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Now that you’ve got a few dives under your belt, you’re dying to share some of those magnificent moments with friends and family.

Or perhaps you’ve dabbled a little underwater photography and you’re ready to take it to the next level.

But…

You’re feeling totally overwhelmed by all amount of waterproof cameras available.

And you have absolutely no idea how to pick the best camera for scuba diving.

Don’t worry, as this is where ScubaOtter comes in!

To help you out, we’ve scoured the seven seas to put together a list of all the best underwater cameras.

If we had to give a quick answer, the best cameras for scuba diving are:

Want to learn more about these options?

Keep reading as below we’ll be reviewing each of these dive cameras in more detail.

Plus we’ll be sharing the key things to look for when buying a camera for scuba diving.

So let’s get started.

Best Underwater Cameras for Scuba Diving

Best Budget Cameras for Scuba Diving

You really don’t have to spend a fortune to be able to take good quality images and videos underwater. If you’re looking for an affordable scuba diving camera, these are your best options.

When it comes to action cameras, GoPro simply cannot be beaten. This legendary brand continues to produce simple to use cameras that are capable of capturing high-quality photos and videos, even in the most extreme environments. And the Hero7 is no exception.

This tiny, but tough, waterproof camera is full of intuitive features that make taking epic underwater shots almost effortless. With ‘Super Photo’ optimization, advanced video stabilization, and a variety of intelligent shooting modes, you’ll be seriously impressed at the quality of footage you end up with.

We also love the 8xSlo-Mo video option that allows you to relive all those epic marine encounters in all their glory.

Although more experienced photographers may feel frustrated by the lack of manual settings, the Hero7 is ideal for recreational divers who are simply looking to remember their underwater adventures.

As with all GoPro models, the Hero7 is only waterproof to 33ft (10m) so you’ll also need to purchase the SuperSuit housing to take it scuba diving. It’s a tiny added cost but allows you to take this camera down to a whopping 196ft (60m).

But even when you take this into account, the Hero7 is still fantastic value. And with so many intelligent features, the GoPro Hero7 is, in our humble opinion, the best action camera for scuba diving.

Key features: 

  • 12 Megapixel Camera
  • Digital zoom
  • Video Quality: 4K60, Wide FOV, 8xSlo-Mo
  • Hyper Smooth Video Stabilization
  • Working Depth: 33ft (10M) without housing
  • Dimensions: 1.8 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 3.26 pounds

Not convinced? Check out the GoPro Hero7 in action on a dive…

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Super easy & intuitive to use underwater
  • Amazing video quality
  • Wide range of accessories available
  • WiFi transfer & editing app
  • Remote control capabilities
  • Can be used for a variety of sports
  • Rugged & durable
  • Compact & lightweight
  • Intelligent shooting modes
Cons
  • Need to purchase additional housing for depths below 33ft (10m)
  • No manual photography settings
  • Some users report that this camera occasionally freezes

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If you’re looking for the best budget camera for scuba diving, then the Apeman A87 action camera is a solid choice. Considering its cheap price, this rugged little camera produces some seriously spectacular shots.

With next-level image stabilization, 6 different shooting modes, 8 x zoom, and a whole host of other fun features, the Apeman A87 has a lot to offer. Although the vast array of settings can be confusing to configure at first.

What’s more, this action camera comes complete with accessories including the underwater housing that’s waterproof down to 131ft (40m).

With all of this for less than $100, the Apeman A87 is without a doubt the best cheap camera for scuba diving on the market.

Key features: 

  • 20 Megapixel Camera
  • Digital zoom
  • Remote control & WiFi
  • Video Quality: 4K60
  • Working Depth: 131ft (40M) in housing
  • Dimensions: 2.36 x 1.57 x 0.98 inches
  • Weight: 2.75 ounces
Pros
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Excellent video quality
  • Accessories & underwater housing included
  • Impressive stabilization
  • Great for travel
  • Super lightweight
  • Wide variety of shooting modes & settings
Cons
  • Poor audio quality
  • Basic camera sensor that doesn’t perform well in low light
  • No manual photography settings
  • Settings can be confusing

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Best Mid Range Cameras for Scuba Diving

When it comes to underwater cameras, a little extra budget goes a long way in terms of customizability and the quality of photos. These are the best mid-range dive cameras that’ll help take your underwater shots to the next level.

