Are you looking for the best underwater camera for scuba diving? Getting started with underwater photography can feel overwhelming when you see how many scuba dive cameras are on the market. It doesn’t make it any easier when you consider that in addition to the camera, you need to think about lenses, housing, ports, lighting, and other accessories.
However, choosing the right diving camera doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think. You just have to have an idea of what is on the market and what features will best fit your needs. That’s precisely why we wanted to offer insight into the best scuba diving cameras. You can easily find a great camera and focus on taking photos and videos instead of hours of research.
Below, we’re going to look at the 11 best underwater cameras for scuba diving and talk about what makes them unique and worth considering. We’ll also delve into a bit more detail about what are the most important things to look for when selecting a scuba dive camera.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Diving Cameras for 2020
- 2 Nikon D810 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera
- 3 Sony Alpha A7IIK Mirrorless Digital Camera with 28-70mm Lens
- 4 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Camera
- 5 Pentax KP 24.32 Ultra-Compact Weatherproof DSLR with 3” LCD Camera
- 6 Sony RX100 III 20.1 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera
- 7 Panasonic Lumix LX100 4K Point and Shoot Camera
- 8 GoPro Hero 7 Black Waterproof Digital Action Camera with Touchscreen
- 9 Akaso V50 Pro Native 4K/30FPS 20MP Wi-Fi Action Camera with EIS Touchscreen
- 10 Apeman Trawo Action Camera 4K Wi-Fi Ultra HD 20MP Underwater Camera
- 11 Campark X20 4K 20MP Action Camera with Touchscreen
- 12 Apeman Action Camera 20MP Wi-Fi Ultra HD Underwater Waterproof 40M Sports Camcorder
- 13 What to Know When Choosing an Underwater Camera
- 14 Enjoy Your New Underwater Camera
Best Diving Cameras for 2020
Nikon D810 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera
The Nikon D810 is a versatile underwater DSLR that offers top-notch dynamic range and image quality. It has the speed and precision needed by those who want to do photography of aquatic wildlife. This Nikon offers 36.3 MB resolution, full-frame sensors, and Expeed 4 image processing to provide beautiful images with superb details. This camera is small and compact at a bit over two pounds in weight and with dimensions of 5.8 x 3.2 x 4.8-inches.
As with other DSLR cameras, you will need an underwater housing to use the camera under the water. However, once you get there, the 3D Color Matrix, 51-point AF system, and 91,000-pixel RGB sensor will ensure you get photographs that will capture every detail of your diving experience. There is also a RAW Small Size option available that makes the images smaller so you can take even more.
- Features a 30% quicker processing engine
- Offers high-quality still images and excellent video quality
- Versatile and popular DSLR camera type
- Price will be prohibitive for many underwater divers
Sony Alpha A7IIK Mirrorless Digital Camera with 28-70mm Lens
This scuba camera is an image-stabilized full-frame mirrorless camera and sequel to another camera that took the world by storm. It allows you to capture fantastic photos with 24.3 MP resolution, a sensor range of ISO 100-25600, and a 35 MM full-frame sensor. It has image stabilization built-in for the best images and video.
This scuba dive camera offers a quick autofocus system with 117 phase-detection points and 24 points of contrast-detection. It also uses the E-mount lens system which allows you to use many of the most popular lenses while in the water. This system is especially useful for shooting video while scuba diving.
The LCD display on this camera can tilt up and down to get the angle framing you prefer for your photographs. It also has connectivity with smartphones through one-touch sharing and supports both Wi-Fi and NFC connections.
- Comes with a one-year parts and labor warranty
- Camera is compatible with many popular lenses
- 30% quicker than the last iteration of the camera
- May not have the best ergonomic design
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Camera
If you are ready to take advantage of the best underwater video camera, the Olympus is an excellent choice to make. It’s a great travel camera as it’s small, weather-proof, fast, and durable. It also takes excellent photographs and videos while being less expensive than some other DSLRs on the market today. This is the camera you want if taking creative and interesting underwater photos is something that appeals to you.
As with other DSLRs, you’ll need a waterproof housing to use this camera in the sea, but there are plenty available out there. This mirrorless camera has the option to change lenses and there are plenty of them out there to try depending on what type of shooting you want to do. The lens it comes with is fast and sharp and the field of view hits about 35mm which is an outstanding choice for all-around use.
- Features image stabilization features for the best photos
- Offers sharp images even in low light situations
- Easy to use even for beginners
- 120p and 4K are only available in movie mode
Pentax KP 24.32 Ultra-Compact Weatherproof DSLR with 3” LCD Camera
The Pentax is an excellent scuba diving camera with a 24.32 MP sensor, 5-axis image stabilization, an ISO range of 100 to 819,000, and so much more. It offers Pixel Shift Resolution which provides high-resolution images with fine detail, less noise, and accurate colors. It includes a 3” LCD screen and a pentaprism finder with full-frame coverage and 0.95x magnification. This camera has a vertical-tilt LCD for high and low-angle shooting. It will need a waterproof housing to be used by diving.
