Nauticam’s NA-EM5: Like having a submarine for your Olympus OM-D?

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posted Friday, June 29, 2012 at 3:29 PM EST

Nauticam's NA-EM5 underwater housing for the Olympus E-M5 compact system camera. Photo provided by Nauticam.If you're shooting with Olympus' handsome OM-D E-M5 compact system camera, likely one of the features which attracted your attention was its weather-sealed body. There's definitely something to be said for shooting safe in the knowledge that even if your camera gets wet, all should be well.

Like all weather-sealed, interchangeable-lens digital cameras, the Olympus E-M5 body is only splashproof, though. It's not designed to be submerged, and while we occasionally hear of cameras surviving a brief accidental dunking, it's assuredly the exception, not the rule.  If you want to take your camera below the surface, you'll need an underwater housing.

That's where Nauticam steps in. For several years now, they've been offering underwater housings for a variety of medium format, DSLR, mirrorless, and compact cameras, and they've just announced their latest model. Designed specifically for the Olympus E-M5, the Nauticam NA-EM5 housing is machined from aircraft-grade aluminum, hard anodized, and rated for a depth of 100 meters. It features a single rotating housing latch, an easier-to-maintain rear mounted housing o-ring, dual fiber optic synch ports, and a threaded bulkhead port for HDMI or strobe synch bulkhead installation. There's also an optional acrylic display window on which you can mount magnified finders through which to see the E-M5's electronic viewfinder.

Nauticam's NA-EM5 housing. Photo provided by Nauticam.

The outside of the NA-EM5 housing is covered with an array of buttons and dials which contact those on the camera body, allowing for detailed control of camera setup. These include both Main and Sub-dials, and a dual-stage shutter lever. On the front, a selection of lens ports can accommodate a healthy selection of lenses including the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro whose development was announced alongside the E-M5 body, as well as the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 9-18mm f/4-5.6 ED, M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ, and M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II, plus the Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm f/4 ASPH, LUMIX G 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye, LUMIX G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH, LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA OIS, and Leica DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm f/2.8 ASPH MEGA OIS.

Available from July 11th in the US market, the Nauticam NA-EM5 housing for the Olympus E-M5 mirrorless camera will be priced at around US$1,350. More details in the press release below.

Press Release

Innovation Underwater: Nauticam NA-EM5 for Olympus OM-D E-M5

Nauticam is excited to announce the NA-EM5 for Olympus’ flagship Micro Four Thirds (m4/3) format camera, the OM-D E-M5. As the dominant force in mirrorless interchangeable lens camera housings, Nauticam continues to bring professional quality engineering to this rapidly expanding segment of the photographic community. The NA-EM5 should prove to be one of the most potent underwater imaging tools ever developed for this segment, proving once again that great things can come in small packages.

Olympus OM-D E-M5
With the OM-D E-M5, Olympus has clearly taken the m4/3 format to another level with performance solidly in DSLR territory. Everything about the camera body exudes quality from its solid magnesium construction and extensive weather sealing to its classy retro styling. The new 16 MP MOS Four Thirds format sensor provides excellent image quality with the Truepic V-1 processor and surprisingly good high ISO performance up to a maximum of 25,600. Excellent dynamic range, improved color accuracy and a significant jump in resolution are just some of what can be expected from the E-M5. The new 3” OLED touch sensitive display provides brilliant viewing, while the 1.44M dot electronic viewfinder brings a welcome alternative for image composing. Shutter lag is nonexistent and 9 FPS can be achieved while manually focusing, 4.2 FPS while utilizing the improved continuous AF. Lots of new features like a quick zoom focus check (up to 5X magnification) on the display make fine tuning focus much easier. The Shadow&Highlight screen setting acts as a “false color” mode to help with exposure by painting clipped highlights red and underexposed shadows blue. This method can dramatically increase the ease of exposure adjustments in difficult circumstances. The amount of tools available on the E-M5 definitely justifies spending some time with the PDF manual.

Olympus is targeting a more advanced shooter with the E-M5 and the controls on the camera reflect that. Most useful are the Main and Sub dials that allow instant aperture and shutter speed adjustment as well as other menu selected adjustments. Like most controls on the camera, these dials can be programmed independently for each mode setting on the camera. Two programmable function buttons and an additional programmable video record button allow extensive customization for each photographer’s particular needs. Dedicated navigation buttons default to controlling focus point selection over a broad section of the lens coverage. Another feature unique to this Olympus is built-in 5 Axis Image Stabilization that works in concert with any m4/3 lens. This sophisticated system offers distinct potential benefits in ambient light underwater photography or any time a slower shutter speed is deemed desirable.

One of the hallmarks of the m4/3 format is an extensive selection of quality lenses - many well suited for use in an underwater housing. A new series of moisture shielded Olympus lenses are debuting including the nicely finished 12mm-50mm power zoom kit lens. This is an attractive option for underwater use covering a useful range for fish portraiture and 1:2 macro with the barrel activated macro switch engaged. Serious macro shooters will also appreciate the soon-to-be released 60mm macro lens joining the current highly regarded Panasonic Lumix 45mm macro lens.

Topside, the E-M5 provides the option of a vertical grip and battery pack HLD-6 that, when installed, makes this Olympus the best handling (and arguably best looking) mirror-less camera from any manufacturer.  In recognition of these advancements, Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com) recently honored the OM-D E-M5 with its Gold Award. All in all, Olympus shooters have a lot to celebrate.

