Every now and then, I've been putting housing packages on the website for sale and called them the "perfect package" as I feel they are a good representative of what is the best at the market at that moment and at an excellent price point. That time has again arrived, and behold the latest travel-friendly mirrorless package built around the OM-Systems (ex Olympus) OM-5 camera and the new AOI UH-OM5 housing.
The new AOI UH-OM5 housing has a great range of features and comes with an unbeatable price point of just over £800. For this, you get a 60m rated polycarbonate housing that accepts AOI OMD-style ports, has a built-in vacuum leak system and even an advanced flash trigger.
The AOI port system has been evolving over the years and now comes in two versions called the OMD and the PEN. The OMD-style port opening is larger and was initially invented for the Olympus OM-D housings that were also built by AOI for the camera company. Later, AOI introduced a smaller diameter port system for the Olympus PEN cameras, hence the name. Both systems are in use today, and port adaptors exist, so many PEN ports can also be used with the OMD-style housings. Also worth noting is that if you now buy a flat macro port for your OMD-style AOI housing, you actually get a PEN port with a pre-fixed OMD adaptor. This means that in the future, you could use the more compact PEN-style housing with your ports just by removing the adaptor. Just keep in mind that this does not always work with AOI-domed ports.
With the UH-OM5, you also get the readily installed and fully functional pre-dive leak check system. Similar to high-end brands like Nauticam, the housing has a pressure sensor, valve and a traffic light-style panel at the back. The idea behind this is to check your O-ring integrity before going into water. Simply pump some air out of the housing and let it sit for a while. You will get a red light alarm if the air leaks back into the housing. If the low pressure stays inside the housing (green light), no water will likely get in either. No other housing in this price range comes with such an advanced system.
And if this is not enough, the housing also ships with the AOI STR-05 smart flash trigger. With strobes like Inon and Sea & Sea, the trigger works as any manual flash trigger would; It transfers the electric signal from the camera hot-shoe to a blink of light that will then be used to sync your external strobes. But if you happen to have the Olympus/OM-System RC compatible flash, then the STR-05 will also function as an automatic TTL-style trigger. A whole separate article could be written about the surprisingly clever and mostly ignored Olympus optical RC (stands for remote control) flash system, but for now, I will only mention that if you have the AOI UCS-Q1 RC strobe or the Backscatter MF2 (also made by the AOI), you can enjoy a fully automatic TTL-style exposures.
There are plenty to choose from, but for this package, we've gone with the classics: The Panasonic 8mm f3.5 fisheye and the M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro. Let's face it. These two lenses cover 90% of situations a diver encounters in water. The Ports offered for these lenses are the AOI DLP-02 acrylic dome port (a glass dome option will also be available) and the FLP-03P Flat port.
Another interesting option would be to go for a wet-interchangeable lens system. By getting the tiny M.zuiko 14-42 EZ zoom lens for the camera and the FLP-07 flash port, one could use various wide-angle conversion and close-up dioptre lenses. For a wide-angle, my choice would be the large-diameter AOI UWL-09 lens. For close-up and macro, almost anything will work… Inon, Weefine, AOI, Nauticam, etc.. Take your pick. If you choose AOI's lenses, you could also go for their bayonet quick-release system, which allows you to swap lenses easily in water without needing to screw them on port threads.
For this AOI-themed package, we've chosen the AOI UCS-Q1 strobes. These little strobes are probably the best-value underwater flashes on the market. Two of them are strong enough for all close-up and close-focus wide-angle situations. Just note that if you are really planning to shoot some big stuff, it might be worth upgrading to more powerful strobe units. Just remember that the price will jump considerably also.
The AOI UCS-Q1 strobe is fully manual, which most underwater photographers are happy with. However, if you want TTL-style exposures, the UCS-Q1 RC strobe is available and works with the supplied flash trigger, as mentioned earlier.
The OM-5 camera offers high-tech features in a compact package. It's great that OM-Systems has decided to honour the Olympus micro-four-thirds legacy by bringing out these new cameras. The AOI UH-OM5 housing is the perfect partner for the camera, and it doesn't break the bank either. This mirrorless travel-friendly package comes with a totally unbeatable price tag of £2600, and even with the camera and the two lenses added (which we don't sell), the total price is still well under £5000. This is easily £1400 less than a similar package with a metal housing like Nauticam would cost.
See the AOI UH-OM5 perfect package at Mike's Dive Cameras HERE