When you have as much equipment as I do, planning what to take on a vacation can be a real challenge. After 30 plus years as a pro photographer and photography writer, I’ve accumulated a lot of gear (heck, I even helped write a book on photo gear and accumulated even more stuff in the process).
The Old Battle Axe and I are getting ready for a trip to Key West. While we’ve never been there before, there’s obviously a lot to photograph and we only have about three days there. One highlight for us will be getting a chance to do some snorkeling. We tried snorkeling for the first time a few years ago during a visit to Grand Cayman during a Caribbean cruise. At the time, we purchased a small Olympus underwater digital camera and were quite pleased with the results.
Over the years we’ve experimented with other inexpensive underwater options. Our best results so far have come from a little Canon point and shoot and hard case underwater housing. We’ve used this snorkeling in Cozumel, Mexico and underwater nudes in a swimming pool back home with excellent results.
This time around I’m trying out an Ewa Marine soft underwater housing I bought off ebay last year. I plan on using my Olympus E-5 in this housing rather than my Canon 40D for two reasons. One, I’m currently writing a user guide to the E-5 and two, the E-5 has better sealing against the elements so if there’s a small leak in the Ewa Marine, I’ll have a better chance to save the camera.
I’m also bringing my Olympus E-P2 and a backup Ewa Marine soft housing I bought a few years ago (it’s a much older model designed for a small SLR film camera). The two can share the E-5’s lenses (with an adapter) and use the same flash units. I can also use my Lensbaby kit with the E-P2, but not the E-5.
The next question becomes which lenses to bring? The 9-18 is probably the best choice for underwater; the 12-60 SWD is a great all around lens and the 55-200 SWD is a quality optic with some serious reach. I also have the Olympus 70-300 which is smaller, lighter and has even greater reach, but isn’t a fast when it comes to light gathering or auto focus as the 50-200. I’ll probably leave the 70-300 at home because of that.
For the E-P2 I’m also going to bring my Panasonic 14-140, which I normally use with my GF1. This has turned into my favorite micro four thirds lens because of its ruggedness, AF speed and versatility. It will work just fine with the E-P2.