We all know that the Olympus TG4 “Tough” is great camera for underwater photography and videography – for a number of reasons. As the name implies, it’s outer shell is tough on its own, and you can take it to 10 meters (2 bar water pressure!) without a housing. That’s an advantage even if the camera is in a housing – a minor housing flood will most likely not destroy it. It’s also a camera with a great super-macro mode, and it does very well when shooting video. The option to adjust the white balance to a custom setting, by pointing the camera at a white surface, greatly helps with the otherwise difficult problem of getting the colors right underwater. It’s a top camera, very compact, and buying it won’t pillage your bank account.
Recently my friend Erik F. Goossens gave me the chance to test the Umi Umi housing for this camera. “Umi” means “ocean” in Japanese, so this housing is hence double ocean! What could go wrong?
The first impression was that it’s more sturdily built than the Olympus housing for this camera. The two halves of the housing completely separate when open (no hinge), and are closed with three snaps. The housing is made of ABS resin.
The big attraction of this housing is the ring strobe adapter (the round part in above photograph). With this gadget, the light from the internal strobe is rerouted to a circle surrounding the lens port. In this way, light reaches a small (macro) subject close to the lens very evenly. Unsightly shadows are eliminated from your pictures. I was quite excited to try this ring strobe adapter underwater.
In order to take full advantage of the ring strobe adapter, one has to position the camera close to the subject, and in parallel to the plane of the subject.
The camera has to be close because the ring flash only re-distributes the relatively weak light from the TG4’s internal strobe. When more than about 20 centimeters away from my subject, I found that the warm colors in the image fade very quickly. I’m used to shooting with a Inon z240 strobe, and obviously the TG4’s internal strobe is not as powerful – that needed a bit of adjusting in my shooting style.
It’s important to be parallel to the subject, since the light from the ring strobe obviously emerges in a plane aligned with the ring. Shadows around your macro subject are really only eliminated well if you stick to this placement of the camera. As with every rule in photography, there are exceptions: I photographed the goby below from its side, so it stood out quite well on the ridge of the sponge.
Summary: a nice housing for a top camera, which further improves the camera’s excellent macro capabilities due to its ring flash. Worth considering for all underwater shooting TG4 owners.
I’d of course be happy to show you all of these tricks and to discuss underwater photography in person, underwater.
Photographic greetings from the Philippines! If you have any questions or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org