[Updated April 11, 2020]
Generally speaking, I find most “my gear” sections to be an exercise in stroking one’s ego. However, I’ve realized that with the appropriate information, this section can be useful when it comes to helping prospective buyers make a decision as to what to buy. So here is my equipment list, along with a reason why I chose what I did.
MAIN SYSTEM (DSLR/MLC)
This is my current system:
- Camera: Olympus OMD-EM10 Mark3
- Housing: Nauticam
- Strobes: 2 Sea&Sea YS-D2J
- Lenses & port: Olympus 8mm fisheye with the Nauticam 4.33″ acrylic port, Olympus 60mm macro lens with the matching Nauticam flat port
- Arms: I have carried over the old Stix arms from my old Aquatica system. 14 years and counting, they are still serving me well
After I flooded my housing in Maldives in 2017 (user error, as always), I decided to switch to a mirrorless camera system because of its smaller size and ease of travel. I went with Olympus, because of their long history with underwater photography and because they have a very well-developed ecosystem of accessories. Looking at the specs, i did not see any meaningful reason to get the EM1 – the EM10 did everything i wanted and just had fewer megapixels. Good enough for me. For a housing, I went with Nauticam – they hit the sweet spot for me in terms of price/performance, and also have ports for pretty much every lens i would ever use with this system.
I initially carried over my trusty old Inon strobes, but in 2018, I flooded one of them (user error again – I did not check the O-ring) in Raja Ampat – I was going to replace it with another Inon, but their new models were not in stock. As i had another trip coming up soon, I ended up going with Sea & Sea.
As for the ports, i contemplated getting a larger glass port for the fisheye lens – however, the smaller size and reduced weight of the 4.33″ port tipped the balance. My entire camera system packs onto a carryon and comes in at under 7kg – perfect!
PREVIOUS ITERATIONS OF MY MAIN SYSTEM
- Camera: Canon 7D
- Housing: Aquatica housing for the 7D
- Strobes: 2 Inon Z240s
- Lenses & port: Tokina 10-17 fisheye with 8″ Aquatica acrylic port, Canon 100m and Sigma 50mm macro lenses with Aquatica flat port
- Arms: I have carried over the old Stix arms from my previous system
- Accessories: Inon 45 degree finder (a game changer in terms of looking through the viewfinder), Macromate 2x close-up lens with a flip mount (for times when i wanted more than 1:1 magnification)
My first system was actually based around a Canon 20D. All the elements above were carried over from that housing, except obviously the housing.
COMPACT CAMERA SYSTEMS
The gadget head in me has always had a compact camera system, for times when i didnt want to take out the big rig (in fact, i started out with a compact system, so it actually pre-dates my big rig).
My present compact camera system consists of:
- Camera: Olympus TG-5 housing
- Housing: Olympus PT-058 matching housing
- Strobe: Inon Z240
- Tray: Generic
- Arms: left-over TLC arms from when i purchased my first housed DSLR, back in 2006
- Accessories: Kraken UWL-4 wide angle wet lens which gives 140-150 degree field of view (screw mount)
I picked the TG-5 because of its amazing macro capabilities – which, coupled with its small size, actually makes it a better tool for macro photography in some cases than a housed ILC system. And with the wide angle adapter, it can shoot in 85-90% of the situations that an ILC system can – super versatile!
The Inon Z240 was left over from my main system – after I flooded one of my 2 Inons, I bought 2 Sea&Sea YS-D2Js and migrated the Inon over to compact use.
PREVIOUS ITERATIONS OF MY COMPACT SYSTEM
This was my previous setup:
- Camera: Canon G6 housing
- Housing: Ikelite TTL housing
- Strobe: Sea&Sea YS-110 strobe
- Tray: Generic
- Arms: left-over ULCS arms from when i purchased my first housed DSLR, back in 2006
- Accessories: Inon Wide Angle adapter (screw mount)
I actually did not use this housing so much – mainly because that Ikelite housing was a very poor ergonomic fit for my hands, and the camera also have a significant amount of lag.
Before that, I have also used the following setups:
- Camera: Canon S70
- Housing: Canon DC-WP40 housing
- Strobe: Sunpak G-Flash (a very inexpensive strobe)
This also doubled as our shop/teaching rig, but i got good enough photos out of it to go with a couple of magazine articles i have written on diving. The strobe, sadly, did not last very long.
And my first system consisted of an Olympus C3000 with a matching Olympus housing. I bought this in 2001, before taking a sabbatical from work to go explore diving in a location called the Andamans. All of 3 glorious megapixels, and it cost me $650. 2 days later, i left it behind in a cab in Boston, and had to buy another one. Then, after the season was over in the Andamans, it fell out of my backpack while i was boarding a flight to go diving in the Maldives and broke. RIP. I got about 5 months of use out of it, but i have very fond memories of it.