Best DSLR Choices 2019

Top 2019 DSLR Camera for Underwater Photography and Videography

Read About the Best Mirrorless Cameras for Underwater Photography

 

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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 D850 & Canon 5D Mark IV are still 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 scott@bluewaterphotostore.com

 

Nikon D850

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 is also does an excellent job at locking onto subjects even in dark, low light environments - the center AF point being sensitive down to -4EV
  • Capable of full frame 4K Video
  • Increased shooting speed and buffer size

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. 

 

Canon 5D Mark IV

canon 7d housing

Read our Canon 5D Mark IV Review for Underwater Photography

Many people think that the D850 has the edge over the 5D Mark IV. But Canon shooters might think otherwise. One thing is for sure - the 5D Mark IV is likely the best DSLR that Canon has ever released and will not limit your underwater photography in any way.

  • Choose the 5D Mark IV for the best underwater dSLR video out there
  • The Canon 8-15mm fisheye len is sharp and quite versatile for unique wide-angle images
  • The Canon 11-24mm WA lens is the widest non-fisheye (rectilinear) lens on the market, and gives amazing sharp images in a large dome port
  • Takes great hi-def video! The video bit rate on the 5D Mark IV is much higher than on Nikon dSLR cameras. Dual Pixel autofocus is also a new, practical feature that videographers will find extremely useful
  • Canon 5D Mark IV is a full-frame dSLR, offering stunning images with a full spectrum of colors and the best dynamic range of any Canon DSLR. The 5DIV produces very good high ISO results and ISO can be "boosted" to an incredible ISO 102,400 (we advise not ever using this though). It also has vastly improved auto-focus over the previous 5D Mark models.
  • Excellent ergonomics and build-quality in the Sea & Sea, Nauticam, and Aquatica housings

Canon 5D Mark IV Underwater Housing Options:

Canon 5D Mark IV Packages Available:

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 D500

Best dSLR underwater cameras 2016

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 period 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, Ikelte, Aquatica and Sea&Sea. Email Scott at scott@bluewaterphotostore.com for his thoughts, as he has used the Aquatica, Sea & Sea and 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 Underwater Housing Options:

D500 vs. D7500

The D500 has a much larger buffer than the D7500, and a higher resolution LCD screen. In our opinion, just the higher resolution LCD screen itself is worth the extra $, but you also get better low-light focusing performance - important for underwater macro shooting, plus longer battery life, a magnesium alloy body and dual card slots.

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

 

Nikon D7500 and Canon EOS Rebel SL2

The Nikon D7500 and Canon EOS Rebel SL2 are both very affordable and packed with lots of awesome features. These are great options for a cropped sensor DSLR camera

 

Nikon D7500

canon 7d housing

Read our Nikon D7500 Review

The Nikon D7500 is a mid-range DSLR camera and it is built to perform. It is a great option for both topside and underwater application. Its sensor is the same as its award winning sibling, the D500. You can save $600 by going for the D7500 over the D500 and get the same image quality, although you will be giving up a number of features mentioned about in our D500 section. It has a built-in auto-focus motor, which means it has no issues auto-focusing lenses like the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye.

Nikon D7500 Underwater Housing Options:

 

Canon EOS Rebel SL2

canon 7d housing

The Canon SL2 stands out because it is a quality dSLR that allows you to get underwater and use the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens with the Ikelite housing at an amazing price. No other dSLR setup can come close to this value! The camera is small, ultra-portable, and the image quality of its 24 megapixel sensor is great. It is also has dual-pixel autofocus for still shooting and video. Serious amateurs should take a serious look at this package.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Underwater Housing Options:

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Packages Available:

 

 


 

Nikon D850

Canon 5D Mark IV

Nikon D7500
Canon EOS SL2 Nikon D500

 

Crop factor

1.0

1.0

1.5
1.61 1.5

 

Sensor area

860mm2

860mm2

368mm2
332mm2 368mm2

 


Megapixels

45.7

30.4

20.9
24.2 20.9

 


# control dials

2

2

2
1 2

 


Sync speed

1/250th

1/200th

1/200th
  1/320th

 


High ISO capability

Excellent

Excellent +

Excellent
  Excellent

 


Weight with battery in grams

998g

889g

730g
453g 860g

 


Auto-focus points

153

61

51
9 153

 


Mem cards

XQD,SD

CF,SD

SD
SD XQD, SD

 


Video capability

4K,1080p60

4K, 1080p60, 720p120

1080p60
1080p60 4K, 1080p60

 


Internal flash

No

No

Yes
Yes No

 


Prices as of February 2019

$3,297

$3,299

$1,247
$499 $1,899

 

 

Don't forget to check out our Best Mirrorless Cameras of 2019 for a smaller, lighter option for underwater photography that will still take great images.