Olympus Pen EPL-5 Guide

Pen EPL5
Olympus Pen E-PL5 Underwater Camera System Guide – The Budget Choice for Using Interchangeable Lenses

By Lisa Collins and Steve Warren, owners, INON UK.

EPL5PT-EP10 set

The Olympus Pen E-PL5 and Olympus PT-EP10 underwater camera housing package is a very attractive and economic entry to compact system camera underwater photography with conventional interchangeable lenses. The Olympus Pen E-PL5 is a true enthusiast’s camera. It uses the micro four thirds format co-developed by Olympus and Panasonic. Taking advantage of both manufacturers common lens mount, owners of the Olympus Pen E-PL5 can choose from many superb lenses from Olympus and Panasonic, including some designed for Panasonic by Leica, as well as independent brands. Combined with the Olympus Pen E-PL5’s 16 mega pixel sensor, these lenses assure you of extremely high quality photographs suited to making impressive enlargements for display and for magazine submissions. The large buffer of the Olympus Pen E-PL5 allows for burst shooting, even in RAW. This can be a very valuable feature for underwater photographers working with fast moving subjects, such as dolphins or sailfish, who want the flexibility to edit their images later beyond the limits of JPEG’s. Photo editing for underwater photographers is one of the subjects covered in the INON UK Learn with Lisa Day classroom course, along with composition skills and planning successful underwater photo safaris.

For working inside overhead environments, such as shipwrecks, caverns and caves, the Olympus Pen E-PL5 offers user friendly features for overcoming the difficult lighting often associated with these conditions. These include great low light performance and a HDR (high dynamic range) setting that combines several images to make one that is correctly exposed in situations where strong sunlight and deep shadows conflict in the picture. Especially useful is the Olympus Live Bulb setting. This allows the photographer to shoot long exposures and watch the image taking shape on the monitor in real time. Once the lighting looks right, the photographer shuts off the camera. This has huge benefits for classic low light wreck photography as well as for creative techniques such as painting with light inside caves or at night. The time saving of being able to get it right in one, rather than shooting a number of long exposures and reviewing them at depth or in overheads, before trying again, means less risk of pushing air and decompression limits.

Accessories PT-EP10
Olympus were the first major camera manufacturer to introduce low cost, fully featured housings for digital cameras that were suited to the needs of underwater photographers in the late 1990's. The Olympus PT-EP10 is rated to 45 metres, has oversized controls for ease of use underwater and can be accessorized for with lenses and lighting arrays for the most demanding assignments.

The Olympus Pen E-PL5 has full manual exposure control, alongside useful fast shooting automatic modes for underwater photography including aperture priority and shutter priority. There’s a range of automatic scene and art modes for casual photography and experimentation with special effects. Metering choices include ESP multi-sensor, spot and centre –weighted with exposure compensation and auto-bracket options. For colourful underwater natural light photography you’ll find traditional custom or manual white balance and an underwater mode. Comprehensive flash menus provide full control of the flash packaged with the camera and include automatic TTL flash control as well as four manual power settings. There are slow and second curtain settings for creative fill flash photography. A fast flash sync speed of 1/250th Is an important feature for underwater fill flash with moving subjects to avoid motion blur and to control sun-balls when shooting against the light. The Pen E-PL5 shoots 1080 high definition video. The tiltable 7.5 cm LCD monitor can be backed up with an optional electronic viewfinder for topside photography.

The Olympus PT-EP10 underwater housing is officially rated to 45 metres and the hull is manufactured from polycarbonate, making it light to travel with. It is very inexpensive for an underwater compact system camera housing. The Olympus PT-EP10 underwater case allows full control of all your Olympus E-PL5 camera functions. Some care is needed to understand your choice of lenses with the flat port that’s included with the Olympus PT-EP10 underwater housing. The Olympus Pen E-PL5 is a good choice if you intend to use Olympus interchangeable lenses for your underwater photography, rather than INON wet lenses. This makes the Olympus Pen E-PL5 and Olympus PT-EP10 underwater housing a low cost, lightweight and compact alternative to an underwater SLR system for the photography enthusiast. However, it does mean you have to commit to your lens choice before you dive. If you prefer the flexibility of using INON wet lenses for their inter-changeability under the water, then consider the excellent Olympus Pen E-PL7 and Olympus PT-EP12 underwater housing. The Olympus Pen E-PL7 is a better option for those upgrading from underwater compact cameras who wish to use their existing INON UWL-H100 wide angle and INON UCL close up wet lenses with their new compact system underwater camera.

