Best Underwater Camera for Divers

Tons of people love to dive. After all, when going underwater it becomes possible to see so many new and different things. Under the sea, you will see wildly vivid colors, diverse coral, and amazing sea life. And because the experience of being under the water and down in the deep can be amazing and life-changing, so many people truly want to look for a way to take photos and videos. The best underwater camera for divers can help you to keep track of everything that you see during your excursions.

With one of these cameras, you can dive down as deep as you’re allowed to. You can capture photos and videos of all the brightly colored fish. Not only that, you can also photograph all the strange sea creatures down below. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Surely, if you’re here, then you’re interested in finding out more about these cameras. And we are here to help!

CAMERABRANDEXPERT RATINGCHECK PRICE
best underwater camera for diversSony RX100VA Check Price
Canon G7X III Check Price
Olympus Tough TG-6 Check Price
GoPro Hero8 Check Price
best underwater camera for diversCanon Rebel T6i Check Price
Nikon D90 Check Price

What exactly is the best underwater camera for divers? In today’s article, we are here to discuss these cameras. Because we want to help you figure out which model suits your needs, we’ve decided to do all of our research. We even decided to ask around for people’s experiences with different models of underwater cameras in 2020. This list will contain the best underwater cameras for diving. And, we’ll discuss every feature so that you know which one is right for you. In this list, we will include multiple options so that there’s a model for every budget and level of experience. Whether you’re a new diver dipping your toes into the world of underwater photography, or an experienced pro looking for better equipment, you’ll find a camera for you.

If you’re ready, so are we. Let’s get started!

How to Choose the Right Underwater Camera for You

When you’re trying to shop around for dive cameras, it can be tough to figure out which one would be the best. Many cameras have similar features, while others may have more than average (with some that are unnecessary for you). And, of course, the price tags will also end up varying a lot. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. That just means that there will always be something that you can choose and use, no matter what your budget might be.

However, if you don’t know what to look for in an underwater camera, then chances are you also don’t know how to pick out the best underwater camera for divers out from a list. That’s where we come in! We’ve put together this buying guide so that you know what factors to consider as you shop around. Use this buying guide to help you figure out the right model for you. With our help, you might just find the perfect fit.

So what do you need to look for when it comes to an underwater camera? Well, to know what you need, you must first answer a few questions.

What Skill Level are You At?

One of the first things that you will need to consider when you begin to shop around is the level of experience that you have. What skill level are you sitting at? And we don’t just mean when it comes to photography – how skilled you are at diving does matter too. Are you a recreational diver? Or are you perhaps a master diver that might as well be a sea creature? Are you frequently in the water, and do you go deep? Or are you more of the type to stay in the shallower areas as long as you can see the sea life and the seascapes around you?

Recreational Diver

Most recreational divers don’t really make it down that deep into the water. As a result, they won’t necessarily need an underwater camera that has all the bells and whistles. In fact, most of the recreational divers around will probably be happy with a smaller, more mobile option. For example, a GoPro. Who doesn’t know what a GoPro is, right? If not a GoPro, then perhaps they’d be more happy with an iPhone setup.

For recreational purposes, the best underwater camera for divers is one that is affordable (well, certainly more affordable than the alternatives). Of course, it’s never good to compromise on the quality, so not only should the camera be affordable, but it should produce fantastic results to boot.

A smaller, more portable camera is ideal if you’re newer to diving. This way, you can focus instead of perfecting your buoyancy. Furthermore, you’ll be able to actually enjoy your dive(s) since you won’t be lugging expensive and gigantic rigs under the water. If you are unable to control your movement under the water, your footage will turn out looking pretty bad – even if you’ve got expensive state of the art equipment.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to start out with cheaper and smaller equipment. This will prepare you as you move up in skill both in diving and photography. Then, once you are ready, you can make the jump to the next level! The best part is, the more “affordable” gear often produces quality output as well. So much so that there are some people who never bother to move on to the next level, because they feel they have already found the best underwater camera for divers.

Skilled or Advanced Diver

Now, if you’re more of an advanced or skilled diver, and you’ve got plenty of experience under the sea, you can move on to the next level of gear. As a skilled diver, you won’t have to worry so much about your buoyancy under the water. Therefore, adding a bigger and bulkier rig will not completely throw you for a loop. With your better diving skills, you’ll be able to adjust and use the rig safely while you are underwater.

