Best Underwater Video Cameras of 2020

“Best Underwater Video Cameras’ is a sub article from our main page: Best Dive Cameras. 

LAST UPDATED:

November 1, 2020

Using an underwater camera to shoot videos of your scuba diving adventures; thereby immortalising them forever, is an extremely rewarding experience. 

However, in today’s tech-obsessed world, there are literally dozens of different dive cameras available; frankly they vary a lot in terms of quality, value for money and video capabilities. 

You could buy what seems like an awesome waterproof camera – but at a ridiculous price. 

Or you could think you are making a real steal by purchasing a highly praised underwater camera, only to find it shoots poor quality video because it was mainly designed to take stills!

At the end of the day, making the right purchase comes down to your budget, whether your shooting video professionally or as a hobby and other factors, such as whether you prefer macro (up close) shots or wide shots. 

Never fear. We’ve searched as high as the tallest mountains and as low as the deepest ocean trenches to bring you seven brutally honest reviews of the absolute best diving video cameras available this year. 

We’ve highlighted the pros, exposed the cons and given each option a special reward for what we think it’s most suited for. Let’s dive in!

Best Cameras for Underwater Video Shooting - Quick Answer:

  1. Best Underwater Video Camera All Round: SeaLife Micro 3.0: Read Review or View on Amazon

  2. Best Diving Video Camera for Beginners: Olympus Tough TG-6: Read Review or View on Amazon

  3. Top Seller: GoPro Hero9: Read Review or View on Amazon

  4. Best Value for Money: DJI Osmo Action Camera: Read Review or View on Amazon

  5. Cheapest Underwater Camera: Apeman A79: Read Review or View on Amazon

  6. Best Expensive Diving Camera: Panasonic Lumix GH5: Read Review or View on Amazon

  7. Expensive U/W Video Camera Runner Up: Sony A7III: Read Review or View on Amazon

#1 Best Underwater Video Camera All Round

4.8/5

SeaLife are the only company to focus exclusively on underwater imaging; having created scuba diving cameras, lighting, lenses and accessories for over 25 years.

They are an extremely popular brand among entry level to mid experience underwater photographers and videographers and it’s easy to see why their affordable yet high performing underwater cameras consistently become top sellers.

Straight off the bat; when you buy a SeaLife Camera; it comes with the underwater housing; saving you a lot of money! You can buy the SeaLife Micro 3.0 with the housing (with a whopping depth rating of 200ft / 60m) as well as a table mount and a mountable dive light with four modes and red and white light. This is the only underwater camera that comes with all these accessories included.

The SeaLife Micro 3.0 is the companies newest release (it came out June 2020) – in many ways, this waterproof camera is similar to the critically acclaimed SeaLife DC2000 (which has instantly recognisable stylish red casing).

Read carefully: If you’re serious about shooting underwater video you should definitely choose the SeaLife Micro 3.0 (which is what we’re reviewing here), over the Sealife dc2000, as the Micro 3.0 shoots in 4K video at 30fps as well as in super slow motion! (By contrast the DC2000 has 20% higher MP resulting in slightly more detailed stills, but does not shoot in 4k so the video quality isn’t quite as good as that of the Micro 3.0). 

However, don’t think that just because it’s mainly steered towards shooting video, the SeaLife Micro 3.0 is capable of great underwater photography as well. It can still capture 10 high resolution 16MP stills within a single second in addition to capturing 8mp still photos whilst recording 4k video; high res, uncompressed – that’s some very decent image quality. This waterproof camera also has a number manual features, allowing you to fine tune your underwater images. 

Going back to what makes this underwater camera great for shooting video with: it features image stabilization which allows for smooth shooting by correcting and removing body and lens shake. Image stabilization is essential for capturing smooth underwater video and with the Micro 3.0 the stabilisation feature is particularly well developed. 

Plus, the SeaLife Micro 3.0 allows upside-down shooting as well as time lapse modes.

This is an extremely ergonomic and easy to use waterproof camera – from the straight forward user interface with three “piano key” buttons, designed especially for easy use underwater and a shutter – to the highly durable rubbery casing which makes it both shock proof and easy to grip. 

It can operate in three underwater shooting modes – dive, snorkel and underwater light, plus it has three underwater colour correction settings: deep, shallow and green water. This makes it particularly accessible to beginners and less experienced underwater videographers as well as meaning it has excellent low light performance. 

One frustration with this underwater camera is that the focus range does leave a bit to be desired as with the standard lens that it comes with, the 3.0 cannot focus on anything that is closer than 15 inches / 38cm. However there is a separately purchased super macro lens for the SeaLife 3.0, which allows it to capture objects as close as 3.5″ to 7″ (9 – 18cm), meaning you can get those super close macro shots.

