Best Underwater Cameras for Scuba Diving – (Guide & Reviews 2019)

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Water Sports are all the rage of this season! Showing off the beauty underwater with the features and blends are great, but what’s the best underwater camera for your scuba diving? Scuba diving is fun; that’s if you can take those nice shots and capture the experience.

Choosing an underwater camera is a daunting task, as there is an influx of camera models; there’s no best underwater camera, but you could get the right one that’ll fit your personal budget and needs. For scuba diving, you’ll have to consider:

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D​etails

OUR RATING

  • 20MP Still Image Resolution (5472 x 3648)
    • Depth Rating: 200ft (60.96m)
    • Depth Rating: 33ft (10m) without housing / 196ft (59.7m) with housing
    • 4K UHD Video Recording at 30fps
  • 20MP Still Image Resolution (5472 x 3648)

  • 1080p Full HD Video Recording at 60fps
  • 160-Degree Fixed Ultra-Wide Lens

  • 1080p Full HD Video Recording at 60fps

    • Suitable for people with weight as high as 300 pounds.


    • Excellent for different age grades and skills.

    The first step to getting a camera is to prioritizing the essential features and options you’ll need. Not all promotional elements are necessary for scuba diving, but there are criteria required to help you determine the right system.

    What Type of Camera?

    DSLR camera is excellent, there’s at least one type of housing for your camera, and it's selective; choosing the right lenses is critical, and not all are suitable for underwater.

    For newbies, your best fit is the compact camera. They take great shots underwater, and the cost and maintenance are reasonably cheaper than the expenses the SLRs incur. The core guides will be for the compact camera.

    There are three main gears to consider when selecting a compact camera:

    • Features.
    • Size and Weight.
    • Budget.

    No existing model has the best of the three characteristics, but you can get a right combination that fits your personal preference. Before gearing your preference to any feature, it’s prevalent; you have a basic understanding of underwater photography.

    Important Features of Underwater Cameras.

    Are you diving to create award-winning images or is your shots for personal use? This determines the quality of your camera. When you’re demanding an excellent look from your picture, then you should get a camera that’s equal to the task.

    Some essential features you should consider include:

    • Housing Options.

    Always check and ensure there’s a suitable housing provision for any camera to use underwater before purchase. It’s not viable to choose an underwater camera without an adequate housing available. Any high-end compact will have, at least one housing option, while others have limited offerings. Consider using a third-party manufacturer if the camera is the best fit when considering other features.

    • Manual Control.

    Auto mode and ultra-zooming are great on land, but it’s less useful for underwater shooting. Before you embark on your scuba diving for this season, it’s advisable to learn manual controls. Even if you’re not interested, look out for a camera that is designed with easily adjustable manual settings to avoid a confusing menu system and making control more efficient. However, shooting in the auto mode is better than nothing.

    • RAW Format.

    If you’re using the manual mode, you should consider shooting in RAW—more professional image storage than the JPEG. Shooting in this mode captures the image in an exact definition and uncompressed. Uncompressed and unedited photos are more valuable than processed pictures and allow you to edit your image yourself with more subtlety and control. However, this feature is not available if you’re shooting in auto mode.

    • Shutter Lag.

    Perfectly timing an image of an animal while it displays some unusual behaviors can be ruined because of the unfortunate and unavoidable issue of shutter lag. Shutter lag refers to the interval between when you take a picture and what image comes up. This specification is not necessarily listed by manufacturers, but inquiries for specialists and knowledgeable salespersons can be helpful.

    • Video.

    Cameras are no longer meant for just taking photographs. A good camera should multitask and capture quality video as well as shoot photographs. Your camera should be shooting in 720p and have a manual white balance setting. Footage in the depths of oceans can be utterly blue if your camera doesn’t support a manual white balance setting to help you bring back some lost colors.

    • Size.

    The underwater camera comes in different sizes, and this has become an essential factor for scuba divers. It’s not viable to use cumbersome underwater cameras while diving, hen you can get a pocket-sized camera that can fit into your fist and takes quality shots. Underwater photography is ear intensive, and small cameras are best fit for scuba diving. However, manufacturers have claimed to retain the same quality as in the large cameras, but there is a minor defect that definitely distinguishes a pocket size camera and a big intensive camera.

    What’s your Budget?

    Nothing goes for nothing! To get a better combination, you have to consider your budget and the quality you need. The cost of the camera is just the beginning of the expenses after maintenance and accessories. Camera housing, external lenses, and strobes can double the original price of the camera. These accessories are worth buying and shouldn’t be ruled out of the budget.

    Strobes add more quality to your image, advancement to the slight upgrades in camera models; low-end cameras can do better with strobes than the high-end cameras without a strobe. A low-end can save money for now, while you could choose to upgrade in the next few months.

    5 Best Underwater Cameras for Scuba Diving.

    There are lots of underwater cameras for scuba diving could possibly choose from but we have done an expansive research to reduce the stress of choosing the best one available. We will be mentioning some of them in subsequent paragraphs.


    SeaLife SL512 Micro 2.0

    Quality

    Price

    Our rating
    • Depth Rating: 200ft (60.96m).
    • Depth Rating: 200ft (60.96m).
    • 1in 20MP Sony BSI CMOS Sensor.
    • 31mm f/1.8 Lens.
    • 1080p Full HD Video Recording at 60fps.
    • 20MP Still Image Resolution (5472 x 3648).
    • 3x Digital Zoom.
    • Optical Image Stabilization.
    •   Up to 10fps Continuous Shooting
    •  RAW, JPEG, DNG Image File Formats
    •   ISO Range: 125-25600
    •  3in LCD Monitor (Approx. 920K Dots)
    •  80MB Internal Memory
    • MicroSDHC/microSDXC/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card Slot
    •  Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

    PROS

    • Easy manual operation: Shoots in eight modes and allows freedom to adjust manual exposure setting.
    • Has standard waterproof depth rating of 200 feet (60.96 meters) for deep-sea scuba diving.
    • Ability to add Sea Dragon - Enhances excellent footage with Sea Dragon 1500 and 2500; 120 beam angle for the fisheye lens and precise color representation.

