Best dSLR Choices | Bluewater Photo & Video

Best dSLR Choices

 Best choices for Underwater Cameras

Best DSLR cameras for 2017 for underwater photography

Or read about the best mirrorless cameras for underwater photography


For image quality, lens selection, and focusing speed, nothing can match having a full-fledged dSLR for underwater photography. Sure, it will be larger and more expensive than a compact set-up, but the results speak for themselves. The Nikon D500, Nikon D810 and Canon 5D Mark IV are very hot right now.

Cropped sensor cameras make both macro and wide-angle easy to shoot underwater. Full-frame sensors really shine for ambient light shots and professional images, with their superior auto-focus, low light capabilities and dynamic range.

Please feel free to call if you have trouble choosing between the models listed below, or want to talk about the best mirrorless cameras versus a dSLR.  Our professional and knowledgeable staff can be reached directly at 310-633-5052, or email BWP's owner Scott at

Nikon D500 - It is here, and the performance is excellent. Best cropped-sensor choice

Read our Nikon D500 Review for Underwater

Best dSLR underwater cameras 2016The Nikon D500 has arrived, and we are ready with cameras, housings, lenses, reviews, and more. BWP owner Scott Gietler owns several Nikon bodies and can personally set you up with an amazing D500 setup. We are currently testing out the camera now. Housings are available from Nauticam, Ikelte, Aquatica and Sea&Sea. Email scott at for his initial thoughts, as he has used both the Aquatica & Nauticam housings.


D500 Auto-focus & High ISO Tests:

Read Scott's Nikon D500 auto-focus & ISO test article to find out how the D500 performs in high-speed shooting scenarios, shooting with high ISOs, demanding auto-focus scenarios, and more.

D500 Housing Links:

D500 vs D7200

Don't be fooled by the small difference in megapixel count, the new Nikon D500 is definitely a superior camera to the Nikon D7200, and in our opinion is the clear choice for a cropped sensor dSLR. 

Best dSLR cameras for underwater photography
BWP Owner Scott Gietler's son Ryan, taken with the NIkon D500, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens


Canon 5D Mark IV - best high-end choice for wide-angle

canon 7d housing

Some people think that the D810 has the edge over the 5D Mark IV. But many Canon shooters think otherwise. One thing for sure - the 5D Mark IV is great and will not limit your underwater photography. 

  • Choose the 5D Mark IV for the best underwater dSLR video out there
  • The Canon 8-15mm fisheye len is sharp, and versatile for unique wide-angle images
  • The Canon 11-14mm WA lens is the widest non-fisheye lens on the market, and gives amazing sharp images in a large dome port
  • The Canon 5D Mark IV is the top choice for sports, low light photography, high-speed shooting
  • Takes great hi-def video! The video bit rate on the 5D Mark IV is much higher than on Nikon dSLR cameras
  • Canon 5D Mark IV is a full-frame dSLR, offering the most stunning images with a full spectrum of colors and a complete dynamic range, plus extremely good high ISO performance - ISO can be "boosted" to an incredible ISO 102,400. It also has vastly improved auto-focus over the previouis 5D Mark models.
  • Excellent ergonomics and build-quality in the Sea & Sea, Nauticam and Aquatica housings


Shot with Canon 5D Mark 3 and Canon 100mm Macro Lens in Anilao, Philippines.  Photo: Brent Durand


Shot with Canon 5D Mark 3 and Tokina 10-17mm Lens in Anilao, Philippines.  Photo: Brent Durand



Nikon D810 - best overall high end choice

Housings from Nauticam, Aquatica, Sea & Sea in stock

best dslr underwater cameras 2012

The 36 megapixel Nikon D810 is nothing short of spectacular. It is by far the best camera on the market for outdoor, nature, and large prints. It has the same pixel width as the Nikon D7000, on a much larger sensor, and improved low-light auto-focus points. In our opinion it will be better for underwater use than any other full-frame camera. You can read more in a Nikon D810 review for underwater photography.

  • The D810 offers stunning images with a full spectrum of colors and a complete dynamic range, plus extremely good high ISO performance.
  • Takes great hi-def video
  • There are great features on both the Nauticam and Sea & Sea housings. And of course the Ikelite D810 housing has true TTL built-in and is a great value.
  • We think the megapixel and auto-focus advantages of the Nikon D810 are worth the extra money over the Nikon D610



Jawfish with eggs, NIkon D810, 105mm lens, taken while diving Anilao, Philippines by Scott Gietler

Beautiful reefscape from Cenderawasih, Indonesia with the D800. Photo: Mark Strickland


Underwater guide dSLR d800
Excellent color and dynamic range from the Nikon D800


Canon 7D Mark II  - Great overall choice, with video auto-focus

Get a Nauticam, Ikelite or Sea & Sea housing for this camera - in stock!

best underwate dSLR cameras 2016

With a new auto-focus system and the ability to focus while taking video with live view, the Canon 7D Mark II takes underwater photography / video to new levels.

  • Read BWP owner Scott's Canon 7D Mark II review
  • Best overall cropped sensor dSLR currently on the market
  • 20MP sensor with dual pixel Autofocus
  • Only the Canon 70D and 7D Mark II can auto-focus well during video, and offer an excellent lens selection

The Canon 7D Mark II is the most recent dSLR model, and is the best choice for people who want to use Canon lenses, but don't feel the need for a full-frame camera. With a cropped sensor camera, you get full zoom use of the Tokina 10-17mm wide-angle lens which is quite nice!

