hunts more frequently in the low light underwater conditions. You can halfway press the shutter during video to refocus when needed. Note: continuous auto focus has been significantly updated on the E-M1, so it can be a more useful tool with that camera.

AEL/AFL -  This is a very handy feature, especially for underwater as it allows you to set focus lock separately from the shutter button, so that you can lock focus and then take several images without refocusing. The set up will vary depending on which housing you use, so please see the Housing Settings section above for specific details. 

AF Scanner - This option controls how quickly the camera will stop hunting when an image is out of focus or in low contrast lighting situations. For most shooting leave at the default of mode2. This will run the scanner once. If the camera does not lock focus then release the shutter and try again. I find this quicker than sitting there holding the shutter and waiting for the camera to lock in when in a hard to focus situation. Using a focus light will limit these issues as well.

C-AF Lock - OFF - unless you are using the C-AF, this won't be necessary. If you are using that Auto Focus mode, this feature adjusts how sensitive the target activity level of the AF sensor is during continuous AF. Set it to the level you desire if using C-AF.

AF Limiter - This limits the range that the camera will focus. You can preset the distance yourself. I choose to leave this OFF so I retain full range of my lens.

AF Target Mode Options - Allows you to activate or deactive the various Auto Focus Target Modes.

AF Area Pointer - Allows you to choose how the green AF square is displayed.

Menu A2: AF/MF

AF Targeting Pad - leave at default.

AF Set Home - SINGLE- this sets the "home" position for the AF target for each AF mode. It will return to the position selected after power down. Default is full matrix, change this to Single Auto Focus Point for more control.
 

AF Illuminator - OFF - this is the small red AF assist light on the camera. It won't shine through the black housing so turn it off to save battery life. If you use the camera both topside and underwater and don't want to hassle with constantly changing it then leave it on, it will not affect picture taking.
 

AF Custom Settings - Allows you to set up how the AF settings are controlled. Fine to leave at defaults unless you prefer your own set up.

Face Priority - OFF - this automatically focuses the camera when it detects a "face" however underwater it can mis-detect and cause issues, will not detect faces in masks so it is not needed. 

AF Focus Adj - Adjusts target AF points based on the lens you're using, advanced operation only, I recommend leaving at default setting, OFF.

Menu A3: AF/MF

Preset MF Distance - Allows you to preset a distance for Manual Focus

MF Assist -Allows controls of magnification and peaking for manual focus, this is only useful if using a Focus Gear with the 60mm Macro lens. If using a focus gear with manual focus, both options can be useful to accurately lock focus.

MF Clutch - **VERY USEFUL** The MF Clutch is the manual focus ring on the Olympus PRO lenses. This allows for fast change between Auto Focus and Manual Focus. However, for us UW photographers, it can be a big problem, if you accidentally set up your gear with this engaged in manual focus you lose all focus control. However, this menu setting allows you to deactivate the Clutch, which returns normal auto focus controls to your camera regardless of what position that ring is in. Never miss a dive due to an error in set up!

I leave this as Operative (for topside shooting), but it's good to know where to find it so you can quickly change it should you accidentally set up the camera with the ring in Manual Focus.

Focus Ring - Allows you to set which direction the focus ring control direction. Set to your preference or leave as is.

Bulb / Time Focusing - Allows for control and set up of Bulb / Time Focusing, not needed underwater, leave at defaults.

Reset Lens - This will reset the lens position after the camera is turned off. If you want to maintain the last position of the lens, turn this to OFF.

Menu B: Button / Dial / Lever

Button Function - There are 2 Fn buttons on the OMD and each has a variety of functions you can set. You can also customize the Rec button and assign its own function. Other settings in the Button Function menu allow you to modify the action of that key listed. To gain customization of the up and down arrows you need to change the setting of the four arrows option just below them. I recommend choosing Direct Function and setting the two customizable options for whatever best suit your needs.

