Best Nikon Cameras for Underwater (2019)

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Nikon D850

Excellent image quality and autofocus speed

Read our Nikon D850 Review for Underwater Photography

The Nikon D850 camera is possibly the best all-around DSLR ever. It features both quick AF speed and high resolution which photographers value above all else.  The camera is packed with lots of quality features including the ability to shoot full frame 4K video.

  • The D850 expands the resolution on the new backlit CMOS sensor from 36.3 to 45.7 megapixels, while improving the high ISO performance, and maintaining the class-leading dynamic range. Base ISO of 64 on the D850 is absolute gold.
  • New autofocus system - The D850 borrows the AF system from the flagship D5 and is dramatically faster than its predecessor, the Nikon D810. It also does an excellent job at locking onto subjects even in dark, low light environments - the center AF point is sensitive down to -4EV
  • Capable of full frame 4K Video
  • Increased shooting speed and buffer size
  • Great lens selection

Nikon D850 Underwater Housing Options:

Nikon D850 Packages Available:

 

The Oil Rigs off California can be quite dark at depth, so shooting verticals with the crossbeams of the rigs and the bright surface produces a vast range of tones that the D850 has no problem handling.
 
Amazing detail in these Spanish shawl rhinophores! 
 
Hard to beat ISO 64 on the D850! Shadows and highlights in high contrast scenes contain huge amounts of detail and are able to be pulled back without degrading image quality. 

Nikon D5

Professional Level

The Nikon D5 packs a 21 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor, 12 fps, 4k video, and many other features. It maintains a 153 point phase detection autofocus system with 99 cross sensors, and a strong battery life claiming up to 3,780 shots. This one's considered Nikon's "powerhouse camera" for those looking for the ultimate rig.

Nikon D5 Underwater Housing Options:

Nauticam Housing - High-quality aluminum, great ergonomics, vacuum electronics included, and it uses a helpful patented port locking system which does not require rotation of the port.

Aquatica Housings - Features high-quality aluminum and rugged design. It is well designed and simple to use with full camera controls accessible while in the housing. It readily accepts a full selection of ports, viewfinders, wet lenses, and more.


Nikon Z7

Read our Nikon Z7 Review

The Nikon Z7 is Nikon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera and it’s fair to say they knocked it out of the park. The Z7 boasts a 45.7MP sensor, 435-point autofocus, 9fps continuous shooting, and 4K at 30p video recording. The in-camera image stabilization is fantastic and the densely populated 45.7MP sensor renders brilliant image quality. The Nikon Z7 was released in late 2018 and will likely be one of the most popular cameras of 2019.

Nikon Z7 Underwater Housing Options:

Diver photographing a wolf eel

Diver photographing a wolf eel in Washington, USA with the Z7, Nikkor 8-15 Circular Fisheye in Ikelite Housing

 

 


Nikon D500

Read our Nikon D500 Review for Underwater Photography

The Nikon D500 slots in below the D5 and D850 as Nikon's professional level APSC camera. It has become one of the most popular cameras for underwater shooting and for good reason. It shares the same autofocus system as the D5 and D850 for a much more wallet-friendly cost and provides 4k video, 10fps shooting speed, and the best low light/high ISO performance of just about any APSC camera. We have used the camera extensively, and it is amazing. Housings are available from Nauticam, Ikelite, Aquatica and Sea & Sea. 

D500 Underwater Housing Options:

 

Best dSLR cameras for underwater photography
BWP Owner Scott Gietler's son Ryan, taken with the NIkon D500, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens
 
Best DSLR camera for underwater photography 2018
Great White Shark photographed with the Nikon D500 in a Nauticam housing with the Nikonos 13mm lens at 
Guadalupe, Mexico
 
Best DSLR camera for underwater photography Nikon D500
Pygmy Seahorse, photographed in Anilao with the Nikon D500, Nikon 105mm VR macro lens + Nauticam SMC