Best Underwater Camera in 2022

Best Underwater Camera

What Makes The "Best Underwater Camera?"

This artisinally curated list includes the best underwater cameras for beginners, semi-professionals and professionals. We also threw in a few underwater smartphone housings for those looking for a cost-effective and quick way to begin their underwater photography journey. In order to create this list, our dedicated staff at Bluewater Photo dived with over 35 modern camera system on hundreds of dives all over the world. We've considered several things when putting this list together: the overall size of each system, whether the camera is more video or photo-oriented, the sensor size, and more. If you like, use the 'jump to' section below to skip to the most relevant section for you. 

Features To Look For When Choosing The Best Underwater Camera

What is the best underwater camera? A "best underwater camera" doesn't really exist - the camera for you should be based on your needs. As you may know from reading the Underwater Photography Guide, when selecting an underwater camera it is crucial to look at different features like resolution, low light performance, video recording capabilities, whether or not it offers full manual controls, the ability to shoot in RAW, it's physical size, underwater housing options and whether it accepts wide-angle and macro wet lenses. It's really important to consider the functionality of available underwater housings and compatible underwater camera accessories. Finding the right underwater camera system can be a daunting task, but we are here to help. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us directly at sales@bluewaterphotostore.com to find a camera system that meets you needs and goals. This article will talk about a wide range of cameras that are excellent for underwater photography - ranging from affordable compact cameras right through to full-frame professional-level mirrorless cameras. 
 
Fortunately, we are blessed with a wide range of great models and their respective underwater housings, so we've got plenty to talk about. Whether you are looking for the best underwater camera for scuba diving or snorkeling, we are sure you will find it here.
 

Underwater Camera Improvements in Recent Years

Much like the transition from film photography to digital photography, camera technology has improved leaps and bounds over the last few years. And although image quality continues to improve, the future of photography is ironically video. Video technology development has been incredible over the last few years and many modern mirrorless cameras have been gifted with cinema-level filming capability. The Sony A1 and the Canon R5, for instance, both capture 8K and 4K/120p RAW video (though the A1 needs an external recorder to film RAW). On the flip side of the coin, more affordable compact cameras are becoming far and few between. As above-water compact camera manufacturers are beat out by smartphones, underwater smartphone housings are becoming a more popular alternative to compact cameras. And they are an excellent alternative. We think smartphones just might be the future of underwater photography as they allow new divers and new photographers to enter what is traditionally an expensive hobby on a budget. That being said, the compact cameras that are released (like the Sony RX100 VII and the Canon G7X Mark III) aquire better image quality, autofocus, and video features. SeaLife continues to improve and offer a fantastic selection of underwater cameras for first-time underwater shooters.
 
But the winds of change are affecting mirrorless and DSLR cameras the most. Mirrorless cameras are no longer an intermediate level option - they are the future of underwater photography. DSLR cameras are dead. Canon, and likely Nikon, is officially done producing new DSLRs and their corresponding lenses. Mirrorless cameras offer better autofocus systems, in-body image stabilization, better video technology, and better lens mounts. Do DSLRs still take great photos? Of course! But they are not the future of camera production. Alongside the push towards mirrorless cameras, we've also seen a reduction in the price of sensors. This means full-frame cameras, which offer better image quality, dynamic range, low light performance, etc, are now the trending as more popular than only slightly less expensive APS-C and micro four thirds sensor cameras. So now we've entered the age of the full frame mirrorless cameras with legendary cameras like the Canon R5 and R6, Sony A1, Nikon Z9, Sony A7S III, and Sony A7 IV. Still, as we said before - the best underwater camera is the camera that works for you.
 
Take a look at our top picks for the best underwater camera in 2022 below.
 

Jump To:

 

Best underwater cameras for beginners

Best underwater smartphone housings

Best underwater camera for semi-professionals

Best underwater camera for professionals


 

Best underwater camera for beginners

Best Underwater Camera:

For Beginners

In this section, we will run through the best underwater cameras for beginners. These cameras are perfect for anybody just starting out with their underwater photography journey - especially for those who don't want to break the bank on a professional camera. When looking for a beginner or compact underwater camera, the best thing to do is to choose one that you can grow into as a photographer. You don't want to find that you've outgrown your first camera in six months and are already thinking about upgrading. That doesn't mean you have to buy an expensive megapixel monster; it just means getting something that can help you find your feet and support your learning until the time is right to take the next step. 
 
So, let's get into it. 
 
 
 

Best Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera for Beginners

Sony A7C

Permanently Sealed
 
Price: $599.00
 
 
Sony A7C
 
Sony A7C features
The Sony A7C perfectly encapsulates our view that the best underwater camera for beginners should be one that you can grow into rather than grow out of quickly. This full-frame 24.2 MP mirrorless camera comes in a small, lightweight body. The body is actually the same size and shape as Sony's A6600, an APS-C camera, which is impressive considering the A7C packs a full-frame sensor. The compact size of the A7C makes it ideal for underwater photography. Because it's full-frame, you can continue using any lenses you buy for this camera if you ever upgrade to a professional level Sony mirrorless camera in the future. 
Key Features
  • Full-frame sensor
  • 24.2 megapixels
  • BIONZ X image processor
  • 693 point hybrid AF system
  • 5-axis SteadyShot image stabilization
  • ISO: 100 to 51200 (extended: 50 to 204800)
  • Dimension: 124 x 71.1 x 59.7 mm
Underwater Housing Options

 

Best Cropped Sensor Mirrorless Camera for Beginners

Sony A6600

APS-C mirrorless camera, 24.2 MP
 
Price: $1,399.99

Sony A6600

Sony A6600 features

The Sony A6600 is the same size and shape as the Sony A7C mentioned above but comes with an APS-C sensor. Some might see this as a disadvantage, but it depends on the photographer and their personal preferences as to whether this is true. The A6600 comes with 24.2 megapixels, just like the A7C, so there's no loss in resolution. The main difference is the lenses that this camera uses natively. Lenses made for APS-C cameras are smaller and lighter than full-frame versions, a big bonus for anybody looking for a lightweight system. The downside is that if you were ever to upgrade to a full-frame system in the future, it would probably mean upgrading your lenses. Having said that, this is still an excellent underwater camera in its own right!

