Suggestions? Looking for small camera for land and sea. Experienced Land Photographer
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Either you can get a "used" E-PL1 or E-PL2 or go the route I went. I jumped from a G12 to a brand new E-PL3 with a 9-18mm lens and the dome for the Oly housing. Using my Sea and Sea YS-01 strobe setup. Works GREAT! I went back and forth G12, DLSR (T3i) back to G12 and finally I'm happy with the E-PL3 its just as compact as the G12. Does HD video, RAW, AWESOME jpg as well. I don't regret it at all. The E-PL3 body is VERY compact, and the body a bit slippery, but I taped with thin double sided tape a THIN leather strip on the side so I get more grip and it still fits in the Oly housing just fine.
I use a G10 and G12 in Canon housings. They are dedicated underwater cameras. IMO not using them topside prolongs their lifespan. Besides, neither of them has enough zoom for topside use. For topside I use a Canon SX40HS with 35X optical zoom.
You should go with a camera that handles Manual settings and the RAW format. The thing is that the aluminum housings do work better than the acrylic ones because the metal housings are custom made for that particular camera model. But that comes at a price and a pretty high one. Also, given the fact that you lose your red colors at something like 15' having a strobe is a really nice thing for an underwater system. Than you will probably want a macro wet lens and a wide angle lens also.
I notice that you live in Miami. I would very strongly suggest that you check out the web site for Reef Photo in Fort Lauderdale. They specialize in underwater camera systems. Backscatter does also but New York City and California are a bit of a drive from Miami. Both Backscatter and Reef Photo have articles on their web sites about underwater camera systems so you can get a bit of education that way. You can go to Reef Photo and they probably have the systems you want to look at in stock. It is really nice to see and handle these things. Also, reef photo runs hands on courses in underwater photography at regular intervals.