Best Underwater Cameras for Beginners

The Best First Underwater Cameras - A Comparison

First Camera Comparison



You’ve just completed your open water certification, you’re getting more and more comfortable in the water, and you think it’s time to invest in your first underwater camera to record your dive adventures. The question is, which camera is best for entry level photographers? At Bluewater Photo, we’re happy to share our expert advice. Here are our top beginner cameras and briefly lay out the pros and cons of each.

 

GoPro Hero7 / 8 Black

GoPro Hero7 Black

Best for Video
 
 
PROS
CONS
 
 

  • Ergonomic
  • No complete manual control settings (does come with Protune options)
 
 
  • 4k video at 60 FPS - great for slow motion playback
  • No viewfinder
 
 
  • Hypersmooth Auto Stabilization
  • No zoom capabilities underwater
 
 
  • Improved Auto White Balance
  • Requires wet macro lens for subject closer than 12 inches, macro capabilities still not effective as TG-6
 
 
  • Low price point for camera and housing - $450
 
 
 
  • Removable battery - 1220mAH lithium-ion
 
 
 
  • Time lapse videos (TimeWarp)
 
 
 
  • WiFi capabilities
 
 
 
  • LCD touch screen
 
 
 
  • Water resistant to 30 feet without housing; with housing (only $50) - rated to 196 feet
 
 

If your emphasis is video and not stills, the GoPro is a great choice. Read our Hero 8 review to see what improved over the Hero 7, and check out our specials page for amazing holiday sales on the GoPro.

Recommended Housings

 

 

GoPro Super Suit
Isotta GoPro Housing
 
  GoPro Super Suit Dive Housing Isotta GoPro Hero7 Black Underwater Housing  
 

 

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Paralenz Dive Camera Plus

Paralenz Dive Camera

Easiest to Use  |  Best Tech Features
 
 
PROS
CONS
 
 

  • Ergonomic - as easy to use as a dive light - one button

  • Less of a budget price point - $699
 
 
 

  • No housing required at depth - rated to 250m/820ft
  • No LCD screen for framing photos and video
 
 

  • Sturdy build - aluminum body with titanium screws

  • No viewfinder

 

 

  • Records water temperature and depth - provides dive profile for videos
  • Not effective for macro
 
 

  • Dedicated mobile app to view profile
  • No manual control settings
 
 

  • Extra long battery life
  • No RAW shooting
 
 

  • Built in depth based color correction - no need for filters
   
 

  • Works great in low light - 1/ 2.5” sensor by Sony
   
 

  • 140 degree angle of view - no fisheye distortion
   

The Paralenz is an amazing piece of technology. Much simpler to use than the GoPro, if you like coolness or ease of use, love data, or are a tech diver, the Paralenz may be for you.

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Olympus TG-6

GoPro Hero7 Black

Great Option for Stills with Good Video Quality
 
 
PROS
CONS
 
 

 

  • Best option for still photography

 
  • Larger size vs. GoPro and Paralenz

 
 

  • Optical zoom ability

  • No viewfinder
 
 

  • More sensitivity to light - ISO 100-12800
  • No manual control settings which limits creative wide-angle options
 
 

  • 4k video with super macro autofocus
  • $750 price point for camera and housing makes it the most expensive of the “starter” options
 
 

  • 4k timelapse video
   
 

  • LCD screen 
   
 

  • Raw and JPEG shooting
   
 

  • Action track sensors record location, temperature, direction and altitude data 
   
 

  • WiFi capabilities
   
 

  • Works well with wide angle wet lenses - Kraken KRL-02, AOI UWL-04

   
 

  • Only requires housing below 50 feet
   
 

  • Housing ($300) rated to 147 feet/45 m
   

Hint: You can save money and get the Olympus TG-5

Recommended Housings

 
Olympus PT-059 Housing

Nauticam TG-5, TG-6 Housing

 
 

Olympus PT-059 Housing

Nauticam NA-TG-5, TG-6 Housing

 
 

Ikelite TG-5, TG-6 Housing

Isotta TG-6 Housing

 
  Ikelite TG-5, TG-6 Housing Isotta TG-5, TG-6 Housing  

 

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SeaLife DC2000

GoPro Hero7 Black

Best Image Quality & Solid Wet Lens Options
 
 
PROS
CONS
 
 

 

  • 1” 20MP Sony sensor - much larger than the TG-6 sensor

  • No zoom capabilities
 
 
  • RAW and JPEG shooting
  • When shooting in RAW, frames per second is limited
 
 

  • Full manual mode, great for wide-angle
  • No 4k video
 
 

  • Good wide-angle wet lens available
  • $700 price point
 
 

  • 3” LCD display
   
 

  • WiFi capabilities
   
 

  • Camera includes housing rated to X feet
   
 

  • 60ft depth rating of camera better than the TG-6
   

The Sealife camera is great for stills, and is the easiest underwater camera to use and maintain.

Recommended Housings

 
 

SeaLife DC2000 Pro Duo

SeaLife DC2000 Pro Duo

 

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Other Camera Options:

There are other cameras in the market which is also quite affordable that is also great for underwater photography and video.