Key Features
  • APS-C sensor
  • 24.2 megapixels
  • Exmor CMOS sensor
  • 5-axis SteadyShot image stabilization
  • Sony NP-FZ100 battery for longer battery life which is essential to minimize opening the housing for battery changes
  • UHD 4K video capablie of capturing 4K video @ 30fps and 4x & 5x slow-motion with its 120fps recording. No recording limit.
Underwater Housing Options

 

 

Best DSLR Camera for Beginners

Canon EOS Rebel SL3

World’s smallest DSLR camera

APS-C DSLR camera, 24.1 MP

Price: $649.00

 

canon 7d housing

Read our Full Review of the Canon SL3

Canon Rebel SL3 features

The popularity of DSLRs has undoubtedly diminished over the last few years, and we prefer to recommend mirrorless and compact cameras when people ask about which are the best cameras for underwater photography. However, the Canon SL3 is still a great option, especially for beginners. The main reason we like the SL3 is that it is the world's smallest DSLR camera, rivaling or beating the size of many cropped sensor mirrorless cameras. It's a simple camera, it isn't full of advanced features, and its ergonomics are designed for photographers who are new to professional bodies. However, when paired with an excellent lens such as the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, it produces stunning image quality for a beginner's camera. Combined with an Ikelite housing and a wide-angle lens, this system is the best value wide-angle DSLR system on the market.

Key Features
  • 24.1 MP APS-C format (22.3 X 14.9 mm) CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor
  • Built In flash
  • Compatible with Canon EF Lenses
  • Dual Pixel Auto Focus
  • 9 AF points
  • 1/200sec sync speed
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Underwater Housing Options
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 Packages
Sample Image

Kelp crab captured with the Canon SL3, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, dual DS 161 strobes, Ikelite Housing. 1/160, f/9, ISO 200

 


 

 

Easiest-to-Use Underwater Compact Camera

SeaLife Micro 3.0

½.3” CMOS Sensor, 16 MP
 
Price: $599.95

 

Read the SeaLife Micro 3.0 Review

SeaLife Micro 3.0 features

The SeaLife Micro 3.0 Camera might be the easiest underwater camera to use for both photo & video. We recommend it to any diver looking for a no-frills, ergonomic source of underwater content. These shooters may not be looking to get a professional image but need a simple tool to document their dive and what they see in the beautiful underwater environment. The SeaLife Micro 3.0 is designed to be permanently sealed, making it flood-proof for the camera's lifetime. There is no need for any o-ring maintenance and no need to worry about flooding. The battery life is also excellent - it can be operated for more than three hours which is perfect for a full day of diving.

Operating the camera is easy; it's equipped with three wide piano key type buttons that are easy to locate and control even while wearing thick gloves. The camera is also equipped with an "Easy Setup" feature that quickly guides you through the correct settings based on the shooting environment, depth, and lighting accessories that are being used. Definitely a contender for the best underwater camera if you don't want the hassle of an underwater housing!
Key Features
  • 16 Megapixel Sony CMOS image sensor
  • Permanently sealed
  • 3+ hours battery life
  • Built-in 64GB memory card
  • Easy operation
  • "Easy Setup" feature
  • Capable of manual white balance and RAW format for post-processing
  • 100° Lens
SeaLife Micro 3.0 Packages

Check out other SeaLife Products & Accessories

 

Sample Image

School of Ta’ape Lanai,HI. SeaLife taken with SeaLife Micro 3.0

School of Ta’ape Lanai,HI. SeaLife taken with SeaLife Micro 3.0


 

Best Value Compact Camera

Canon G7X III

1” CMOS Sensor, 20 MP

Manual Control Available (unlike TG-6)

Price: $749.00

Read the Canon G7X Mark III Review

Canon G7XIII features

The Canon G7X III is a tiny camera with a large 1-inch, 20 MP sensor, directly competing with the Sony RX100 series cameras. It is an excellent, fast-focusing camera with excellent image quality and has dedicated macro focus. The camera also boasts 4K video, slow motion video, a bigger image buffer, a new stacked sensor, a better image processor, and quicker burst shooting over the G7X II.

With all of these features at an affordable price, we have chosen the Canon G7X III as the best value compact camera. The Canon G7X Mark III also has advantages over recent RX100 series cameras like the RX100 VII because you can shoot both wide-angle and macro on the same dive! The Canon G7X Mark III has advantages over the Olympus TG-6 camera because you can have complete manual control with the G7X Mark III.
Key Features
  • 20.1 megapixel 1.0” stacked CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 8 image processor
  • 4.2x optical zoom lens (24-100m f/1.8-2.8) with optical image stabilization
  • 3.0 inch touch panel LCD screen with tilt option of 180 degrees for selfies and vloggers
  • Compatible with USB charge/power supply
  • Contrast-detection autofocus (no dual pixel autofocus)
  • 20 fps burst mode (upgraded from 8fps)
  • 70 shot RAW buffer (upgraded from 21 shots)
  • Slow motion video (120 fps in 1080p)
Canon G7X III Underwater Housing Options
Canon G7X III Packages

Sample Images
 
 
A nudibranch photographed with the Canon G7X Mark III in the Ikelite G7X III housing with dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes. f/11, 1/160, ISO 400
 
 
A close focus wide angle shot of a diver and zooanthid anemones with the Canon G7X Mark III in the Ikelite G7X III housing, Kraken KRL-01 wet lens, and dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes. f/7.1, 1/100, ISO 400

 

 

