Exciting Times Ahead.

Around Christmas time I took some of my hard earned scuba instruction cash and bought myself a nice new fancy camera. Finally taking the leap away from basic point and shoot, but not quite ready to plunge into the depths of dSLR, primarily due to costs… I picked up the Olympus EPL-1, the latest (at the time…) of their PEN series camera and the associated Olympus OEM housing. I played around with the camera a bit over the holidays while home, and dry in Phoenix and was quite happy with the results. The results were definitely a step up from my good old point and shoot, noticeably better in resolution and the color settings. The camera handled lower light better than a point and shoot, and all in all it was easy to use, easy to get comfortable with.

I plunged into the ocean for the first time with camera and housing for the January Wreck Weekend with Eco Dive Center. We traveled down to dive off the wreck of the Yukon, and I took the new PEN down with me. I had no strobes yet, and new that headed deep into the California water meant that I was going to run into some problems…low light means difficulty focusing and having to push to a very high ISO resulting in lots of grain in the images. I could not get it to whitebalance at depth because of the lack of light down there, but it worked well around 50 feet. The video I shot in the previous post was with the PEN, and overall I’m happy with it, no video lights or nothing it worked pretty well. I was able to get off several decent shots, especially happy that even with the lack of light, I could shoot wide open and get a high enough f/stop to actually get photos in focus! (Not to mention how excited I am to be able to pick and choose aperture and shutter speed…its been a long time my friends).

Now that some time has passed, I’ve taught a little more, got a small bonus at work and helped out with writing some blurbs for the dive shop’s website I suddenly found myself rolling in the dough. With that burning a hole in my pocket I sprang into action, and after some research at a couple places, and trying to decide if it would be worth it to wait a couple weeks and order overseas to save about $50 (and deciding it would not be) I placed an order with BackScatter.com for the next step to my set up! Hopefully within the next week I’ll find a lovely box in the mail complete with an Ultralight tray and arm set up to attach my new Inon Z240 strobe and the Olympus macro adaptor and a nice new Inon close up lens. The great thing with the design of the Olympus housing, is that this lens will thread onto the adaptor, then I can easily pop the adaptor on and off the housing while diving, creating a very versatile system offering a near wide angle ability (lens starts at 14mm…which is not really that wide, but its still better than my point and shoot!) with a quick switch to macro capabilities.

I’m very excited for this new system, and was impressed with BackScatter’s level of service, Craig my salesperson was very knowledgeable, and helped me make a couple decisions that will allow the extra flexibility and save money (like picking up the macro adapter, vs waiting to buy a newer and more expensive macro lens that Olympus will be releasing later). Of course, he also talked me into getting the next strobe up from what I was originally looking at, going with the Z240 over the D-2000…because purely, it has more power, and I will be happier with it in the long run. Also important, the strobe will allow me to grow, and if I do ever decide to pick up an SLR, that strobe will work well and provide the power I will want with a higher end camera. Craig also included an underwater photography book, valued at $40 for free, because he said it was a good book and that I would probably find it useful. Here’s hoping, and thanks!

I should hopefully receive my gear sometime next week, which will be right in time to be real smart and test it out on a nice advanced, deep dive! I’m off to the oil rigs again on Saturday February 12th and can’t wait to see if I can finally get a few decent pics of some of the rig structure and macro of the amazing abundance of corals and anemones, brittle stars and countless fish that reside on the rigs. Wish me luck, and check back for my results in a few weeks!!

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