The world of IKEs, PENs & OMDs
Left: my current choice of lenses and domes for the PT-EP 14 and PT-EP10 housings, each accepting the same lenses and domes. Upper left: OMD PT-EP14 with Olympus 8mm fisheye and a 4-inch dome, Upper-right: PT-EP14 with Panasonic 7-14 zoom with the AOI DLP 08 dome. Lower left: Panasonic 7-14 zoom with Zen WA-100-EP714 dome and Olympus 8mm with the 4-inch Precision dome plus extension. Both domes need the OMD-PEN adapter when placed on the PT-EP14 housing. Lower right, the new AOI UH EPL-10 housing with INON D-200 strobes, on an Ikelite tray. The E-PL9 camera replaces the older E-PL5 in the PT-EP10 housing. The UH-EPL-10 housing will take the AOI port and kit 14-42 lens, as well as the Oly 8mm (with extension) and the Pana 7-14 mm zoom lens.
In the ever-growing market of UW photo equipment, it becomes increasingly difficult for the beginning UW photographer to choose the right underwater system. New technologies also bring better ergonomics, lenses, and more megapixels which easily will make the older system look awkward and obsolete. There are limiting factors that will make the choice easier. Like your budget of course. And the more experienced photographer often has developed a specific interest, like shooting macro or wide-angle subjects. Or choosing a cropped sensor instead of a full-frame sensor which will automatically limit the spectrum of lenses and housings. Then there is also the type of strobe to select, and the system to fire the strobes, electrical cables of fiber optics, in which case there is a choice between either an internal flash or LED trigger to ignite the optical system. For strobes and lenses, the underwater market seems to change less rapidly. The choice of the lens is crucial for the quality of your pictures, perhaps much more important than the number of megapixels of the camera, or even the size of the sensor. A superb lens will stay with you for many years, at least when the housings designers are so kind as to provide the suitable adapter and port for your favorite top lens
From DSLR to 4/3 format For about 20 years I have been a faithful user of the Ikelite DSLR housings and Nikon DX cameras equipped with the legendary Tokina 10-17 with a Precision 5 inch mini dome, allowing to get very close to the UW object. But recently I followed the urge to try something (a bit) different and more simple and switched to the PT-EP14 housing with the newer Olympus M1 Mark II camera inside. But I kept my Oly fish-eye and 4-inch dome (that I used on my PT-EP10 with E-PL5 back-up system) which so far seems to work well on the OMD housing with a PEN/OMD adapter. Another change was that from the bulky Ikelite DS 161 to the smaller and lighter INON D200 strobes
Olympus AOI upgrades The Hong King form AOI has recently brought two new housings on the market for Olympus 4/3 camera's that is: the AOI UH-EM5III-CAM for the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III and the AOI UH-EPL10 which is meant for the EPL9/EPL10 Olympus cameras and replaces the older PEN (PT-EP10) housings. Both polycarbonate housings have added two important options, namely a vacuum system and a LED system, avoiding the energy-consuming internal flash. I am now using the AOI UH-EPL10 housing with EPL9 camera (see insert lower-right) as a backup system. This housing offers two pleasant extensions, namely a vacuum test system, and a multi-control LED trigger system (that so far seem to work flawlessly), making the pop-up flash of the older PT-EP10 PEN housing superfluous. A new AOI STR-04 LED trigger is now also available for the OLY PT-EP14 housings, although the older flash will also do very well with the M1 Mark II, with the flash set to lower (1/64) power to not drain the batteries. The picture above shows my current choice of lenses and domes for the PT-EP 14 housing.