El cheapo bag takes E-PL3 underwater!

Started Mar 13, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Hen3ry Forum Pro • Posts: 18,218
El cheapo bag takes E-PL3 underwater!

(Great white whale sighting in southern Australia!)

I want to be able to take the occasional shallow underwater shot since I hang out in tropical coral reef country a lot of the time, but I'm not a scuba diver nor even very enthusiastic with a snorkel. Big breath -- down -- look around -- up -- that's me.

So I thought "Hey, what about this plastic bag with a window thing?" which someone mentioned on the forum. Cost me $90+ delivered. Mine is the medium size; I had thought it would be a generous fit, but it can just take the E-PL3 with the Panny 14 or the Oly 17 lens.

So -- a super low tide today in Port Philip Bay, flat sea, and a lovely autumn 30 C, so it was hey nonny nonny and into the water we went terrifying children, grannies, one legged sailors, but not small fish (as you can see).

Good grief -- the great white whale! (My real diving goggles are awaiting my return in a friend's house in Rabaul, New Guinea, home to some of the most spectacular coral in the world. For testing purposes, these cheap swimming goggles did remarkably well, I thought.)

Lessons learned in the first two days of messing around:

  1. The 17 is the best lens for this job since its largish outside diameter helps locate the camera fairly in the lens opening in the bag and the angle of view means there is no vignetting.

  2. Assuming you set the mode for some sort of automation (I used iAuto for the following pix) it turns out the E-PL3 and E-PM1 are good choices with this bag since the key controls are press button so are easy to use through the bag. Press one button to turn the camera on, press another to shoot a picture, press a third for replay. And you do need that replay because so far I've been shooting pretty much blind.

  3. As you can see, white balance is a bit of a challenge. You don't actually want daylight white balance -- you want what it really looks like underwater. The first two pix here look okay, but the third is a bit suspect!

  4. I've been shooting virtually blind. suspect this is partly due to working in very shallow water and with the camera pointed down a bit so there is plenty of light reflecting off the plastic bag and the LCD, but whatever -- it is clear that there is a need to max the brightness of the LCD screen. i'll try this again tomorrow.

  5. Images so far have been very low contrast. I was shooting with the color set at 2, Vivid. Tomorrow I'll try it at 1, Enhanced. As it is, I zapped up the contrast and range quite a lot in PP in PhotoLine.

  6. I also tested my back-up camera, the Panny TZ7/ZS3 in the bag. Not so good. The small diameter of the lens lets the camera move around too much so it tends to sit over to one side of the lens orifice and at wider angles, it vignettes. In addition, it has slider switches for on/off and replay. You can use the zoom, though.

  7. I had initially intended to take the u/w pix with the TZ7, but as noted above, found it unhandy in the bag. I suspect that rather than buying the bag, I should have sold the TZ7 and bought one of the "tough" cams that will do a couple of meters depth. I would have lost the 12x zoom and 25mm equiv wide of the TZ7, but hey -- when I reflect, apart from testing, I haven’t used it in a year! The E-PL3 is just too handy. On the other hand, I would have gained a camera that is pretty useful all round as an emergency back-up for the E-PL3 and is handy for dirty work, and much handier underwater.

Thoughts, folks?

Cheers, geoff
Geoffrey Heard

 Hen3ry's gear list:Hen3ry's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic G85 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm F4.0-5.6 ASPH OIS +7 more
Olympus PEN E-PL3 Olympus PEN E-PM1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 (Lumix DMC-TZ7)
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