The right scuba diving camera allows you to preserve stunning images and breathtaking videos of marine life, coral reefs, and unforgettable moments beneath the surface.
Buying the right scuba diving camera for the job can be challenging, especially considering how many different camera models are on the market these days.
As a PADI Divemaster with nearly 10 years of scuba diving experience, I’ve curated a list of the best scuba diving cameras, as well as who each option is best for.
During the camera selection process, I focused on key aspects of underwater cameras such as:
- Image and video quality
- Underwater housing and depth rating
- Low light performance
- Ease of use and navigation
- Stabilization and autofocus capabilities
- Battery life and storage capacity
- Brand reputation and customer feedback
- And much more!
I’ll first jump into some individual reviews of the seven cameras on my list, followed by a dive camera buying guide.
We’ll then answer some of the most common frequently asked questions that come up when beginners are buying a dive camera.
Table of Contents
Best Underwater Cameras
- Probably the best action camera available on the market
- Easily the most popular action camera available
- Looks amazing
- Small very rugged
- Front and back facing dispalys
- Easy to navigate
- Still images from 5.3K video
- Wifi & USB connectivity with "GoPro Quik" app
- Great for travel
- Compatible with Hero 9 accessories
- Over 30 mounts and accessories available
- Only waterproof up to 10m without housing
- Scuba divers will need to purchase the housing
- Still not the best in low light situations
- A little heavy for its size
- Battery life not amazing
The GoPro HERO10 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 more reasonable.
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 Hero8 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.
As far as 4k action cams go, this guy does not disappoint. This dude comes with touch screen 5.3K ultra HD video, 23MP photos 1080p, and live streaming stabilization.
As with all GoPro models, the Hero10 is only waterproof to 33ft (10m). The standard price does not include the dive housing you’ll need underwater, and there is a huge variety of options for those and other options out there. It’s a tiny added cost but allows you to take this camera down to a whopping 196ft (60m).
Also with Wifi/USB connectivity to your mobile device using the GoPro Quik app you can quickly view all your footage and upload everything safely to the cloud.
All in all this is one of the best action cameras ever produced.
- Photo: 23MP
- Battery Life: 1 – 1.5 Hours (Video)
- Stabilization: Hypersmooth 4.0 video stab.
- Connectivity: Wifi/Bluetooth/USB – Cloud storage
- Designed by one of the world best camera manufacturers
- Flashy little compact camera
- Super simple to use
- Clearly marked and responsive controls
- Tough design (listed as Shockproof)
- Delivers great photos and video
- Waterproof to 30m without housing
- Built in GPS
- No full-manual mode
- Lacks some of the more advanced features that pros might be looking for
- No option to shoot in RAW
- Struggles in low-light situations
The Nikon COOLPIX W300 is one of our favorite underwater cameras for scuba diving.
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 versatile and compact underwater camera then you simply can’t go wrong with the Nikon COOLPIX W300.
- Depth Rating: 100ft/30m (with no housing needed)
- Touch Screen: No
- Auto White Balance: Yes
- Video: up to 4K
- Photo: 16MP
- One of our favorite cameras
- Great handling and build quality
- Pocket friendly
- Manual controls and Raw format shooting
- Tilting touch LCD
- Fast focus and burst rate
- Effective face detection
- 4K video not available in all modes
- No hotshoe or cold shoe for external accessories
- No headphone socket
- No viewfinder
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.
We’ve tried out all of the compact dive cameras on this guide, and in the end, the G7X mark 1, 2 and 3, have become our favorite. It feels like they were really made for underwater, with great white balance presets you can set at depth, great video focus and more.
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 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 housing, 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.
- Depth Rating: 200ft/60m (with housing)
- Touch Screen: Yes
- Auto White Balance: Yes
- Video: up to 4K
- Photo: 30MP
- Ultra rugged design
- Lots of advanced features
- Bright and sharp LCD screen
- Shoots in the Raw format
- Handy macro modes
- Brilliant Microscope mode
- Simply a fun camera
- No fully manual control
- Not a touch screen
- Menu isn’t particularly helpful or intuitive
We’ve been seeing more and more amazing footage coming out, from the TG-6, specifically the macro shots. This is because of it’s awesome “microscope mode”, that gets closer than any compact camera above, without wet lenses!
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. Get the housing and lights, and you have a great setup.
- Depth Rating: 15ft/50m (148ft/45m with housing)
- Touch Screen: No
- Auto White Balance: Yes
- Video: up to 4K
- Photo: 12MP
- Made by one of the best camera manufacturers in the world
- Great looking DSLR
- Designed for sport & wildlife
- Excellent image quality for an APS-C sensor
- Excellent live view auto focus
- Dual memory card slots: CF & SD
- Built-in GPS
- Touch-sensitive rear buttons for silent controls during video recording
- No built-in Wi-Fi
- Rear LCD is not touchscreen or articulating
- Mediocre battery life for a pro DSLR
If you’re serious about scuba diving photography, then you’ll need an underwater camera that matches your ambitions. These high-end DSLR and the mirrorless cameras below will help you achieve those National Geographic-worthy shots (but only if you learn how to use them properly!)
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.
Another favorite among regular photographers, the 7d is also an awesome rig underwater. Get some good macro lenses, and a good wide angle, and you have a very high quality set up. Add in some strobes for photos, or video lights if you are filming, and you can’t really go wrong.
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 the underwater housing. But if you’re serious about underwater photography, then the Canon EOS 6D digital SLR camera setup is well worth the investment.
It’s a truly outstanding camera that delivers excellent results no matter what, how, or where you’re shooting.
*Prices don’t include lenses, housing or dome ports. It’s the body only, then you will need to put together your perfect setup.
- Depth Rating: 200ft/60m (with housing)
- Touch Screen: No
- Auto White Balance: Yes
- Video: Full HD
- Photo: 20MP
What To Look For When Choosing An Underwater Camera For Scuba Diving
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.
Using 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 and Weight
Don’t forget you’ll need to carry your underwater camera, both during the dive and to/from the dive spot.
If 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. Lighting really does make ALL the difference when it comes to underwater photography and videography. There are a ton of packages and options for lighting depending on your camera and what sort of photos/videos you want to capture.
Lastly, if making underwater movies is your thing then make sure you choose a camera with image stabilization.
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.
And lastly, are you looking solely for an underwater camera or do you want one that you can also use outside of diving?
If 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
As 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 photographer.
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…
And here’s one with the mentioned red filter.
As you can see, having a red filter makes a world of a difference to your underwater photos.
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!
Yes, yes, and yes!!! A proper travel case is an extremely important 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.
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.
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.
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 about your dive camera set ups!