Best High-End Compact Camera

Sony RX100 VA and Sony RX100 VII

1” CMOS Sensor, 20 MP

Price: $998.00 & $1,299.99

Both are excellent for image quality, autofocus speed, & shooting video

Best Underwater Camera

Sony RX100 Features

The Sony RX100 VA & Sony RX100 VII cameras are the latest additions to the Sony RX100 series and are packed with many awesome underwater photography features. They are the top of line compact cameras to date. Autofocus is lightning quick in both cameras, which is great for shooting fast animals like sharks and sea lions. All three cameras feature a large 1" sensor with 20 MP resolution. Each camera is equipped with excellent image quality, fast autofocus, useful video modes (like slow motion), and full manual controls. The RX100 VI's key upgrade is its enhanced zoom using a 24-200 mm f/2.8 – 4.5 lens, whereas the RX100 VA's key upgrade is 24fps sequential shooting, enhanced image buffer, and a customizable menu system. The RX100 VII has some minor improvements over the VI, including quicker autofocus with a better autofocus tracking system, burst modes without blackout, and faster processing. The RX100 VII comes at a heftier price tag. Still, it's an excellent option for people who want to take advantage of its autofocus tracking system, especially for video, which you can now capture for unlimited time.

Three things make the RX100 series one of the best underwater cameras:
  1. The 1-inch sensor size is larger than most other compact cameras besides the Canon G7X Mark II and III. The larger sensor produces better image quality and improved low-light performance due to the larger pixel size.
  2. The auto-focus speed is faster than traditional compact cameras.
  3. The advanced 4K video features available in the RX100 series are top-of-the-line for compact camera video systems.
You can get great wide-angle photos with the RX100 VA and VI and the UWL-09 super-wide lens, the Kraken KRL-01, Kraken KRL-12, or the Nauticam WWL wet wide-angle lens. For macro with the RX100 VA/VII cameras, we recommend using the Bluewater +7 if you are just getting the hang of macro and super macro photography. The Nauticam Compact Macro Converters (CMC-1 & CMC-2) are top of the line wet lenses with exceptional lens sharpness but have a lot of magnification and can be a little more challenging to use. Because of the impressive zoom capability of the Sony RX100 VI and VII, it might be a good idea to start with the Bluewater +7. If you're a super macro junkie, consider pairing the RX100 VII with the CMCs. 

 

Why Choose the RX100 VA or VII?

The RX100 VA is an upgrade from the RX100 V with an increased image buffer, burst shooting up to 24fps, and customizable menus. This is excellent for photographers seeking to capture quick pelagic animals that need good burst speed and more processing power. The RX100 VA still carries all of the advantages of the RX100 V, including the 315-point phase-detection autofocus system and the 20 MP/1" Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor. The main advantage of the RX100 VA over the VI and VII is that the RX100 VA can shoot with both macro and wide-angle wet lenses on the same dive. This is because the lens is shorter and has less zoom capability than the RX100 VI. You also don't need to purchase additional ports/adapters for dedicated wide-angle and macro setups.

 
The highlight of the RX100 VII over the RX100 VA is its unprecedented macro capability; other compact underwater setups cannot beat the zoom on the 24-200 mm f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens. Details captured with this lens are remarkable. When combined with a wet macro lens (diopter), the realm of super macro photography is attainable. You can capture the tiniest details of the smallest subjects with this setup (once you get a little practice in, of course). Sony made minor upgrades to the RX100 VII from the RX100 VI. However, the Sony RX100 VII does have the best autofocus system of any compact camera to date. It's not as fast as the RX100 VII's mirrorless cousins, like the A6100 or the A7R IV, but it is still excellent and a huge advantage for photographers that like to shoot quick-moving animals. The RX100 VII is also a massive draw for videographers because you can apply those autofocus speed and autofocus tracking updates to video. Moreover, there is no limit to how long you can film 4K video with the RX100 VII. 
 
 
RX100 VII Key Features
  • 1-inch 20.1 MP stacked CMOS sensor
  • BIONZ X processor
  • Built-in 24-200mm (equivalent) f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens – same as the RX100 VI
  • Electronic shutter up to 1/32000s
  • 4K video with full pixel readout (no pixel binning)
  • S-LOG2, S-Log3, and HLG picture profiles
  • Pop-up EVF (2.36 million dots)
  • No more built-in ND filter
  • Tilting touch screen LCD
  • Wifi and Bluetooth capability
RX100 VA Key Features
  • 20.1-megapixel 1-inch Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor
  • 315-point phase detection autofocus system - focuses in 0.05-sec
  • 24 fps RAW burst with AF tracking for up to 233 photos
  • Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm F/1.8-2.8 lens
  • Anti Distortion Shutter minimizes rolling shutter effect when recording video
 
 
Sony RX100 Mark VA and VII Underwater Housing Options

There are a lot of underwater housing options for the Sony RX100 VA and VI on the market, check out the list below:

Nauticam Housings

Isotta Housings

Ikelite Housings

Fantasea Housings

Sea & Sea Housings

Sony RX100 V/VA Underwater Packages
Sony RX100 VII Underwater Packages
Best RX100 Series Wet Lenses

 

Sample Image

octopus photo taken with underwater camera

Day Octopus Sony RX100 VII f/6.3 1/250 ISO 10

 


 

 

Best Video Camera for Beginners

Panasonic LX10

1” CMOS Sensor, 20 MP

Price: $699.99

underwater camera - compact - best video quality

Panasonic LX10 Features

We recommend the Panasonic LX10 as the best compact underwater camera for video. Its 4K video delivers a high-quality video experience with a four times larger resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) than Full HD, resulting in a much higher level of detail. Moreover, the camera also features 4K photo modes.

 
As with many of its competitors, the Panasonic LX10 also features a 20 MP/1" sensor resulting in excellent image quality. The LX 10 is equipped with a 24-72mm f/1.4-2.8 with the potential to yield beautiful bokeh, 5-axis image stabilization, 7 fps continuous shooting, and focus stacking modes.
 