The Nikon COOLPIX W300 is one of our favorite underwater cameras for scuba diving.

Why?

Because this incredibly tough little camera is super simple to use and delivers awesome photos and videos even in the most extreme environments. It’s waterproof to 100ft (30m) without underwater housing and it’s very reasonably priced.

While it may lack some of the more advanced features that a professional photographer is looking for, we love we can take this underwater camera with us on all of our adventures, both diving, and non-diving, knowing that it’ll always deliver very high-quality shots and can handle a few knocks.

The powerful camera sensor and 5x optical zoom ensure that you’ll be able to capture everything in perfectly clear detail.

What’s more, Nikon is considered one of the world’s best camera manufacturers. So you can be extra confident that this waterproof camera is a worthy investment.

If you’re looking for a great all-round, compact underwater camera then you simply can’t go wrong with the Nikon COOLPIX W300.

Key Features: 

  • 16 Megapixels Camera
  • Video Quality: 4k HD
  • 5 x Optical Zoom
  • Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof & dustproof
  • Can withstand temperatures of 14 to 104°F (-10 to +40°C)
  • Working Depth: 30m
  • Dimensions: 2.00 x 2.00 x 2.00 inches
  • Weight: 8.2 ounces
Pros
  • Waterproof without housing up to 30m deep
  • Incredibly tough & durable
  • Amazing video capabilities
  • Reasonably priced
  • Quick & easy to use underwater
  • WiFi & Bluetooth Capabilities
  • Can withstand extreme weather conditions
  • Ideal for travel & any outdoor activities
Cons
  • Flash is a little weak
  • Not the best for low light underwater conditions (low visibility or night dives)

 

 

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Canon is one of the most trusted and well-established camera brands on the market. So it’s no surprise that the Canon G7X delivers top quality results.

With a powerful 20.2 megapixels CMOS camera sensor, the G7X captures exceptionally vivid images and video even in low lighting, which is essential for underwater photography.

The Canon G7X also boasts incredible zoom capabilities and a variety of intelligent shooting modes. So even if you’re not confident with the manual settings, this camera’s point and shoot capabilities are seriously impressive.

To be able to take this camera scuba diving, you’ll also need to invest in an underwater housing. But the quality of shots it’ll allow you to achieve for under $1000 make it a worthy investment.

We recommend the rugged and ergonomic Fantasea FG7X casing, which allows you to take this camera safely down to 200ft (60m).

The Canon G7X is an exceptional camera for a very reasonable price that you can use both above and below the water.

Fantasea Casing

Key Features: 

  • 20.1 Megapixels Camera
  • Video Quality: 1080P 60 FPS
  • 4.2 x Optical Zoom
  • Working Depth: Requires underwater housing.
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.6 x 6.3 inches
  • Weight: 10.7 ounces
Pros
  • High definition photos & videos
  • Superior zoom capabilities
  • Powerful camera sensor for low light
  • WiFi & Bluetooth capabilities
  • Manual photography settings available
  • Excellent point & shoot capabilities
  • Reasonably priced
  • Compact for travel
Cons
  • Underwater housing needs to be purchased separately.
  • Not the best option for macro photography

 

 

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Thanks to its robust build, high image quality, and impressive underwater settings, the Olympus TG-6 Tough Waterproof is arguably the best dive camera for beginners.

With 4x optical zoom, 5 different underwater shooting modes and, 3 different underwater white balance options, the Olympus TG-6 makes it incredibly easy for everyone to be able to take great scuba diving shots.

What’s more, this rugged camera is also freezeproof, shockproof, and crushproof, making it the perfect companion for all of your adventures.