Compact, intuitive, packed with relevant features and modes and coming with some excellent accessories all for an all round affordable price, the SeaLife Micro 3.0 is an excellent underwater camera for shooting awesome videos and capturing great stills with. It’s for this reason, that it wins the Diving Squad award of Overall Best Underwater Video Camera!

The fact that the Micro 3.0 is so light, durable and well…stylish is also very welcome. This is a fantastic mid-price diving camera; one that will shoot great quality footage that will definitely be suitable for your vlog, social media or diving destination review guide. 

It seems likely that as with earlier SeaLife models, we’re going to start seeing more and more Micro 3.0’s out there as the popularity of this waterproof camera continues to surge among underwater photographers and videographers alike. 

There’s another similarly specced out underwater camera for a few hundred dollars less than the SeaLife Micro 3.0 and that’s the Olympus Tough T6-6. In many ways, it and the SeaLife Micro 3.0 are two very similar dive cameras but there’s a few key differences between them, which we’ll discus in the next review below!

PROS:

  • Waterproof Housing included

  • 4K Video (30fps) & 1080p full HD video (120fps) = Great Video Resolution

  • 16 MP = Very Decent Image Quality

  • Superb Stabilization

  • Shoots Upside Down

  • Extremely Compact, Shockproof & Lightweight

  • RAW Capabilities

  • Ergonomic Design & Intuitive User Interface

  • Excellent low light performance

  • Beginner Friendly

CONS:

  • Has a fixed f 2.8 apeture and fixed focal length lens, which means it doesn’t have some manual controls that advanced users would prefer.

  • Anything closer than 1ft will be blurry, unless separate macro lens is bought. 

#2 Best Diving Video Camera for Beginners

Olympus Tough TG-6

4.2/5

Review: The Olympus Tough TG-6 is another mid-priced waterproof camera, one that is particularly tailored towards beginner user level. In many way’s it’s similar to the SeaLife Micro 3.0; being able to shoot 4K video at or 1080p at 120fps, as well as having image stabilization and RAW support. 

However, there’s a few key differences between these two waterproof cameras. The Olympus TG only has 12 megapixels, whereas the Micro 3.0 has 16. This means that stills captured by this underwater camera are not quite as detailed, resulting in lower image quality. However, unlike the Micro 3.0, the Olympus TG does have an optical zoom with a zoom range of 4X – nice!

Another really cool feature of this underwater camera is it’s dynamic range – it has the ability to focus on images as close as 3.9 inches (10cm); which allows it to take shots that are far more up-close than the SeaLife Micro 3.0, which can’t focus on anything closer than 15inches (38cm). 

To further compliment this, the Olympus TG also has an effective macro mode built in meaning that it will have no problem getting those super up-close shots and will easily get the focus just right for the user. For those who prefer wide-angle photography, it’s also possible to mount a separate wet lens on it. 

This waterproof camera is also quite a bit cheaper than the SeaLife Micro 3.0. However, whilst it is waterproof without a housing to 50ft (15m), for it to go deeper, you must purchase the underwater housing separately. The underwater housing costs another few hundred dollars and when this is taken into consideration, there’s less of a price gap between the TG-6 and SeaLife Micro 30.0. 

Even for newish scuba divers, fun dives often exceed 50ft, so having the Tough TG-6 as a dive camera without the underwater casing, isn’t going to work out long term!

Also, it’s important to note, that whereas with their included underwater housings the SeaLife Micro 3.0’s have an impressive depth rating of 200ft (60m), the Olympus TG is only waterproof in it’s casing to 147ft (47m). That said, 131ft (40m) is the maximum depth for recreational scuba diving, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Unfortunately, this waterproof camera does not have great low light performance and image quality can degrade quickly as ISO increases. This means it’ll be harder to get good images on deep (90ft+) dives. That said, to compensate for this, you can still brighten shadows with decent results, fine tune white balance and get more detail than JPEGs provide.

More experienced underwater photographers will note that this camera does have a limited ability to adjust the exposure and ultimately the image quality, whilst good, will be outdone by most modern smartphones. Also, the RAW support is fairly basic. 

The TG-6 does not have full manual control, which makes things more suitable for newbie photographers. The auto mode and shortcut menu also make this camera straight-forward to use, however, the main menu is pretty clustered and feels like it should be easier to navigate, especially for a beginners diving camera. However, it’s fairly easy to get used to. 

By purchasing the deluxe accessory bundle users also get additional lenses, a floating wrist strap, a starter cleaning kit, high speed memory card reader, waterproof carrying case and more; most of which are generally useful, besides the extra lens options which aren’t anything special. 

All things said, this is a great waterproof camera for beginners – in many way’s it’s similar to the  SeaLife Micro 3.0 but there are a few key differences: On the one hand, it does not take quite as detailed stills, can’t go as deep and does not have as simple a user interface but on the other hand it does have a zoom and a more dynamic range of focus that allows macro shots.

