Best dSLR Choices

 Best choices for Underwater Cameras

Best DSLR cameras for 2015 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 D7100 and Canon 5d Mark III are very hot right now.

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.


Nikon D7100  - Best overall choice

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

best underwate dSLR cameras 2012

To put it simply - the 24MP Nikon D7100 is the hot camera on the market now. Exceptional image quality, great ergonomics as you would expect from Nikon, and incredible high-ISO performance for a 24mm sensor. 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
  • 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 all other cropped-sensor dSLR cameras incuding the Canon 7D due to cost, weight, auto-focus, and better dynamic range at ISO 100 & 200.
  • Big improvement in auto-focus over the Nikon D7000
  • Takes great hi-def video! Also syncs with your strobe at 1/320th of a second for nice sunball shots
  • Nauticam D7100 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 D7100 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.


  • 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 dSLR cameras for underwater photography
The Nikon D7100 also produces excellent macro, photo by BWP photo pro Mike Bartick


Canon Rebel T4i / T5i or Canon 6D - Best Value

Sea & Sea 6D Housing + Canon 6D body, 25% off for $3,999

The full-frame Canon 6D has the same exceptional image quality as the 5D Mark III, in fact is has even better dynamic range and low-light performace. This body combined with the small aluminum Sea & Sea housing is a Bluewater Photo "best buy".

The Canon T4i or T5i is an inexpensive dSLR that can take incredible photos. It has the same 18MP sensor as the higher-end Canon 7D. It also has an auto-focus motor, which the entry level Nikon dSLRs don't have - including the new Nikon D3200. Plus - we are not a fan of the speed / handling of the entry-level Nikon dSLRs.  But perhaps the best thing about this camera is that both Sea & Sea and Nauticam made an incredibly priced housing for it, with the ergonomics of housings that cost much more. This is a no-brainer - if you want the focusing speed and lens selection of a dSLR, but are on a budget - this is a great combo.

The new Canon T4i has been coming down in price, and now is just $50 more than the T3i. It adds improved auto-focus speed during video. Read our discussion on the T4i.

  • Canon T5i & T4i has an awesome 18MP sensor, same sensor as the Canon 7D; save a little by getting the T4i
  • Has a built-in auto-focus motor, unlike entry level Nikon dSLRs
  • Takes great hi-def video! Canon video has a much higher data rate than the Nikon dSLRs
  • Incredible ergonomics and build-quality in the housings for the price
  • Choose the Nauticam housing for a well-made aluminum housing, choose the Sea & Sea for a sturdy polycarbonate housing with innovative port lock.
  • Downsides - only 1 control wheel, everything is a little slower in general than the Canon 7D



Maybar Goatfish shot with the Canon T5i and 18-55mm lens in Kahalu'u Bay, Hawai'i.  Photo: Larry Jon Friesen


Nikon D800 / D810 - best 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 awesome. 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 D800 specs & comparison article.

  • 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. However, if you are mainly interesting in wide-angle and own Nikon glass, the D610 may be for you.



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 5D Mark III - best high-end choice for wide-angle

canon 7d housing

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

  • Choose the 5D Mark III 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 5D Mark III 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 III is much higher than on Nikon dSLR cameras
  • Canon 5D Mark III 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 5D Mark II.
  • 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


Canon 70D & 7D Mark II - the newcomers

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 70D & 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 - $1,799 with internal TTL converter for Ikelite strobes
Nauticam 7D Mark II housing - $3,400

Aquatica Canon 70D housing - $2,836
Nauticam Canon 70D housing - $3,300
Sea & Sea Canon 70D housing - $2,999


Canon 70D Autofocus Test for Video:

Read UWPG's full review:  Canon 70D for Underwater Video



Nikon D7100, D610 or Canon 6D/7D 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 D7100 or Canon 6D for the best value for the money





Canon T4i / T5i

Canon 70D

Canon 7D Mark II

Canon 5D Mark III
Nikon D7100

Nikon D800 / D810

Crop factor






Sensor area












# control dials






Sync speed






High ISO capability

Very Good

Very Good

Very Good

Excellent +


Weight with battery in grams






Auto-focus points






Mem cards




Dual SD


Video capability

1080p30, 720p60

1080p30, 720p60


1080p30, 720p60

1080p30, 720p60

Internal flash






Cost in Feb 2015

$749 with lens







Don't forget to check out our Best Mirrorless cameras of 2015 for a smaller, lighter option for underwater photography that will still take great images.