    CONS

    • No manual controls for advanced photographers.
    • No RAW file recording for advanced post-processing.

    GoPro HERO5 Black

    Quality

    Price

    Our rating
    • Depth Rating: 33ft (10m) without housing / 196ft (59.7m) with housing.
    • 12MP CMOS Sensor.
    • 4K UHD Video Recording at 30fps.
    • 12MP Still Image Resolution.
    • Digital Image Stabilization.
    • Up to 30fps Continuous Shooting.
    • RAW & JPEG Image File Formats.
    • 2in LCD Touch Screen Display.
    • MicroSD Memory Card Slot.
    • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPSPros.

    PROS

    • Waterproof without a case - Used at depths past its regular 33 feet (10 meters) limit with the help of their Super Suit Dive Housing and with a heavy-duty protective housing, the GoPro HERO5 Black Edition Action Camera can be used up to 196 feet (59.7 meters) underwater.
    • Additional still image functions - HERO5 features a brighter and sharper 2-inch touchscreen display on the back panel, which makes it easier to navigate the menu controls (even in shallow waters) and allows you to tap specific areas of the frame for manual exposure control.
    • Effective electronic image stabilization.

    CONS

    • The battery can drain quickly, especially with the touchscreen running.
    • Touchscreen responsiveness.
    • No EIS in 4K.

    Intova HD Edge X

    Quality

    Price

    Our rating
    • Depth Rating: 330ft (100m).
    • 1/2.3in 12MP CMOS Sensor.
    • 160-Degree Fixed Ultra-Wide Lens.
    • 1080p Full HD Video Recording at 60fps.
    • 12MP Still Image Resolution (4000×3000).
    • Up to 30fps Continuous Shooting.
    • Slow-Motion Video at 240 fps (848×480).
    • 60x Digital Zoom.
    • 1.5in TFT LCD Display.
    • microSD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card Slot.

    PROS

    • LCD viewfinder screen comes standard.
    • Waterproof up to 330 feet / 100 meters.
    • Record full HD 1080p videos at 60fps.
    • Built-in WiFi.
    • Minimal distortion around the edges of the image frame.
    • The casing is polycarbonate with rubberized armor coating makes it durable, lightweight and more affordable.

    CONS

    • Slightly lower resolution due to keeping image distortion minimal.
    • No 4K video recording.

    canon G9 X Mark II

    Quality

    Price

    Our rating
    • Depth Rating: 200ft (60.96m).
    • 1in 20.1MP CMOS Sensor.
    • DIGIC 7 Image Processor.
    • 28-84mm f/2.0 Zoom Lens.
    • 080p Full HD Video Recording at 60fps.
    • 20MP Still Image Resolution (5472 x 3648).
    • 3x Optical Zoom, 4x Digital Zoom.
    • Intelligent IS Image Stabilization.
    • ISO Range: 125-12800.
    • Up to 8.2fps Continuous Shooting.

    PROS

    • Slimline, pocketable design – it’s light weighted than the preceding models, and still offers the same high-quality image results and shooting performance.
    • Well-implemented touchscreen.
    • Up to 200 feet (60.96 meters) underwater with no flooding or water pressure.
    • Excellent in-camera JPEG processing.

    CONS

    • Limited physical controls.
    • Unambitious lens and has a shorter focal length.
    • No 4K video recording.

    Sony RX100 V

    Quality

    Price

    Our rating
    • Depth Rating: 200ft (60.96m).
    • 1in 20.1MP CMOS Sensor.
    • BIONZ X Processor.
    • 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar Lens with ND Filter.
    • Internal 4K UHD (2160p) Video Recording at 30fps.
    • 20MP Still Image Resolution (5472 x 3648).
    • 2.9x Optical Zoom, 5.8x Clear Image Zoom, 11x Digital Zoom.
    • ISO Range: 80-12800.
    • Up to 24fps Continuous Shooting.
    • 3in Tilting LCD Screen (Approx. 1.22m Dots).

    PROS

    • Excellent photo quality in a compact package.
    • Noise performance.
    • Fast F1.84.9, 28 100 mm Zeiss lens.
    • Including RAW support.
    • Smart controls in a compact body.
    • Excellent implementation of Program Shift with front ring.
    • Large sensor.
    • Good outdoor and low light visibility.
    • Full manual controls.

    CONS

    • Expensive.
    • Redeye a problem.
    • the HDMI port located at the bottom of the camera.
    • Needs a grip.
    • Tends to clip highlights, with occasional (slight) underexposure.
    The winner!

    SeaLife is known for producing some of the best underwater cameras made specifically for scuba diving, and the SeaLife SL512 Micro 2.0 is no exception. It comes with a fast 0.1-second shutter response, and three digital color correction filters for underwater shooting, making it the ideal underwater camera for mid-level and advanced underwater ultra-fast, high-resolution photography. It’s affordable and has stood the test of time.

    However, it’s important to remember that no matter the camera option, the photographer determines the outcome of an image. Your camera is just a tool, and you’re the masterpiece.

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