The only downside to this camera for scuba diving is that it’s only waterproof up to 50ft (15m). So you’ll need to invest in the Olympus underwater housing if you want to go deeper.

Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera for Scuba Diving Underwater Housing

 

Key Features: 

  • 16 Megapixels Camera
  • Video Quality: 4k HD
  • 4 x Optical Zoom
  • Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof & crushproof
  • Working Depth: 15m without housing
  • Dimensions: 2.6 x 4.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 9 ounces
Pros
  • 5 different underwater shooting modes
  • Variable macro settings
  • Extremely rugged & tough
  • Excellent video & image quality
  • Strong zoom capabilities
  • Suitable for all outdoor activities
Cons
  • Need to purchase additional housing for dives below 15m
  • WiFi transfer can be slow
  • Not great in low light

 

 

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Best Professional Cameras for Scuba Diving

If you’re serious about scuba diving photography, then you’ll need an underwater camera that matches your ambitions. These high-end cameras will help you achieve those National Geographic worthy shots (but only if you learn how to use them properly!)

If you’re looking for an exceptional compact camera that performs equally as well underwater as it does on land then look no further than the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II.

With an enormous Micro Four Thirds camera sensor, something that’s incredibly rare in a compact, the Lumix LX100 II offers superb image quality and strong low light performance. Which is incredibly helpful for underwater photography.

In addition to the impressive array of intelligent automatic features, this camera also offers an unrivaled amount of manual customization. So it’s the ideal option if you’re interested in developing your underwater photography skills

And if that’s not enough, the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II can also shoot 4k video.

There’s no hiding that this is a costly camera, and you’ll need to purchase the underwater housing, but if you have the budget, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

 

Ikelite Underwater Housing for Panasonic Lumix

 

With such impressive performance, we’re very tempted to crown the Lumix LX100 II the best overall camera for scuba diving.

Key Features: 

  • 21.77 Megapixels Camera
  • Video Quality: 4k HD
  • 3.1 x Optical Zoom
  • Working Depth: Requires underwater housing
  • Dimensions: 4.52 x 2.61 x 2.17 inches
  • Weight: 13.9 ounces
Pros
  • Exceptional wide angle & macro shooting modes
  •  Impressive anti-shake capabilities
  • Super strong sensors offer superior image quality even in low light
  • Offers more manual customization than most compacts
  • Superfast autofocus
Cons
  • Need to purchase underwater housing separately
  • Pricey (but worth it!)
  • A little slow to startup

 

 

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When it comes to underwater photography, there is only so much you can achieve with a compact. So if you’re looking to take professional-level scuba diving shots then it’s time to invest in a ‘real’ camera.

The Canon EOS 6D Mark II digital SLR is the ideal choice. This surprisingly compact DSLR features a powerful full-frame sensor and Canon’s unique DIGIC 7 processor.

Even in near darkness, this camera captures insanely clear images. The autofocus is super fast and consistently accurate, which pays off underwater where lighting and contrast are not often great.

Combined with its near-perfect metering for exposure and white balance, even underwater, this camera consistently delivers in a way that will impress even the fussiest of professional dive photographers.

As with any professional camera for scuba diving, you’ll also need to invest in underwater housing. But if you’re serious about underwater photography, then the Canon EOS 6D digital SLR camera set up is well worth the investment.

It’s a truly outstanding camera that delivers excellent results no matter what, how, or where you’re shooting.

Ikelite Underwater Housing for Canon Digital SLR Best Camera for Scuba Diving

Key Features: 

  • 26.2 Megapixels Camera
  • Video Quality: SourceFHP 1080p
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth & NFC capabilities
  • 1 x Optical Zoom without lens
  • Working Depth: Requires underwater housing
  • Dimensions: 2.90 x 5.70 x 4.40 inches
  • Weight: 3.45 pounds (55 ounces)
Pros
  • Compact & durable design
  • Fast & accurate autofocus
  • Surprisingly lightweight for a DSLR
  • Remote shooting capabilities
  • Dust & water-resistant casing
  • Image stabilization
  • Exceptional photo quality
  • Full manual customization
Cons
  • Need to purchase underwater housing separately
  • Need to purchase lenses separately
  • Expensive
  • Not great for video

 

 

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What to look for when choosing an underwater camera for scuba diving

Budget

The very first thing you need to consider when buying an underwater camera is how much you actually want to spend.