As a more advanced diver, you can opt for one of two things: a full DSLR setup, or a more compact setup. Most divers will probably recommend going with the compact setup since it’ll simply make your life easier both in and out of the water.

How Much are You Willing to Spend?

Next up, you should consider how much you’re actually willing to spend on an underwater rig. Yep, that basically means that you should consider your budget. Naturally, the best underwater camera for divers might end up costing a lot of money. It might even break the bank! So before you just buy something impulsively, set a plan, and a budget. This way, you can purchase something that you’re happy with without blowing all of your money. Save the money for something useful instead – like funding more diving trips!

Luckily, in this article, we are going to cover just about all the budgets, from low end to mid-range to high end. This way, no matter what your budget is, you will find something that is right for you!

Also, one thing to remember is that when you consider your budget, you have to look beyond just the camera itself. What we mean by that is, to improve the quality of your underwater pics and video, you’ll need additional equipment. Yep, on top of the camera, you’ll need housings to keep the device safe. There are also some other optional accessories, but thankfully you don’t necessarily have to purchase those – even if they are highly recommended.

Generally, if you want the best of the best quality in your output, you’ll need:

  • Tray
  • Video lights and/or strobes
  • Flex arms
  • Wet lenses
  • Filter
  • Camera lenses
  • Ports
  • Housings

Note that if you’re a recreational diver that doesn’t plan to go for night dives, lighting isn’t always that necessary. The same applies if you don’t plan on going too deep.

Mobility and Portability

Chances are unless you are one of the truly lucky ones, you probably have to do a lot of traveling for your SCUBA diving. Most people don’t mind this since it does tend to be worth it. In fact, this is just a minor issue for a lot of people.

When you add a huge and bulky underwater camera rig, however, that all might change.

Therefore, if you know that you’ll probably end up lugging around all of your stuff to get where you want to go, you might want to look for a compact rig. Besides, those luggage fees can pile up and get really expensive!

There is nothing better than being able to travel and do your thing without the need for excess baggage. You’ll probably feel so light and so carefree!

Best Underwater Camera for Divers

Now that we’ve talked about the buying guide and the things you need to consider as you shop, it’s finally time! Yep – it’s time to talk about the best underwater camera for divers!

Remember – when you’re shopping for your new setup, you shouldn’t forget to get a wet lens/red lens! These will easily improve your photo and video quality. This is especially true when it comes to the GoPro and iPhone housings – you’ll notice that using a red filter is so important. The filter will absolutely and completely transform all the colors in your shots!

That said, it’s time to actually get to the important part – talking about the cameras!

Our Favorite

Product Name: GoPro Hero 8

Product Description: This small camera packs a punch - no wonder it's a huge contender for the best underwater camera for divers.

Overall
5
  • Value for Money
  • Portability
  • Availability of Accessories

Summary

We can’t possibly make a list of recommendations of the best underwater camera for divers without including a GoPro in there somewhere. For this particular list, we are going to talk about the GoPro Hero 8.

Honestly, we are sure that by now you know just about everything you need to know about the GoPro. But we’re here to talk about this camera a bit more – it’s a fantastic device that is incredibly versatile, and you’ll see why.

The GoPro Hero 8 is an amazing thing with tons of features – in a tiny little package. This little device will fit on the palm of your hand. In fact, it will barely even take up any space in your hand. It is that small. And this model is the 8th iteration. The Hero8 has a streamlined and reimagined design, making it capable of fitting into pockets even easier. Plus you can swap your mounts for this camera really easily. If you need to change your batteries on this camera, you’ll find the side door (a new addition) to be incredibly convenient for this purpose. The best part? The camera lens is now even more robust. Looking for impact resistance? You’ll find it right here. In the GoPro Hero8, the lens is twice as resistant to impact as before!

One great thing about the Hero8 is that there are TONS of mods and accessories that you can use for it. There are flashes, LCD screens, microphones, lighting… the options are endless. So, if you want to use your fancy GoPro for doing other things like vlogging and creating content or even films… you sure can.

