I’ve been a very strong advocate of digital underwater stills for some time now. I’ve spent the past 1?? years shooting exclusively with the Olympus 3030 and 3040 3.3 megapixel cameras and a Light & Motion Tetra Housing. I’ve been getting outstanding results for both print output and web use, but when I found out that Light & Motion was making a housing designed specifically for the Olympus E-20 SLR, I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on one.
["Light and Motion Titan" center]
Light & Motion Titan Housing
["Olympus E20" center]
Olympus E-20 5 Megapixel SLR
Well, the wait has been well worth it, and as usual Light & Motion has come up with an extremely elegant solution, and continues to move forward in underwater digital photography with the introduction of Titan, Digital SLR Photo Housing.
I have always found Light & Motion housings (both video and still) to be totally innovative, especially when it comes to lighting control and remote camera control. What is it about this housing that I like so much? In 2 words, Total Control!!
Besides being a piece of design art, this housing allows control over every aspect of the E 20 and those who have been using standard SLR housed cameras will find this housing totally responsive to all your needs. Those who are using non SLR cameras and housings will find this housing and camera combo taking you to another level.
To see what the Titan can do, click.
Titan ROC Display. Notice the Red Power Indicators
The Titan provides access to all camera functions including full manual and auto focus, full manual shutter and aperture controls, access to all camera menus and all camera controls. You can produce beautiful underwater color images at a whopping 5 megapixels, and the Titan’s easy-to-use interface mirrors the camera controls, allowing for a seamless transition from above water to underwater photography.
After working with the Light & Motion Tetra/ Olympus 3030 combination, I was thrilled to be able to use this camera in full SLR mode and be able to manually focus the camera using the large and very sensitive magnetic focus ring. In a critical macro situation where you don’t want to always rely on autofocus, its great to be able to flip an easily accessible switch and focus the camera yourself.??
Lets talk megapixels for a second. What do all these numbers mean? First, the more megapixels, the more image information is contained in your digital image. So while a 3.3 megapixel camera at medium resolution will produce an image file about 600 KB, the 5 megapixel camera will produce an image about 1.5 megabites, almost 3 times as much digital information. But more important is that the Olympus E20 can use a much higher capacity storage device such as a 512mb Compact Flash or even a 1 gigabyte Microdrive.?? I use a 1 gig IMB Microdrive (less than $300) in my camera and I am able to get 65 fully uncompressed 15 megabyte images. An uncompressed image means that every pixel the camera sees is recorded in the digital file. A compressed image discards some data that is similar in order to make the file size smaller. With the Olympus E20 and Light & Motion Titan I am able to get the highest image quality from the camera.
But let’s not stop here. I have always felt that Light & Motion was ahead of the pack when it comes to lighting control. This has certainly been true with their line of video housing and light packages. The Tetra is the best of its class by allowing full strobe control with its Nikonos Bulkhead system. But the Titan is in a class by itself.
Titan Infrared Handle
The Titan includes the revolutionary ROC Strobe controller, which allows the user to obtain up to 12 manual power levels on most TTL compatible strobes. Dual strobe output control and housing shutter release are conveniently located at your finger tips, enabling a a seamless transition between the user and housing. See Diagram 1.
Ok, how does this work? One or two strobes can be attached to the Titan housing by using either a Nikonos or Light & Motion Wetlink bulkhead. An LED panel (Diagram 2) shows the current power level of each strobe. Power levels for each strobe can be matched evenly or set independently of one another, allowing the user the flexibility to deal with complex underwater lighting situations. Strobe control is located via push buttons on Titan Infrared handles, and allows for 12 manual adjustments.
Basically the ROC system allows you to control the power output of each strobe in 12 ?? stop increments. The control is done on either the left or right housing handle, from which you can control either left or right strobe. How would you use this feature? Remember that we’re shooting digital and can see our image as soon as we press the shutter. If our strobe exposure is too light or too dark, it’s a simple matter to press the + or –?? on one of the handles to increase or reduce the strobe output. There is no need to adjust the aperture or shutter.
( Diagram 3 ) This has given me amazing control in every type of lighting situation. The ROC system works with Nikonos, Ikelite, and Sea and Sea Strobes. For a full list visit the Light?? & Motion website www.uwimaging.com
The Titan handles provide another level of convenience. Notice that the Titan has a "lever" on the front of the housing,?? (Diagram 1) which controls the main shutter release. This lever gives very fine control over the shutter releases and also functions as a way to autofocus the camera. You slightly press the "shutter lever" to get your autofocus light-activated, and then fully press the shutter release to take the picture. However, the Titan offers a lot more flexibility. You can press the AF Lock button on Either handle, which will lock in your autofocus, and THEN press the shutter release. This prevents you from accidentally pressing the shutter too hard and taking the picture before it is totally in focus.
The handles also have a "shutter release button" which allows you an alternate way to take the picture, instead of using the standard shutter release lever. All of these options give me fantastic control when working underwater.
Whew……if all of this wasn’t enough, there’s one more important feature that I have to mention. Light & Motion optics. The Titan has a flat port built into the housing, which allows full use of the zoom lens on the E20. I’ve gotten some incredible shots with the basic flat port, but like the Tetra series, Light & Motion offers their "WetMate" lens system for the Titan. The Wetmate system allows you to Change Lenses Underwater!!!
I have the 80 degree Wide Angle lens and the Macro Lens with me at all times. I just carry a little underwater bag clipped to my BC, and when I need a wide angle or Marco lens I just take it out and place over the flat port using its convenient bayonet mount.
I just love this feature. No deciding which lens to take or being without the right lens at the wrong time. Notice the wide angle below…the area around the lens is a rubberized foam material, rather than metal. This creates a lens that is perfectly balanced underwater and does not have a tendency to "dip" forward as other lenses of the same size may do.
Titan 80 Degree Wide Angle Lens
Titan Macro Lens
If you want to get the best available digital camera and housing combination, the Light & Motion Titan is the way to go.