The Canon 7D Mark II offers a vastly superior auto-focus system over the Canon 70D and the Canon T5i.

These cameras also offers the best auto-focus capability during video for a dSLR, using its new "dual-pixel" auto-focus system. Housings from Aquatica, Sea & Sea, and Nauticam are recommended for the best ergonomics.

Nauticam and Aquatica housings have built-in vacuum pump circuitry.

The Sea & Sea 7D Mark II housings offers a unique internal optical TTL converter, that allows the shooter to get accurate TTL and rapid shooting with YS-D1 strobes using fiber optics and the camera's hot shoe instead of the pop-up flash. Ikelite also offers a great internal TTL converter system.

Ikelite 7D Mark II housing - incredible value at $1,799
Sea & Sea 7D Mark II housing - small & light, optical TTL converter is amazing
Nauticam 7D Mark II housing - easy port changes, piano keys and vacuum check make this a winner
Aquatica 7D Mark II housing - amazing build quality

best underwater cameras for 2015
Spanish shawl nudibranch taken with the Canon 7D Mark II and Canon 100mm macro lens.

best underwater camera 2015
Canon 7d Mark II, Canon 10-22mm lens, 8-inch dome port taken in French Polynesia

best underwater cameras for 2016

Atlantic spotted dolphins shot with Canon 7D MkII and Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens + 8" dome port.

best underwater cameras for 2016

Atlantic spotted dolphins shot with Canon 7D MkII and Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens + 8" dome port.



Nikon D7200  - Great overall choice, incredible sensor

Get a Nauticam, Aquatica or Sea & Sea housing for this camera

best underwate dSLR cameras 2012

To put it simply - the 24MP Nikon D7200 is a hot new choice. Exceptional image quality, great ergonomics as you would expect from Nikon, and incredible high-ISO performance for a 24mm sensor.  The dynamic range of this camera is amazing and beats any other cropped sensor dSLR, and is a step up from the D7100. The Nauticam housing works great. The Nauticam housing has piano keys, a new port locking mechanism, and many other great features. With these housings - everything just works the way it should, which is not always true, even in other more expensive housings.

  • Read BWP owner Scott's Nikon D7100 review
  • One of the best overall cropped sensor dSLR currently on the market
  • 24MP sensor, exceptional dynamic range and color range ratings from DxOMark; sensor rating beats the competition
  • Edges out most other cropped-sensor dSLR cameras due to cost, weight, auto-focus, and better dynamic range at ISO 100 & 200.
  • Big improvement in auto-focus over the Nikon D7000, better dynamic range than the D7100
  • Syncs with your strobe at 1/320th of a second for nice sunball shots
  • Nauticam D7200 housing has excellent placement of controls, large "piano keys" on the back, the housing allows you to pop up the flash underwater, locking extension rings, and has a unique port lock so you don't have to rotate the port on or off. Rated to 330ft (100m).
  • The Aquatica D7200 housing is rated to 330ft, but can be upgraded to 425ft depth rating. This housing can hold up to punishing conditions in the ice, surf, deep water and more.
  • The Sea & Sea D7200 housing is small, light and offers a nice optional optical TTL converter for great, easy exposures
  • Housings will support both the Nikon D7200 and the NIkon D7100


  • Nikon glass like the 10-24mm, 60mm and 105mm lenses perform impeccably
  • Fiber optic strobe connection works great on these housings, and allows for high-speed shooting. Setup is very light underwater for both housings. Both housings also support electronic sync cords.
  • Nauticam Housing + macro port, YS-01 strobe, arm, fiber optic cable $4,480

best dslr underwater cameras of 2012
Taken underwater with a Tokina 10-17mm lens in California, USA.  Photo: Scott Gietler

best underwater dSLR camera
Nikon D7200, 105mm VR lens, taken while diving the Sea of Cortez by Vijay Raman



best dSLR cameras for underwater photography
The Nikon D7100 also produces excellent macro, taken while diving Anilao by BWP photo pro Mike Bartick


Nikon D7200, D800 or Canon 5D Mark III in Ikelite Housing - great value

  • Ikelite housing is an unbelievable value, and includes full TTL functionality, tray, handles, and zoom rings
  • True TTL via an electronic sync cord allows you to fire your camera at its fastest possible speeds
  • Takes great hi-def video!
  • Get the best possible wide-angle optics with the Precision line of 5-inch acrylic dome ports, or Zen glass dome ports, custom made for your wide-angle lens
  • Our top picks are the Nikon D7200 or Canon 5D Mark III for the best value for the money





Canon T5i

Canon 7D Mark II

Canon 5D Mark IV
Nikon D7200 Nikon D500

Nikon D810

Crop factor



1.5 1.5


Sensor area



368mm2 368mm2





24 20.9


# control dials



2 2


Sync speed



1/320th 1/320th


High ISO capability

Very Good

Very Good

Excellent +
Great Excellent


Weight with battery in grams



765g 860g


Auto-focus points



51 153


Mem cards





Video capability

1080p30, 720p60


4K, 1080p60, 720p120
1080p60 4K, 1080p60

1080p30, 720p60

Internal flash



yes no


Cost in June 2017

$599 with lens


$997 $1,797




Don't forget to check out our Best Mirrorless cameras of 2017 for a smaller, lighter option for underwater photography that will still take great images.