An Olympus E-PL5 point and shoot critter rig. Highly compact, this system is equipped with an INON S-2000 digital underwater strobe for lighting stills picture. The INON LE video light can be used to shoot video sequences as well as for focus assist and for checking colours of potential subjects or searching for subjects at night. The INON UCL close up lens adapts the E-PL5’s own Olympus zoom or macro lens by increasing its magnification for super macro photography. The INON UK Level One Underwater Photography Course teaches close up and macro photography

For general marine life subjects, such as turtles, medium sized reef fish and small, easily approached fish, like clown or scorpion fish and for taking close ups of corals or starfish as small as your hand, consider the M.Zuiko Digital 14/42mm 1:3.5/5.6 II (R). This semi wide-angle to medium telephoto lens range works very well behind the Olympus PT-EP10’s housing port. It can be used for macro and super macro underwater photography by adding INON UCL close up lenses, such as the INON UCL-100M67 close up lens, to considerably increase its magnification.

Pen EZ
For general purpose fish, reptile and coral photography the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14/42mm 1:3.5/5.6 II (R).is an inexpensive and versatile zoom lens. For macro and super macro photography it can be fitted with INON UCL330, INON UCL165 and INON UCL100 close up lenses.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 is an excellent choice for photographing small to medium sized reef fish in clear water and for photographing small subjects such as nudibranchs. Macro lenses can typically fill the frame with a subject about one third the size of a credit card. At many critter destinations, such as Lembeh or the Philippines, popular subjects, like pygmy seahorses, will be very much smaller. To increase the magnification of the 60mm beyond basic macro and enter the super macro range for working with tiny subjects, like pygmy’s, using an INON UCL close up lens will increase magnification considerably and help fill the frame. INON UCL lenses, such as the INON UCL330, INON UCL165 and INON UCL100 offer increasing levels of magnification. The INON UCL330 and UCL165 feature a two element design, which uses two lenses with an air gap between. Two element close up lenses are associated with the finest design of close up lenses for land photography. The INON UCL100 uses three lenses to achieve higher magnification and superb image quality. INON UCL close up lenses are multicoated to optimize their performance by maximizing light transmission and reducing reflections, ghosting and flare. INON UCL 330, UCL165 and UCL100 close up lenses can be stacked (added together) if you need to increase your magnification even further.

Accessories EMM6028b
The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 is a real workhorse fish and critter lens. Equivalent to a 120mm lens on a full frame camera, this offers significantly more telephoto range than those typically provided for the FX and APS formats. This allows you to take frame filling portraits of smaller reef fish or keep a little further away from them, for example. True macro focusing down to lifesize or 1:1 makes this lens the perfect choice for muck diving safaris. For super macro photography beyond lifesize, simply adding an INON UCL close up wet lens will greatly increase magnification.

For reefscapes, shipwrecks, low visibility and split-level photography, you’ll need to consider a fisheye lens for your Olympus Pen E-PL5 underwater camera. The Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 8mm 1:1.8 Fisheye Pro lens can be used with the Olympus PT-EP10 underwater housing using the INON Dome Port Olympus EP01. This premium dome port is manufactured from glass, which is more scratch resistant than acrylic. The port is multicoated to reduce reflections to an absolute minimum. Reflections reduce the amount of light getting through the port to reach the camera sensor. Reflections also cause flare, a problem with fisheye photography on land, which is made much worse underwater by scatter. It’s important to remember that your housing port is the first optic between your subject and your expensive lens and camera. Dome ports act as a lens in their own right underwater, so choosing one should be accorded the same care as selecting your camera lenses. ­­­

lenses EF
The Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 8mm 1:1.8 Fisheye Pro is the world’s first F1.8 fisheye lens. Providing a full frame 180 degree angle of view, this lens is perfect for working in poor visibility, shooting inside and outside shipwrecks, capturing big schools of shoaling fish, close focus, wide-angle and wide angle macro photography as well as for split-level images

