I recently got an Olympus E-PL3 with an underwater housing for underwater photography, which I'm trying to get aquainted with. I have added a strobe (Olympus UFL-1) with a tray and strobe arm connected with an optical cable, so I don't have it directly above the camera. Also, a wide angle and macro wet lenses are part of the kit. I can't scuba dive, so I'm restricted to snorkelling, which provides a few challenges photographically, although there is plenty to see in the intertidal zone...
Today I have tried both with and without strobe, and I realise I have a lot still to learn. This kit is more complicated than the Olympus XZ-1 I used last year, with which I took this image of rock barnacles (Balanus balanoides) and a common winkle (Littorina littorea). (1/500 f/2.5 (ISO 100).
I have also used the XZ-1 under water both in Greece last year and in the Galapagos. This camera has a lovely, fast lens (f 1.8!), but as it's a compact, it is a little slow on the shutter after it has focused. So for underwater work I have bought the E-PL3 with a 14-42 mm lens which I tried out a bit more today.
Same barnacle species, E-PL3 @ focal length 42mm, added macro lens, 1/640 s, f/5.6, ISO 200. If you look carefully, you will find a lot of juvenile winkles.
Here are some of the shots taken with the strobe.
(f/5.0, 1/60 s ISO 200, flash fired in TTL-mode):
A starfish ((f/5.0, 1/60 s ISO 200, flash fired in TTL-mode):):
This species of seaweed is an invasive species, the Japanese wireweed (Sargassum muticum). It was introduced as a blind passanger when Pacific oysters were imported, and also with ballast water. Currently, it's spreading too quickly along the south Norwegian coast, taking over for our native seaweed species. This image is taken without flash, with ISO 1000, @ f/4.0 1/250 s, 17mm focal length, using the Olympus wide angle wet lens.
Close-up of the same species, with a lot of juvenile common mussels (Mytilus edulis) f4.0 1/250, ISO 800, @16 mm using a macro wet lens.
The equipment seems to work OK, I need to get to know the optimal settings better. I would prefer that the 14-42 mm lens were faster, a maximum aperture of 3.5 isn't really what I'm used to above water, and light is a problem under water. But first and foremost, the challenge is a snorkelling one. Since I'm floating on the surface, wearing a 7 mm wet suit because I'm such a wuss when it comes to water temperature, I'm like a big cork in the waves and focusing is technically difficult near the rocks. Pointing my fins vertically helps a bit to stop the movement, but I have to say I'm envious of scuba divers who get down under the surface!
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