Ultimately, which of these two waterproof cameras you choose, will depend on what’s most important to you. The main overall advantage of this underwater camera for beginners, is that it does allow one to capture a wider range of subjects from macro to wide shots, which can be particularly useful when one is still discovering what style of underwater videography interests them the most. In this sense, it’s a great all-round underwater video shooter. 

If neither the Olympus Tough TG-6 nor the SeaLife Micro 3.0 have won you over yet, fear not! In the next few reviews below, we check out a different style of underwater cameras: action cams – starting with an all time top seller: the GoPro Hero9 Black

PROS:

  • Affordable

  • 4X Optical Zoom Lens

  • Built in 25-100m lens is Fog Resistant

  • Effective Macro Mode

  • Some Raw Support

  • Awesome Video capability due to 4K Video Recording at 30fps and 120fps at 1080ps HD video

  • Wide Focusing Range – Infinity down to 3.9 inches (10cm)

  • Not fully manual and has easy auto mode and shortcut menu

  • Image Stabilization

CONS:

  • Requires Separately Purchased Underwater Housing to go deeper (to 147ft / 47m).

     

  • Somewhat poor low light performance  – images quickly degrade as ISO increases.

  • Raw support is basic

  • Limited ability to adjust exposure

  • Still image quality is ok but not great

  • Main Menu slightly cluttered

Diving Squad Tip: Psssst! If you’re a newly starting out underwater photographer, check out these this article we wrote: Underwater Photography Tips

#3 - Top Selling Underwater Video Camera

GoPro HERO 9 Black

4.6/5

Review: GoPro are a legendary brand; renowned for making high quality yet affordable (cheaper than the SeaLife Micro 3.0 or Tough TG-6!) action cameras that are compact, durable and waterproof and showcase many great features.

A new GoPro Hero has consistently been released every year and because the updates are always significant, much of GoPro’s loyal fanbase gladly buy the latest version every time it comes out. Let’s take a look at the Hero 9 Black, which was only released in the final quarter of 2020, but has been making big ripples in the action photographer community ever since.

The two biggest upgrades compared to the gopro hero 8 black, are the hero 9’s new sensor and front display. The new 23.6mp sensor has the ability to shoot video in 5K (!) at 30fps, allowing for truly great video resolution. You can also capture crisp, high quality images with 20mp clarity.  

The other big upgrade comes in the form of improved electronic stabilization, with the Hero 9 able to provide hyper-smooth blast, Go Pro’s strongest stabilization, in all shooting modes. 

Other handy features include RAW capabilities, long battery life (2 hours, 11 mins), white-balancing, live-burst capture and 8X slow motion video. Plus, you get digital lens modes allowing for superview, wide, linear or narrow; all at the touch of a button.

It’s also handy that users are able to switch between settings to combine features. For example, video quality (e.g 4K/60) with slow-mo or the time warp 3.0 feature, and screen size (super view, wide, etc).

Without any casing the GoPro Hero 9 Black is waterproof to 33ft (10m); however the separately purchased underwater casing is only around $20 and has a depth rating of 196ft (60m). 

Now one thing we should mention, is that unlike the SeaLife Micro 3.0, GoPro cameras are not designed exclusively for shooting underwater video – they’re action cameras; meaning they are for a range of sporting and adventure activities.

Whilst this broad applicability is extremely handy if you plan to be using this action cam for various sports and activities; if you only want to use it for diving, things can get a little frustrating.  Namely, this is because the GoPro Hero9’s user interface is designed to be operated via a touchscreen. When encased within the underwater housing you are limited to operating the controls via a single button and this results in some limitations such as being unable change certain settings like frame rates and resolution. 

It would be nice to see some dedicated underwater modes and settings on the Hero9 which has none of the three dive modes or the three underwater light corrections that the SeaLife Micro 3.0 does.  (However, this page will give you some tips on getting the settings right when using your GoPro underwater). 

Also, the focus range on the GoPro Hero 9 isn’t ideal. Anything closer than 12 inches will usually blur, so it’s not well suited to up close macro shots, unlike the Olympus Tough TG-6 with it’s macro mode and ability to focus on things as close as 3.9 inches. 

The GoPro Hero 9 is described as having a zoom range of 8X, however, not only is this touch screen operated, it’s merely a digital zoom, making it little more than a glorified crop, with no extra image detail. By contrast the Tough TG-6 has an optical zoom, which does provide more detail. 

It handles low lighting ok, but not amazingly – however a light mod can be purchased separately to provide video lights to help it handle poor lighting conditions better. 

Although the last few paragraphs have described several areas in which the GoPro Hero9 will appear lacking to some users, do not be put off. The Hero 9 Black’s are seriously awesome cameras for underwater; they offer superb value for money, have excellent image stabilisation, capture high quality 20MP stills – and are also the only underwater camera to shoot in 5K, which gives them the potential to capture some truly incredible footage!