All current INON underwater strobes are compatible with the Olympus Pen E-PL5 and Olympus PT-EP10 underwater case system. Which INON strobe model is best for you will very much depend on the type of underwater photography you enjoy and, to some extent, your preferred way of using your Olympus Pen E-PL5. The INON S-2000, INON D-2000 and INON Z-240 all offer INON S-TTL point and shoot underwater strobe photography with the Olympus Pen E-PL5, with the cameras own flash meter automatically controlling the exposure from your INON strobe. The INON S-2000, INON D-2000 and INON Z-240 all feature the versatile INON S-TTL EV controller which lets you dial in a little deliberate over exposure or under exposure to adjust the S-TTL for difficult subjects that can confuse the best camera flash meters. Difficult subjects can include silver sided fish that can cause unpleasant reflections, much like firing a strobe at a mirror does. Divers are another common example. When photographing divers, their dark suits and BCD’s often cause non adjusted TTL strobes to over expose flesh tones, like faces and hands. Some underwater photographers also enjoy the convenience of INON S-TTL, but like to under expose their strobes slightly to better saturate colours such as red. INON’s S-TTL EV controller easily overcomes all these issues.

EPL5PT-EP10 SH set
By adding an INON ball joint arm, the photographer has much more scope for using creative lighting angles. For instance, side lighting hard corals can throw shadows that enhance textures. Pictures can be taken from a little further away without introducing backscatter. The INON UK Level Two Underwater Photography Lighting Course explains advanced and creative lighting techniques

Many experienced underwater photographers prefer to set their INON strobe exposure manually. Very precise control of INON strobe output is provided with 12 manual settings on the INON S-2000 and 13 on the INON D-2000 and INON Z-240. The power control is located on the back of each strobe. This makes it easy to adjust them from behind your Olympus Pen E-PL5 underwater camera system. Power controls are click stopped and the dial turns through 360 degrees. This makes it very fast to go from minimum to high power settings without having to spin the dial back on itself. The INON UK Understanding Your Underwater Camera and Strobe Day, which is a classroom based course, fully explains camera and strobe settings, what they do, when and how to use them and how to test all functions are working properly before you dive.

Getting well-lit underwater photographs without backscatter using strobes requires an understanding of how light behaves underwater, how to aim your strobe and that you also use an appropriate strobe arm. INON offer an extensive line of different strobe arm types and a wide range of accessories to ensure you can light your subjects exactly the way you want. Basic single strobe use, including proper aiming, is taught during the INON UK Level One Underwater Photography Course. Use of dual strobes and advanced creative lighting techniques is taught on the INON UK Level Two Underwater Photography Lighting Course. INON strobe arms not only help you position your strobe properly, they can be used to carry your INON UCL close up lenses until needed and to hold your video or focus assist light. INON arms also enable you to trim your Olympus Pen E-PL5 and Olympus PT- EP10 underwater housing for perfect buoyancy and balance underwater. Keeping your system near neutrally buoyant stabilizes your camera making it much easier to accurately compose pictures and shoot smooth video. It also lets you shoot one handed, freeing your other hand for a finger hold. Finally, if you drop an underwater camera that is negatively buoyant, it can quickly plunge into the depths and be lost.

Pen EPL5
The Olympus Pen E-PL5 is a superb choice for serious underwater photographers wishing to use genuine Olympus interchangeable lenses. The large 16MP micro four thirds sensor, generous buffer, fast flash sync speed and innovative Live Bulb mode all add up to a very capable camera for the ambitious underwater photographer. INON UK's Understanding Your Underwater Camera and Strobe Course, which is classroom based, can help you quickly get to grips with your new system

The INON Grip Base M1 helps provide stability and a platform for attaching strobes or/and video lights. The INON M1 Grip Base secures to the base of your Olympus PT-EP10 at two points, so there is no possibility of slippage. Studs allow you to set your housing upright on a flat surface with the Olympus PT-EP10 ‘s base, O ring and sealing surfaces kept clear of dust and other debris. The left hand grip provides a mounting point for strobe arm adapters. Your right hand wraps around the housing keeping key shooting controls within easy reach.