This professional underwater camera has integrated Wi-Fi, full HD 1080p video with an FPS of 60, 24 cross-type focus points, and a maximum shutter speed of 1/6000s. The exterior panels are created of magnesium alloy and the KP itself is resistant to water, dust, and cold. There are over 60 seals used on this camera which can operate down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Small and compact for easy transport and traveling
- High-quality ISO performance in Raw and JPEG
- Control layout is highly efficient and easy to use
- More expensive than some options in the same range
Sony RX100 III 20.1 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera
One of the best pro underwater cameras is the Sony RX100, which has been a popular choice for scuba divers the world over. It has a large sensor, offers fantastic video, can do TTL in manual mode, and works amazingly with wide-angle lenses. The wet macro lenses have an extended focal length for more magnification and a more considerable working distance.
Unlike the camera that came before this one, the RX100 has a video bitrate of 50 MB as long as you use XAVC format. There is also a new 120 FPS mode which can be slowed down in an editor to make slow-motion videos. The lens works well for subjects hard to catch like mantis shrimp, gobies, and jawfish. All in all, this is an excellent camera if you want something robust that you can use a lot.
- Features a 50 MB bit rate for video using XAVC
- Comes with an electronic viewfinder for low light
- Offers an extremely quick focus speed
- A bit heavier and more substantial than some DSLRs
Panasonic Lumix LX100 4K Point and Shoot Camera
The Panasonic Lumix is a definite contender for the best diving camera and it will allow you to shoot like an expert. The camera offers 4K video, a large sensor, and a zoom lens that doesn’t require housing port changes to provide wide angle shoots. It comes with a large control set which makes it stand out among the crowd. It is highly customizable to offer whatever you need for each shot.
The focus-peaking feature and autofocus give you great focus without the need to hold and wait for the action. You focus once and shoot, and you are good to go. The camera lens offers a zoom range of between 24 and 72 mm which works exceptionally well for underwater portraits of fish and other aquatic creatures. Another feature that helps with the Lumix is the accurate custom white balance. It also has fantastic video quality.
- Create high-quality videos and photographs
- Offers focus-peaking for aim and shoot functionality
- Comes with an image stabilization feature
- Doesn’t include a manual flash control
GoPro Hero 7 Black Waterproof Digital Action Camera with Touchscreen
Those who are looking for the best GoPro dive camera aren’t going to get much better than the GoPro Hero7. Unlike the DLSR cameras, this is a budget option that can still get the job done. It’s waterproof up to ten meters but can use a housing for depths beyond that. This camera can shoot videos in 4K at 60 FPS and photos at 12 MP. It also has the wildly popular Hypersmooth Image Stabilization which is especially useful for videos.
While many cameras for underwater use are quite expensive, this is one of the exceptions. The underwater photography camera is a reasonably priced adventure camera that does everything that big boys do. While there are several colors of the Hero 7, the black is the only one compatible with the Super Suit housing that lets you go down 60 meters into the water.
- Lightweight and compact for easy carrying and transport
- Excellent value for the features included
- Versatile and easy to use for even beginners
- Requires waterproof housing for depths over ten meters
Akaso V50 Pro Native 4K/30FPS 20MP Wi-Fi Action Camera with EIS Touchscreen
As an underwater scuba camera, the V50 is light and compact which makes it suitable for mounting on all sorts of surfaces. This adds to the excellent recording of the camera without adding additional weight. This action camera has a 320 x 240 display which allows you to review footage and videos in an instant. It’s also waterproof up to 100 feet to record all your ocean activities.
With native 4K at 30 FPS, you’ll get ultra-high definition footage compared to simple HD. It also allows you to shoot at HD 1080p at 60 FPS and 2.7K at 30 FPS which can save space but drops the quality to some extent. As far as smooth footage goes, you’re good to know with the Electronic Image Stabilizer that keeps your 4K footage stable and great for later viewing.
- Able to record 4K footage at 30 FPS
- Easy to use camera even for beginners
- Uses two batteries for long life while in use
- Minor issues can be found in the included microphone
Apeman Trawo Action Camera 4K Wi-Fi Ultra HD 20MP Underwater Camera
This budget action camera is excellent for scuba photography and comes from a company that knows the action camera world inside and out. The camera offers 4K resolution video with sharp and crisp footage and adjustable resolution if you need to save space. The 20 MP camera is also capable of fantastic image shooting with detail and sharpness.