Otherwise, you’ll waste a ton of time researching options that are over your budget.

Or, worse, you’ll end up overspending and run out of money for those critical accessories, such as waterproof housing!

Ease of use

If you’re relatively new to photography in general, the best underwater camera for you is going to be one that is simple to use. There’s no point in investing in a camera that you find incredibly difficult to use.

manta rayUsing a camera underwater is very similar to using one on land. However, when you’re scuba diving there’s a lot of other things you need to think about, such as your dive buddy, your buoyancy, air consumption, and equalizing, which can make using a camera more difficult.

So it’s important that the camera’s controls and understandable and accessible. The last thing you want to do is miss that manta ray circling overhead because you couldn’t figure out how to switch off the macro setting!

The best camera for scuba diving will offer a balance between usability and customizability. If you’re serious about underwater photography you want to choose one with a good range of manual controls such as a mirrorless or DSLR.

But if you don’t want to have to mess around with any settings when you’re underwater, the best camera for you will be an action camera or a simple point and shoot.

Size & Wieght

Don’t forget you’ll need to carry your underwater camera, both during the dive and to/from the dive spot.

Girl with camera for scuba divingIf you often travel aboard to dive and are worried about excess luggage fees, then make sure you choose a compact and lightweight underwater camera. And remember the housing and any accessories will also add extra weight.

Most underwater camera housings are made to be neutrally buoyant, so even the biggest setups won’t have much effect on your buoyancy. However, the size of an underwater camera will affect your maneuverability and trim underwater.

So if you prefer to keep your hands free during the dive and stay as streamlined as possible then a smaller camera that could fit in your BCD pocket is a better choice.

Image & Video Quality

If you just want to snap a few nice shots while you’re diving then you don’t need to worry too much about the image and video quality. Besides, all of the cameras we’ve reviewed above, even the more budget options, produce surprisingly good results.

However, if you want to take the best possible underwater photos then there are a few important things to consider when choosing a camera for scuba diving, which are sensors, lenses, and lighting.

Sensors: Although the number of megapixels does contribute to the quality of your photos, it’s actually a camera’s sensors that are more important when it comes to low light settings, i.e underwater. When picking a camera for scuba diving, always choose a better sensor over higher megapixels.

Lenses: This is where choosing an underwater camera can get very technical. So we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible.

A wide-angle lens is best for expansive reef scenes, schools of fish, and big pelagics. But if you’re mad about the small critters, then you should consider a dedicated macro lens. Or at least make sure the camera has a dedicated macro setting.

It’s also helpful to choose an underwater camera with a good zoom so you can get those close up shots without disturbing the marine life or getting too close to the reef.

If you want to learn more then check out this guide to choosing a lens for underwater photography. 

Lighting: If you want to truly capture the vibrancy of the underwater world, you’ll need additional lighting equipment. Or at the very least a good flash.

Lastly, if making underwater movies is your thing then make sure you choose a camera with image stabilization.

Underwater Housing

If you plan to invest in a high-quality camera for scuba diving, then it’s essential that you find the right underwater housing. After all, underwater housing is what will actually allow you to take the camera scuba diving!

Unfortunately, not all underwater housing is created equal. So you want to take your time to find the best possible option. Make sure you take into account the maximum depth, build materials, accessory ports, and internal components of the underwater housing.

Versatility

And lastly, are you looking solely for an underwater camera or do you want one that you can also use outside of diving?

marine iguana galapagosIf you also want to be able to take high-quality shots on land then it’s worth looking at one of the more sophisticated cameras and investing in the underwater housing for it.