Other Features of the GoPro Hero8

There are some newer features of the GoPro Hero8 that are sure to be interesting. For example, now, this model of action camera offers you Hypersmooth 2.0. If you don’t know what that means, basically, this camera now has 3 stabilization levels: on, then high, and finally, boost. Image stabilization ensures that all of your photos and videos come out as crisp and clear as possible, minimizing blur. Since there are now three levels, you can simply pick and use the one that works best for your needs in a specific situation. The best part is, HyperSmooth will work with all resolutions and all frame rates. And that’s not all – you also get in-app leveling for the horizon. Not bad for such a tiny little thing!

Another feature is TimeWarp 2.0. This feature will allow you to capture time-lapse videos that are super stabilized. 2.0 will even automatically adjust speed based on a few things: scene detection, lighting, and motion. Truly, this little camera packs a huge punch!

You can even live stream using this camera – in beautiful 1080P!

There are so many features on this device that we simply can’t list them all here. The GoPro deserves its own full review! We love this camera and we are sure that you will too (we might be a bit biased, but it’s easy to understand why)!

Pros

✔️Great value for money
✔️Lots of accessories and mods available on the market
✔️Chock full of fantastic features
✔️Small and portable

Cons

❌Small size makes it relatively easy to lose
❌Tiny main display makes it hard to see everything and navigate menu
.

RUNNERS UP

Sony RX100 VA

best underwater camera for divers

One of the first cameras that we can recommend is the Sony RX100VA. There’s a pretty good reason why this camera has made it to this list – and we know that shortly you’re going to understand exactly why.

The Sony RX100 VA is a perfect contender for the best underwater camera for divers. Not only is this device small and compact, making it perfect for traveling and using both in and out of water; it can also take 4K photos and videos to boot! Now if that’s not enough of a reason for you to be interested, you’ll probably also enjoy knowing that you won’t be suffering from a lack of options when it comes to accessories and housing. This model is arguably one of Sony’s best when it comes to compact cameras.

Sony’s RX100 VA is a capable compact unit – here are just some of its features.

  • 20.1 megapixel
  • Back-illuminated CMOS sensor with DRAM, 1-inch Exmore RS stacked
  • 24-200 mm ZEISS Lens (Vario-Sonnar T*) F2.8 – F4.5
  • Hybrid autofocus system with three hundred and fifteen phase-detection autofocus points
  • High-speed shooting (continuous) speed at 24 frames per second, with AF/AE tracking
  • 4K Video
  • Super slow motion up to 40x
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Pop up OLED screen (electric viewfinder) with live view and optical viewfinder immediacy

There are a lot more features that we can’t quite include in this short review, so it’s probably better to take a look for yourself!

Inclusions Upon Purchase of the Sony RX100 VA

When you buy this camera, you can expect to get the following inclusions:

  • The camera
  • Rechargeable battery (NP-BX1)
  • AC Adapter
  • Charging cable (Micro USB)
  • Wrist strap and strap adapter
  • Manual
  • Official authorized dealer warranty from Sony (make sure you purchase from an authorized dealer!)

If you purchase a bundle, you can get the following:

  • Camera and all inclusions
  • Deco Gear Field Bag/Camera Case for compact point and shoot
  • 2 pieces of extra batteries
  • Rapid charger
  • SanDisk 64 gig Extreme SD memory card
  • Memory card storage wallet and card reader
  • Cleaning kit for the lens
  • Screen protectors
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Tripod (compact + flexible) and support

PROS
✔️Robust and durable
✔️4K video, slow motion
✔️Lots of amazing features
✔️Plenty of available accessories on the market
CONS
❌Pricier than other similar camera options
❌May look a bit more “plain” to some, though it looks sleek
.

Canon G7X III

Next up we have the Canon G7X III. This camera is another contender for the best underwater camera for divers, especially in the compact camera category. In fact, we had a truly rough time trying to decide between this camera and the Sony RX100 VA – so we just decided to include them both!

Just like the Sony camera, this offering by Canon is also rather sleek and unassuming in design. That doesn’t mean it lacks any sort of features, of course. It’s got plenty! Again, like the Sony RX100 VA, this camera by Canon can shoot in 4K. And so, you get the amazing output – without ever having to drop thousands of dollars on a gigantic diving rig. Plus, you can also shoot in high-speed (slow motion) so that you can capture those beautiful fleeting moments both in and out of the water. You won’t miss a thing! Just whip out your camera and start shooting.