 

For customization of other buttons, check out the Important Settings and Focus Settings Sections above for more detailed information on why I've set these options and how to use them.

Dial Function - This menu allows you to set the functions of the control dials for the camera. Functions are set per shooting mode indivually. If you want to change the default set up, simply select the option for each control outlined in the image on the selection screen, and remember that they depend also on the position of the 1:2 lever.

Dial Direction - can be set to change which way you turn the dial to increase shutter or F stop. Set to personal preference or leave at default  

Fn Lever Settings - MODE 1 - this gives quick access to ISO and White Balance which are two useful settings for underwater

Fn Lever / Power Lever - leave at Fn, otherwise this changes On/Off control to the Function lever and disables the power lever.

Elec. Zoom Speed - allows you to adjust the electronic zoom speed when using an electronic zoom lens (such as the 12-50mm)

Menu C1: Release / Burst / Image Stabilizer

Rls Priority S / C - this option allows you to set whether the shutter can be released even when the camera is not in focus. I recommend leaving it at the default of OFF for S-AF to help limit out of focus pictures. (can be set individually for S-AF and C-AF modes) 

Burst FPS H / L - leave a default - this sets the frame rate for each burst mode option 

Menu C2: Release / Burst / Image Stabilizer

Image stabilizer - Leave at default, Auto - this engages full stabilization in all directions

 

Halfway Rls with IS - ON - this allows for Image Stabilization to begin when the shutter is pressed halfway.

Lens IS Priority - allows you to choose priority for IS from the lens or in camera. I leave at OFF.

Menu D: Disp / Beep / PC 

This menu customizes display and sound options. Set these to your preference, they don't affect picture taking, except for a select few.

Camera Control Settings - this gives you options for the display of the quick menus. When the EVF Auto switch is turned off you can only access one of these. Default is the Live Control, Olympus' standard type menu. The other option is the Super Control Panel, the new style for the OM-D that mimics many dSLR cameras. To activate the SCP, turn off the LC and turn on the Live SCP.

Info Settings -  Under this menu is LV-Info. These options allow you to streamline your LCD view information. By turning each on or off you choose which viewing modes you would like to be able to see when you press the INFO button on the camera.

Live View Boost -  This must be turned on to aid in viewing the LCD underwater in dark shooting conditions.


Menu E1: Exp / ISO / Bulb

Exposure Shift - leave at default. This allows you to adjust the optimal exposure for each metering mode, advanced set up only.

EV Step - leave at Default 1/3EV - this gives access to all "in between" stops, for more fine tuning your picture settings. It controls the size of the increments for shutter speed, aperture, etc. 

ISO Step / ISO Auto-Set / ISO-Auto - leave these options at the default

Noise Filter - leave at defaults

 

Menu E2: Exp / ISO / Bulb

 

Bulb / Time Timer, Live Bulb, Live Time - default (this won't be used underwater)

Menu E3: Exp / ISO / Bulb

Metering - Default (Digital ESP Metering) - this evaluates the entire image for the best overall exposure. For more specific metering you can choose center weighted or spot.

AEL Metering - Default (AUTO) - if you use the AEL function leave this at the default and it will automatically choose the same metering you are currently using.

Spot Metering - Default (all selected) - this allows you to choose when spot metering applies, regular, highlights or shadows.

F: Flash Custom

X-Sync - Default (1/250 for E-M1 Mark II) this sets the fastest default Shutter Speed at which the flash can fire.

**If using the YS-D2 Strobes you can override this max by using the Nauticam Flash Trigger, which allows firing at higher sync speeds. From our tests, the camera will sync with the flash up to 1/500th!**

Slow Limit - Default (1/60) - You can adjust this lower as desired.

NOTE: These flash settings do not matter for Manual Mode, the flash fires based on the shutter speed selected when in Manual Mode. However 1/250 is the highest option available for the E-M1 Mark II, 1/160 for earlier PEN's.

