There was one housing at the 2012 Digital Shootout that we treated a little bit different than the rest. We called it the "TSH" or "Top Secret Housing". While it wasn't a very well kept secret, the cat is now completely out of the bag - you might have already guessed that it was the prototype housing for the Olympus OM-D E-M5.
NA-EM5 Getting Ready to Go Diving The housing arrived on Saturday, chained to the wrist of a specially selected top secret courier. Once we were able to undo the handcuffs and decode the combination cypher, we took the E-M5 diving. Despite being a prototype, the housing performed very well, with all controls fully functional. I dove it on a couple of dives, and Jim Decker (Backscatter's m4/3 guru) dove with it several times. One of our tasks was to give it the shakedown, and we reported a couple very minor things back to the factory, all of which will make it into the final design. One thing I really like about working with Nauticam is that our ideas and concerns are taken seriously and always addressed in some form, and the net result is a much better product. After Jim and I were done, we did put it into our demo gear fleet, reserving it for some m4/3 afficionados.
Barrel Sponge and a Reef Diver Boat; shot with Olympus E-M5 with Panasonic 8mm The camera itself is quite a marvel; a ton of functionality packed into a camera not much larger than the smallest point and shoot. I found performance to be very good, no shutter lag, and quick focus. The lens selection is excellent; my favorite being the Panasonic 8mm fisheye - sharp, fast and close focusing. I didn't have time to dig into some of the cool features on the camera that I'd like to, like the false color screen, high ISO shooting, image stabilization, programmable buttons, focus check, and more. I'm looing forward to some more time underwater with this camera.
Hawksbill Turtle; shot with E-M5 with Panasonic 8mm
The housing itself felt like so many other Nauticam housings - it fit my hand perfectly, is well balanced, and all of the key controls are easily accessed and well thought out from an ergonomic perspective. Lighting is easy with optical TTL strobes like the Inon S-2000 or the Sea&Sea YS-D1, and with the optional Flexitray, there are plenty of ways to mount any kind of lighting you want. The port system is the same as our other mirrorless housings, so people who might own our E-PL2 housing, for example, can use their same ports and lenses with E-M5. We're working on a port and gear for the new Olympus 12-50mm lens as well, so stay tuned for that.
There is much so more to say about this camera and housing.... check out our announcement post for much more detail. Bottom line, though, is that the E-M5 in the Nauticam housing is hands down the most sophisticated and highest performing mirrorless camera system you can take underwater today.