Furthermore, if you are looking for an underwater camera that can also be used on land, this is the absolute best option for you. There’s many more features like the new front display (great for selfies), livestreaming & webcam capabilities and large rear touch screen, that will come in handy out of the water. It’s also an extremely compact camera, making it very easy to pack and travel with. 

GoPro continue to be one of the most popular manufacturers of affordable yet high quality action cameras and their Hero 9 is no disappointment. Of course, if you like the sound of the Hero9, but want to get a much cheaper (albeit slightly less capable) action camera, keep reading as we cover the dive cameras: DJI Osmo Action and then the even cheaper Apeman A87 for under $100 in the next 2 reviews!

PROS:

  • Shoot in awesome 5K video (30fps) or 4K video (60fps)!

     

  • HyperSmooth 3.0 Boost provides excellent image stabilization

     

  • 4 digital lens modes – superview, wide, linear, narrow

  • Create custom presets

     

  • 20MP clarity = awesome image quality

  • Range of other features make it great for terrestrial actives, including front display, livestreaming and large rear touch screen.

  • Very Long Battery Life

CONS:

  • Touch screen can’t be operated in underwater casing. Must operate via one button which limits ability to adjust settings underwater.

  • Clunky and slow to scroll with one button. 

  • Can’t focus on images closer than 12 inches – not ideal for macro

  • No dedicated underwater modes or underwater lighting adjustments

#4 Best Value Underwater Video Camera

3.2/5

Review: DJI are more commonly known for creating kickass drones but in 2020 they released their first point and shoots underwater camera and it’s made a pretty big stir, being frequently described as a cheaper version of the GoPro, which it is similar to in many ways. 

Like the GoPro Hero 9, the DJI Osmo is an ultra compact camera that let’s you shoot in 8X super slow motion, which allows for some extremely cool video use.

It also has many similar great features like bracketing, burst, exposure control, single shot and time lapse – just like the GoPro. So far so good! Plus it has excellent image stabilization by combining EIS with complex algorithms to deliver stable, shake free footage.

In fact, the DJI Osmo even has several of the same limitations as the GoPro, being unable to focus on anything closer than 12″ / 30cm which equals no close up macro shots (The Olympus Tough TG-6 is great for these though, with it’s zoom, awesome focus range and macro mode).

Because the DJI Osmo, like the GoPro, is designed as an action camera that’s suitable for a range of extreme activities; it does lack the three underwater modes and three underwater lighting corrections that dedicated diving cameras, such as the SeaLife Micro 3.0 has. 

Without it’s underwater casing, this action cam has a depth rating of only 36ft (11m); however the underwater casing can be separately purchased for under $20 and this makes the camera waterproof to a whopping 200ft (61m)!

Now let’s look at some of the key differences between the DJI and GoPro (besides the fact that the DJI Osmo is quiet a bit cheaper!)

DJI Osmo let’s you shoot in 4K video at 60fps (as well as 1080p to 240fps!) which allows for some very impressive footage, but this isn’t quite as impressive as the 5K footage captured by the GoPro Hero9. The difference here is pretty subtle though. 

However, things get more noticeable when switching to stills. That’s because whereas the GoPro Hero9 captures stills with a 20mp resolution, the DJI Osmo can only do so with a 12mp, resulting in poorer image quality, making it less suitable for underwater photography. So all things considered, the DJI Osmo captures slightly less decent video and notably less detailed images than the Hero 9 Black. 

The DJI Osmo does not have any zoom lenses at all, but as we’ve already said, the GoPro zoom is a digital one aka glorified crop, so this is nothing to worry about when comparing these two cameras. 

However, it is worth pointing out that within it’s underwater casing, the DJI Osmo is more easy to use than the GoPro Hero9 is and this is largely due to the fact that the DJI Osmo has three buttons (instead of just one), which makes everything a little simpler. Also the DJI Osmo Action, does have slightly better low light performance than the Hero9. 

All things considered, the DJI Osmo is a nice point and shoot underwater camera for a very reasonable price. Ultimately it’s not quite as capable as the GoPro Hero9, but if the Hero9 is too expensive, than the DJI Osmo is an extremely competent second choice, with it’s impressive 4K video @ 60fps video shooting capacity and excellent stabilisation. 

But if the DJI is still too expensive, read on for our next review where we talk about the Apeman A89 which costs less than $100!

PROS:

  • Shoots in 4K/60FPS

     

  • Cheap

     

  • Compact and durable

  • Front display and many extra features for terrestrial sports
      
  • Easier to use in Underwater Casing compared to GoPro

  • Good low light performance

CONS:

  • Only captures stills to 12 mp.

  • Can’t focus on anything closer than 12 inches. 

  • No dedicated diving modes or underwater lighting adjustments

  •  No Zoom

  • Not dedicated underwater modes

#5 Cheapest Underwater Camera

2.8/5

Review: Underwater cameras don’t get much cheaper than this – at less than one hundred bucks, the Apeman A87 is the newest model in the highly popular Apeman action cam series. Despite it’s absurdly low price point, it packs a serious punch.

