Best Scuba Diving Camera for Beginners

best scuba diving camera for beginners

Underwater photography is one of the most interesting and complex disciplines of diving, so in this article, we bring you the best scuba diving camera for beginners and which one to choose depending on your experience and your budget.

We have done tests with all the diving cameras that appear in the guide and we try to give you our point of view as experts in underwater photography and considering the value for money.

We know that there are superior models in some diving chambers that we recommend, but many times the evolution supposes too high an increase in the price, which is why sometimes we prefer classic and economic models.

In addition to explaining the characteristics of the diving cameras, we will give you tips to get the best out of each one of them and we will tell you some aspects that you should take into account when buying your camera: size, weight, underwater housings, connectivity, etc.

In the article we will cover underwater photography topics that you know well the behavior of each one of the cameras, debating about bank balance, autofocus, better underwater housings, or how photography affects when we have low visibility.

What is the best scuba diving camera for beginners?

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Last updated on November 24, 2020 4:43 am

1. Olympus Tough TG-6 – Best cheap dive camera for beginners.

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Without a doubt, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is one of the best diving cameras for beginners thanks to its good image quality, resistance, and features that are very useful underwater.

Also, one of the great advantages of the Olympus Tough TG-6 is that it is an affordable underwater camera. For this reason, we have classified it as the best cheap diving camera, within the price range in which underwater photography moves.

The TG-6 model improves on some points to its predecessor, the Olympus TG-5, a true classic of underwater photography.

The Olympus TG-6 is a compact, shock resistant, and fully waterproof camera up to 15 meters deep and 45 meters with housing. The first impression that this aquatic camera gives you is that it is hard and resistant to anything, ideal for diving with it without worrying.

The Olympus Tough TG-6 has a small 1 / 2.3 “sensor that takes good pictures if we have good lighting conditions. This model improves substantially on the TG-5 since the images have greater sharpness and greater color when compared to its predecessor.

Menus can be a bit confusing and if we are advanced photographers we will miss more manual control.

FEATURES

  • 6.6 x 11.3 x 3.2 cm
  • 249 gr
  • 12 MP CMOS sensor
  • Water-resistant up to 45m. with housing
  • 4k video

Example of underwater photograph

best scuba diving camera for beginners

Underwater photograph was taken with the Olympus Tg-6.

 

Macro mode

Lovers of macro photography will be delighted with the TG-6 since it has a very successful super macro mode incorporated, capable of taking very good underwater photos. The Olympus TG-6 has no trouble focusing or taking pictures at close range.

4K video

The video 4k is one of the great advantages of this camera capable of recording high-quality videos on our dives. This underwater camera is capable of recording in 4K at 30fps and in 1080p at 120fps.

Reviews

In our opinion, this camera designed for diving lovers is designed for photographers who start in the world of underwater photography and are not worth it with the GoPro sports cameras that we have seen before. The different underwater modes allow you to adapt the camera to take very clear and high-quality water photos.

It is a very good camera and does not have a high price, making it the most recommended option for recreational diving.

2. SeaLife DC2000 – BEST DIVING CAMERA FOR BEGINNERS

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The SeaLife DC2000 camera is a compact and sturdy diving camera and has become a very interesting alternative to the Olympus Tough TG-6, although it has a slightly higher price.

This underwater camera is sturdy, takes great pictures underwater, and has a large catalog of accessories and lenses. If you’re a diver looking for an easy-to-use underwater camera without too many menus but good photos, the SeaLife DC2000 is your camera.

Despite the fact that SeaLife is not as well known a photography brand as Olympus or Canon, the DC2000 works very well and is comparable to many other underwater cameras in the same range.

The images are very sharp and have a good resolution thanks to the 20 Mp 1 ”sensor. Noise can be a problem when we raise the ISO level, similar to what happens with the TG-6, although it is slightly higher thanks to the fact that it has a better sensor than the Olympus.

FEATURES

  • 9 x 4.0 x 3.2 ″ / 14.9 x 10.2 x 8.1 cm
  • 700 gr
  • 1 “CMOS sensor
  • 31mm f / 1.8 equivalent primary lens
  • Waterproof up to 18 meters (without housing)
  • 1080p video

Example of underwater photograph

The underwater photograph was taken with the Sealife DC2000 camera.

The best diving camera for beginners

The DC2000 has the option to take photos in RAW format to edit photos later, but the shooting speed is slightly slower than in JPEG format.

The lens worn by the Sealife DC2000 is equivalent to a 31mm fixed lens with an f / 1.8 aperture. This quick opening helps us in low light situations despite the fact that this diving camera, unfortunately, does not handle these situations well at all.

