Saturday, September 17, 2011 

New Retail Sales Center for Optical Ocean Sales

Optical Ocean Sales, LLC is proud to announce it has expanded into a retail sales center conveniently located on Lake Union at 1800 Westlake Ave North, Suite 201 in Seattle, thus continuing it's 8 years of service to the diving community. We are the only dedicated underwater photography equipment store in the northwest. Optical Ocean’s new retail location gives the community the opportunity to put their hands on the most popular brands. In addition we strive to be a center for continuing education, travel information and first-rate personal service, crucial when dealing with such complicated systems.

Jack Connick, owner, has been a life-long photographer "ever since I owned my first Exacta". His experience includes a combination of 25 years of experience as a professional graphic designer and art director, along with developing his underwater photo portfolio during trips to 10 countries around the world. He has extensive Pacific Northwest cold water diving and photography experience with extensive ties to the Seattle diving community.

Martin Heyn has joined the Optical Ocean Sales team as Business Development Manager. Martin brings 30 years of diving, photography, and sales experience to the Ocean Optical team. He has traveled much of world enjoying the hobby and is founder of the website

Optical Ocean are stocking dealers for Nauticam, Olympus, Ikelite, Fix, Zen, Athena, Sea & Sea, Light & Motion, 10Bar, i-torch/i-DAS, Seahorse, Fantasea, Big Blue, MAHA Power, and are adding new products all the time. In fact, they are the largest dealer in the northwest for many of those lines.

There is a great selection of underwater photo equipment available through the store; cameras, housings, ports, gears, strobes, focus/video lights, arms and trays. Also included are Seahorse cases and many other accessories. Optical Ocean Sales has many unique packages that are ready-to-go. They also stock many of the parts photographers need such as o-rings, manufacturer specific silicone grease, strobe diffusers, dedicated batteries and more.

All items are also available online at at it’s easy-to-use and informative web store. Orders are shipped promptly both domestically and internationally, or available for in-store pickup.

Classes and trips will be starting soon for all levels of divers and underwater photo enthusiasts.

Map here. Open 10-6 M-F and 11-5 on Saturday, unless they're off diving.

For the most up to date store information “like” us on Facebook.

Optical Ocean Sales, LLC
1800 Westlake Ave N., Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98119
1-800-359-1295/ +1 206-284-1142

Thursday, September 08, 2011 

Three Ways to Get Your LX5 Wet

Optical Ocean Sales has the new Ikelite, 10Bar housings and Nauticam housings in stock for the popular Panasonic high-quality LX-5 point and shoot camera. This camera has great features, with excellent control and a high-end lens and processor. It features a wide 24mm lens and leading edge video capabilities, in a small easy-to-use format. This article will review some of the differences between the housings available. All are rated to 200’. In the end it is up to each diver to find which best fits them.

The Ikelite housing is the largest physically, but that can be an advantage in cold water with gloves. The controls are standard Ikelite bent rods that you jiggle the switches with. With practice, they work pretty well, but they take some getting used to. The Ikelite housing is clear acyrlic, so you can see the entire camera. The knobs are large and are easy to use with gloves. It uses two non-standard screws to mount to a tray. It has built-in TTL with Ikelite strobes, which works well with all their DS strobes. It's hard to rig with optical sync strobes though. There is no method of mounting a focus light to it.

It's the most economical, at $549.95. The Ike housing relies on external wide angle lenses like their WP-20 - the problem is that the LX-5 has a 24mm lens and has to be zoomed in a fair bit to avoid vignette, thus negating the field of view with that lens. However, the new Nauticam wet mount wide-angle lens works fine, giving you back the 24mm that you have above water. It's small and light as well, but it doesn't really give you true wide angle.

With the Olympus PTWC-01 lens you can get a greatly increased 100+ degree field of view, although you do still need to zoom in. That lens is fairly heavy and large, not something you'd want to take on/off underwater.

Macro is no problem. The Ike housing (as do all it's competitors) has a 67mm threaded port to screw on an external diopter macro lens.

The 10Bar housing is redesigned from the their popular LX3 version and has the history of a year's run to work out any bugs. It is made from rugged aluminum, smaller, probably a little bit heavier in the water with a clear back. It's a step up in price at $709. Due to its design it is easier to grip than the Ikelite, but both will probably be used with a tray and handle. It uses a standard tripod mount screw. It has both hardwire and optical sync. It works great with a strobe like the Sea & Sea YS-01 or 110a, which have built-in optical D-TTL. The electrical sync bulkhead is a 5 pin nikonos style and supports legacy strobes like the Sea & Sea YS-90, or a Nikon SB-105, but only with the manual power settings on the back of the strobe. The controls are pretty good, dedicated, but you need a sense of feel with them. The knobs are small and close together, a problem if you are wearing gloves. All features of the camera are supported, including flash up and down. It uses a standard single mounting screw and fits most trays on the market.

Both the 10Bar and the Ikelite will have some issues with the LX-5's rear dial control. It can be pushed and turned and is quite tricky to make a control for. You can use other controls if necessary, or just use fine motions with it.

Probably the biggest advantage of the 10Bar is that it has several wide angle options, including the above "wet mount" 67mm lenses (with the same vignette issues); or unscrewing the port and using the Panasonic add-on wide angle lens with the 10Bar replacement wide angle port and dome (dry mount). The later can give one of the widest fields of view and can focus closely and sharply. These port replacements do not vignette and give very high quality results.

The Nauticam NA-LX5 has probably the finest build quality and design. Although more expensive at $950, it is aluminum and very well thought out, with excellent, ergonomic controls. It sits in your hand very nicely and controls are under your fingertips. All camera features are supported. The best feature is that they broke out the push and the turn function of the "joystick" rear dial on the camera into two distinct controls, making it positive and direct to use. This is much better than having one control that you try to turn without pushing. Buttons are fairly close together, as they are on the camera itself, but better than the other housings. Gloves can be problematic. There is a handstrap option for the right side, but it isn't big enough to fit a glove for cold water use. There is both a "coldshoe" mount and a threaded port for a ball mount on top of the housing to support a focus light.

The Nauticam housing is smaller as well. It does rely on external wide angle lenses, like the previously mentioned Nauticam wet mount replacement lens, or the Olympus PTWC-01 and Inon offerings. There are several tray options available for it, and it too uses two mounting screws.

Hopefully this article can help divers to compare the available housings. These are three excellent housings and only Optical Ocean Sales has all three in stock. Come on in so you can see them side-by-side and see what works best for you and your budget.

About Jack

  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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