Pros:Good Value, Great Shots, Compatible With A Variety of Accessories
Cons:Difficult To Use Initially, Needs Thorough Maintenance
The Bottom Line: The Sea & Sea Motor Marine II EX camera is a workhorse value that will yield professional-quality pictures for a faction of a pro-camera's cost.
The Sea & Sea Motor Marine II EX camera is a workhorse and has been my underwater camera of choice for the past seven years, albeit in three bodies--the first two suffered catastrophic flooding and I am currently on my third rendition. (BTW--Sea & Sea warrantees this camera for a year after purchase, sometimes longer depending on who you get on the phone, and they are very prompt about returning either a fixed camera or a new one to you. In the event that the camera is out of warranty then they can fix the camera, but the cost quoted will almost exceed the purchase price of a new one.)
Recommend this product?
The single biggest advantage of this camera over its competitors (formerly the Nikonos V and now digitally housed cameras) is the value; a MMII in the hands of a competent diver will yield professional-quality pictures for a faction of a pro-camera's cost.
The camera does have its drawbacks though. The Motor Marine isn't intuitive to work and takes some getting used to as it isn't really an "auto focus" camera by any means, the aperture, focal length, and flash speed are all manually adjustable as is the film speed choices; 50, 200, or 400.
This can get complicated underwater as you have a variety of other things to worry about besides setting your camera up for a shot, which is precisely why a thorough understanding of how this camera works is needed before you get into the ocean.
A great companion when purchasing this camera is Sea & Sea's book "The New Guide to Sea & Sea" ISBN 0962111139. Although book knowledge will definitely help out, divers will gain the most by simply diving with this camera on several practice dives shooting a variety of combinations until they get the feel for what happens when certain knobs are twisted, angles used, what constitutes a sunny day, and how close things really are (hint, it's 25% further than you think!)
Barring teaming up with a buddy who already owns this camera, trial and error will yield the best (or worst) results initially until a diver becomes familiar with operating the MMII.
Although the camera comes fitted with a macro lens to take close-ups I'd recommend a couple accessories to add to the camera. A strobe is vital, and without it picture quality will be mediocre at best; the YS-60 is decent although the YS-120 is a superior choice providing a flood of usable light. In addition, if you're interested in either wide-angle photography or macro photography Sea & Sea offers 16 mm, 20 mm, 1:2, and 1:3 lens attachments. I own both the 16 mm and 1:2 conversion lens and wouldn't dive without them; yet another advantage of the MMII design is that all of the lenses made to attach underwater so divers have the option of switching lenses underwater.
All in all the MMII is dependable camera for the serious amateur; it does take some getting used to but with proper care and enough practice you'll be amazed with your results!