Some photographers comment that they miss zoom on this camera, but the zoom is perhaps one of those features that are not essential in an underwater camera.

The resistance underwater and out of it is one of the great advantages of this diving camera since it resists up to 18 meters without a casing and 60 meters if we adopt one. In addition, it supports falls of up to 1.5 meters without a casing.

Pros
  • Good image quality
  • Very resistant.
  • Wide catalog of accessories.
Cons
  • Fixed lens.
  • The quality suffers in low light.
  • Heavier than TG-6

3. GoPro Hero 7 Black, the best sports camera for diving

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As is common with GoPro’s underwater still cameras, the lens is a fixed wide-angle that can only be reduced electronically. This is ideal for recording underwater videos, but it is not so useful if we want to take macro photos.

The GoPro HERO 7 Black is strong, able to withstand shocks quite well and submerges it up to 10 meters without housing and 60 meters depth with housing.

Also, it has a fairly intuitive user interface, but it lacks many manual controls that allow for optimal shooting.

It improves the automatic white balance with respect to previous versions and works quite well, but with a red filter, we can improve the underwater photos a lot, especially with poor visibility.

4. Sony RX100 V – Best compact dive camera:

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When Sony launched the RX100 series, it was obvious that something different, something that could revolutionize photography thanks to its image quality and focus. This series of models culminated in the Sony RX100 V, a camera that has been a before and after in underwater photography for non-professionals.

We must emphasize that, at the moment, there are the Sony RX100 VI and Sony RX100 VII models, but we want to focus on the V model since it is the diving camera that we have used the most and we believe that it offers very good performance to an unbeatable price.

One of the best compact diving cameras for its value for money, far superior in performance to most compact ones.

The Sony RX100 V or Sony DSC-RX100M5 has a full 1.0 and 20.1 Mp type sensor that gets wonderful photos. The standard 24-70mm f / 1.8-2.8 works very well, although it doesn’t have too much focal length.

The macro photography is not the strongest point of the Sony RX100 V since it only takes decent pictures when we are very close. You will have to buy a wet lens if you want to take good macro photos with this camera.

In terms of speed, few compact cameras can match the Sony RX100 V. This camera is an absolute demon when it comes to burst shooting. It can capture still images at 24 fps with continuous autofocus, which is very useful and a great advantage when we are diving.

The autofocus is also very fast and fits in the blink of an eye. For those who like to photograph sharks or other fast-moving sea creatures, the Sony RX100 V can be your best diving companion.

The Sony RX100 V can record videos in 4K but only up to 5 minutes long, normally this is enough when we are diving since we can stop the video and make a new one.

FEATURES

  • 10.2 x 5.8 x 4.1 cm
  • 299 g
  • 20.1 Mp 1.0 CMOS Sensor
  • Built-in lens 24-70mm
  • 4k video

5. Panasonic Lumix GH5 – The best underwater video camera.

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The Panasonic GH series is a photography classic thanks, above all, to its good video results. Lovers of underwater videos often choose this little wonder, specially made to record underwater videos with surprising quality.

Its 20 Mpx image sensor has been improved in this model, achieving superior underwater performance thanks to better measurement, autofocus, and image stabilization.

Due to these improvements, we can say that currently, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is the best underwater video camera and probably one of the best diving cameras. At least not for professional use, since there are other much more advanced options.

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is capable of recording incredible high-quality 4K videos, thanks to its powerful sensor.

It is one of the few Mirrorless cameras that can record videos and shoot in 4K. The videos recorded by the Panasonic GH5 are extremely sharp and thanks to its 60 fps you can also capture videos in slow motion with unsurpassed quality.

As we said above, the images taken by this diving camera are excellent thanks to the impressive 20Mpx sensor. The sensor is small, which means that the camera will show some noise and less color retention at high ISOs.

FEATURES

  • 13.9 x 9.8 x 8.7 cm
  • 725 g
  • 20 Mp Micro Four Thirds Sensor
  • Micro four-thirds mounting
  • It is not waterproof, but it is weather resistant.

Underwater video camera

The Panasonic GH5 performs much better than other underwater cameras thanks to the improved white balance measurement. Because of this, you don’t need the classic red filter to take underwater photos or videos. Autofocus is fast and works very well, although it can slow down with some wet lenses.

The Panasonic GH5 is made with a magnesium alloy that gives it resistance and is ideal to resist the cold and humidity of our diving trips.

BUYING GUIDE – Best scuba diving camera for beginners

It is not easy to choose a diving camera, we must take into account some fundamental aspects before opting for one. I recommend you review this section of the buying guide and then choose the camera that best suits your needs.