Flash Exposure + Exposure - Default (OFF)

Flash + WB - leave at default, WB Auto.

G: Pixels / Color / WB

Pixel Set - leave at default, this allows you to change the JPG recording modes for different combinations of image size and compression. Does not affect RAW shooting.

Pixel Count - leave at default, this allows you to change the size of the M and S JPG size modes.

Shading Comp - leave at default.

WB - Auto (default) - this sets the default WB mode, you can adjust for certain instances through the quick menu

All WB Evaluation - default - this changes the overall WB compensation for all modes except custom WB

WB-Auto Keep Warm Color - default - keeps colors warm for Auto WB mode.

Flash + WB - default (auto)

Color Space - default sRGB (unless you specifically know you want a different color space)

H: Record / Erase

Set these to your preference, they do not affect picture taking

J: Built in EVF

These do not affect picture setting, adjust as you prefer. The only important setting in this menu is:

EVF Auto Switch - OFF - this disables the automatic switch between the LCD and EVF. This is important for underwater use because the housing will always block the sensor and it will be stuck on the EVF only.

 

J: Camera Utility

Set as desired, these do not affect picture settings

Setup Menu

Set Date / Time, LCD brightness, upgrade your firmware, etc. The most important item on this menu is:

Rec View - this sets the amount of time an image is displayed for review after taking it. Default is .5 seconds, which is very fast. 2 seconds is a good average to set this to so that you can check exposure and focus on the LCD before taking another picture. If you need to take the next shot quickly this review disappears with a 1/2 shutter press.

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Full Article: Sony A7RIII Announced

No doubt the A7RIII has been a long time coming, but the timing of the announcement seems quite on purpose with the Nikon D850 having just been announced and this camera seemingly targets the same photographers. The A7RIII seems to be a mashup of the A9 and the A7RII which makes sense. It takes the A7RII sensor but has a new processor for theoretically better image quality. Ten frames per second, in body image stabilization, reported 15 stops of dynamic range. 

If the A7RII was any indication, the RIII should be extremely popular, including with underwater photographers.

PRESS RELEASE

Sony’s New Full-frame α7R III Interchangeable Lens Camera Delivers the Ultimate Combination of Resolution and Speed

Innovative Full-frame Mirrorless Model Offers 42.4 MP High-Resolution, 10 fps Continuous Shooting, Fast and Precise AF Performance in a Compact Body

  • 35mm Full-Frame 42.4 MP Back-Illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS Image Sensor with Evolved Image Processing
  • Continuous Shooting at up to 10 fps[ii] with either Silent Shooting or Mechanical Shutter and full Auto Focus/Auto Exposure tracking
  • 399 phase-detection AF points covering 68%[iii] of image area, 425 contrast AF points and approximately 2 times more effective Eye AF[iv]
  • 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization with a 5.5 step[v] shutter speed advantage
  • High Resolution 4K[vi] Movie Shooting with full pixel readout and no pixel binning[vii]
  • Completely redesigned for professionals, including upgraded Auto Focus, Dual SD Card Slots, Extended Battery Life, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C™ Terminal and more
  • Compact, Lightweight body at only 23 oz[viii]

Sony today announced an impressive addition to their full-frame mirrorless camera line-up, the α7R III (model ILCE-7RM3).

Thanks to an evolutionary leap in image processing power and efficiency, the new α7R III combines a high-resolution 42.4 MP(i) back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor with impressive shooting speeds at up to 10 fps(ii) with full AF/AE tracking, as well as beautiful image and 4K6 video quality, wide 15-stop(9) dynamic range, high sensitivity with noise reduction of almost a full stop4 and more. With these immense capabilities and a compact, lightweight body, it’s an extremely versatile tool for photographers, videographers, multi-media creators and all other types of professionals that demand reliability, flexibility and versatility.

A New Level of Image Quality

The 42.4MP high-resolution, back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor utilizes a gapless on-chip lens design and AR (anti-reflective) coating on the surface of the sensor’s seal glass to dramatically improve light collection efficiency, resulting in high sensitivity with low-noise performance and wide dynamic range.