For starters, it’s underwater housing is included and this has a depth rating of 131ft / 40m; the greatest depth within recreational diving limits. 

It uses a 20MP sensor to shoot 4K video @ 60fps and also has several options for slow motion editing. Plus, it has an impressive 8X optical zoom lens, which freely brings you closer the item you want to capture! It’s surprising to see a zoom like this on such a cheap camera, but extremely welcome nonetheless!

The Apeman A87 also features electronic stabilization as well as gyro stabilization, which together detect and neutralise involuntary movements, allowing for extremely stable shooting. Furthermore, lens distortion correction automatically corrects the fisheye effect, keeping recordings more faithful to reality.

This is a very small and compact camera and it has an easy to use two button interface when sealed within it’s underwater casing. 

Included with the Apeman A87 is an entire arsenal of action camera accessories including a wrist mounted strap, remote control and much more. 

Of course, being so cheap the Apeman A87 is not without several shortcomings. For starters, video and image quality rapidly decrease in dimmer lighting conditions due to a very basic sensor, which can’t go above an ISO of 400.

Also, when shooting video for longer than 15 minutes, video quality rapidly deteriorates towards the end. In normal lighting, the tiny screen is hard to see which makes it difficult to get an idea of exactly what your filming. Therefore, it’s much better suited to a point and shoot – and hope for the best style of underwater video shooting. 

Another slightly frustrating trait of the Apeman A87 is that the date gets reset when you change out the battery, so make sure you download videos off the camera before changing it’s battery!

Although it has 20MP and shoots in 4K video, the overall simplicity of the Apeman A87’s sensor and modes of operation, means it’s not going to produce video that’s as of as high quality as the mid-priced underwater video shooters: the SeaLife Micro 3.0 or the Olympus Tough TG-6, nor the GoProFurthermore, the image quality of the A87 will be nowhere near the quality of the more expensive Lumix GH5 or Sony A7III mirrorless cameras. 

All that said, the Apeman A87 is still a superb underwater point and shoot camera for the minimal price you pay for it and whilst it’s videos and images are not up to the level of other trending underwater cameras of this year, they’re still pretty damn close to the capabilities of more expensive underwater cameras that were being made even a few years ago.

The Apeman A87 is the best camera for underwater video shooting in terms of affordability and value for money, but if you want something even cheaper, make sure to check our our main page on Cheap Underwater Cameras HERE.

PROS:

  • Insanely Cheap

  • Includes Waterproof Casing for 131ft / 40m depth.

  • Can shoot 4K video @ 60fps

  • Features electronic stabilization and gyro stabilization.

  • 8X Optical Zoom lens

  • Includes many accessories

  • One of the most compact cameras 

CONS:

  • Lower Picture Quality compared to other cameras.

  • Picture quality rapidly decreases in dimmer lighting conditions

  • Long videos deteriorate in quality towards end

  • Date resets when you change the battery

  • Poor Audio Quality

  • Poor Focus Range (no closer than 15″)  = not good for macro shots

#6 Best Expensive Underwater Camera

Panasonic Lumix GH5

4.5/5

Review: Panasonic have a formidable reputation as one of the greatest manufacturers of high quality electronics of all time. Lumix – Panasonic’s brand of digital mirrorless cameras have gained notoriety as some of the best underwater cameras of all time. 

And one Panasonic Lumix model in particular – the GH5 is widely considered by many underwater videographers to be the hands down best line of video cameras for underwater that there are, in terms of overall performance and overall quality. 

Now, before we take a look at what makes the Panasonic Lumix GH5 an epic underwater camera; let’s keep this review brutal (in typical Diving Squad style) and first expose the GH5’s con’s:

Not only are these cameras expensive; the underwater housings for them have to be bought separately and this is also pretty damn pricey! (There are several housing options). 

In total, the combined price of the GH5 and one of it’s underwater housing options is going be around a couple thousand dollars, which will definitely put off some would be buyers. This camera does not offer great value for money. 

If you’re strapped for cash, we recommend checking out some of the more affordable options such as the cheapest underwater video camera of all: the Apeman A87 -or, if you’ve a little more dosh but still not much, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is a great budget diving video camera that’s also for beginners, whereas the SeaLife Micro 3.0 is a top selling mid-priced option and our personal favourite diving video camera. 

However – if you do have serious cash to splash, scroll down below to keep reading about what makes the Panasonic Lumix GH5 our number one pick as best quality underwater video camera. 

Although it’s expensive, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 lives up to it’s stellar reputation; being a high quality, reliable and well equipped underwater camera – especially for shooting videos with; having been designed “for video first and stills second”. 

One of the reasons it performs so well underwater is because it is equipped with a wide arsenal of relevant performance enhancing features including white balance metering, autofocusing and image stabilization. 