The Olympus PT-EP10 underwater housing has a built in accessory shoe. This is useful for mounting an INON strobe or video light for point and shoot close up stills or videography. It can also be used to mount a focus assist light. The INON LE and LF video lights make excellent focus assist lights and, along with being used for recording video, can be a useful addition to a stills photographers lighting kit. Wide-beam INON video lights make it much easier to see all of your subject when shooting with fisheye lenses at night, for instance. INON video lights can also serve as fill lights if you have only one strobe – for example when shooting close focus, wide-angle images the more powerful INON strobe would light the subject in the background and the INON video light would light the foreground. How you will use your INON LF or LE video light {for focus assist, as a fill light or for video}, will influence how you attach it to your Olympus PT- EP10 underwater housing system. INON UK or your official INON UK dealer can discuss some options with you.

Five Features and Benefits of the Olympus Pen E-PL5 and Olympus EP-10 Underwater Camera Package

Micro Four Thirds System.

The Olympus Pen E-PL5 uses the micro four thirds half frame sensor jointly developed as a professional stills and video sensor by Olympus and Panasonic. This provides very high quality images. Olympus and Panasonic lenses, as well as independent brands, are compatible with the Pen E-PL5 giving the owner an extensive range of lenses to choose from for maximum flexibility.

Uses Olympus Interchangeable Lenses Underwater.

The Olympus PT-EP10 underwater housing is designed to operate with high quality original Olympus lenses, including the professional level 60mm macro and 8mm fisheye lenses.

Generous RAW Buffer.

Buffer allows for fast sequential burst shooting of up to 27 frames in RAW. This lets you shoot fast moving subjects, like hunting sailfish, and still enjoy the photo editing benefits RAW offers.

INON S-TTL Compatible.

The Olympus Pen E-PL5 camera and PT-EP10 underwater housing are fully compatible with the INON strobe range. INON S-TTL lets the sophisticated flash meter built into the Olympus Pen E-PL5 automatically control your INON S-2000, INON D-2000 or INON Z-240 exposure for you. It’s a great way to get dependable strobe exposures if you are starting out or working under difficult shooting conditions. INON EV controller lets you adjust S-TTL for tricky subjects and to saturate colours.

Live Bulb Feature.

Live Bulb feature is especially useful for low light photography. On Live Bulb setting, the shutter is left open, usually for seconds or minutes at a time. Live Bulb lets you watch the picture develop on the monitor in real time and stop the exposure at the exact point it looks the way you want it to.

INON UK's Steve Warren's 20 years of experience of advising both amateur and professional underwater photographers on selecting underwater camera housing systems was called upon by Martin Edge. Martin, considered one of the world's best underwater photography coaches asked Steve to write the housings section for
'The Underwater Photographer', INON UK's recommended text for the Level One Underwater Photography Course

Representing a very capable and affordable compact underwater system camera for ambitious photographers, the Olympus Pen E-PL5 and Olympus EP-10 underwater housing is a natural upgrade for those who have outgrown their underwater compact camera or for those seeking a lighter, smaller and less expensive alternative to an underwater SLR. However, before investing, we would strongly recommend you take advice from INON UK or an INON UK official dealer to help ensure you get the exact outfit you need. There are many accessory options you’ll need to choose to get your Olympus E-PL5 and Olympus PT-EP10 underwater camera system up and running and a few spares you’ll also require. It can get complicated if you don’t know the ropes and some expert one to one guidance will ensure you enjoy early success with your new Olympus E-PL5 underwater camera system.

front cover
INON UK’s Lisa Collins shot her first cover for Diver Magazine using an earlier Pen E-PL3 camera in an Olympus underwater housing. The micro four thirds format takes advantage of new technology to enable smaller, lighter, less complicated and lower cost cameras to be used in place of professional SLR’s for photojournalism. Learn with Lisa Days include composition tips, photo editing skills and planning successful underwater photo safaris.