Sony’s new α7R III also features a new front-end LSI that effectively doubles(iv) the readout speed of the image sensor, as well as an updated BIONZ X™ processing-engine that boosts processing speed by approximately 1.8 times compared to the α7R II. These powerful components work together to allow the camera to shoot at faster speeds while also enabling its impressive ISO range of 100 - 32000 (expandable to ISO 50 – 102400 for still images) and massive 15-stop[ix] dynamic range at low sensitivity settings. This ensures outstanding overall performance at all settings and in all shooting conditions.

This new full-frame model was built without an optical low pass filter to maximize resolution, while also having the ability to output 14 bit RAW format even when shooting in silent or continuous mode. The camera is equipped with an innovative 5-axis optical image stabilization system that has been fine-tuned to support its high-resolution shooting capacity, resulting in a 5.5 step(v) shutter speed advantage, the world’s highest[x] compensation performance for an image stabilization system. There is also a new low-vibration shutter that reduces vibration and image blur in all modes, including the high speed 10 fps shooting, as well as several advancements in accurate color reproductions of skin tones.

High-Performance AF and AF/AE Tracking at up to 10 fps(ii)

The innovative new α7R III full-frame mirrorless camera is equipped with a refined image processing system that allows it to shoot full 42.4MP images at up to 10 fps with continuous, accurate AF/AE tracking for up to 76 JPEG / RAW images or 28 uncompressed RAW images[xi]. This high speed 10 fps mode is available with either a mechanical shutter or a completely silent shooting[xii], adding to the immense flexibility of the camera. The camera can also shoot continuously at up to 8 fps[xiii] in live view mode with minimal lag in the viewfinder or LCD screen. These high speed options ensure that fast moving subjects can be captured with extreme accuracy and incredible image detail.

For added convenience, while large groups of burst images are being written to the memory card, many of the cameras key functions are operable, including access to the ‘Fn’ (Function) and ‘Menu’ buttons, image playback and several other menus and parameters[xiv] including image rating and other functions that facilitate on-location image sorting.

Additionally, if there is fluorescent or artificial lighting present in a shooting environment, users can activate the Anti-flicker[xv] function to allow the α7R III to automatically detect frequency of the lighting and time the shutter to minimize its effect on images being captured. This minimizes any exposure or color anomalies that can sometimes occur at the top and bottom of images shot at high shutter speeds.

The upgraded focusing system of the α7R III is comprised of 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that cover approximately 68% of the image area in both the horizontal and vertical directions. There is also 425 contrast AF points, an increase of 400 points compared to the α7R II. This advanced system delivers AF acquisition in about half the time as the α7R II in low-light conditions, with tracking that is approximately 2 times more accurate as well. The acclaimed Eye AF feature is also approximately 2 times more effective, and is available when utilizing Sony’s A-mount lenses with an adapter.[xvi]

Additional improvements in focusing flexibility include AF availability in Focus Magnifier mode, focal-plane phase-detection AF support when using A-mount lenses[xvii], an ‘AF On’ button, a multi-selector or ‘joystick’ for moving focusing points quickly, flexible touch focus functionality and much more.

High Quality 4K for the Video Professionals

The new α7R III is exceptionally capable as a video camera, offering 4K (3840x2160 pixels) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor. When shooting in Super 35mm format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 5K[xviii] of information, oversampling it to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth.

A new HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma)[xix] is available on the α7R III that supports an Instant HDR workflow, allowing HDR (HLG) compatible TV’s to playback beautiful, true-to-life 4K HDR imagery. Further, both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are available for increased color grading flexibility. The camera can also record Full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mbps(vi), allowing footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow motion[xx] video files in Full HD resolution with AF tracking.

