Nauticam E-M1 Mark II Housing Review
An In Depth Look at the E-M1 Mark II housing from Nauticam
Nauticam always produces high end housings with an emphasis on an ergonomic and well rounded design, intended to provide the user with the best possible shooting experience underwater. Often controls on the housing are placed as close to the fingers of the user, putting in long extensions and gears to align the housing control with the button on the camera. In addition, they change some buttons into levers for easier use in water, or when wearing thick gloves. Overall, every consideration is taken into account when creating a new housing, and the E-M1 Mark II housing is no exception.
Like all Nauticam housings, the E-M1 Mark II is machined from a solid block of aluminum with a precise design specifically for the E-M1 Mark II camera. The housing fits the camera like a glove, providing the smallest form possible. The tough construction and depth rating of 100m allow this housing to stand up to much use in the ocean and other water environments.
The E-M1 Mark II housing includes molded handles with rubber grips, which are now easily adjustable as well. Simply loosen two hex bolts on the top of the handle and bottom of the housing and you can slide the handles in or out to create the perfect fit for your hands. One inch ball mounts come standard with every housing, as well as the stainless steel brackets which create a sturdy base with the handles, and provide multiple attachment points for carry handles and lanyards.
This housing is built as other mirrorless housings have been, on a hinge opening, so that there is only one rotary latch to keep the housing locked, versus having to worry about two latches. The camera attaches easily to a tray, which slides in place and locks for camera installation. The only downside I have found so far with the new E-M1 Mark II housing, is that due to the larger size of the E-M1 Mark II's battery compartment, Nauticam was unable to create cutaway in the tray that allows the battery compartment to be opened with the tray installed. This means users will have to remove the tray prior to changing the battery. All in all, this is not horrible as the extended battery life of the E-M1 Mark II will mean fewer battery changes, and the large knob on the tray makes it easy to unscrew, remove and replace.
There are only two things to check before installing the camera, make sure the on/off switch is pulled up and out of the way, and confirm that the on/off switch for the flash on the back of the housing is in the same position as the matching control on the flash itself. After that, slide the camera in place, lock it and close the housing. If using a lens with a zoom gear, you can also pull the zoom knob out a bit to allow the lens to slide in unhindered. The knob springs back into place and engages with the gear once released.
Like all recent Nauticam housings the E-M1 Mark II includes the vacuum circuitry. Purchase the accessory bulkhead and pump to take advantage of this useful system. New for the E-M1 Mark II is a vacuum reset button positioned at the front of the housing just inside the port opening. This improvement allows you to reset the vacuum from the front after a port change, so you no longer have to also open the rear of the housing to make a reset.
E-M1 Mark II with Olympus 60mm Macro, F22, 1/250th ISO 200
Nauticam is well known for crafting housings that not only offer full control of the camera, but also make controlling the camera easy and enjoyable. Here are a few of the great control features on the Nauticam E-M1 Mark II.
Large, Sensitive Shutter Release - allows for easy half shutter focus and exposure captures.
AEL / AFL Lever - this control, a small button on the back of the camera has been turned into a lever, shifted and angled to sit right at the user's thumb, making it a perfect set up fro splitting out focus for advanced users.
Flash On / Off Control - never do you need to worry if you forgot to activate the flash before hitting the water. In addition this switch will allow you to quickly turn off the flash if you want to switch to ambient shooting (say, for a silhouette shot)
Vacuum Reset - no longer do you need to open up both the front and rear of the housing when making a simple lens change. Now you can reset the vacuum from the front of the housing, leaving the rear latched and o-ring secure.
Dual bulkheads - allows the user the option of multiple accessories such as both vacuum bulkhead and an external monitor, without additional adapters.
E-M1 Mark II with Olympus 60mm Macro, F8, 1/125th ISO 320
General Housing Set Up
Like all cameras, there are a few basic settings that should be changed prior to putting the camera in the housing. Here are the basic camera settings to check and update prior to using the E-M1 Mark II inside the housing.
EVF Auto Switch - navigate thru the custom menu to to this option, and make sure to set the EVF Auto Switch to OFF, this prevents the viewing screen to switch automatically between the electronic viewfinder and the LCD. If left ON, the screen will switch to the EVF once the housing is closed and will not go back to the LCD until this function is turned off.
Live View Boost - this should always be turned on, and surprisingly in the E-M1 Mark II that is the default setting. Nothing needs to be changed for this camera, but it is good to know where to find it.
For more advanced set up options, please keep an eye out for our upcoming settings article.
E-M1 Mark II with Olympus 60mm Macro, F22, 1/250th ISO 320
Recommended Lenses & Ports
Shooting Wide Angle
Olympus 8mm Fisheye PRO - this is the top quality fisheye lens, providing the widest angle of view, 180°. We like this over the Panasonic version for the improved contruction, fast F1.8 aperture and longer length, making it easier to light with strobes. However the lens also carries a heavier price tag.