Nauticam NA-EM5 Housing for the Olympus OM-D E-M5
Nauticam has more experience creating underwater housings for compact mirrorless cameras than any other manufacturer in the world. As the Olympus OM-D E-M5 represents a new standard of performance in the popular m4/3 format, Nauticam sought to create a housing that would exploit this new level of capability to the fullest. Designed by underwater photographers to maximize the essential features most important in these specialized circumstances, the new NA-EM5 meets and exceeds expectations in virtually every regard.

All Nauticam housings are designed for ease of use and maintenance and the NA-EM5 builds on this solid foundation. The groundbreaking features of previous housings are present such as the effortless (but secure) single rotating housing latch, rugged machined aluminum case, 100 meter depth rating and the patented port latching system. A new rear mounted housing o-ring makes maintenance easier than ever, while a threaded bulkhead port allows for an HDMI or electrical strobe synch bulkhead installation – advanced features often omitted by mirrorless housing manufacturers. Of course dual fiber optic synch ports are standard and take advantage of the supplied Olympus accessory flash. To make the most of the E-M5’s excellent EVF, Nauticam has crafted an optional rear acrylic display window that encompasses a mount for installation of Nauticam’s acclaimed 45º and 180º magnified view finders for the ultimate in composition and focus ability.

All controls on the NA-EM5 are engineered for optimal ergonomics. The Olympus Main and Sub dials are easily reached by thumb or forefinger with no need to release grip on the housing while adjusting aperture and shutter speed. The important Fn1 and Fn2 buttons are just as easy to reach and can be programmed for a multitude of functions. A few of the useful settings are AF Lock, One-touch White Balance, Manual Focus, ISO and Exposure Compensation. Switching between LV and the EVF is a snap and a quick press of the Info button can show or hide Olympus’ new LV super control panel on the OLED screen for quick access to many critical settings. The mode dial can easily be turned through the typical P, A, S, M, Movie mode and some “easy shooting modes”. Controls need to offer a proper “feel” and Nauticam’s patented two-stage lever shutter release allows for natural, precise focus and shutter release activation. Every one of the features on the new NA-EM5 is engineered to the same exacting tolerances of Nauticam’s now famous line of DSLR housings. That quality will surely be reflected in every picture taken with this remarkably powerful imaging system.

Ports for every Need
A big part of the Micro Four Thirds format’s popularity is a great lens selection for both topside and underwater. Nauticam manufactures an extensive line of compact ports to accommodate many of the best lenses for m4/3. Lenses that are particularly well suited for underwater use include the Panasonic 8mm fisheye, Panasonic 7-14mm, Olympus 9-18mm, Panasonic 14mm, Olympus 14-42, Panasonic 14-42mm, Panasonic 45mm macro, 60mm macro (upcoming), new Olympus 12-50 w/ macro (Supported by a special new Nauticam port for power zoom and macro switch).

Nauticam Build Quality
Only the finest materials and cutting edge manufacturing processes are used to make Nauticam housings.  The housing body is machined from solid aircraft grade aluminum, then hard anodized making it impervious to salt water and providing an impressive 100 meter depth rating. The large acrylic LCD window is treated with an anti-reflective, scratch resistant coating.

Light and Accessory Mounting, Trays and Handles
The optional Nauticam Flexitray provides a lightweight, compact mounting solution for strobe arms and the NA-EM5 housing. Nauticam uses a sophisticated over-mold process to produce extremely comfortable rubberized ergonomic handgrips.  The soft feel and ergonomic design make the housing easy to grip and minimize hand fatigue on long dives.  Both single and double handle configurations are available for complete customization, and each handle can be adjusted laterally allowing the user to dial in perfect fit. A hand strap is also available for those wishing an even smaller profile.

Nauticam offers a full range of mounting hardware arms, clamps, strobe adapters, and other specialized accessories. Mounting options on the NA-GX1 include mounting balls or t-plates on the tray handles, mounting on the housing, and an accessory cold shoe on the housing. There are myriad ways to mount just about any light or other accessory.

Optical Flash Connectors for Inon S-TTL, and Sea & Sea DS-TTL
Reliable automatic flash exposure is available with Nauticam housings and a variety of optically fired flashes.  Inon Z-240, D-2000, S-2000, Sea & Sea YS-110 Alpha, YS-01 and YS-D1strobes provide automated lighting, precisely reproducing the camera’s onboard flash at a proportionally greater intensity.  This system yields accurate TTL flash performance with no electrical sync cables to flood! Electronic sync cables will also supported via an optional bulkhead for Nikonos style connectors.

Strobes can be attached to the housing via optional strobe mounting balls on the handles or a single strobe mounting ball point on the housing. The housing also features a cold-shoe mount for even more mounting options.

Specifications

  • Depth Rating:  100m

  • 185mm x 152mm x 105mm 

  • Weight: 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs.)

Model Number:  17804
USA Retail Price: $1350
Estimated Shipping Date: July 11, 2012
More information is available from Nauticam USA at:
http://www.nauticamusa.com.

USA Dealer List:
http://www.nauticamusa.com/nauticam-dealers

About Nauticam USA:
Nauticam USA is the exclusive wholesale distributor of Nauticam products in the North American Market.  Nauticam USA’s warehouse and service center is located in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Our staff of underwater photography experts strives to provide the best customer support and after sale service available.  Dealer inquiries are welcome!

Dealer Inquiries Outside of North & South America:
enquiry@nauticam.com

International Dealer Listing:
http://nauticam.com/dealer.htm