Of course, there are a ton of other features to this camera. Let’s take a look:

  • 4K Video
  • Slow-motion filming
  • 20.1 megapixels
  • 4.2x lens with Optical Zoom (24-100mm)
  • Optical image stabilizer
  • 3-inch touch LCD screen that can tilt up to 180 degrees if you want to take selfies
  • Vertical video support
  • Capable of live streaming

Inclusions Upon Purchase of the Canon G7 Mark III

When you first buy this camera, there are a bunch of things that are included in the box. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Camera
  • Canon Li-ion battery NB-13L
  • Charger
  • Wrist strap
  • 1-year warranty (make sure you purchase from an authorized reseller so you don’t miss out on the warranty!)

You can also buy this model in a bundle. Here’s what you get from the bundle:

  • SanDisk 64GB Extreme SD card
  • Replacement battery
  • Camera case (premium)
  • SD memory card reader
  • Wallet for memory cards
  • LCD screen protection film
  • Lens cleaner (lens pen)
  • Tabletop tripod or pistol grip

PROS
✔️Durable
✔️4K video, slow motion
✔️Friendly to the budget
CONS
❌Not as many inclusions as the Sony
❌Doesn’t look as sleek or amazing, but it doesn’t have to

Olympus Tough TG-6

Another recommendation that we have for you is from Olympus. Specifically, it’s the Olympus Tough TG-6 model.

Olympus is actually a brand that is relatively well known when it comes to underwater cameras. They have a number of different options available on the market, some being incredibly affordable, while others sitting at the higher end of the spectrum. Regardless of which model you choose, one thing’s for certain – you get value for money, along with a camera that is incredibly robust and durable for use under the sea. This model, in particular, looks pretty nice in red, and it’s significantly cheaper than other models that we’ve recommended here today.

Of course, because of the price tag (which is at least several hundred dollars more affordable than the next camera up), there are fewer features. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As long as you can accept that the Olympus won’t have the same amazing features of the pricier options, you’ll probably be incredibly happy with this one. Especially since it is such a fantastic budget option.

If you’re wondering what the features of this camera are, here you go:

  • 12 megapixels BSI 1/2.3″ sensor (CMOS) with TruePic 8 (VIII) image processor
  • Olympus optical zoom 4x, f/2 lens, 35 mm equivalent (25-100mm)
  • 3-inch LCD monitor that is crush, shock, water, freeze, and dustproof – talk about robust and durable!
  • 4K30P video
  • Full HD 120-fps video
  • Wifi built-in
  • Field Sensor System
  • GPS
  • ISO 12800 & up to 20 frames per second shooting
  • Variable macro system
  • Pro capture mode

Again, not at all a bad choice if you consider the fact that this camera is significantly more affordable than the others we’ve included on this list!

Inclusions Upon Purchase of the Olympus Tough TG-6

When you buy this digital underwater camera, you will receive the following accessories in the box:

  • Camera (in red)
  • Battery LI-92B
  • Adapter for charging
  • Wrist/hand strap
  • Charging cable (micro-USB)

And of course, should you choose to go with the bundle, here is what you can expect:

  • SanDisk Class 10 64GB SD card Ultra
  • 2 batteries for replacement
  • AC/DC fast charger
  • 3 piece filter kit – multi-coated HD (includes CPL, UV, FLD)
  • 0.43x HD macro lens, wide-angle attachment
  • 2.2x telephoto lens HD attachment
  • Adapter ring for use with the filters
  • Water-resistant carry case
  • Gripster tripod (flexible)
  • Floating wrist strap
  • High-speed card reader
  • Starter cleaning kit
  • Micro HDMI to HDMI cable

Note that some of the colors of the accessories you receive may vary depending on availability.

PROS
✔️Significantly more affordable
✔️Lots of accessories in the bundle
✔️Robust and durable
CONS
❌Not as well known of a brand as Canon/Sony
❌Quality isn’t as perfect, but still amazing value

Canon Rebel T6i

best underwater camera for divers

Now, we’ve finally made it to talking about some of the more complex and advanced rigs underwater. The first one we are going to talk about, which is still somewhat entry-level (well… kind of) is the Canon Rebel T6i.