The camera comes with a Wi-Fi connection to share files and connect with a remote. The lens is large and offers great performance with everything in frame with three modes: super-wide, narrow, and medium. The inclusion of a Panasonic sensor means you will get the best possible video footage at all times. It also doesn’t hurt that this is an inexpensive option or those who don’t want to drain their bank just to take flashy photos.
- Waterproof up to a massive 40 meters
- Comes with a two-year warranty
- Offers 4K video quality and slow-motion feature
- Battery can take quite a while to charge
Campark X20 4K 20MP Action Camera with Touchscreen
The Campark X20 is an underwater dive camera that is inexpensive and capable of great photography and video. It has a beautiful design with a gray matte around the body and stripes on the front. It also features a large red button for switching modes and turning on. This is a lightweight action camera with a Sony sensor and offers 20 MP. That means it will catch all the lighting and colors of the world around you.
This camera comes with a waterproof housing so you can hit the waves and drop down to 30 meters depth. The camera is durable and can withstand moderate impacts, which is a great perk for beginners. It also has an easy-to-navigate menu, so you don’t spend ages fiddling with settings when you just want to shoot a video or take a photo.
- Features a small front display with all your needed stats
- Video stabilization is included for the best video quality
- Has one of the better microphones in the price range
- Requires a case in order to be genuinely weatherproof
Apeman Action Camera 20MP Wi-Fi Ultra HD Underwater Waterproof 40M Sports Camcorder
Those who want to go deep into the water without paying the price for an underwater DSLR camera will enjoy the Apeman Action Camera. It can go up to 40 meters in the water courtesy of the upgrade camera case. This camera boasts anti-shaking, a built-in smart hygroscope, and image stabilization for video recording. It has a 2” LCD screen for previews as well as a wide-angle lens to get those wide shots.
It has tons of other features like a timer-shoot capture, loop recording, car mode, and diving mode. You can even record change processes by selecting a specific time interval. It comes with a bag that allows you to carry the camera and all your accessories on land.
- Features image stabilization and anti-shaking for the perfect capture
- Can go up to 40 meters underwater without a problem
- Offers HDMI output for sharing images and videos
- There is no audible noise when the camera turns on or off
What to Know When Choosing an Underwater Camera
The first thing you should know when searching for an underwater camera is that most of them have a limit to how deep you can dive with them. While there are a few that allow depths over 30 feet without any particular case or housing, that isn’t common. IN most cases, you need a waterproof housing that fits your camera.
Which camera and housing are right for you depends on what sort of videos and photos you’re looking to get. If you want the best and brightest images, you’ll need more features that someone who wants some quick and easy photos without an emphasis on quality. Below, we’ll look at a few things to think about before purchasing your own underwater diving camera.
Choosing Between DSLR and Compact Cameras
If you are someone who already has a nice DSLR, it’s likely a housing exists for it. DSLRs can be outfitted with lots of different lenses, some of which are appropriate underwater and others which aren’t. Those who want the best image quality will likely want to focus on DSLR cameras, but these are going to be more expensive.
Those new to photography or who have less money in the bank will want to consider a compact or action camera. Many of these cameras can take great video and photos underwater. They also tend to be less expensive and more lightweight.
The Right Camera Size
Size is important, especially if you want to travel with your camera to places far away from home. Underwater photography can require a lot of gear which can be challenging when traveling. In this case, a smaller camera should likely be your top priority.
Even those not worried about traveling may want a smaller camera just for the convenience factor. A compact camera can hang out in your pocket until you need it, rather than requiring extra preparation to be sure you have your camera when you see a shot you just have to take.
Considerations Around Shooting Video
Most cameras in 2020 do more and do it better than ever before. Cameras used to be solely for taking still photos, but most cameras nowadays also allow you to take video footage. If you aren’t sure which is more important to you, we recommend choosing a camera that can do both.
Two things to watch for here are the ability to set your white balance and the capability to shoot in 720p at a minimum. Having manual white balance control can help with bringing back colors that are hard to capture underwater. In addition, 720p is capable of HD video which will make every film even more fun to share and watch.
Underwater Housing Options
Before choosing a camera, you want to be sure you can find underwater housing that fits it. Without this, you are not going to be able to do much underwater, if anything at all. Most DSLR cameras will have options, but some brands are better at this than others so do some research to avoid disappointment.
Compacts also typically have at least one housing, if not several. There may be multiple options, one of which is cheap and bare-bones and another that is more durable and trustworthy. As for ultra-zoom cameras, most won’t have housing so be sure the potential is there before buying.
Enjoy Your New Underwater Camera
At this point, we’ve offered you 11 options for a great experience shooting video or taking photos underwater. There are others out there to choose from, but these are vouched for and high-quality. Make sure you research if you go with a different camera.
You also have the information you need to determine whether a camera is right for your photography needs. All you need to do is decide what features matter to you, what sort of camera you prefer, and what your budget is. From there, you can choose the perfect camera and get in the water for some fun.