5 Best Underwater Cameras for Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is one of the most exhilarating activities anyone can experience, and finding the best underwater camera to capture your expeditions is an important consideration. Look for cameras that have durability, ease of use, and the ability to shoot in low-light conditions.

Hello everyone! My name is Lavelle and I am a professional photographer and videographer. I have been helping clients with photography needs since 2009. Now, while I am not a diving expert, I have spent time underwater capturing some amazing footage and I have conducted quite a bit of research on underwater photography.

In this article, I will go over some of the things you should look for in an underwater camera. I also will share my findings on the best cameras to use when scuba diving.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider models that allow you to dive deeply and share your experience with the live streaming option.
  • Choose an underwater camera that matches the intended usage for your underwater experience.
  • Look for a camera that is versatile underwater, giving you the option for exchanging lenses or for controlling your settings manually when necessary.
What Camera Do Underwater Photographers Use?

Many professional photographers use high-resolution DSLR or full-frame mirrorless cameras for underwater photography. 

It depends on the camera you choose. Most of the cameras I’ve researched are waterproof to about 50 feet without additional waterproof housing. With the waterproof housing, the camera is waterproofed down to depths as deep as 1500 feet or more in some instances.

It is a matter of preference. I prefer a mirrorless camera for underwater photography, however, many professionals prefer the DSLR. In my experience, the mirrorless camera is preferable because of the interchangeable lenses that I want to use underwater.

What to Look for in an Underwater Camera for Scuba Diving

  • Camera Type: Determine whether you want an action camera, a mirrorless camera, a DSLR, or perhaps a point-and-shoot camera. Each camera has its specific use and depending on what you want to capture, one of these is going to be your best option.
  • Ease of Use: When choosing an underwater camera, you want one that is easy to use, and has easily identifiable functions and settings. It is also important to choose a camera that has both good manual and auto control features.
  • Housing: Another good quality to look for in an underwater camera is the housing. You want a camera with a high-quality housing assembly that is 100% waterproof and that can maintain waterproofness down to a deep level. Housings that are made of polycarbonate or aluminum are the best options.
  • Image/Video Quality: It is essential to look for a camera that gives you exceptional image and video quality. You want a camera with at least a 12MP image resolution and at least 1080 high-definition video quality. Additionally, you should look for cameras that have strong sensors to help deliver those high-quality images.

The Best Underwater Cameras for Scuba Diving Reviewed

Here is my list of the best underwater cameras to use for scuba diving.

1. Canon Powershot G7X III (Best Overall)

  • Photo Resolution: 20.1MP
  • Video Resolution: 4K
  • Stabilization: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes

The top choice is the Canon Powershot G7X III. This amazing camera offers some of the best features that you can find. It is exceptionally designed and scuba divers of all levels find value in this unit.

The camera comes with a powerful 20.1MP CMOS sensor and a built-in 24-100mm lens. It has great ISO options and a 2x optical zoom capability. The 4k video at 30 frames per second is remarkable and the ability to go up to 200 ft. below the surface is outstanding.

The camera’s speed stands out. When you need some bokeh, this comes in handy quite well. Consequently, it also produces excellent macro shots and delivers some of the best image quality that you will find on any underwater camera.

However, I’m worried about the Fantasea housing unit. It is not designed well and feels “cheap”. The material makeup of the housing unit could stand a good upgrade. Otherwise, this is an excellent camera for scuba diving.

My Verdict: This is a very capable underwater camera that produces exceptional still photos and video. It is well-designed for underwater photography.

2. Sealife Micro 3.0 (Best for Beginners)

  • Photo Resolution: 16 MP
  • Video Resolution: 4K
  • Stabilization: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes

The second choice is the Sealife Micro 3.0. This is an excellent camera for underwater photography and it is exceptionally designed and easy to use which makes it a top choice for beginners.

It is well-priced in the mid-range for underwater cameras, being completely waterproof up to a depth of 200 feet and it is super durable. It also comes with wet lens options and lighting rig options.