The F1.4-F2.8 lens has a very fast maximum aperture, giving it an edge in low-light situations when setting its aperture to F1.4.
Key Features
  • 20.1MP 1" CMOS Sensor
  • 5-Axis HYBRID Optical Stabilization 
  • 24-72mm Lens Equivalent
  • 4K Photo Mode
  • 4K Video @ 30p
  • Post Focus and Photo Stacking Modes
Panasonic LX10 Underwater Housing Options
Panasonic LX10 Packages

 

 

 

Best Compact Camera for Macro Underwater Photography

Olympus TG-5 or Olympus TG-6

½.3” CMOS Sensor, 12 MP

No Manual Mode

Price: $299.99 & $449.99

Olympus TG-6 Review

Best Beginner Underwater Cameras

Olympus TG5 and TG6 Features 

The Olympus TG-6 is the same size as the TG-5 and has very minor improvements, which you can read about in the review above. The TG-6 will work in TG-5 housings. So if you're really on a budget, take a look at the TG-5 camera. This section applies equally to both the TG-5 and the TG-6. These cameras are waterproof and can be used without a housing. The TG-5 is just as good as the TG-6, and we have a great deal on it.

 
Although we consider this a budget option, the TG-6 is in the running for the title of best underwater camera. It's a good option for snorkeling because it's waterproof without a housing down to 50 feet (15 meters).
 
The TG-6 has a 12 MP sensor designed for excellent low light performance and noise reduction. It shoots 4k video, RAW photos, and includes built-in WIFI, making transferring images on the go a breeze. It's important to mention that there is no full manual control on this camera like the Canon G7X and Sony RX100 series. This should be fine for any casual shooter who doesn't want to think about their camera settings. But if you want more control, you'll be happier with any of the other cameras mentioned above. We recommend purchasing the Ikelite Olympus TG-6 Housing if you're looking for a budget housing. This housing option is more flexible than the Olympus housing option because you can customize the housing with an Ikelite TG-6 fluoro kit if you're into fluorescent photography or equip it with an FCON-T02 fisheye lens and port
 
Pros - Compact size, excellent macro capability for still subjects using microscope mode, and support for beautiful wide-angle images when used with the Kraken KRL-02, KRL-11, or UWL-04 fisheye lens.
 
Cons - Lacks a full manual mode, so aperture priority mode will have to do.
Key Features
  • 12MP Hi-Speed Image Sensor for Improved Low Light Performance and Noise Reduction
  • Dual Quad Core TruePic™ VIII Image Processor
  • F2.0 High Speed Lens
  • 4K and High Speed Video
  • Field Sensor System w/ GPS, Manometer, Compass & Temperature Sensor
  • Waterproof, Shockproof, Freezeproof, Crushproof 
Olympus TG-6 Underwater Housing Options
Aluminum Housings
Olympus TG-6 Packages
Best TG-6 Wet Lens

 


Wolf Eel photographed with the TG-6

 


 

 

Best Action Camera

GoPro Hero 10

1/2” CMOS Sensor, 23 MP, 5.3K/30p

Price: $449.99

GoPro Hero 10

GoPro Hero 10 Features

The HERO 10 is the newest action camera in GoPro's lineup. It builds upon everything we loved about previous generations and add improved stabilization, a brand new super-fast processor and up to 5.3K video resolution. It's an excellent, affordable option for people looking for a tiny camera that can be used underwater as well as in other situations. It's the perfect choice if you're looking for something small that can be thrown into a bag or carried around in your pocket without getting in the way. The biggest and most significant upgrade is the all-new processor, something that's needed to process 5.3K 60p and 4K 120p video footage.

Key Features
  • GP2 processor 
  • 5.3K 60p + 4K 120p video resolution
  • 23 megapixels photos
  • HyperSmooth 4.0 video stabilization
  • Automatically upload footage to the cloud when charging
  • Waterproof to 33ft
Underwater Housing Options

 

 

 

Best underwater smartphone housings

Best Smartphone Housings For Underwater Photography

We all carry amazing cameras in our pockets these days, and some people might not want or need a dedicated camera system for underwater photography. Sometimes the best underwater camera is the one you already have, just with the addition of an underwater housing. You can save a lot of money by buying a smartphone housing, and there are some really great options on the market. We're going to look at a few of them here. 
 
 
 

SeaLife SportDiver Smartphone Housing

Price: $349.00
 
SeaLife SportDiver
 
 
SeaLife Smartphone Housing Features
The SeaLife Sport Diver iPhone Housing can be used with iPhone 7s and up. It is compact & lightweight, built from polycarbonate, stainless steel, aluminum and optical grade glass making it an excellent travel companion. As it's made out of tough materials, it can stand up to even the harshest beatings. It is also effortless to set up and operate with its large shutter lever and rear control buttons, making shooting a breeze.
 
 

 

Reefscene Captured with a Samsung Galaxy S20 in a SeaLife SportDiver Housing

 
 
 

 

 

Kraken Sports KRH06 Universal Smartphone Housing

Price: $299.00
Kraken Sports KRH06 Universal Smartphone Housing
Kraken Smartphone Housing Features
The Kraken Sports KRH06 Universal Smartphone Housing is one of the best smartphone housings available. The build quality is outstanding, and it's packed with lots of excellent features. It has a built-in vacuum pump and sensor, which allows you to draw out air from the housing and check if there are leaks before diving. This gives you peace of mind that your phone is safe inside. Wet lenses are compatible with this housing if you'd like to enhance the shooting experience further. The most important feature of the housing is that it is compatible with the latest and most popular smartphones available on the market. 
 
 
Nautismart Sample Image
Wreck reefscape in Sri Lanka. Shot with iPhone 6s Plus in Kraken Smart Phone housing and dual Kraken Hydra 5000 lights. Photo: Brent Durand
 

 

 
 

Nautismart Smartphone Housing

Price: $236.00
 
Nautismart Smartphone Housing
 
Nautismart Smartphone Housing Features
The Nautismart Smartphone Housing is an ever-popular underwater smartphone housing that gives you excellent value for money. It is constructed from polycarbonate material, making it lightweight yet durable and a breeze to operate. It also features a 67mm thread attachment compatible with most wet lenses. With its clear back, it is capable of capturing underwater selfies too! Compatible with both Android and iOS phones. 
 
