PT-020 Housed Olympus 5060 with YS60TTL/s
Having been successful in an Olympus sponsored photography competition a number of years ago, the £500 prize voucher was put to good use in the purchase of an Olympus 5060 wide zoom camera and a PT020 housing, thus finally releasing me from the expense of using film underwater.

The Camera and Housing
This particular camera was chosen because it took Compact Flash memory (which my other camera uses), has a 28mm wide angle lens, allows for macro focus to 3cm and for it's ability to mate the camera to my Sea and Sea YS60TTL/s flash (Sea and Sea connector). The housing itself looks remarkably robust, with a double 'O' ring sealing the back cover, and allows full operation of all camera controls whilst underwater. Additionally, it has a 5 pin port allowing the connection of external strobe units to the camera. The ability to reuse as much of the Motormarine IIex setup I had was important, although I'm still left with a couple of lenses that are now redundant. I may have to construct something that will allow the 20mm wide angle to be used.

Re-Using the YS60 Strobe
Please bear in mind, this page was initially written 4 years ago when there were few options for connecting any 'old' strobes to underwater cameras. Since then, there have been various options made available,..
1 - Use a digital adaptor which relies on the internal flash firing to trigger the external flash
2 - Use an infrared adaptor to couple the camera to the flash
3 - Use the Michael Finger TTL adaptor (the only TTL solution available when this page was created)
4 - Use the Matthias Heinrich replacement bulkhead and TTL adaptor (if I were to embark on this again, then this is the option I'd go for)

Of the 4 options, option 2 was superseeded by 3 which is pretty much superseeded by option 4.
Option 1 is viable but as it uses the cameras internal flash, can cause problems when, for whatever reason, the cameras flash will not fire e.g. the 5060 in super macro mode will disable the flash.

I have a number of digital adapators and all do a great job with whatever camera they've been used with, as long as the internal camera flash will fire. As you're reading this page, then you're likely using a 5060.

I can't comment on option 4 as I've not used nor seen this bit of kit (see the broken bulkhead page) but it would appear to be the best bet as it not only provides connectivity to the 5060, alleviates the need for a battery in the adaptor, but also replaces the flawed Olympus bulkhead.

The 2002 Solution
After getting the camera, I contacted Matthias Heinrich with a view to using his Infra Red TTL interface for the 5060 and the YS60. Being the top bloke that he is, he suggested a better suited product and put me in touch with Michael Finger (www.mike-dive.de) who produces a hardwired solution using the existing PT020 bulkhead connector.
Update - Matthias now produces both a digital slave adaptor which supercedes the infra red solution he'd previously produced, and also a series of replacement bulkhead connectors for Olympus housings. The rest of this article will refer to the solution I'd purchased from mike-dive.

The Internal Connector (updated)
A small PCB is connected to the camera hotshoe which has lead outs to the internal side of the 5 pin bulkhead connector that exists on the PT020 housing. Care needs to be exercised in getting the sockets lining up correctly, with careful expanding of the 5 sockets to get a good alignment. However, once it's connected, there is no need to ever remove it. This bit of electronics is powered by a CR2025 watch battery. My example seems to get through batteries at a fair rate so it's worth getting a few spares.
electronics / hot shoe adaptor internal bulkhead pins connector properly connected

The External Connector (updated)
The other part of the solution consists of a waterproof connector that screws onto the outside of the bulkhead and connects to the YS60 using a curly cord and moulded strobe connector block. Extreme care needs to be taken when initially offering up the connector to the bulkhead pins. Make sure the 'O' ring on the connector shank is removed for this so you can feel when things are going right / wrong. This is all mentioned in the instructions from Mike, but bears repeating.
There are 2 polarising lugs which mean you can't go wrong, but the pins in the bulkhead do require careful alignment (read slight bending with a jewelers screwdriver) so that the MikeDive connector fits nicely. I did manage to bend one pin over in my initial attempts. This, luckily, bent back straight again without damage.
When the pins are all lined up, it's worth removing and replacing the connector a few times just to get everything lining up easily. Now that's been done, replace the 'O' ring on the shank and try again. There is a second 'O' ring at the top of the shank (visible just inside the anodised aluminium nut) which should NOT be relied upon for keeping the connector waterproof (the voice of experience?). In theory, you should never need to remove this connector again other than to check for water leakage. It may be prudent to use some silicon grease on the bulkhead thread as corrosion will result with the metal to metal mechanical connection.
To get around the problem of electrolytic interaction between the bulkhead thread and the mikedive connector thread, i decided to add an o-ring to the base of the bulkhead connector. If you do this, do not tighten the mikedive waterproof connector any tighter than finger tight. Why? Tightening more than this will result in the red plastic connector shearing. I know, mine succumbed to this very problem. I should point out that this is NOT a fault with Mike's connector. The Olympus design leaves a little to be desired. If they ever did an evolution of the PT-020 I'd hope this is the one thing that would get replaced.