Image stabilization is a particularly crucial feature for anyone shooting video underwater but not all image stabilization is equal! The GH5s’ incredible 5 axis dual image stabilization corrects all lenses to eliminate blur and body and lens shake, both effectively and seamlessly. (A similar model to the GH5 exists: the newer Lumix GH5S; which has higher pixelation but no image stabilisation, making it poorly suited for underwater videographers – so choose the GH5, which we’re reviewing here).

Another reason this mirrorless camera has superb video resolution is because of its full sensor width 4k which can shoot up to a whopping 60 frames per second (!) 4k video with internal 4:2 2 10 bit 4K video recording and subsequently captures some truly flawless slow motion videos as well. Videos shot by the GH5 are extremely sharp and don’t suffer from pixel dumping at all. 

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 produces excellent image quality with a high dynamic range thanks in part, to it’s 20.3 mp 1 inch sensor, which is a smaller micro four thirds sized sensor – this means that the camera will show some noise and less colour retention at higher ISOs. 

All of these awesome features that the Lumix GH5 has, result in this camera capturing ultra high quality video footage. 

The GH5’s video resolution is a whopping 4096 x 2160 and this is ultimately the main reason why it win’s the Diving Squad award of overall best expensive underwater video camera instead of it’s similarly matched competitor / runner up, the Sony A7III (3840 X 2160 vid res).

For those who can afford it and are serious about prioritising video over stills, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is a great underwater camera; it does also produces some very nice stills as well; featuring focus stacking, focus bracketing and post focus mode as well as the ability to  extract 8MP photos from 4K video or extract 18mp photos from video footage.

We really love the Panasonic Lumix GH5; any filming diver who knows quality when they see it, will have a hard time finding fault with it and is sure to be delighted with the awesome results that it produces. Honestly, it’s a surprise it’s not more expensive; although it’s not cheap, this is still a very good value for money camera. 

However, it’s a real annoyance that the extremely expensive underwater casing is often very hard to acquire, being made by a separate manufacturer. 

Also, because the Panasonic Lumix GH5 was not made just for divers; it does not have any dedicated diving modes or underwater lighting adjustments, unlike our favourite diving video camera: the SeaLife Micro 3.0. 

It may also be worth checking out our second best expensive diving camera: the several hundred dollars more expensive Sony A7III, which is similar in many ways to the GH5 but has several key differences such as being lighter, more compact and having max sensor resolution (but poorer video definition).

PROS:

  • White Balance Metering

  • Rapid Autofocusing

  • 5 Axis Dual Stabilization

  • Full Sensor Width shoots superb 4k video up to 60 frames per second at full HD video at frame rate of 180 per second

  • Captures flawless Slow Motion

  • 20.3mp Sensor which is a Smaller Micro Four Thirds Sized Sensor

  • Long Battery Life

CONS:

  • Expensive

  • Underwater Housing not included and is also expensive

  • Underwater Housing not currently available on amazon.com 

  • No dedicated diving modes

  • Must purchase separate lens to have zoom

  • Not a compact camera – will take up quite a lot of packing space

#7 Best Expensive Diving Video Camera 2nd Place

4.4/5

Before we dive into what makes the Sony A7III a superb underwater camera and a great…albeit flawed, alternative to the Lumix GH5, it’s worth mentioning that like the GH5, the Sony A7III is expensive (in fact it costs a couple of hundred dollars more than the GH5) and does not include underwater housing, which must be purchased separately (with several housing options), also at a significant cost (and protects it to a maximum water pressure of 200ft). 

A more affordable, yet still high quality underwater video camera is the SeaLife Micro 3.0 – a top seller, which unlike the A7III or GH5, stays under $1K and includes the underwater housing, along with many dedicated diving features. 

Or, if you’ve only got a few hundred dollars to spend, check out the Olympus Tough TG6, a great choice for beginners – and if you don’t even want to spend one hundred dollars, check out the Apeman A87, which may be seriously cheap but packs a hell of a punch!

Still reading? Ok, let’s talk about what makes the A7III an amazing underwater video camera and why it was such a close call between it and the GH5 for the DivIng Squad award of best expensive mirrorless cameras. 

For starters, this mirrorless camera has an advanced 24.2MP BSI full frame image sensor w/1.8X reload. Yes, you heard us right. By having a 24.2Mp image processor, the A7III actually has 20% higher pixels than the GH5 (with its 20.3 Mp). This means that the A7III can take more detailed photos than the GH5 and so is better for underwater photography (meaning strict underwater photographers may prefer it). 

Very nice – however, this article is about reviewing the best underwater cameras for video and as we’ve already covered the GH5 shoots higher max definition video (4096 X 2160) than the A7III which only has a max video definition of 3840 X 2160.