- Nauticam 4.33" Acrylic Dome with 20mm Extension
- Zen 4" Glass Dome with 30mm Extension.
- Love Split Shots? Get the Zen 6" Dome, version I, for easier split shots.
Panasonic 8mm Fisheye - choose this lens, for excellent full fisheye results (180°) and a lower price tag than the Olympus PRO version.
Olympus 9-18mm - this is a great choice for rectilinear (not fisheye) wide angle. This lens offers more flexibility than the fisheye options since you have a zoom range. However it is not as wide, maxing out at 100° angle of view.
- Nauticam 4" Wide Angle Port
- Zen 6" Glass Dome, version II - glass is better optically, and the larger dome will increase overall corner sharpness when shooting at lower apertures.
- Don't forget to purchase the zoom gear for this lens!
Olympus 7-14mm PRO - if you want a rectilinear lens, but want to eek out a slightly wider view, choose this lens. We prefer the Olympus over the Panasonic lens for its higher quality contruction and fast F2.8 aperture throughout the focal lengths of the lens, however the lens is more expensive than the Panasonic version, and requires separate installation from the front of the Nauticam housing after the camera is in place.
Panasonic 7-14mm - another great wide angle option, if the price tag for the Olympus version is too high, or you do not want to have to install the lens from the front of the housing. The Panasonic is smaller so can be installed on the camera from the rear like other lenses.
- Nauticam 6" Wide Angle Port
- Nauticam 6" Wide Angle Port with Focus Knob - allows control of both zoom and focus, with additional focus gear.
- Zen 6" Glass Dome, version II
- Don't forget to purchase the zoom gear for this lens!
Olympus 60mm Macro Lens - this lens is equivalent to a 120mm Full Frame lens, providing intense magnification excellent for medium to extremely small macro subjects. Pairs perfectly with diopters for super macro shooting.
Panasonic 45mm Macro Lens - this lens works great for larger to small subjects. Equivalent to a 90mm full frame camera, this lens is a bit easier to use with lower magnification, but is not ideal for shooting very small subjects or super macro.
When you Want the Most Flexibility
Olympus 12-50mm Lens - this unique lens offers electronic zoom for smooth movements (great for video), as well as a dedicated macro mode which shifts the lens to 43mm and locks the focal length. In the macro mode, you can focus much closer than usual making this really two lenses in 1. In addition, when paired with the Nauticam Wet Wide lens and bayonet system, allows for a wide angle option too! This is the most flexible underwate set up for the E-M1 Mark II
- Nauticam Port & Zoom Gear Kit - the only port and zoom gear combination that allows for both electronic zoom and use of the dedicated macro mode.
E-M1 Mark II with Olympus 60mm Macro, F10, 1/100th ISO 320
The final benefit to the Nauticam housing is the large variety of useful accessories they offer to round out the system and create a streamlined underwater photography rig. Here are our recommended accessories, both from Nauticam and other manufacturers that are ideal for use with the Nauticam E-M1 Mark II Housing
Nauticam M14 Vacuum Bulkhead & Pump - protect your gear with this helpful system that allows you to check your o-ring seal prior to diving
Nauticam Extended Viewfinders for Mirrorless Cameras - Choose between the 180° Viewfinder of 45° viewfinder for a magnified view of the cameras electronic viewfinder, both options include dioptric adjustment so you can perfectly match the view to your eyesight.
Nauticam Compact Macro Converter - this powerful diopter pairs perfectly with the 60mm Macro Lens, providing sharp super macro results. Choose the CMC-1 for the most magnification, or the CMC-2 if you need just a little magnification.
Nauticam Wet Wide Lens - this high quality wide angle wet lens pairs with the Olympus 12-50mm or Olympus 14-42mm EZ lenses allowing you to increase the angle of view without changing lenses. Add this to the system to create a more versatile set up underwater.
Nauticam Bayonet Adapters - use these adapters in conjunction with the Wet Wide lens for quick and easy wet lens changes underwater. (Use the M67 with the 14-42mm EZ lens and Port, and the M77 version with the 12-50mm lens and port)
Nauticam Flip Diopter Holder - perfect for super macro work, allows you to flip a macro diopter, such as the CMC-1 on or off the port with ease.
Nauticam Lanyard with Snap Clips - perfect accessory to add to the housing so that it can be safely carried, or handed back on to the boat after your dive. Choose 23cm for the E-M1 Mark II Housing.
Sea & Sea YS-D2 Strobes - perfect companions to the E-M1 Mark II for lighting your photographs
Light & Motion, Kraken or Fix Neo Focus and Video Lights - these small and full featured lights work great underwater as either focus lights when shooting macro, or for video lights to help bring back the rich colors of your underwater scene.
Stix Floats - if using Nauticam or ULCS arms with your strobes, these floats help counter the negative weight of the housing and create a neutral set up, much more comfortable underwater.
E-M1 Mark II with Olympus 60mm Macro, F8, 1/160th ISO 320