Olympus TG-6 Wide Angle Photography: FCON-02 Fisheye Lens

The Olympus FCON-02 Fisheye Lens and Ikelite housing is the perfect wide angle underwater combination for the Olympus TG-6 compact camera!

The Olympus TG-6 is a popular compact camera for underwater photography, particularly macro photography. Until recently the Olympus TG-6’s potential as a wide angle set up was limited by it’s lack of a manual mode. Without modifications, wide angle underwater photography with the Olympus TG-6 usually results in the camera selecting shutter speeds that are too low or apertures that are too wide underwater. This is because the Olympus TG-6 tends to select quicker shutter speeds and smaller apertures when zoomed in underwater. 

Fortunately, Ikelite solved this problem, and created a larger artistic pallet, by taking the Olympus FCON-T02 fisheye converter lens underwater and making a dome for it. 

Olympus FCON-T02 Fisheye Converter Lens

 

The Olympus FCON-T02 Fisheye converter lens is a circular fisheye lens – which means it produces a circular fisheye image when zoomed all the way out. Fortunately, as you zoom it, it becomes a normal fisheye with great optical properties underwater. If you zoom even further and engage the macro autofocus mode on the camera, you can take 30mm equivalent macro photos! So there multiple fields of view in one great lens. The FCON-T02 itself is waterproof to 20 meters. With the dome and housing you can go down to 60 meters (200ft). 

 

With the FCON-T02 you have more of an ability to capture a wide dynamic range underwater.
Taken snorkeling in Loreto Mexico with the Olympus TG-6, Ikelite Olympus TG-6 housing, Olympus FCON-T02 lens, and Ikelite dome port for the FCON-T02 lens. 1/160, ISO 200, f/3.5

 

Ikelite Dome Port for the FCON-T02

The Ikelite dome port for the FCON-T02 fits on the Ikelite housing for the Olympus TG-6. It is attached by easily twisting off the original port. Sometimes a strap wrench can help the process, but I did it with my hand. The dome port screws on and the FCON-T02 fits inside of the housing. This makes the Ikelite TG-6 set up a dedicated wide angle set up for the dive. However, the zooming ability of the camera allows it to take some macro photos. Overall, we loved the optical quality of the dome. The corners are sharper than taking wide angle with the TG-6 with a wide wet lens. The set up is conducive to smaller apertures and more detail in wide angle images. Moreover, the dome makes it possible to take over-under photos. However, if the sun hits the lens in a certain way, we did notice a slight reflection in the dome. This is easily removed it post-processing if it does appear. 

Bluewater Photo Ikelite TG-6 FCON-T02 Dome and Package:

Ikelite Dome Port for Olympus FCON-T02 Fisheye

Ikelite Olympus TG-6 Wide Angle Package

Sharp corners with the Ikelite dome port and Olympus FCON-T02 lens.
Taken by Fernando Aznar aboard the Socorro Vortex liveaboard while cage diving in Guadalupe Island, Mexico. ISO 200, 1/30, f/3.5

 

Fields of View with the FCON-T02

Circular Fisheye

Zoomed all the way out, the FCON-T02 is a circular fisheye lens. This means you get an equal, fisheye field of view both horizontally and vertically, creating a circle affect. This field of view has historically been limited to high-end DSLR cameras as a creative, niche genre of photography. With the FCON-T02 fisheye, it’s now possible for photographers on lighter budgets to take cool and creative circular underwater photos. 

 

This photo of a lingcod was captured with the Ikelite TG-6 camera, Ikelite housing, Ikelite dome, and FCON-T02 circular fisheye lens. 1/30, f/2.8. ISO 200

 

Because the TG-6 is zoomed all the way out in the circular fisheye mode, the settings chosen by the camera will be less ideal than at other fields of view. The TG-6 will tend to shoot at slower shutter speeds and wider apertures, so it’s important to get the right focal point and stay still while shooting at this angle. The camera will also tend to capture more ambient light and less strobe light than when it’s more zoomed in. 

 

The same fish photographed with a narrower field of view (I zoomed in the camera). The settings are a little more ideal for underwater photography. 1/50, f/4.5, ISO 200

 

Fisheye

The FCON-T02 really shines underwater at a “standard” fisheye field of view. This is when the optical properties of the lens are the best, and the camera chooses the best settings underwater. We took the FCON-T02 cage diving on the Socorro Vortex with great white sharks and kept it at its fisheye field of view. It was perfect for photographing the sharks as they came in close to the cage. The lens really captured the dynamic range well at this field of view as you can see with the sun rays in the shark images.

 

A great white shark and reflection captured by Fernando Aznar aboard the Socorro Vortex. Olympus TG-6, Ikelite TG-6 housing, FCON-T02 lens (zoomed into “standard” fisheye), and Ikelite dome. 1/200, ISO 200, f/3.6

 

Macro

Believe it or not, the Olympus FCON-T02 can also capture macro photos – even with the dome. They aren’t as zoomed in or detailed as the TG-6’s famous microscope mode, but it is a very nice perspective to have underwater. To capture this type of macro, zoom the camera all the way in, and change the autofocus mode to “macro AF.” This will let you get close to your subject to take a macro photo. Be careful not to bump the subject and scratch the dome! Perfect exposure and black backgrounds is particularly easy when shooting with the Ikelite RC1 TTL converter and an Ikelite DS strobe. 

This macro photo of an anemone was taken while zoomed all the way in with the FCON-T02 fisheye lens. f/100. f/6.3, ISO 200

 

A wide view of the same anemone. f/4.5, 1/50, ISO 200

 

Conclusion

We think the Ikelite dome with the Olympus FCON-T02 fisheye conversion lens will be revolutionary for Olympus TG-6 shooters. The Olympus tough series has always been known as a macro camera and for good reason – it’s wide photos just haven’t been as good…. Until now! The FCON-T02 lens really brings this camera’s wide capabilities up to par with its macro underwater. 

 

Great white shark in the sun photographed by Fernando Aznar. 1/200, f/5, ISO 200

 

We loved the detailed images we captured – and each one had sharp corners! We also loved the fact that the camera was able to choose the right settings with this lens better than it could have by itself. But most importantly, the wide range in field of view gives the user a huge artistic pallet for any situation. 

 

Over-under action shot: getting out of the cage on the Socorro Vortex. Photo by Fernando Aznar. 1/640, f/4.5, ISO 200

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in the local Channel Islands. He received degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, as well as a minor in Arctic Studies, at the University of Washington. Now he works as a fisheries observer on boats in the Bering Sea and North Pacific. When he is not at sea, he is traveling with his fiancee and taking photos. Check out more of his photography at www.photosfromthesea.com!

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