Update - Matthias Heinrich produces replacement bulkheads for this housing (and many others), together with the electronics that are required to interface your external strobe with the 5060

I have had one problem with one of the socket inserts pulling free from the connector, however this hasn't affected operation and does make alignment a whole lot easier. Additionally, Mike accidentally supplied a Nikonos connector, but this was rectified in literally 2 days. Big thumbs up for Mike for both his pre and aftersales service.
Unfortunately, Olympus have 2 different external bulkhead threads on the 020. These are identified by counting some painted spots (sic) on the bulkhead. Mine was a 4 spot - the type Mike did not yet have the tooling for. Fortunately for me, a few weeks after my initial inquiry, Mike was set up for this particular thread and I was amongst the first to have the 4 spot connector!
Bulkhead connector and dots MikeDive bulkhead connecotr

The Strobe Connector

The other end of the curly lead terminates in an epoxy molded connector block sporting a small PCB with 4 pins. These 4 pins are polarised by a small black dot which is to line up with the lug on the strobe lead. When connecting it together, care needs to be exercised as it is easy to bend the pins by inadvertently twisting the strobe lead during tightening. So, when tightening the connectors together, only turn the locking collar on the strobe connector whilst holding the strobe socket and MikeDive plug absolutely still. I drew alignment marks on the outside of the plug which align with both the 90deg angle in the strobe lead and the polarising lug, making it significantly easier to align the pins in future.
Polarising marker Alignment marks

Mounting it to the Camera

I mounted the molded plug to the accessory shoe mount on the camera. This was achieved by loosening the 4 securing screws (they don't penetrate the housing so there's no risk of it flooding), passing a zip lock under the plate, tightening the screws again then tightening the zip lock around the plug. If you don't want to take the strobe on a dive, it is a simple case of removing the strobe connector and replacing it with a blanking plate from a Motormarine, assuming you have one.

If you have the 5060 and PT020, then the MikeDive strobe connection solution is perfect and highly recommended. I paid 184 Euros (inc paypal charges and p&p) for the connectors and electronics. To me, it was worth every penny as it allowed me to use the expensive strobe that would otherwise be collecting dust.

Update - the replacment bulkhead solution from Matthias Heinrich is similarly priced and would appear to be the one to go for.

This may seem like a lot of hassle, but the beauty of it is that it doesn't rely on a through-case IR beam but uses hard wiring. Consequently, there are no issues with alignment of sensors inside and outside the case and it also alleviates the need for the internal flash to fire so Super Macro mode can be used with the strobe actually firing.

General Camera Comments
The whole thing is a dream to use, although the camera does have a habit of deciding that the flash doesn't need to fire despite it being told to do so.

Autofocus (updated) - works particularly well underwater and is certainly more accurate than manual focussing. Speed can be an issue (what camera other than dSLR's doesn't have this problem?) but in good lighting it is relatively quick. The camera can be helped along by pointing it at a 'contrasty' object or by using a spotting light. Red light would probably work better so as to not fool the metering system. In more challenging conditions, the 5060 can hunt for a number of seconds while trying to grab a focus lock then eventually give up the ghost. This can be frustrating and indicates a lack of sensitivity in the focus system. When compared to something like the Fuji F30, then the Oly is a fair distance behind in terms of both speed and success rate.
There are 3 focus ranges on the 5060 :-
Normal - 80cm --> infinity
Macro - 20cm --> 80cm
Super macro - 3cm -->20cm (internal flash disabled in super macro)
All can be over-ridden manually, but the manual focus technique is a bit fiddly to say the least and usually best avoided. If you intend to take a few shots of the same subject from the same vantage point, consider doing an auto focus to get the initial focus lock then flip the camera into manual focus. Your speed between shots will be greatly improved.

Metering (updated) - not sure on the P,A or S mode performance as I only ever run the camera in manual (M) mode. Have since used S & A modes and the metering is spot on with the exposure, when within operational bounds (shutter speeds / apertures available), being exactly as required. Manual mode is where it's at though as you have full control over the exposure. e.g. to get those nice deep blue backgrounds, initially meter for the background, noting the settings. Dial these settings in manually, then purposely underexpose by 1 - 1.5 stops. Set your flash to over expose (FEC) by 1 stop and fire away, adjusting the FEC accordingly.

Shutter response (updated) - is adequate with a slight delay (after focus is complete) between the button being pressed and the shot taken (after the pre-flash). This can make things a little hit and miss when trying to get the clownfish shots, but being digital the usual film bounds are removed and it's something you soon get used to. The major delay is in the camera getting an autofocus lock which can take anything between 0.5 and about 4 or 5 seconds.