Camera type

The type of camera is a factor to consider before buying our underwater camera, as each one adjusts in a way to underwater photography.

The first thing to keep in mind is that we will need underwater housing to be able to adapt our camera to the aquatic environment unless we use a sports camera at a shallow depth.

Sports cameras

GoPro, Garmin, SJCAM – Sports cameras are excellent underwater cameras because they are designed to handle different situations and take good video with movement.best sports camera gopro 7 black

They are the most affordable alternatives, making them the best diving cameras for beginners. Sports cameras are waterproof but you will need to use additional housing if you are going to dive.

The negative point is that GoPro-type cameras do not achieve good results in underwater photography and the images are usually not too good.

Compact cameras

Canon GX7, Sony RX100, Olympus Tough TG-5 – Compact cameras are often regarded as the most complete dive cameras because they generally offer a good combination of size, image quality, and price.Sony RX100-V compact diving camera

They are also very easy to use and we will not need advanced knowledge of underwater photography to take good photos. This can be a handicap for advanced photographers, who will miss more control of some features to increase the quality of their underwater photos.

Most compact cameras have small sensors, which do not adapt well to low light situations.

Compact dive cameras are usually waterproof and made to withstand shocks, making them ideal for scuba diving.

Mirrorless cameras

(Sony a6000, Panasonic GH5…) – Mirrorless cameras are at a higher level than compact cameras and are slightly below Reflex (DSLR) cameras.panasonic gh5 underwater video camera

They offer excellent image quality, portability, and ease of use thanks to their features and technology.

Unfortunately, mirrorless cameras are usually more expensive, since the underwater housings for these cameras do not usually cost less than € 500.

Reflex cameras

(Canon 5D, Nikon D7200…) – The diving reflex cameras are considered as the best option for professional underwater photography. They are very powerful, have great autonomy, and many objectives to choose from.reflex camera for diving nikon d7200

However, SLR cameras are large, heavy, and expensive for underwater photography.

The housings of these cameras are around € 1,000 and, in addition, their use is only recommended for photographers with some experience since otherwise, we can go bankrupt and not get very good images.

Size and weight

The size and weight of the photo sub equipment are also important when interacting with the camera underwater and when transporting it.

I advise that your diving equipment does not exceed 20 kilos so that you can transport it better and you do not have to pay an additional fee at the airports when you make a diving trip, so the underwater photography equipment should be as light as possible.

type of diving camera

Keep in mind the size and weight of all equipment and not just the camera as additional accessories like strobe lights, extra lenses, and the case can make it uncomfortable to carry.

We will need a special bag or case to protect the underwater photography equipment. Here we leave you some ideal transport bags to avoid bumps and damage to our equipment.

The buoyancy and maneuverability are somewhat influenced by the size and weight of a team of underwater photography, but not much. Most of the camera housings are designed to be neutral in the water, so once we dive we won’t notice the weight of our photo sub gear too much.

Easy to use

When choosing an underwater camera, it is important to make sure that the controls and setup menus are easy to use.underwater camera

If we have experience with several diving cameras, we will not have a problem but if we do not have the necessary skill, we will waste time and patience trying to get the correct settings for our photos or videos.

The best thing is to practice on the surface and know the appropriate settings for all kinds of situations, depending on the proximity and light.

Go around what you can at home and in the park to know the menus and then dive in, you will lose much less time if you take the lesson learned from home.

I recommend buying a camera with good manual controls and if you have difficulties with them, learn how to use them.

The underwater camera housings are designed to be able to use most of the camera controls. However, not all buttons may be available when we adapt a case, so you must make sure that the case fits perfectly to your model to avoid underwater problems with camera settings.

The usually manually it is much more advisable that the automatic modes when it comes to underwater photography. Most cameras are not intended for underwater photography, so autofocus often suffers when we have poor lighting conditions.

The white balance is another factor to consider in diving chambers and is usually a weak point in most of them. For this reason, a red filter is often used to compensate for additional blue colors resulting from poor white balance.

However, the diving cameras evolve and, luckily, we see how the new models improve in this regard.

Underwater housing

The underwater housing is as important as the camera, so we must be careful when choosing ours. The casing provides crucial protection against water, shock, and pressure. Underwater photography doesn’t hold up without a good cause, so let’s take a look at how it affects our gear.

Not all underwater shells are created equal and divers must know how to differentiate them. All sorts of features should be considered, such as maximum depth, construction materials, accessory ports, and internal components.

underwater housing

Each dive case is classified according to the maximum depth it supports and this has a lot to do with the manufacturing materials. Depths vary from 45 – 80m., More than enough for recreational diving.