 
 
 

 

 

AquaTech AxisGo 13 Smartphone Housing

Price: $219.00
AquaTech AxisGo13 Smartphone Housing
Aquatech AxisGo Smartphone Housing Features
The new AxisGo 13 underwater housing from AquaTech is an excellent snorkel or surf housing for anybody with an iPhone13; it's fully compatible with any iPhone13 model (iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13). Rated to a depth of 10m, water sports lovers, surfers, snorkelers, kayakers and more won't have to break the bank to capture the action; they'll be able to use the camera they already have in their pocket. AquaTech makes a wide range of other housings for different iPhone models, which you can see below. 
Other AquaTech AxisGo Housing Options
AxisGo 13 Packages

 

 


 

Best underwater camera for semi-professionals

 

Best Underwater Camera:

For Semi-Professionals (Prosumers)

 

Best Underwater Camera for Hybrid Shooters

Canon EOS R6

Full Frame Mirrorless Camera, 20 MP, 4k/60p video

Price: $2,499.00

Read our Full Canon EOS R6 Camera Review

Canon EOS R6 Features

Released with the popular R5, the Canon EOS R6 is a prosumer level full-frame mirrorless camera. It is the ideal first step for anybody looking to get into full-frame photography as it packs many of the same great features as the R5 but costs $1400 less. It has proven to be very popular with underwater photographers thanks to features like 5-axis in-body image stabilization, 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, 4K 60 fps video capabilities, animal eye autofocus, 12 fps in stills mode (increased to 20 fps with the electronic shutter) and 100% AF coverage. Overall it is our top choice for underwater photographers who want the best underwater camera with first-class image and video capabilities without breaking the bank.

Key Features
  • 20.1 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS Sensor and Digic X processor
  • Canon's first 5 axis In-Body Image-Stabilization (IBIS) which works in conjunction with optical IS RF and EF lenses. Up to 8 stops of correction
  • Improved Dual Pixel II Autofocus
  • ISO 100-102400
  • 100% of the sensor has AF coverage!
  • Animal eye AF detection (for birds, cats, and dogs) - we'll see if it works for fish!
  • 12fps burst shooting with mechanical shutter
  • 20 fps burst shooting with silent (electronic shutter)
  • Dual card slots - 2x SD UHS-II
  • Internal C-Log recording
  • 4K video up to 60 fps, 10-bit 4:2:2 (16:9, 1.07X crop)
  • 3.69 million dot EVF
Underwater Housing Options
Sample Underwater Image and Video

underwater anemone photographed with the Canon EOS R6 in an Ikelite housing

This image shows the beautiful image quality and dynamic range that the R6 is capable of capturing. This anemone was photographed with the Canon EOS R6 and Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens in an Ikelite EOS R6 housing. The image was slightly underexposed and adjusted in post processing. This image shows the quality of the details recovered. f/13, 1/60, ISO 320

 

 

 


 

 

Best Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera for Enthusiasts 

Sony A7 IV

Full Frame Mirrorless Camera, 33 MP, 4k/60p video

Price: $2,498.00

 

Read our Full Sony A7 IV Camera Review

Sony A7 IV

Sony A7 IV Features
The Sony A7 IV is one of the hottest mirrorless cameras at the moment. The A7 IV is a huge step up from the Sony A7 III in almost every way. It's packing a 33MP back-illuminated full-frame Exmore R CMOS sensor, 5-axis in-body image stabilization, 4K/60p video, 10 fps in stills mode and, thanks to its popularity, a ton of great underwater housing options. All of this makes the Sony A7 IV one of the best underwater cameras currently on the market. 
 
One of the most significant areas of improvement is in its autofocus capabilities. The Sony A7 IV now has eye-tracking AF as part of its AF tracking system. Perhaps most importantly, it now has excellent animal eye AF too, which is a massive bonus when trying to capture images of marine life underwater. Overall, this camera of one of the best for underwater photography.
 

Key Features

  • 33MP Back-Illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor
  • BIONZ XR Processor
  • Up to 10 fps shooting
  • In-body stabilization rated up to 5.5EV
  • Full-width oversampled 4K from 7K, up to 30p
  • 4K/60p oversampled from 4.6K with Super35 / APS-C mode
  • 10-bit video or HEIF stills capture
  • H.265 video, S-Cinetone color mode
  • 3.69M dot OLED viewfinder
  • Twin card slots (1x CFe A/UHS-II, 1x UHS-II SD)
  • Full-time Bluetooth LE connection
Underwater Housing Options
Sample Underwater Image and Video

Although it's difficult to see at low resolution, if you look at the shadows of this photo, you can see some minor banding after I increased the exposure of my shadows in lightroom. f/13, 1/125, ISO 320

Although it's difficult to see at low resolution, if you look at the shadows of this photo, you can see some minor banding after I increased the exposure of my shadows in lightroom. f/13, 1/125, ISO 320

 

 

Best Cropped Sensor Mirrorless Camera

Nikon Z50

APS-C Mirrorless Camera, 20.9 MP

Price: $856.95

Read our Nikon Z50 Full Camera Review

Nikon Z50 Features

Typically APS-C mirrorless cameras have been the domain of Sony and Canon, but that changed with the introduction of the Nikon Z50. The Z50 combines the best of both worlds from the Nikon D500 and the Nikon Z6. However, it was a rocky start to life for the Z50. Many people doubted this camera when it first came to market because of the lack of Z-mount lenses, and the available lenses were considerably larger than their Sony or Canon counterparts. With these initial doubts, it might seem strange that the Z50 finds a place in an article trying to identify the best underwater camera.

