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Paralenz Vaquita (1st Gen) - Diving Squad Report:

Diving Squad Rating:

9.7/10

9.7 / 10!!

Designed exclusively for scuba divers, the Paralenz Vaquita is my favourite underwater video camera of all time. 

It’s the only underwater camera with depth-controlled automatic colour correction and also the only one to be affiliated with marine research organisations!

Highly durable, it can go deeper than any other underwater camera – down to a whopping 1150 ft / 350 m. 

Able to shoot 4K at a mighty 60fps and super slowmotion 1080p at 240fps: the Paralenz Vaquita’s video shooting specs are higher than that of most other underwater cameras.

Paralenz have also released several unique accessories for it that give you more freedom when making underwater movies.

In this review, I’ll describe the many great features of the Paralenz Vaquita, mention room for improvement and give a final verdict. Let’s dive in!

KEY SPECS:

  • DCC (Depth Controlled Colour Correction) 
  • Video (resolution): 4k-60fps / 4k HDR-30fps / 1080p-240fps 
  • Photo (resolution): 12 mp still photo resolution in RAW & Jpeg
  • Depth Rating: 1150ft / 350m
  • Display: 0.95 True Inch Colour OLED 180 x 120p. 
  • Viewfinder display with dive profile overlay. 
  • Sensors: Depth, temperature, GPS, time
  • Temperature rating: 14 to 104 degrees farenheiht 
  • Housing 6061 aluminium alloy
  • 2000mAh lithium polymer battery
  • Compatible 128GB Micro SD cards (requires U3 or V30)
  • Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth, USB-C port
  • Weight: 8.46 ounces. 240 grams
  • Dimensions: 5 X 1.5 X 1.7 inches / 128 x 40 x 43 mm.

CONTENT:

1. DCC (Depth Controlled Colour Correction):

Paralenz’s patented DCC feature ensures that the colour of videos and photos stays ultra-realistic no matter what depth you’re taking them at.  

Using a specialised sensor, the Vaquita automatically adjusts the white balance settings in accordance with the depth it’s at, so you always get optimal white balance. 

Other cheaper underwater cameras don’t have automatic white balance so their videos and photos lack accurate colours and come out with a blue or green tint.

This can be amended for somewhat with a lens filter or manually editing white balance settings if you really know what you’re doing but the problem with either of these options is they don’t adjust with the changing light levels caused by differing depths; so they’re not as efficient as the Vaquita’s DCC. 

Compare the two videos below to see underwater videos with and without DCC:

WITH Paralenz Vaquita DDC:

Check out how clear and realistic the colours are in this video are!

(Filmed at the Corn Islands of Nicaragua with the Paralenz Vaquita). 

WITHOUT DDC (Akaso cam):

Notice the greenish blue hue of the footage. It wasn’t like that in real life, colours were a lot more vivid! 

2. Video Quality:

We’ve just covered how the DCC of the Paralenz Vaquita results in videos with ultra realistic colours but now let’s talk about the actual quality of those videos.

Of all the dive cameras in 2022, the Paralenz Vaquita is one of the very few that shoots 4K at up to 60fps. Most other underwater cameras only shoot 4K at up to 30fps. 

60fps vs 30fps means twice as much video data being captured resulting in extremely smooth and high quality videos that can also be played back in half time. 

(The newest GoPro also shoots 4K at 60fps but being an action camera it is not nearly as specialised for scuba diver’s as the Vaquita). 

With the Paralenz Vaquita, one can also record video at 1080p with a whopping 240 fps for super slow motion effects – check out an example of this below:

The Paralenz Vaquita also sports a new Sony image Sensor which is larger than the one seen on the previous Paralenz model: the Dive Camera+. It captures a lot more light, resulting in better quality video.

3. Photo Quality:

With it’s 12mp image sensor, the Paralenz Vaquita can snap decent photos but it is undeniably an underwater video camera with photo capabilities and not the other way round.

If you’re looking for an underwater camera that can first and foremost take great videos and with some photo functionality you’ll be satisfied with the Vaquita.

However, if you want to take awesome underwater photos you should possibly consider the Sealife Micro 3.0 which takes better photos than the Paralenz Vaquita at the expense of having lower quality videos. 

Let’s take a look at some photos snapped with the Paralenz Vaquita:

4. Custom Settings

In addition to being able to manually set the definition rate and frames per second of normal video setup, the Paralenz Vaquita also allows you to create an additional two custom video or photo setups that can quickly and easily be accessed underwater by turning the ring dial to “custom 1” and “custom 2”. 

For example you could switch between normal shooting mode (such as 4K 60fps) and “custom 1” which you may have set to 1080p 240 fps allowing you to instantly interchange between high definition, normal speed video and super slowmo at a lower definition. You may then switch to “custom 2”, which you could have set to photo burst mode for which you can pre-set how many photos are taken within a 10 second time frame. 

I absolutely love this feature as it lets you rapidly switch between different setups to add variety and flavour to the videos you capture on a single dive.  

5. Depth Rating

The Paralenz Vaquita has a formidable depth rating of 1150ft / 350m. This blows every other underwater camera out of the water – no pun intended! Other underwater cameras typically have a depth rating that lies between 131ft and 196ft. 