The internal components of underwater housing can be physical or electronic. Electronic components are faster and more accurate but can fail more easily. The physical components are more uncomfortable, but they usually work better.

In addition, we must take into account if your underwater housing supports the adaptation of additional accessories, such as lights, floats, and lens ports.

materials

The underwater housings are made of high-quality plastic (polycarbonate) or aluminum.

Polycarbonate is lighter and cheaper but is more prone to breakage and internal fogging.

However, aluminum is the strongest and most durable material for an underwater case, but its price skyrockets. Aluminum housings generally offer more comfortable operation than polycarbonate housings, as the material and design are more optimized.

Underwater Housing Brands

seafrog dive housing

Ikelite is the brand of underwater housings that offers the best value for money, as they are resistant housings and a little cheaper than Nauticam.

Fantasea is another classic brand of dive camera housings and offers good results at fair prices, similar to Ikelite.

The underwater housings SeaFrog has become fashionable in recent years for being cheaper, but the views of this brand tend to indicate that just breaking year or two years.

The Nauticam are of a higher level because they are made of aluminum and their price is usually around € 2,000. Pressure resistance, robust design, and an improved anti-breakage system make these housings the best on the market today.

Image / video quality

If you are just looking to take some photos of your dives and you do not mind having the best diving camera on the market, I recommend a cheap and easy to use a camera like the Olympus TG-6.

If you care a lot about the quality of your underwater photographs, you should bear in mind that the quality comes together with other factors such as the sensor, the lens, and the lighting.

Sensor

The camera sensors play an important role in the final result of the images. Larger sensors generally have a greater dynamic range and work best in low light situations.

Many mirrorless and DSLR cameras have large sensors, but they are also considerably more expensive options than the rest.

Lenses (Objectives)

Lenses also influence image quality and directly affect aspects such as sharpness, contrast, depth of field, and distortion. Choosing the right wet lens really often depends on the make of the lens and what is available.

illumination

The lighting is much more important in underwater photography of what we believe. Because water absorbs much of the light, water scenes are almost always subdued and colorless.

To really capture the essence of something underwater, you will need lighting equipment that complements your camera.flash underwater focus

Artificial lights or strobe lights are the lighting accessories or accessories that will allow you to obtain more color and quality in your images. These underwater flashes offer us that artificial light that gives us color to what the water takes away from us.

For macro photography, you may only need a focus or strobe light. However, to get good wide-angle images, you will need two lights.

Other features

Many of the important features for terrestrial photography, such as autofocus, burst speed, and battery life, are just as important, if not more so, in underwater photography.diving chamber characteristics

The best dive cameras have very good autofocus systems. We must keep in mind that visibility and contrast are limited in the water, especially when it is cold and visibility is affected.

The camera speed can be crucial to the creatures photographing fast-moving like sharks.

The battery life is also decisive, especially if we are going to link several dives.

The bulbs or strobes also have their own batteries. Depending on how long you are submerged, this may or may not be a problem.

Lens Selection

The lenses or objectives are factors that directly affect the image quality and greatly influence the nature of the photographs. Depending on the type of photos you want to take and what type of underwater housing you want to adapt your camera to, you should take into account what lens you use.underwater camera lenses

If you have chosen a compact diving camera, the lenses are not that important. Compact cameras already come with a built-in lens and their respective underwater housings are designed to fit them.

Compact cameras offer lower image quality and sometimes reduced fields of view (fields of view) compared to other options on the market.

Wide-angle photography and macro photography are the most popular underwater photography areas when diving, and most compact cameras only perform well in one or none of these areas.

To have a complete experience with a diving camera, you need a camera that allows you to change lenses. The best dive cameras have very good lenses for wide-angle or macro photography.

Budget

The underwater photography is not a cheap hobby, that’s the first thing to know. Between the camera, the lenses, and the underwater housing, you can easily spend more than € 1000, although they can be much more if you are looking for semi-professional underwater photography equipment.

The price is a very important factor for the quality of your images, but it is not definitive. Take a look at the sample images to see how real gems can be removed with non-professional underwater cameras.

reflex camera for diving nikon d7200

If you are a beginner photographer, I advise you to start with an easy-to-use and low-cost option to explore the underwater world and see if you get hooked on taking underwater photos.

Once you have the experience, you can sell your equipment and move on to more advanced options.

I hope this best scuba diving camera for beginners helps you out! Now start making your decisions. Best Steel Toe Boots for Flat Feet

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