GoPro Hero 12 Underwater Review

GoPro Hero 12 Underwater Review

Posted by Nirupam Nigam on June 28th, 2024

The GoPro Hero 12 is the newest iteration of arguably the worlds most popular video camera - especially among scuba divers and snorkelers. Somehow GoPro has managed to keep an incredibly small form factor while improving the battery life over the GoPro Hero 11 and updated a few features that will make video editors happy - like adding a LOG picture profile for more color and details if you want to color grade your footage. Although it is not a significant update from the GoPro Hero 11, improved battery life and Log recording could be enough to convince underwater shooters to make the upgrade. 

After DEMA 2023, we met up with Inon to discuss their newest GoPro accessories and dive with the new GoPro 12 in the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest. With dark water and lighting conditions, it was was the perfect environment to push GoPro's newer 8:7, 1/1.9" CMOS sensor and see just how clean the video quality could be at higher ISOs. 5.3K.60p was the perfect resolution to crop video during post processing as well as slow down our footage for additional smoothness to complement HyperSmooth 6.0 stabilization. It made shooting with the new Inon G55 super macro lens as simple as getting close to subjects like nudibranchs and hitting record. So lets dig a little deeper on what this little camera can do - for just $350!

GoPro In the Field

The GoPro 12 in the field with the Inon G140 Fisheye LensSD Mount, and the Inon GoPro Lighting Kit

GoPro Hero 12 Black Specifications

  • 27.13 megapixel, 1/1.9" CMOS Sensor with an 8:7 aspect ratio
  • GP2 processor
  • 5.3K recording up to 60 frames per second
  • 4K recording up to 120 frames per second
  • HyperSmooth 6.0 stabilization
  • Vertical Vide for Social Media
  • Waterproof to 33ft (10m) without housing
  • 157 degree field of view
  • Lenses: HyperView, SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Lock
  • 10-bit Log Recording Capability with LUT
  • Operating temps: -10C to 35 C
  • 27.13 megapixel RAW photos
  • Battery Life: 1.5 hours at 5.3K/30p
  • Dimensions: 71.8mm x 50.8mm x 33.6mm
  • Weight: 154 grams
  • Retail Price: $350

GoPro Hero 12 Key Features

For just $350 the GoPro 12 is packed full of features that make shooting underwater video simple and easy - even if you're a beginner! From a longer battery life to 5.3K recording, these top features make it a very compelling camera. 

5.3K/60P Video Recording

The GoPro Hero 12 is capable of recording 5.3K video up to 60 frames per second and 4K video up to 120 frames per second. While most people only intend to view videos on 4K or even HD (1080p) screens, there is a good reason to film in 5.3K. If you don't mind editing your video after a dive trip, a 5.3K resolution allows you to crop your video so that you can get new "angles" on your subjects and tighter crops on small subjects. This is a great feature for macro video shooters who might be considering using Inon's high quality G100 and G55 macro lenses. 

And even though the resolution is higher than 4K, you can still film up to 60 frames per second which allows you to stabilize your footage so that your subject isn't moving up and down as quick as the waves you are diving in. If you need even more stable footage, the Hero 12 can film in 4K up to 120 frames per second. And if you're not planning on cropping your video, you can easily stick to 4K/60p or 1080/60p and save space on your laptop. 

New GoPro Log Recording with LUTs Available

For more advanced underwater shooters, the GoPro Hero 12 has been equipped with a very exciting new feature - Logarithmic (or LOG) recording profiles. Log profiles are essentially flat color profiles that recording more details in your highlights and shadows. The video will appear flat until you "color grade" your footage in post processing by adding contrast and adjusting your colors. Log recording allows you to capture more details and dynamic range as well as edit your colors more easily. This is very useful for underwater video where it is often difficult to capture good color when light is filtered out by water. 

If you want to view your footage when recording Log as if it was already color graded, the GoPro can be equipped with a LUT (look up table) that will show you your footage as you film it as if it was already processed. 

Longer Battery Life

Perhaps the chief complaint we got about the GoPro 11 was the short battery life. In many cases the GoPro 11 didn't even last a dive. The GoPro 12 can now film at 5.3K for up to an hour and a half! In our experience diving in the Pacific Northwest, this means you can last about 2-4 dives with one battery. In conjunction with a longer battery life, the Hero 12 is also less prone to overheating. 

HyperSmooth 6.0 Stabilization

Capturing stable footage in a three dimensional, moving underwater environment is very difficult - especially if you're fighting a current or swell. HyperSmooth 6.0 stabilization will correct for some of this motion experienced underwater and stabilize your footage as if the camera was on a gimbal. GoPro is famous for this feature and it just gets better every year! We were surprised to find that we were able to shoot supermacro video of the eyes of a scallop...handheld! It's almost like filming with a professional Gimbal.

27.13 RAW Photos

While most people don't use the GoPro 12 as a dedicated photo camera, it can be a powerful tool for underwater photography. The Hero 12 can capture 27.13 megapixel photos with RAW files - allowing you to edit your photos easily. There is also an HDR mode which can help bring back some colors and details into your photo. 

Should I Upgrade to the GoPro 12? 

If you have a GoPro 9 or earlier, it's time for an upgrade! The GoPro 12 is lightyears ahead of any of these cameras in underwater white balance capability, stabilization, resolution, and sensor size. However, the Hero 12 is a little bit of a harder sell if you are considering upgrading from the GoPro 11. The major differences are battery life, a vertical mode for social media, and LOG recording. 