But there’s other ways in which the A7III  beats the GH5! It’s more compact than the GH5 and also lighter, weighing only 660g compared to the GH5 which weighs 725g. This does make the A7III a little easier to travel with – though not by a very significant amount. Neither is the best compact camera with everything else we’ve reviewed in this article being lighter and smaller. 

It’s definitely worth noting that the A7III can handle low light significantly better than the GH5 due to having much better ISO performance. It’s max ISO is 51.200 – which is twice as high as the GH5’s max ISO of 25.600. This is very impressive indeed and will certainly come in handy on deeper dives, during which, image quality will remain high. 

Yet another extremely cool feature of this mirrorless camera – which the GH5 lacks, is “Animal EYE AF Tracking” which means it can easily lock and track focus on animals. Whilst the camera may get a little confused if you asked it to do this amidst a huge school of fish, for tracking shots of larger creatures such as solitary sharks or rays it’s a seriously cool feature.

So far the A7III is looking like a really great underwater camera. And that’s because it is! It does trump the GH5 in several ways and also shares several awesome features with it, including sensor-shift image stabilisation and raw support. 

Ultimately, there are two major ways the A7III is beaten by the GH5 – firstly by having a much lower max video resolution and secondly by only allowing continuous shooting to 10fps, where as the GH5 can do this to 12fps. 

Also, the A7III does not have focus bracketing, focus stacking or post focus mode all of which the GH5 does have – nor can the A7III extract 8mp photos from 4K video like the GH5. 

At the end of the day, even though we’ve ranked the Panasonic GH5 as best expensive underwater video camera overall; the truth is, it’s a little more complicated than that (no surprise really, considering the fact that underwater shooting of videos is complicated!).

Ultimately which of these two cameras is going to be the best choice for you, will depend on your personal preferences; both with respect to photo and videography as well as what environments and subjects you plan to film underwater. 

Both the A7III and GH5 are similarly priced, extremely high quality mirrorless cameras; both are orientated towards video use over stills and both have an excellent range of video features that make them well suited as underwater video cameras, provided they are in their separately purchased, insanely expensive and hard to get hold of underwater housing. 

The choice is yours which camera you choose! Or check out any one of our three favourite underwater video cameras of all time: the SeaLife Micro 3.0, the Olympus Tough TG-6 or the GoPro Hero9. 

PROS:

  • Image Stabilization

  • 24 Mp = excellent image quality

  • Max ISO of 51.200 (twice as high as GH5) = performs very well in low light

  • Animal EYE AF Tracking

  • Continuous shooting up to 10 frame rate per second

  • 4K Video @  frame rate of 30 per second = epic video capability

  • Excellent Performance in Low Light

CONS:

  • Lower max vid resolution than GH5

  • No Zoom

  • Limited Focus Range (no closer than 15″

  • Expensive

  • Underwater housing sold separately, expensive and hard to acquire. 

Best Diving Video Cameras COMPARISON TABLE:

 Price with Waterproof HousingWaterproof Housing IncludedDepth Rating with Waterproof HousingMax VideoMegapixelsVideo Stabilisation RatingZoom LenseFocus RangeDedicated Dive ModesSlow MoDiving Squad Rating
SeaLife Micro 3.0$$$$$Yes200ft4K @ 30fps164 / 5NoInfinity to 15″Yes4X4.8 / 5
Olympus Tough TG-6$$$$No147ft4K @ 30fps123 / 54 X OpticalInfinity to 3.9″No4X4.2 / 5
GoPro Hero9
$$$No196ft5K @ 30fps244 / 5Digital Only Infinity to 12″No8X4.6 / 5
DJI Osmo$$No200ft4K @ 60fps124 / 5NoInfinity to 12″No8X3.2 / 5
Apeman A87

$Yes131ft4K @ 60fps202 / 58 X OpticalInfinity to 15″No4X2.8 / 5
Panasonic Lumix GH5$$$$$$$$No200ft 4K @ 60fps205 / 5NoInfinity to 12″No4X4.5 / 5
Sony A7III$$$$$$$$No200ft4K @ 30fps245 / 5NoInfinity to 12″No4X4.4 / 5

Underwater Cameras- Technical Jargon:

#1 - Waterproof Housing / Depth Rating

Cameras need to be sealed in underwater housing/casing, in order to be waterproof. Whereas a few options such as the SeaLife Micro 3.0 and Apeman A79 include underwater casing at no extra cost, for most cameras, the housing has to be purchased separately and can range in price from under twenty bucks to many hundreds of dollars! 

Depth Rating refers to the maximum depth an underwater housing, allows a camera to be waterproof. If you take it beyond this, it may probably break!

#2 - 4K Film Resolution

4K film resolution is a feature in all of the top diving video waterproof cameras. This means that footage is sharp and has a very high clarity. 4K also helps in editing and post-production. It allows you to slow your footage down, or speed it up, without losing the quality.

#3 MP (Megapixels)

A megapixel (mp) is a million pixels; the term not only used for the number of pixels in an image but also for the number of image sensor elements. 