Storage (updated) - the camera can take 2 types of storage. Compact Flash and xD cards. I will have both types in the camera.... 1Gb CF and 128Mb XD but swap to the XD only when and if the CF gets filled. This does mean you shouldn't miss that manta when 'the film runs out'. Am now using 8Gb CF and 2Gb xD

Power - battery performance is really good, with the camera easily doing 3 dives of 45 min usage before needing a recharge. It is worthwhile investing in a 2nd battery though as the supplied charger isn't particularly fast, taking around 4 hours.

Stills (new) - the 5060 uses a 5Mp sensor, which at lower ISO values produces very good results. From ISO 400 upwards, noise is evident. Colour rendition, sharpness, contrast etc are all very good with sharp, punchy images, being easily attainable. On a back to back test with the 5060 and my newer Fuji F30, the images produced by the Oly were superior, but the F30 outperforms the Oly in speed, focus accuracy and focus hit rate.
The 5060 allows you to shoot in JPG (with various compression rates), TIFF and RAW. Shooting in RAW is great for getting extra detail from the sensor but takes a frustrating 12 seconds or so to write to the card. In this 12 secs, you cannot do anything else with the camera! This is fine if you're shooting a static subject, but for something that is moving and you need to get lots of shots (sharks, clowns etc) then it's a limitation.
Output resolutions are selectable between various settings with the maximum size being 2592x1944. Comparing this to todays (2008) offerings it seems low, however I have managed to print one image at a massive 40" x 30". Sure, it doesn't stand up to close examination, but you don't look at an image of that size from 2' away. For normal (up to A4) size prints, then the 5060 is perfectly acceptable.

Video (updated) - the camera will shoot quicktime MOV files at 15fps with or without sound. If sound is enabled, you cannot change the focus or zoom position. I guess this is to do with the autofocus and zoom noise. If sound is off, both autofocus and zoom are operative. The 15fps is limiting, making playback jerky. If you intend to shoot a lot of video, then you should consider an alternative - I use the F30 as a basic video capture device. So, the video capabilities of the F30 are better than nothing, but not as good as you require.

White balance - if you have a clean, white dive slate with you, it is possible to set the white balance on the fly. This is especially useful when shooting video, although I didn't bother on the Red Sea trip. It should alleviate the necessity for using colour correction filters. You can also fine tune whatever white balance setting is currently in use. So, if you used the slate at 10m and go shallower, you can cool the white balance. If you go deeper, you can warm it. Certainly saves having to redo the white balance at different depths.

Camera features - these can be pretty annoying as selecting one thing in the menu will disable another feature entirely. E.g. setting continuous shooting mode will automatically turn off the flash and not allow you to select another flash setting until the drive mode is changed. M (manual) mode will only let you set the flash to OFF or Slow Sync (assuming you've not set another mode that disables flash completely). P (camera decides shutter and aperture) mode will give you full control over the flash, but little control over exposure. IIRC, A (aperture priority) mode also gives you full flash control and S (shutter priority) mode gives the same limitations as the full manual M mode. There's sense there somewhere, but where, I'm not too sure. Subjectively, this may be a bigger issue to me as I'm used to DSLR's where the camera does what it's told and doesn't second guess you, so, it's pretty much a case of playing with the thing extensively before getting in the water. On the plus side, there are 8 My-Modes which can be pre configured to certain parameters. These make it a lot easier and faster to swap between popular settings underwater. E.g. full wide angle, super macro etc etc.

Housing features (new) - Plus points for the PT 020 housing is that it is double o-ring sealed, making the possibility of flooding it reduced. There are 2 substantial case locks, which are difficult to accidentally release, holding the housing closed.
All camera controls can be operated by controls on the housing. It is a good idea to work each of these controls to 'free' them before putting the camera in the housing.
One vitally important thing to remember is that when opening / closing the housing, the power dial MUST be in the 'pulled up' position. If this isn't done, you may damage the camera power switch & dials.
The bulkhead, as already alluded to, is a weak point IF you intend to actually use it. Overtightening will break it, the pins bend easily and corrosion is a possibility if using a 3rd party strobe connection solution.
Another weak point is the clamps holding the front port onto the housing. They 'lock' onto 2 small, fragile plastic pins, which can break without warning (yes, this has happened to me). A good item for your spares kit for this housing is epoxy resin. My front port is now permanently affixed to the housing with a load of epoxy. It was either that or run the risk of a flood through the port.

For more tips on getting results from the 5060, see my tips page....

v1.03 10th Sep 2008 General update
v1.02 14th Sep 2004 Few typos fixed, electrolysis notes relocated and an update to camera features made
v1.01 5th Aug 2004 Electrolysis notes added
v1 23rd Jul 2004  
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