Advanced shooters will likely be enticed by the Log recording capability which promises to add detail and dynamic range to videos. But if you don't want to spend a lot of time processing, a longer battery life is the major consideration. Personally, I thought it was worth upgrading for a longer battery life so I could last a dive day without swapping batteries.  

Top GoPro Underwater Housings

If you want to take your GoPro Hero 12 deeper than 33 feet, you're going to need an underwater housing. While the standard GoPro housing is affordable and is rated to 60m (200 ft), it is not the most durable. 

The anodized aluminum Isotta GoPro Housing is our most popular housing for the GoPro Hero 12. It's compact, lightweight and sleek with a beautiful red finish. But most importantly it's rated to 200 meters (656 feet) and has a double oring seal for added protection. 

Another popular housing is the Recsea GoPro Housing, if you'd like to go even deeper to 300 meters. It is commonly used for commercial diving applications. For more GoPro 12 housing options, check out our guide to GoPro Hero 12 housings. 

Top GoPro Underwater Accessories

There are a wide variety of options for improving the color, details, and field of view in your GoPro footage. At Bluewater Photo, we carry the widest range of GoPro underwater accessories on the market.

Underwater Video Lights

Water tends to filter out color from your video, rendering it blue and drab. The best way capture the incredible color in the underwater world is to bring back white light close your subject. We have some great underwater lighting kits available for the GoPro Hero 12: 

The OrcaTorch D710 V Double Light combo kit is one of the most affordable lighting kits for the GoPro 12 on the market. It offers a total of 4000 lumens of power, which we think is enough for both wide angle and macro GoPro video. 

The Inon Light Adapter set is the ultimate pole cam lighting kit that can also allow you to hold your wide angle lens when you aren't using it. This kit comes with the Inon G140 fisheye lens. 

Light & Motion's GoPro Lighting kit is compact and lightweight- complete with a wing tray and two flex arms that help you easily maneuver your lights underwater. 

GoPro Camera Tray

If you don't need a light and just need a GoPro Tray to carry your GoPro underwater and stabilize your footage - there are some great GoPro tray options from ultralight and kraken. Be sure to check out our ultralight wing tray kit. This tray is designed for the best possible angle for underwater lighting, if you do ever decide to upgrade to lights in the future. The Kraken TR09 Action Camera Tray is another excellent option with a nice grip that is molded for comfort.


Macro Lenses

If you have ever tried to film a small subject with a GoPro, you may have noticed that it started to get blurry as you got closer. This is because the minimum focusing distance of a GoPro is 12". If you want to film a subject closer than that, you will need a GoPro macro lens. Thankfully the best quality GoPro macro lenses are made by Inon. In order to use an Inon macro lens with your GoPro, you will need an SD GoPro Mount. The SD mount allows you to quickly take your lens on and off your GoPro. There are three Inon macro lens options that will work with this mount: 

1. The Inon G165 II macro lens - this is the least powerful and original of Inon's macro lenses. Because it is less powerful, you do not have to get as close to your subject so it is the easiest of Inon's lenses to use.

2. The Inon G100 macro lens - this is a great all-around macro lens for subjects about the size of a golf balll. 

3. The Inon G55 supermacro lens - this lens is meant for supermacro subjects like small nudibranchs or the eyes on a scallop. With this lens you need to get very close to your subject. Thankfully, Inon includes measuring tools that you can use while filming. We never felt like we needed the measuring tool when filming scallops - it was quite easy to get close, look at the screen for focus, and hit record. 

Wide Angle Lenses

You might be thinking - why do I need a wide angle lens for the GoPro? After all, doesn't it have a wide 157 degree field of view? Though you would be correct, it's important to know that a wide angle lens corrects for the same issue that a macro lens does - the GoPro 12 only has a 12" minimum focusing distance. So if you want to get close to a big animal, or even a smaller one, you can't get closer than a foot. This is an issue if you want to get good colors and details in your video. The Inon G140 fisheye lens allows you to get within inches of a subject and still capture the background and the full body of the animal - resulting in a unique perspective and excellent color. You will also need an SD lens mount in order to use the Inon G140 lens. 

Do You Need Red Filters?

No! We've found that the underwater white balance on the GoPro Hero 12 is good enough to retrieve colors underwater as good as a red filter can do. Adding a red filter can give an odd, red hue to your video. It is a much better idea to add additional colors back with an underwater video light.

GoPro QR Codes - The Easiest Way to Change Settings Underwater

Changing settings on your GoPro can be daunting. While we have settings guides and underwater GoPro workshops, what if we told you that there was a way to never have to worry about settings again? Our GoPro QR codes allow you to point your GoPro at the QR code underwater specific to the resolution and situations you want to film in. 4K macro video? We have you covered! 2.7K wide angle? Also covered! Check out our wide variety of QR codes here


The GoPro Hero 12 has every feature a diver or snorkeler needs to take incredible underwater videos and photos. Although it is not a significant upgrade from the GoPro Hero 11, many advanced video shooter will appreciate the ability to color grade their newly unlocked Log footage for better color and detail. Moreover, every diver knows that they could always do with better battery life! 

So if you think the GoPro Hero 12, is your next camera - don't hesitate to reach out to us at or give us a call at 310-633-5052 and we'll set you up with the camera and any accessories you might need to get started shooting underwater video!

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