Thankfully, the line of Nikon Z-mount lenses has expanded, and the Z50 is now one of our favorite APS-C underwater mirrorless cameras for both photo and video. For its price, the Nikon Z50 produces stunning image quality largely thanks to how well Z-mount lenses perform underwater, noticeably better than Sony's E-mount options.
Key Features
  • 20.9 Megapixel Resolution CMOS sensor (APS-C - DX format)
  • Hybrid phase-detection/contrast AF with AF assist, 209 points
  • 11 fps sequential shooting
  • 4K Video @ 30/25/24 fps
  • FHD video up to 1080/120p
  • ISO range of 100-51200
  • Lens mount system: Z-mount, can use F-mount lenses with FTZ adaptor
  • 3.2 inch tilting touchscreen monitor. It can also be flipped for selfies and vlogging
  • Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth
Underwater Housing Options
Sample Underwater Image
 
Nikon Z50, 8-15mm Fisheye, f/18, 1/160, ISO 100

 


 

Best Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Camera For Photo

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

MFT Mirrorless Camera, 20.4 MP

Price: $1,499.00

 

Read our Full Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Camera Review

Olympus OM-D E-M1 III Features

The last camera Olympus put out before selling their imaging business is the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. It's a micro four thirds mirrorless camera that is able to produce stunning image and video quality from its 20.4-megapixel sensor. It's an excellent mid-range camera for underwater photographers who have already bought into the Olympus range of cameras and who already own some Olympus glass, but perhaps not the best underwater camera for people who are totally new to Olympus systems. 

Key Features
  • 20.4 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor
  • TruePic IX Quad Core Processor (faster upgrade to Mark II)
  • 121 point cross-type phase detect AF system
  • 5 axis image stabilization up to 7 stops
  • 2.36M dot electronic viewfinder
  • 3 inch touch LCD
  • Weathersealer
  • 15fps [H]/10 fps [L] burst shooting with mechanical shutter
  • Topside features including handheld high res shot mode, live ND filter, electronic shutter
  • 4K video @ 30 fps with an OM-Log mode
Underwater Housing Options
Sample Underwater Image
 

Beautiful low light wolf eel portrait captured with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera, Ikelite OMD EM1 Mark III housing, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes w/ Ikelite TTL converter, Olympus 7-14mm Pro lens.

 


 

Best Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Camera For Video

Panasonic GH6

MFT Mirrorless Camera, 25.2 MP, 5.7K/60p video

Price: $2,197.99

Panasonic GH6

Panasonic GH6 Initial Thoughts and Review

Panasonic GH6 Features

When it comes to video quality and features on a micro four thirds camera, it's hard to beat that Panasonic GH6. It's a solid workhorse that many topside and underwater photographers have come to rely on. The GH6 provides a range of codecs to record in and offers 5.7K/60p video recording functionality. Panasonic has a great history of producing highly capable micro four thirds video cameras, and this is no exception. A 25.2-megapixel sensor enables photographers to shoot high-resolution photos mode as well as video, making the GH6 more than just an extremely capable video camera. 

Key Features
  • 25.2MP high-sensitivity MOS sensor 
  • Micro four thirds sensor (x2 crop)
  • 5.7K/60p, 4K/120p video recording
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization 
  • CFexpress & SD card slots
  • Built-in cooling fan
  • ProRes 422 HQ, V-Log and DR Boost 
  • 14 fps mechanical shutter and 75 fps electronic shutter
  • HDMI output
  • Tilting LCD touchscreen
  • 3,680,000 dot electronic OLED viewfinder 
  • Magnesium alloy construction
  • 100MP handheld high-resolution mode
Underwater Housing Options
Lenses
Sample Underwater Video


 

Best underwater camera for professionals

Best Underwater Camera:

For Professionals

 

Best Value Professional Underwater Camera

Canon EOS R5

Full Frame Mirrorless Camera, 45 MP, 8K/30P & 4K/120P Video

Price: $3,899.00

 

Read our Full Canon EOS R5 Review for Underwater Photography

Canon R5 Features
The Canon EOS R5 is an immensely popular full-frame mirrorless camera. It is our top choice if you're looking for the best underwater camera for professionals at an excellent price point. This camera is packed full of pro features that make capturing stunning underwater photos a breeze, such as a 45-megapixel full-frame sensor that can capture beautiful images to 8K/30p and 4K/120 internal RAW 10-bit 4:2:2 video recording capability. The 5-axis in-body image stabilization gives photographers 8 extra stops of exposure to play with because you'll be able to shoot at slower shutter speeds and still get pin-sharp results. Our tests showed that shooting at 1/8th of a second was no problem!
 
The AF system on the Canon EOS R5 is one of the best we've seen in any underwater camera. The animal eye autofocus tracks fish eyes exceptionally well, which will only improve in the future with subsequent firmware updates. 
 
Being able to shoot video in 8K/30p gives you the flexibility to crop in a lot in post-production when it wasn't possible to get as close to the marine life as you would have liked. Again, the 5-axis IBIS makes shooting video underwater easy and a pleasure. Overall we consider the Canon EOS R5 one of the best underwater cameras on the market today!

 

 

Key Features
  • New 45 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS Sensor and Digic X processor
  • Canon's first 5 axis In-Body Image-Stabilization (IBIS) which works in conjunction with optical IS RF and EF lenses. Up to 8 stops of correction
  • Improved Dual Pixel II Autofocus
  • 5,940 AF points
  • 100% of the sensor has AF coverage!
  • ISO 100 - 51,200
  • Animal eye AF detection (for birds, cats, and dogs) - it works on macro fish 20-40% of the time!
  • 12fps burst shooting with mechanical shutter
  • 20 fps burst shooting with silent (electronic shutter)
  • 180 shot RAW image buffer
  • Dual card slots - 1x CFexpress and 1x SD UHS-II
  • 8K video @ 30p, 10- bit 4:2:2 - using the full width of the sensor!
  • Internal RAW and C-Log recording
  • 4K oversampled video up to 120p, 10-bit 4:2:2
Underwater Housing Options
Sample Underwater Image