Build, Design and Customization for Professionals

Sony’s newest full-frame camera is equipped with a variety of enhanced capabilities that give it a true professional operational style. These include dual media slots, with support in one slot for UHS-II type SD memory cards. Users have a variety of options for storing their content, including separate JPEG / RAW recording, separate still image / movie recording, relay recording and more. Battery life has been greatly extended as well, as the new camera utilizes Sony’s Z series battery that have approximately 2.2 times the capacity of the W series battery utilized in the α7R II.

The α7R III features an upgraded high-resolution, high-luminance Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder™ with approximately 3,686k dots for extremely accurate, true-to-life detail reproduction. The Tru-Finder, also found in the acclaimed Sony α9 camera, utilizes a ZEISS® T* Coating to greatly reduce reflections, and has a fluorine coating on the outer lens that repels dirt. It also has a customizable frame rate, with options of either 50 fps or 100 fps[xxi] to best match the action. The LCD screen has been upgraded as well, with a resolution of 1.44M dots and WhiteMagic™ technology that improves viewing in bright, outdoor conditions. “Standard” or “High” display quality settings are also available for both the viewfinder and monitor as well. “High” takes advantage of the large amount of data read from the 42.4MP sensor to provide extra fine viewfinder and monitor displays for a more natural view.

The new camera also offers a multi-selector joystick that provides a fast, efficient way to shift focus points, as well as an ‘AF ON’ button to activate autofocus when shooting stills or movies.

The new α7R III allows for convenient transfer of files to a smartphone, tablet, computer or FTP server via Wi-Fi®, while also including a sync terminal, enabling external flash units and cables to be connected directly for convenient flash sync. A SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C™ Terminal is also available for increased flexibility in power supply or connected accessories, as well as a faster image transfer speed when connected to a PC.

New “Imaging Edge” Software Suite and Pixel Shift Multi Shooting Mode

New with the α7R III is a software suite called “Imaging Edge” that extends the creative capabilities of the entire shooting process – from pre-processing to post-processing. “Imaging Edge” provides three PC applications called ‘Remote’, ‘Viewer’ and ‘Edit’, available for free download, which support live-view PC remote shooting and RAW development.

Also making its debut on the versatile α7R III is a new Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode, which takes full advantage of the advanced 5-axis optical in-body stabilization to create beautiful true-to-life, super-high resolution composite images. In this mode, the camera precisely shifts the sensor in 1-pixel increments to capture four separate pixel-shifted images containing a total of approximately 169.6 MP[xxii] of image data. These four images can be composited together and processed utilizing the new “Imaging Edge” software suite. This ultimately results in a still image with overwhelming resolution and an unprecedented level of color accuracy, and is ideal for photographing architecture, art or any other still life photography subject with many intricate details and colors.

Pricing:

The A7RIII is available for preorder on 10/26/17 and is retailing for $3,198 USD.

https://petapixel.com/2017/10/25/sony-unveils-a7r-iii-42mp-10fps-15-stop-dr-5-5-stop-4k/

Full Article: First Impressions: Nikon 8-15mm Fisheye Lens Review


For starters, the Nikon 8-15mm is a stunningly sharp lens. The images I have taken are clear and have great depth and detail. It is also a very versatile lens. Although made for a full frame camera, it can be used on a crop sensor camera as well. It makes beautiful diagonal images and has the added benefit of zooming out to 180 degrees in every direction, creating a circle in the frame

Although not really a zoom lens on a full frame camera (as implied by the 8-15mm) rather, it is an 8mm circular fisheye lens and a 15mm wide angle fisheye; in effect, two lenses in one. There is a vignette from about 14mm down to 9 or 10mm that doesn't quite form a full circle, so the 'in-between' isn't really usable. But, the lens can also be used on a crop sensor camera above 10mm where it will completely cover the frame. So on a crop sensor camera, it is a 10-15mm zoom lens. Below 10mm, there is a vignette and it never reaches a full circle.
I had the opportunity to take this lens on location with me to Fiji. The sharpness and clarity of the lens can be seen in the spines of the soft corals. Although on a full frame camera I rarely shoot with an aperture under f/11, this image was shot at f/9 and is still quite clear.