But if you’re looking for a camera just for scuba diving then pick a compact waterproof camera that doesn’t require super expensive housing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best Underwater Camera for Scuba Diving?

Manta Rays Scuba Diving SocorroAs with any piece of scuba diving gear, the best underwater camera is the one that meets your needs and budget.

When it comes to ease of use, affordability, and durability, the GoPro Hero 7 is the best camera for scuba diving.  It’s super simple to use and the quality of the photos is surprisingly good. You’ve also got the option to record 4k video as well.

Plus, there’s a surplus of attachments available, including lights and filters, to uplevel your shots.

But if you’re a little more experienced and want to develop your underwater photography skills, then the best camera for scuba diving will be one that has more advanced settings.

If your budget allows, we highly recommend the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II. With plenty of extra features, impressive hand stabilization, and excellent macro mode, it’s the best scuba diving camera for any budding underwater photographers.

Do I need a Red Filter for my Scuba Diving Camera?

This really depends on how deep you’re diving, and the quality of shots you are going for. But if you’re a perfectionist like us, you’ll want your underwater photos to look as good as possible.

For underwater action cameras, such as the GoPro, we highly recommend using a red filter when you deeper than 15 ft or 5m. A red filter or lens enables the camera to better capture the natural colors that you’re seeing.

Without one, all your shots will end up looking very green and blue. And even if you edit them it’s tricky to get the colors looking realistic.

For the very best results, it’s worth investing in a few different filters with varying degrees of red so you can cover a wider range of depths. For the GoPro Hero7, try out this red light trio filter set.

And if you still need convincing, here’s a photo without a red filter…

gopro no red filter

And here’s one with the mentioned red filter.

gopro with red filter

As you can see, having a red filter makes a world of a difference to your underwater photos.

Are these Underwater Cameras Difficult to Use?

Most of these cameras are extremely easy to use, especially the more budget options. Plus they all come with detailed manuals and you’ll find plenty of tutorials online.

You can get pretty far on just the basic knowledge. Even on auto, you’ll be able to capture some surprisingly epic shots with these underwater cameras.

Once you start playing around with more advanced settings, such as depth of field, it does get more complicated. But it’s the experimenting that makes underwater photography so much fun!

Should I purchase a bag for my dive camera?

sea-lion-swimmingYes, yes, and yes!!! This is an extremely important thing to do as it can often just take one mistake to ruin a precious dive camera.

We’ve seen someone drop their camera right after a dive, losing ALL photos and videos from the dive we had just done.

Of course, if your camera is fully waterproof or still secured in its housing it should be ok.

But if there are any parts exposed (such as the lens), there could be some serious damage. Plus there are all the other accessories to consider such as spare batteries, the charger, additional lenses, and memory cards.

Investing in a good waterproof backpack is a great way to keep all of your electronics safe and secure.

Where Should I Store My Underwater Camera?

Although it’s tempting to leave it all neatly packed after your dive trip, it’s important to unpack, inspect, and properly store your gear after each trip. This will drastically extend the life of your underwater camera.

When storing your dive camera, it’s imperative to avoid humid areas. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with the dreaded green goo, i.e. a build-up of bacteria or fungus.

Not only will this make your equipment disgusting to work with, but it can also cause the camera to malfunction. There are also sprays and solutions you can bathe your other dive camera in to prevent this.

Do underwater cameras work out of the water?

Of course! In fact, there is no such thing as an underwater camera. All underwater cameras are just ordinary cameras in a watertight casing.

The great thing about investing in a good underwater camera is that you can also use it out of the water as well.

Conclusion

We understand that choosing an underwater camera for scuba diving can feel intimidating. There are a lot of scarily expensive options out there and it’s hard to know which of these waterproof cameras are actually worth it.

But you can feel confident that if you pick any of the options we’ve listed above that you’re buying one of the best scuba diving cameras available.

Have you tried any of these cameras for scuba diving?

We’d love to hear your experiences!

Alexa Worswick Administrator

Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime. 

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