The thing I like most about this camera is its easy setup and the five land and sea scene modes that it offers. With built-in digital color correction filters and other advanced features, Sealife Micro 3.0 is made for underwater photography and doesn’t fail to deliver.

The one thing that can be improved is macro lens production. While it does come with a macro lens, the quality of the images is less than desirable.

My Verdict: The housing is well sealed and the camera functions perfectly well to a very deep level. The live stream capability is also nice on this unit.

3. Paralenz Vaquita GEN 2 (Best Video)

  • Photo Resolution: 12MP
  • Video Resolution: 4K
  • Stabilization: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes

The Paralenz Vaquita GEN 2 is an extremely durable camera made of aluminum alloy and is waterproof to an amazing depth of 1150 feet. It has some nice advanced features and is well-priced.

When it comes to video quality, this camera is second to none for underwater video production. It records 4K at 60 frames per second and also delivers ultra-slow-motion video, which is great for creating fascinating underwater footage.

The Paralenz Vaquita GEN 2 records your dive profile on every underwater dive. Your global location is automatically attached to every video you record. You can even share your videos immediately with research organizations through the Paralenz app.

The time that it takes to turn the camera on once underwater is quite long. It takes approximately 18 seconds to turn on which is a lot in comparison to the other cameras in this class.

My Verdict: This is a great choice for divers. The video and photo resolution is exceptional and this camera is certainly designed with divers in mind.

4. Olympus Tough TG6 (Best Macro)

  • Photo Resolution: 12 MP
  • Video Resolution: 4K
  • Stabilization: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes

The Olympus Tough TG6 is a powerfully built camera with a 4x optical zoom which makes it perfect for macro shots. It also has a focus range of 3.9 inches and beyond, which allows you to get as close as 0.13 inches.

This camera is ruggedly built and well-designed for underwater photography. It is freeze-proof, shockproof, and completely waterproof down to 50 feet without the housing and down to 147 feet with the additional waterproof housing.

The image stabilization in Olympus Tough TG6 is remarkable. It corrects lens shake to create smooth and seamless footage and also offers excellent RAW files.

The one thing I don’t like is that it does not allow you to go into full manual mode. You are completely dependent on the autofocus mode of the camera and for true professionals, you will want the ability to shoot in manual mode at times.

My Verdict: This is an affordable option that is powerful and great for macro shots. It has a lot of useful features for both novice underwater photographers as well as for experienced professionals.

5. GoPro Hero 11 (Best Action)

  • Photo Resolution: 27 MP
  • Video Resolution: 5.3K
  • Stabilization: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes

The final choice is the GoPro Hero 11. When it comes to capturing moving subjects or action shots, this camera is at the top of its class. It is waterproof down to a depth of 200 feet and has an amazing HyperSmooth 5.0 video stabilization system.

This camera is compact yet powerful. It allows you to adjust the white balance and ISO to achieve excellent underwater coloring. It also comes equipped with a front and rear-facing camera which makes it a great choice for selfies.

GoPro Hero 11 has a remarkable video stabilization system. The HyperSmooth 5.0 system is touted as the best in class. With the 5.3K resolution, you get much more resolution than the standard 4K. Additionally, the footage is extremely clear and crisp due to the stabilization system.

The main con is the white balance that must be manually set as there is no auto white balance option. Another slight concern is that there is no dedicated “dive mode” for this camera, which some other underwater cameras do have.

My Verdict: This is an exceptional choice and is especially good for capturing underwater action shots. It delivers crisp, blur-free images of fast-moving subjects. It’s an affordable option as well.

Final Thoughts

Underwater photography and videography are great aspects of photography to enjoy. But when experiencing these adventures, it is important to use equipment that is designed for your journey.

Choosing the right camera is essential for underwater photography. Besides paying attention to the main features, pay attention to the accessories, and look for a camera that has a waterproof casing or housing to protect it from water damage.

The cameras I’ve listed here are great options for scuba divers who want to capture and share their experiences.

Which camera worked best for your scuba diving journey? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Until next time, enjoy the water and continue to share your adventures with the world!

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