(on its way)
Why I chose this camera
Soon after learning to dive I was working on systems to transmit video and stills from racing yachts at sea and needed to find a camera to use under adverse conditions. As luck would have it Olympus were just starting to pioneer the underwater digital market, by offering 'cheap' matching housings for their compact models. This was back in 1999 when the 1.3 megapixel C-920Zoom was cutting edge and made a very neat package with its PT-003 housing. After briefly trying a Sea and Sea film camera the advantages of digital to a beginner were clear (at least to me!) and this set up seemed like a simple way to start... From the outset casual underwater film camera owners were livid at the instantly demonstrable results a novice could show straight after a dive.
When it was new the camera would have £500. I bought mine secondhand from a clearance of ex-yacht race surplus equipment, it was a good price and I was able to get several spare cases which I thought would be useful as spares, I never needed them.
Likes and dislikes
The C-920 was the first digital camera I had used that struck me as a viable alternative to a film - at least for point and shoot use. It was styled and worked like a camera, not a techno toy. The tough case never leaked, the autofocus though not fast was very good and it allowed just enough exposure control (even if that was by fooling it) that its lack of manual overrides wasn't too much of a problem.
As my picture taking progressed the merely reasonable macro become a limitation and the lack of a flash diffuser would cast shadows from the lens surround when close up. The biggest limitation was the resolution. Good pictures could be taken but there was little you could do to rescue marginal ones before they were spoilt. On a more irritating note the camera was inclined to go into a coma if left alone for a while and was sometimes hard to wake, battery life was OK but power would eventually disappear without warning and the shutter release was heavy and very difficult to 'half-press'. The display was good for the time - which means it was easily overpowered by ambient light on well lit dives.
I have many happy memories from the many thousands of pictures I took with mine. There's no doubt that it was fine for 6x4 and occasionally bigger prints. If someone was looking for a cheap underwater camera I'd suggest a secondhand one of these is a better bet than a simple film model.
Resolution: 1.3Megapixels (1280x960)
Depth rating: 30m
Weight: about 750g in total
Lens: 38-115mm (Equivalent on 35mm film camera)
The simple case has a standard tripod mount for using extra lights etc but would need a pre-flash compatible 'TTL mimicking' slave flash as it cannot be operated in manual mode. The lens port is not threaded so extra lenses can't be fitted, unless you buy or make a bracket.
Everyone should have a picture of a hawkfish as they don't move much
The housing was safe and tough, very little to break off
You need clear water to take this kind of picture with an internal flash
Action shots needed a bit of timing, and luck
The autofocus was impressive, this was at night against the sand under Swanage Pier