The more megapixels a camera has, the more detail it can capture in an image. However, if you squeeze more megapixels into a sensor, it can work less effectively in dim conditions. 

Also, whilst a high MP means better still photo quality, it can detract from video quality due to making footage more noisy. Therefore underwater cameras should have a good amount of – but not too many megapixels, if they are mainly to be  used for video over photos. 

#4 FPS (Frames Per Second)

How many video frames the camera captures per second of video. Higher fps = smoother, more lifelike video. However, there’s more to the quality of video than just FPS. Other factors such as lens options and type, video stabilisation and megapixels also have a big impact on this. 

Therefore, whilst you might assume that a camera which shoots 4K at 60fps will capture better video than a camera that only shoots 4K at 30fps, although this could be the case but it could also not be if the lower fps camera has a much better lens.

Rest assured that we’ve taken all of these factors into consideration when rating the underwater video cameras reviewed in this article. 

#5 - Video Stabilisation

Movement underwater is inevitable. We like to imagine ourselves moving as gracefully as some kind of mermaid/man through the water. However, footage very rarely will come out that way. Stabilization gives footage a smooth appearance. It helps frames look cinematic as opposed to bumpy and shaky. 

Once again video stabilisation capacity and quality varies between cameras – and once again, we’ve taken this into account with the final scores we allocated each camera in the reviews section. 

#6 - Zoom

If a camera has a zoom, it can make an object appear closer than it is. However, not all zooms are equal! Digital zoom is pretty useless. It’s basically just a glorified crop – you remove the border of the image and blow it up, but you don’t get extra detail! 

By contrast, optical zoom is much better as this is where the physical properties of a lens generally magnify objects and thereby do provide more detail of it in the image. 

#7 Focus Range

This refers to the closest distance between the lens and an object, that the camera can focus on without blurring. Whereas practically all digital cameras can focus to infinity without blurring, it’s much more tricky to get them to be able to focus on things that are very close to the lens, such as tiny crustaceans or molluscs. 

Macro videography is the term used to refer to filming tiny creatures or super close ups underwater of coral or sponge for example and in order to achieve this,  you need a camera with a lens that can focus on things as close as about 4″.

A camera with a focus range of infinity to 12″ will blur when anything is held closer to the lens than 12 inches, whereas a camera with a focus range of infinity to 4″ will only blur when subjects are 4 inches or closer to the lens. 

Fortunately, even if a camera has a poor focus range (i.e. infinity to 15″), you can often purchase a separate macro lens for that camera, which allows it to focus on things that are much closer to it.

#8 Slow Mo

Remember that first time you ever saw a piece of slow mo video as a kid? How you clapped your hands and laughed hysterically at all those contorted facial expressions and low pitched noises, then tried to recreate it yourself?! When we mention slow mo in this article, we’re talking about the same effect!

8X slow mo can slow down the speed of a video by eight times without it appearing juddering, whereas 4X slow mo can only do it by four times. 

#9 - AutoFocus System

Autofocus is important for videoing underwater. You are constantly moving while diving and the camera needs to be able to shift focus easily as you do so.

When you shoot underwater, you are hoping to catch things that often happen in a few seconds. Your camera needs to be able to keep up so that you are not left disappointed.

#10 Diving Squad Rating

You can rest assured, that when we’ve given an underwater video camera in this article a rating out of 5 stars, we’ve taken account of all the features described above; their presence or absence, their quality and capacity and how they interact with other features, modes and accessories that the camera has. 

We did this both to inform our own decision making in what really are the best underwater video cameras and in which category they belong, such as cheapest, beginners or  best all round. And we also did it for you, so you don’t have to! 

5 Quick Tips For Using An Underwater Camera

Taking down extra equipment can be overwhelming for beginner divers. However, once you have become comfortable in your dives, it is a worthwhile leap to make. You can use this guide to underwater photography and the list below to master capturing life under the sea.

  1. Ensure all your settings are correct before your descent.

     

  2. Pay special attention to your white balance setting.

     

  3. Hold the video camera as close to your body as possible for stable footage.

     

  4. Consider using a table mount for added stability. 

     

  5. Try and get a variety of shots to make your videos interesting.

Diving Squad Debriefing

Social media has molded an age of documenting and sharing all of our experiences with the world, including that sandwich you ate for lunch. However, far more exciting content can be found and created.

Author Tom Robbins said, “Reality whistles a different tune underwater”. We couldn’t agree more. Discovering life underwater is exhilarating.

Cameras should be chosen with your aim and price point in mind. Our underwater video camera reviews are fully up to date to give you the most enjoyable filming experience.

The tips and tricks will ensure your footage shows the beauty and mystery of life underwater as seen through your eyes. Good luck and happy underwater videography! Don’t forget, we also have a main article on the Best Underwater Cameras. 

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