For some, having a circular fisheye lens isn't a draw at all. Others will rejoice at the versatility and freedom the lens gives them. In my book, having the ability to switch between circular fisheye and a regular diagonal image while underwater is a big plus. I like to shoot circular fisheye, but I don't want to devote an entire dive to it. Only a few subjects lend themselves to circular fisheye, and I would rather have the option of zooming my lens out when the time is right, than spend spend my dive searching for that one special opportunity.

The circular fisheye leaves a darker blue ring around the image which can't be helped, but can be adjusted in post.

I found another perk in the form of available dome ports for the Nikon 8-15mm. The tiny Zen 100mm lens with removable hood works great with this lens on a full frame housing. It wasn't a good fit with the Sigma 15mm so I had to use a large dome port to accommodate that lens. Now I have the option of getting really close and in tight for close focus wide angle shots with this lens and port combo. The hood removes easily which makes it a great option for circular fisheye as well. 


In my opinion, the Nikon 8-15mm lens is much better than the Sigma 15mm and the Tokina 10-17mm. For those who shoot with both full frame and crop sensor cameras, it can replace both lenses in addition to the Sigma 8mm fisheye lens. This makes it a valuable tool and a great buy, replacing three lenses with just one. Have a look at the following images and judge for yourself, but I will definitely keep the Nikon 8-15mm lens in my camera bag.

 

Full Article: Best Lens Choices for DSLR Underwater Photography


Underwater photography has its challenges and chief among them is having the right lens for the shot you hope to achieve. Compact camera users have an advantage in this regard, as they can switch strategies underwater by adding a wide angle wet lens or diopter as needed. DSLR shooters, however, have to make a choice before the dive and stick with it. That means more than just a choice between macro and wide angle. It also means choosing the right macro lens or wide angle lens. 

MACRO

Many budding underwater photographers start their adventure shooting images of small animals such as octopus, fish, and nudibranchs. My advice, whether you are shooting with a crop sensor or a full frame camera, is to use a 60mm macro lens. This lens allows the photographer to get close to the subject and fill the frame. It is especially good for subjects about the size of a small melon. With its wide focusing range, it can take images both extremely close up and at a distance. It is a good underwater choice for poor visibility as well because of its short working distance.

Rhinopias frondosa, 60mm lens, f/18, 1/320, ISO 100

Although the 60mm lens is a good all around macro lens, some photographers prefer to shoot smaller subjects or larger subjects at a greater working distance. In this case, I recommend Canon's 100mm macro Lens, or Nikon's 105mm macro lens. These lenses are compatible with both crop and full frame sensors and allow the photographer to fill the frame with a subject while maintaining a comfortable working distance. My favorite application with this lens, however, is to pair it with a wet diopter, such as the Subsee +5 or +10, or the Nauticam SMC-1 or SMC-2. When paired with one of these lenses, the working distance is reduced to just a few inches, and teeny tiny subjects smaller than an ant can be photographed, and still fill the frame.

Costasiella sp. Nikon d810, 105mm lens, SMC-1, f/20, 1/320, ISO 100

Both the 60mm and the 100mm or 105mm lenses can be enhanced with a wet diopter, teleconverter, or even extension rings. However, the wet diopters are the most versatile as they can be attached to an adapter that flips them out of the way when changing between subjects of different sizes. Although the choice to shoot macro still has to be made before making a gaint stride, these lenses give the photographer the option to shoot a head and shoulders portrait size of a diver all the way down to something the size of a grain of rice. To illustrate the versatility of this lens, the image above was taken with the same lens as the image below, Nikon's 105mm lens.

