In this buyer’s guide, we will show you all of the options for the best underwater action cameras of 2021. We’ve tested out the top brands, as well as the newest models to hit the shelves this year, there’s something in here to suit every budget.
So if you’re ready to start recording your underwater adventures, or simply want to upgrade your current setup, let us help you choose the best action camera for diving!
And don’t forget to check out our guide to the best action camera accessories for diving, these small add ons make a world of difference when shooting underwater.
Of course, we do have a bigger guide that covers a wider range of underwater cameras for scuba diving, from beginner to pro level. But in this guide, we’ve just focused on the latest and greatest action cams, perfect for the everyday diver!
So let’s get started…
7 Best Action Cameras for Scuba Diving
First up is the Paralenz Vaquita. This action camera is the latest version of the first Paralenz camera, and it comes with some big upgrades.
With an OLED display, 4K / 60 fps recording, auto-record function, an ultra-light sensitive lens, intelligent color correction, and integrated GPS, this brilliant little camera has everything you need to seamlessly and effortlessly capture and share spectacular underwater videos.
The upgrade features include a display screen, and software that tracks your dive profile along with the current depth and the water temperature information, and records it straight to your Paralenz smartphone app, similar to a dive computer. Plus the auto-record function means you can dive more and worry about recording less. Simply adjust for your preferred depth level and this smart action camera will automatically start and stop recording. So now more time wasted editting out your safety stops!
The GoPro HERO9 Black is the latest and greatest in a long line of amazing action cams, and this one has some sweet upgrades. It should also note that the prices are also starting to get much more reasonable.
This action camera shoots stunning ultra HD 5K video that maintains excellent detail even when zooming in and capturing 14.7MP frame grabs. Plus you have the option to record in 4K, 2.7K, 1440p, and 1080p. The 20MP camera captures perfectly crisp and clear shots that easily rival those taken with a professional-level camera. What’s more, you can add the GoPro Max Lens Mod for their widest-angle perspective yet. And with a new front display offering a live preview, you’ll never mess up the framing on those selfie shots!
As far as action cams go, this guy does not disappoint. The GoPro HERO9 comes with more of everything; more resolution, more pixels, more battery life, additional screen, detachable lens, advanced stabilization, and the list goes on and on! It’s pretty much got everything you could ever need in an action camera.
Oh and our favorite aspect of this new GoPro is the new HindSight feature that captures up to 30 seconds of footage before you start to record. So even if you press the button a little too late, you’ll still get the shot of that epic marine encounter. Now that really is a game-changer!
Although without the casing it’s only waterproof to 33ft (10m), so for scuba diving you’ll need to purchase the housing separately. But then you can take this guy down to 196ft (60m) without any problem.
If you’re after the very best underwater action camera for scuba diving, then the GoPro HERO9 with the waterproof casing is our top pick!
GoPro has finally done something we’ve all been waiting for: They came out with an awesome 360 camera! Not only is it a 360 camera, but one side can be turned off, and the other side is used as a regular action camera like the Heros (above)!
You’ve basically got 3 different action cameras in one here. You can shoot single-lens HERO-style video with advanced stabilization (like the HERO9 above, or you can capture immersive 360 footage in 6K4, and you can vlog to your heart’s content with a front-facing screen and shotgun-mic performance!
And if that’s not enough, the Max HyperSmooth offers you the smoothest video ever from a GoPro—plus a game-changing horizon leveling option. You’re going to have a lot of fun with this action camera!
Although the GoPro MAX 360 wasn’t created with us scuba divers in mind, there are a few companies that now make the dive housings for this camera, with little bubble dome ports to get those crisp, clear, underwater videos. Whilst the camera is extremely rugged, it’s only waterproof to 5m without any housing.
If you’re looking for a versatile action camera that can do it all, then you’re going to want to get yourself a GoPro Max. You definitely won’t be disappointed.
Garmin has been coming out with a lot of awesome innovations for divers lately, including dive computers, and this action cam, the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30, is another great example.
This compact action camera shoots an impressive 4k video at 60fps or 1080 at 120fps. As well as offering 3-axis image stabilization for ultra-smooth shots. The 1.75-inch display is super simple to operate and is fully functional in and out of the waterproof case.
The price point is a little more than the latest GoPro, but it should be noted that the dive housing (rated to 40m) is included in that price. So overall it comes out a little cheaper than the GoPro.
This action camera also has some intuitive features for when you’re shooting on land, including built-in GPS that connects to your other Garmin devices and captures performance data such as elevation, speed, heart rate, and G-force. Plus voice control, which allows you to shoot hands-free through voice commands and tag footage!
Olympus is a popular brand among divers, and we all know how awesome their TGI Tough is, which we covered in our dive camera guide. But did you know they also have a cheap action camera as well? One that can go down to 30m without needing any housing!
With the ability to capture HD 4k video at 60mps and a top quality 204 Degree Extreme Angle f2.0 High-Speed Lens, this action camera offers you the opportunity to capture some seriously good shots.
It’s pretty cool that also it has a flip view screen, and 5 different built-in sensors (GPS, eCompass, accelerometer, thermometer, and barometer) to record your movements.
A rugged and versatile action camera that’s great for scuba diving!
We all know that DJI makes the best drones out there, but it seems like they now want to go head to head with GoPro, and create a sweet action camera for divers too!
And this thing IS sweet! This waterproof action camera is jam-packed with awesome features including HD 4k video, 8x ultra-slow motion, dual-screen and it’s waterproof up to 11m without the housing!
As you might expect, DJI has included their latest stabilization technology in this action camera. Their RockSteady setting combines EIS with complex algorithms to reliably deliver shake-free, stable footage no matter how heavy the action gets. Perfect for capturing smooth underwater footage regardless of your buoyancy control or the currents!
What’s more, the HDR shooting mode dramatically enhances the range of your footage, delivering natural transitions between dark and light areas, picking up those rich details that are often lost in those underwater environments.
Despite all of these epic features, the DJI Osmo action camera is very reasonably priced, coming in at less than the GoPro HERO9. Although similar to the HERO9, you’ll still need to purchase the underwater housing to take it diving with you below 11m.
If you have a low budget and just want a cheap action camera to capture memories on your next dive trip, or even just snorkeling, then this little budget action cam might be all you need!
With 4K Ultra HD resolution, this budget action camera records video in 4K / 25fps and takes 16MP photos, more than enough to get some epic shots from your dive.
The AKASO EK7000 also comes with 2 rechargeable batteries, each capable of recording up to 90 minutes of footage. It has built-in Wi-Fi & HDMI so you can quickly edit & share your action in minutes using the AKASO app. Plus it comes with a wireless wrist remote control which offers a new way of capturing those action shots above water.
Of course, you wont get nearly as good of quality video or images as any of the options above, but for less than $75, you really can’t go wrong! This price even includes the underwater housing. So if you don’t mind slightly lower quality photos and videos, then this is by far your best option.
Whichever of these underwater action cameras you choose, you’re sure to capture some awesome footage! At the end of the day, it really comes down to your budget and what additional features and settings you’re after.
If you want to get the best footage from your action camera underwater, be sure to check out our guide to the best action camera accessories for diving. Having the right accessories for your action camera makes all the difference when taking photos or videos underwater.
The GoPro HERO9 probably offers you the opportunity to capture the best quality shots and thanks to the detachable lens, offers you more scope to experiment. However, if you’re on a tight budget then the AKASO is more than good enough to capture those diving memories!
Do you have a favorite action camera for scuba diving? Let us know in the comments below!