Spectacular resolution with the Canon EOS R5. Photo of a mosshead warbonnet captured with the Canon EOS R5 in an Ikelite housing, Canon 100 mm macro lens, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, Kraken +13 diopter, and Ikelite Canon TTL converter. f/16, 1/160, ISO 100

Spectacular resolution with the Canon EOS R5. Photo of a mosshead warbonnet captured with the Canon EOS R5 in an Ikelite housing, Canon 100 mm macro lens, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, Kraken +13 diopter, and Ikelite Canon TTL converter. f/16, 1/160, ISO 100

 


 

Best Hybrid Photo & Video Camera

Sony A1

Full Frame Mirrorless Camera, 50 MP, 8k/30P & 4K/120P Video

Price: $6,499.99

 

Read our Full Sony A1 Camera Review

Sony A1 Features

The Sony A1 is Sony's flagship full-frame mirrorless camera and is considered the best full-frame mirrorless camera in the world in its own right. A monstrous 50-megapixel sensor captures stunning 4K/120p and 8K/30p video and super detailed stills. Having such a high-resolution sensor also means underwater photographers can crop in on their videos and photos if they couldn't get as close to their subjects as they would have liked. The Sont A1 also have a 1/400s strobe sync speed which means photographers can recover an additional stop of exposure which is great for shooting sun balls and freezing action. We also successfully fired Ikelite strobes with Ikelite TTL and the electronic shutter, a first for underwater photography.

For people willing to spend a premium on the Sony A1 to get the best possible images and video, or existing Sony shooters who already have a range of E-mount lenses, the $6,499.99 price tag might not be too offputting. But in many ways, the Sony A1 has many of the same features the Canon R5 does, and you can pick the latter up for almost half the price. Overall, the Sony A1 is the outright best underwater camera for both video and photo; however, if price is a deciding factor for you, there are other options out there that are almost as good that won't cost anywhere near the price of the A1.

 

 

Check our our detailed comparison of the Sony A1 vs the Canon R5

 

Key Features
  • New Full-Frame 50MP Exmor RS Stacked CMOS Sensor
  • 15 stops of dynamic range with improved colors, tones, and gradation
  • New BIONZ XR Processor 
  • Continuous shooting up to 30fps w/ electronic shutter and 10fps w/mechanical shutter at full resolution - AE and AF operable throughout
  • Updated Carbon-Fiber Mechanical Shutter for a more quiet and vibration-free performance
  • Records video up to 8K/30p (oversampled from 8.6K), 4K/120p (oversampled)
  • Improved electronic shutter - greatly reduced rolling shutter and flicker under artificial light
  • THE ELECTRONIC SHUTTER WORKS WITH EXTERNAL FLASHES (and strobes, with a TTL converter)
  • FLASH SYNC SPEEDS: up to 1/400sec (mechanical shutter; 1/500 in APS-C mode), 1/200 (electronic)
  • Lightning-quick AF with its 759 phase-detection points with 425 contrast-detection areas - covering 92% of the sensor
  • AF system recalculates 120 times per second - 30% more accurate than A9II
  • Better animal eye AF that can track birds - does not track fish
  • 5 axis IBIS with 5.5 stops of recovery
  • 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording with 16-bit RAW external recording
  • Full range of Log recording options - Cine, HLG, and S-Log
  • Viewfinder: Electronic (OLED) - 9.44 million dots
  • Dual CFexpress Type A / UHS-II SD Card
  • Dimensions: 5.07 x 3.81 x 2.74 in (128.9 x 96.9 x 69.7 mm)
  • Weight: 1.6 lb (737g)
Underwater Housing Options

 Sample Underwater Image

Sony A1 underwater photo

Autofocus tracking on the A1 resulted in sharp rhinophores on this nudi. Janolus nudibranch photographed with the Sony A1, 90mm macro lens, Ikelite A1/A7S III housing. f/22, 1/200, ISO 200

 


 

 

Highest Resolution Camera

Sony A7R IV

Full Frame Mirrorless Camera, 61 MP

Price: $3,499.99

 

Read our Sony A7R IV Review

Sony A7R IV Features

If you're looking for a megapixel monster, the Sony A7R IV is the best camera on the market. It's a continuation of Sony's popular high-resolution mirrorless camera line but with some notable improvements over the previous Sony A7R III, such as the 61-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 567 phase-detection AF points and importantly for underwater photography, an all-new animal eye AF tracking system. Sony cameras are generally known for their excellent autofocus systems, and the A7R IV is no different. As far as high resolution underwater cameras go, it doesn't get any better than the Sony A7R IV!

Key Features
  • 61.0 MP Exmor R CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZX Image processor
  • 567 phase detection AF points, 425 contract detection AF points which cover 99% of the height of the sensor and 74% of the width
  • Autofocus tracking system updated with touch tacking AF and Eye AF in movie mode
  • New Eye Animal AF Tracking!
  • ISO sensitivity of 100-32000
  • 15 stops of dynamic range at low ISO
  • 4K video @ 30P 
  • 1/250s flash sync speed
  • 5-axis in-body image-stabilization
  • Continuous shooting Hi+: 10fps, Hi: 8fps
  • 530 shot battery life
Underwater Housing Options

Camera Body & Lenses

Sample Underwater Image
 

Sony a7r iv sample image

One of the world's first underwater photos with the Sony A7R IV. Taken with the Ikelite A7R IV housing, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, and the Sony 16-35mm rectilinear wide lens aboard the Socorro Vortex liveaboard. 1/250, f/10, ISO 320


 

Best Camera For Underwater Video

Sony A7S III

Full Frame Mirrorless Camera, 4K/120p

Price: $3,499.99

 

Read our Full Review for the Sony A7S III Camera

Sony A7S III Features

The Sony A7S III is one of the best video-focused cameras both above and below the waves. We consider it the best underwater camera for video in the professional level category. Being able to shoot 4K video up to 120fps for slow-motion and stable video, with 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording, makes it ideal for capturing smooth cinematic video footage from your underwater adventures. There is also a wide range of frame rate options available, as well as various codecs and picture profiles.