Nikon d810, 105mm lens, f/8, 1/125, ISO 200

WIDE ANGLE

It turns out, there are several choices for wide angle shooters as well as macro shooters. For crop-sensor cameras, the overwhelming majority of photographers use the Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye lens. This lens is very versatile as it focuses extremely close to the lens while giving tremendous depth of field. You can see the kelp in the image below is pretty much in focus throughout the image, although some of it is touching the dome port, and some of it is meters away.

Nikon d7000 with Tokina 10-17mm lens, f8, 1/30, ISO 200

Another option for both full frame and crop sensor shooters is the circular fisheye lens. If you are shooting a crop sensor, you will have to use a 4.5mm circular fisheye lens, to account for the smaller sensor size. Full frame shooters can use an 8mm circular fisheye. Sigma makes both lenses and it is a good choice if you want to have this option in your bag. Canon, and recently Nikon, both make an 8-15mm fisheye lens which I find to be the most versatile. The 8mm lens is sometimes touted as a gimmick to get judges to notice your photo in a contest, but I believe it is a tool just like any other and should be utilized under the right conditions. At 8mm (or 4.5 if shooting crop sensor), the lens sees 180 degrees in every direction creating a circular effect. It is a challenging lens to use because you must have the strobes pulled way back to reduce backscatter and the subject must be placed in the frame where it will not be too heavily distorted.

Nikon d810, sigma 8mm circular fisheye lens, f/11, 1/100, ISO 320

At the 15mm end of the 8-15mm fisheye lens, the frame is filled, has great depth of field, and the lens makes exceptional underwater images. Because there are very few straight lines in underwater photography, a fisheye lens works well to capture close focus wide angle photography.

Nikon D810, 8-15mm lens at 15mm, f9, 1/125, ISO 400

There are times, however, when straight lines are more desirable, such as the inside of a shipwreck, or the supports under a jetty. Full frame shooters have the option of using a 16-35mm wide angle rectilinear lens. This lens also works well for large animals that are not so large as to fill the frame with a 15mm shot, such as sea lions, dolphins, and giant groupers, so being able to zoom in to 35mm is helpful.

Nikon d810, 16-35mm wide angle rectilinear lens, f/11, 1/80, ISO 500

These lenses are not the only options available to underwater photographers, but they are commonly used and give both wide angle and macro shooters lots of options for better underwater photography. DSLR users will benefit from deciding what types of images they would like to create before the dive and going on the dive with those goals in mind. Of course, there is always Murphy's law that you will see a whale when you are set up for a nudibranch. But if you are prepared for the nudibranch, at least you will have the safistfaction of being ready when that new, undescribed species shows up.

Full Article: Nauticam D850 Announced

Less than a month after the Nikon D850 started shipping, Nauticam has announced the release of its D850 housing, the NA-D850. Taking such a remarkable camera underwater requires a remarkable housing and it seems Nauticam has done just that. Like all Nauticam DSLR housings, the casing is aluminum. It features the patented Nauticam bayonet port lock mechanism and the electro-optical converter like the one found on the D500 and D5 housings, along with a new level to easily toggle between AF modes. Of course, the housing also provides access to all important camera functions.

The housing is slated to start shipping on October 16th for a retail price of $3800 USD.

For the full press release from Nauticam, Please visit this link! http://www.nauticam.com/product/17222/

And to preorder your housing, please visit Bluewater Photo https://www.bluewaterphotostore.com/nauticam-nikon-d850-housing

Full Article: Sea&Sea Announces S&S YS-D2J

Sea&Sea has announced the updated version of their YS-D2 Strobe. The YS-D2J returned to Japan for manufacturing (hence the J), and should have even better reliability than the original model.

The specs and features remain the same so current YS-D2 users won't have any sort of learning curve by upgrading. The new strobe will be available this month and will retail for $689.95. 

For more information, please check the Sea&Sea product page linked below.

http://www.seaandsea.jp/products/strobe/ysd2/   

Please visit https://www.bluewaterphotostore.com/ to purchase the new strobes when they are available!