Considering that recreational scuba diving does not exceed 131ft, the Paralenz depth rating is more than enough even for tech divers. Chances are you will never dive even half this deep but it’s extremely cool to know that your camera can!

6. Viewfinder Display with Sensor Info

The Vaquita display is 0.95 inch (2.4cm) true colour 0LED 180 x 120p. This is actually a little smaller than that of other underwater cameras making it somewhat tricky to see the shot that you’re taking. At least the colours are nice and bright to compensate for this a little!

Also, when not recording video, the display shows a shot that is slightly zoomed out compared to when you actually hit record which can be mildly infuriating if you line up a shot; then start to film and realise you’re now missing the edges to the shot you thought you were getting. 

Overlaid on the viewfinder is your dive profile info with depth, time and temperature info. In addition to this, a conductivity sensor measures water salinity and a GP sensor marks your location. This extra info comes in handy when using the Paralenz app to share dive data with marine research organisations. 

7. Rectilinear Wide Lens

The Paralenz Vaquita features a rectilinear wide lens, which at 140 degrees captures a lot of what’s in front of you and is excellent for medium to long distance shots.

Now personally I would prefer a slightly wider lens: 160 – 180 degrees would be ideal as I’ve noticed for example that when trying to film either side of a tight canyon, the Vaquita can cut out one or both sides of the shot. But most of the time this is not an issue. 

The Vaquita can’t focus on anything closer than 1ft. It is very much a camera for videoing underwater landscapes such as coral and rock formations, large marine animals and schools of fish. In fairness this focus range is pretty typical of any underwater camera and there is at least a separately purchased macro lens available for the Vaquita. 

8. Dive Data App for Marine Conservation

Paralenz are unique for being the only dive camera company to team up with marine conservation organisations around the globe including Beneath the Waves, Nekton, National Marine Sanctuaries and the Reef-World Foundation.

When you upload video data to the Paralenz app, it becomes available to these marine conservation organisations along with the rest of the data collected by the cameras sensors including the location, depth, temperature, water salinity and conductivity of where the footage was captured. 

This provides valuable data for these marine conservation organisations to use in their research efforts to understand the current state of marine ecosystems and environments across the world in order to preserve them. Furthermore you can also access all of the data uploaded by other Paralenz users for yourself.

9. Accessories

I love how many cool and quirky accessories Paralenz have come up with for the Vaquita – they gives you loads of different options for shooting underwater videos in new and creative ways. Let’s take a look at what there is:

HandGRIP

The Paralenz grip is a trigger style point and shoot grip-mount that you can attach the Vaquita to for an intuitive and more stable shooting experience. 

It makes it a little easier to hold the Vaquita stable and you can still access all the controls just as easily.

In fact the trigger operation makes it possible to operate the Vaquita mostly one handed.

FPV / 3rd Person Viewer Stick

A floating selfie stick for the paralenz to let you shoot in FPV mode at up to 1.8 m. It can be used in two ways:

  • With the floats which works by hanging it behind you to have a third person view as if a drone were following you. No other underwater camera has a selfie stick that works like this!

  • Without the floats you can use it as a standard selfie rod.

  • JUST MAKE SURE that you attach the floats in the right way because once you’ve built the selfie stick it is impossible to take it apart again so if you put it together wrong it will be useless. 

Mask Mount:

This lets you attach the Vaquita to your mask for head-cam style shooting, freeing up your hands for other things – whether that be to use torches or hold another dive camera. 

Personally, I did find the Vaquita camera to wobble around a bit when using it like this. 

DIVING SQUAD FINAL VERDICT:

Of all the 2022 underwater cameras, the Paralenz Vaquita is the only one featuring depth controlled colour correction and one of the very few capable of shooting 4K at 60fps or 1080ps at 240fps. 

On top of this, it can go hundreds of feet deeper than any other underwater camera with its insane depth rating of 1150ft / 350m. 

Combine these specs with a flexible yet easy user interface, insane durability and a whole array of quirky accessories and this is a truly high quality underwater camera. 

The only major fault I can find with its usability is that it takes a long time to switch on (around 18 seconds) meaning that once you’re in the water you have to keep it on; which does eat away at the battery life quite quickly. 

The Vaquita has been designed with underwater videography first in mind and photography second but it can still take decent underwater photos. 

It would be nice if it had a larger viewfinder; this would make framing the shots a little easier; however at least it’s viewfinder is very bright to accommodate for this. 

There’s several interesting accessories for it with the handgrip being especially popular as it makes it a little easier to hold the camera steady. 

The quick-access custom setups are also a really nice touch for expanding your creative freedom. 

Paralenz are the only camera company to have teamed up with marine research organisations, which you can contribute your dive data to using the Paralenz app.

And there you have the many reasons why the Paralenz Vaquita is my favourite underwater video camera of all time. 

I can’t wait to see what the Paralenz Vaquita second generation does!

Written by:

Alex

Alex

Scuba diving fanatic, nature geek and Grand Admiral of the Diving Squad