As with the A7R IV, the A7S III has one of the best autofocusing systems in a mirrorless camera with flawless animal eye AF tracking. But the standout feature of the Sony A7S III is its performance in low light conditions thanks to its 12-megapixel sensor and dual gain ISO. This camera is the undisputed king of low light shooting!
Key Features
  • 12 MP BSI CMOS Full Frame Sensor
  • Bioz XR Image Processor
  • ISO 80-102,400
  • "Low Base" and "High Base" (effectively dual gain) ISO capability for better low light shooting
  • 4K video up to 120 fps
  • No recording time limits. Could be limited by heat (4K @ 60p for at least an hour)
  • 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording
  • S-LOG, HLG, Cine logarithmic picture profiles available
  • 4K @ 60p, 16-bit RAW recording with an external recorder
  • 5 axis in-body image-stabilization (IBIS)
  • Dual card slots (either SD or CFexpress Type A)
  • 9.44 M dot Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) - the best resolution on the market!
  • Movie File Formats: XAVC S (Long GOP, H.264 MP4); XAVC HS (Long GOP, H.265 HEVC); XAVC S-1 (All-Intra, H.264 MP4)
  • AF tracking with human and animal eye AF capability
  • 759 point hybrid AF system with 425 contrast detection points
Underwater Housing Options

Camera Body & Lenses

Sample Underwater Video

 


 

 

Best Nikon Camera

Nikon Z7 II

Full frame mirrorless camera, 45MP

Price: $2,996.95

 

Read our Full Nikon Z6 II, Z7 II Camera Review

Nikon Z7 II Features

We're going to break the mould of this article so far and give a manufacturer a category all of their own. Nikon has been playing catch up over recent years, with Canon and Sony taking all the plaudits, but they've recently been making up for lost ground. When it comes to mirrorless cameras, not many people turn to Nikon, they have their loyal fans in the DSLR world, but that success is yet to translate to the mirrorless world. But the Nikon Z7 II changes that. 

The Nikon Z7 II is an excellent full-frame mirrorless camera that answers many of Nikon DSLR shooters' initial concerns with the original Z7. We now have dual card slots (a must-have on professional-level cameras), improved battery life, and a better AF system. They've even upped the specs of the Z7 II's video capabilities; it's now able to shoot 4K/60p, which has become a minimum for cameras at this price point. While the Nikon Z7 II doesn't quite match the Canon EOS R5 or the Sony A7R IV, especially in the autofocus department, Nikon's range of lenses is excellent and cements the Z7 II's place on this list of best underwater cameras. 

 

Key Features
  • 45.7 megapixel full-frame BSI CMOS sensor (no lowpass filter)
  • ISO 64 - 25,600
  • 5 axis in-body image-stabilization (IBIS)
  • dual Expeed 6 processors
  • 3.6 million dot EVF
  • 1/200s flash sync speed
  • Dual XQD and UHS-II (SD) card slots
  • 10 fps burst shooting
  • 77 image buffer @ 12-bit lossless RAW files
  • 493 point phase detect hybrid autofocus system
  • -3 EV low light AF sensitivity
  • 4K video recording up to 60 fps
  • 10 bit 4:2:2 recording with N-Log over HDMI output
  • 360 shot battery life
  • Weight: 615 grams
  • Size: 5.3 X 4 X 2.8 inches
Underwater Housing Options
Sample Underwater Image
 

whale shark photographed with Nikon Z7II

Whale shark photographed with the Nikon Z7II and the Nikon 8-15mm wide angle lens. 1/125, f/13, ISO 640

 

*Honorable Mention

Nikon Z9

Full-frame, 46MP, 8K 30p video

Price: $5,496.95

Nikon Z9

Nikon Z9 Features

The Nikon Z9 has everything you could want in a camera, except size and affordability. It's not a top choice for underwater photographers, which is why it only gets an honorable mention. Still, it's an excellent option for topside and Nikon shooters who need an upgrade. It truly is a professional camera in every sense of the word. It has an insane max FPS of 120, which works almost flawlessly with autofocus tracking and autoexposure thanks to its EXPEED 7 processor, which is 10x faster than the processor in the Z7. If you are an existing professional Nikon user who has outgrown their system and needs to upgrade, you can't go wrong with the Z9; it is the best topside camera Nikon has ever made. 

Key Features
  • Nikon Z-mount
  • Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Hybrid phase-detection/contrast AF 
  • 493-point phase-detection AF system
  • 46MP
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • Up to 8K 30p video resolution 
  • 4K 120p video resolution
  • 5.9 in. (149 mm)  x  5.9 in. (149.5 mm)  x  3.6 in. (90.5 mm)
  •  2x CFexpress type B slots
  • ISO - 64 to 25,600 (Extended: 32 to 102,400)
  • HDMI video output
  • USB-C output
Underwater Housing Options

 


 

Best Cinema Camera

Canon EOS C300 Mark III

Super 35 Sensor, 9.6 MP, 4K/120p & 2K/180p video

Price: $10,999.00

 

Canon EOS C300

Canon C300 III Features
The Canon EOS C300 Mark III is the most expensive camera on this list. It's firmly aimed at professional video makers, but if you're serious about capturing the highest quality underwater video footage possible, this is the camera for you. Its modular design gives you almost unlimited flexibility to set up a system that perfectly integrates into your workflow. While it's not the most compact or lightweight, professional videographers turn to the C300 in combination with the Nauticam C300 housing for their underwater shooting needs.
 
If the price isn't an issue, then this really is the best underwater cinema camera currently on the market. 
Key Features
  • Super 35mm CMOS sensor
  • 4K/120fps
  • 16+ stops of dynamic range
  • Dual CFexpress slots
  • 4K 4:2:2 10-bit
  • Dual pixel CMOS AF phase-difference technology 
  • 12G-SDI interface
  • Built-in ND filters
  • Modular design
Underwater Housing Options