Underwater Macro Photography with the ZEISS Milvus 2/50M by Glenn Yong from Singapore
I have been a photographer since 2006, shooting for clients and meeting deadlines. In 2010, I began diving actively as a new hobby for a change in my lifestyle. I wanted to do something different from my day job; I was a photographer and told myself never to marry hobby and work, and make the same mistake of turning hobby into a profession like I did for photography. Along the way, I started to appreciate underwater seascapes more and began taking photographs to share the beauty with my friends and relatives in the hope of building up interest among social groups so that I can get more friends to dive together with me. Since then, I’ve unwittingly married my hobby and profession once again for the 2nd time.
There are many challenges in underwater macro photography. It takes a lot of time and patience to get an underwater critter to be comfortable with the camera, and I often spend the whole diving time for a series of pictures of the same critter. Sometimes, I would even make repetitive dives at the same location just to get that one perfect picture of a pretty critter in a bid to satisfy my own personal goals. Much efforts are also required to get to the dive destination itself. Even though they are not the cleanest of all dive sites, I prefer muck dive locations such as Lembeh Straits in Manado, Indonesia, and on Anilao in Philippines for underwater macro photography. There are many different types of little underwater critters hiding under the rubble and reefs, and often, you get rewarded with amazing photographs of them.
As such, good quality equipment for underwater macro photography is essential to me as they will produce optimal results and ensure that visuals are reproduced with proper color accuracy – after all that efforts. While I had knowledge in photography when I first got an affordable Canon IXUS camera and a housing to begin snapping underwater, the results were not what I wanted it to be. This led to several gear upgrades to a DSLR system with both Nikon and Canon that I am using right now.
I was pleased to be able to shoot with the ZEISS Milvus lens in the underwater realm. Manual focusing underwater was not a problem. In fact, it is extremely hard to depend on a conventional autofocus lens to focus on a particular tip or point. It is a usual practice to switch to manual focus and adjust the focus distance via an attached ring. Especially with smaller subjects, focusing by manual means is the key to getting the focus distance right where you want it to be, with high accuracy and precision.
However to be honest the ZEISS Milvus 2/50 wasn’t the easiest of lenses to handle in the water. I did not have the ability to do manual focusing with an attached focus ring and had to do it literally manually by moving the camera forward and back in order to achieve focus. Much patience is needed to just get the focus right as the underwater critters are small. Nevertheless, the end result blew me away, so much so that I am now considering customizing gears for this lens in order to achieve focus easier in the water. When viewed on my computer, the images taken are filled with contrast and sharpness, even after massive cropping. The astounding images produced with so much details made all the challenges faced worthwhile. While I have shot on many platforms and with various brands, I have never been so impressed with a macro lens before. Unrivaled in terms of sharpness and contrast, I am looking forward to creating more visuals in the underwater realm with ZEISS in my upcoming expeditions.
About Glenn Yong
Glenn is an accredited Master Photographer with the prestigious Master Photographer’s Association in United Kingdom and has numerous accreditation under this portfolio for his work in Commercial and Underwater/Nature Photography and Graphic Design. Being a Photographer and a Designer as trade, he has been travelling around the region of Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines, photographing various key historical events for the press and have recently been published on Asian Geographic and named as one of Asia’s upcoming underwater sensation for photography.
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