You probably know about this camera. Honestly, chances are you have heard of this before! About a decade ago, Canon and Nikon were in a war to corner the DSLR market – and the Rebel was one of the contenders. These days, with the huge amount of options (and the advent of camera phones with tons of features) available on the market, DSLRs aren’t quite as popular anymore. But that doesn’t mean they are any less useful, or that the output they produce is any less amazing.

The T6i is incredibly user-friendly. If you’re completely new to photography and all of the accompanying settings and things to learn for your new hobby, that’s okay. There are so many tutorials on the internet and so many informative articles to help you understand every feature and every setting on your new DSLR.

Of course, if you plan to use the T6i for documenting your underwater adventures, you’re going to need many accessories. You’ll need waterproof housing at the very least, and then a few attachments to make your camera more manageable and maneuverable underwater. Another thing that you might need is some lighting underwater. So, even if the camera itself is kind of affordable, you also have to factor in all of the accessories you’ll be needing to invest in on top.

But hey, on the plus side, you get to use this camera out of the water too. And it takes most if not all of Canon’s common lenses, to boot!

The best part about getting a more advanced setup like this one is that you have more options and settings. This can significantly improve the quality of your output. However, it’s going to be bulky and not as portable – so be ready for the compromise.

Oh, and did we mention that this camera has wifi and NFC built-in? Not bad, right?

Inclusions Upon Purchase of the Canon Rebel T6i

There are a few different ways you can buy this camera. You can purchase the body only (this will include the battery and charger), and it will come without a lens. Or, you can purchase the set including the lens.

We also want to mention that this camera has a cropped sensor setup. This means a part of your photo will be cropped out and you won’t be getting the full-frame.

PROS
✔️Tons of amazing features, you can fiddle around with a lot of settings to get great results
✔️Cared for properly, can last a long time
✔️Great shooter in and out of the water
CONS
❌Requires significant financial and time investment
❌Bulky and takes up a lot of space
❌A bit difficult to maneuver and control
.
.

Nikon D90

We can’t very well review the entry-level Canon DSLR without also taking a look at the Nikon option, right? And so, it’s time to take a look at the Nikon D90! The D90 is a bit more expensive, so we suppose you could say it’s not so much entry-level. But it’s still a fantastic offering!

This model is a bit older, there is a new one (Nikon D7500 DX) available if you would prefer that. However, we want to focus on this one as it’s a beautiful camera that offers tons of features you will surely enjoy.

Like the T6i, this camera will need housing and accessories if you want to be able to use it under the water.

The D90 is a favorite of many, both in the water and on land. Chances are, you’ll love it too! And the best part is since it’s so loved by many, it’s incredibly popular. As a result, you will not struggle at all to find accessories for this camera – they’re available everywhere on the market. You can find housing from companies like Aquatica, Nauticam, and Ikelite. No issues finding them at all!

Of course, this camera is also compatible with most if not all of the lenses that Nikon has to offer. The best part, of course, is that Nikon is very well known for having some of the very best lenses on the market.

You can purchase the D90 body only, but you can also purchase it with an 18 to 105 mm lens.

PROS
✔️Great Nikon lenses
✔️Beautiful results
✔️Accessories are very available
.
CONS
❌Pretty pricey
❌Bulky and takes up a lot of space
❌Bigger, a bit difficult to maneuver and control

Final Thoughts

Quite honestly, if we were to include even more options on this list (for higher-end products and more advanced kits), you’d be reading for days. For this reason, we’re stopping here – for now. At some point, we can revisit and talk more about the other cameras and kits you can use. We’ll even discuss accessories! There are so many – we’ve yet to discuss full-frame cameras, and we haven’t even touched on lenses. So stick around and watch this space – we’ll have more for you soon.

We hope that this guide has been helpful to you! Our wish is that you are now more capable of finding the right camera model for you. We hope you find the best underwater camera for divers here – or that this buying guide has prepared you for finding a better one elsewhere! And don’t forget – if you’re going to be diving with a bigger rig, you should make sure you have the right fins to make it easier to propel yourself!