Without a doubt, the newly released Paralenz Vaquita is the best camera for underwater video currently available.
That’s because it produces higher definition video than any other underwater camera available: only the Paralenz Vaquita can record 4K at up to 60fps. By comparison other underwater cameras can only film 4K at up to 30fps.
In addition to this, the Paralenz Vaquita is the only underwater camera to feature automatic underwater colour correction that adjusts with depth.
Underwater videos and photos shot with the Vaquita have extremely realistic and vibrant colours that don’t require any post editing. With it’s 12mp image sensor it can also snap detailed photos that have near perfect colours.
Because the Paralenz Vaquita’s display is smaller than that of other underwater camera’s it can make it a little hard to see the shot your framing. As well as this, the long and narrow shape of the Vaquita makes it a little harder to hold it stable compared to more traditionally shaped cameras.
Therefore, the Vaquita is best in the hands of a diver with decent buoyancy and some experience framing underwater shots.
With every dive, you make, the Vaquita records your dive profile, with data on your global location, depth, temperature and salinity of the water, this information is attached to the videos you took on that dive.
You can upload this dive data to the Paralenz app to provide marine research organizations with useful data, whilst you yourself can also view dive videos and logs that have been uploaded from other Paralenz Vaquita users around the globe.
There’s a variety of great accessories for the Vaquita, including a selfie stick that can float behind you to provide a third person view, a handgrip to the camera it more stable and a macro lens. Read more about the Paralenz Vaquita here.
The Sealife Micro 3.0 is the best underwater camera for beginners thanks to its simple user interface, ergonomic design, all round functionality and automatic underwater colour correction setting.
It is permanently sealed within it’s 200ft / 60m waterproof housing which is shockproof and has rubber grips to make it easier to hold.
The intuitive user interface is operated via three large piano key buttons that are easy to operate even with thick gloves. and are located right next to the high resolution display which is at 2.4 inches is a very decent size, making shots easy to frame.
The underwater colour correction setting has three modes (shallow, deep and green) and automatically adjusts white balance in order to correct underwater colours that would otherwise appear increasingly blueish or greenish as you get deeper.
Although you can manually adjust white balance yourself, you need to know a fair bit about underwater lighting, to do it effectively so having a feature that automatically does it is makes the Sealife Micro 3.0 a superb option for for beginners.
The Micro 3.0 shoots 4K/30fps for high definition or 1080p/120fps for slowmo and also features very decent video stabilization tech that helps correct lens shake for smoother footage. There’s also timelapse and photoburst modes and you can even use it for upside down shooting.
With a 16 MP image sensor, it can also take high quality and crisp photos that show plenty of details plus and with underwater colour correction already applied.
There’s a wide range of accessories available for the Micro 3.0 including the Sealife table mount, photography lights plus macro and ultra wide angle lenses.
Versatile, easy to use and packed with superb features fo underwater use, the Micro 3.0 is our number one recommendation to beginner divers and underwater photographers. You can read more about the Sealife Micro 3.0 here.
The Olympus Tough TG 6 is the best underwater camera for macro photography thanks to its 4 X optical zoom, focus range of 3.9 inches to infinity as well as a unique macro / microscope mode unseen in any other underwater camera that lets you focus on subjects as close as 0.39 inches which you can then use the optical zoom to get as close as 0.13 inches!
This makes it the best option for photographing tiny macro critters such as shrimp, nudibranch, coral close ups – you simply can’t focus as close to macro subjects with any other camera sa youc an the Olympus Tough TG6. At the same time, by being able to shoot to infinity it can also be used for wide angle shots on the same dive.
It is a rugged and compact underwater camera that is freezeproof, shockproof, and fully waterproof to 50ft / 15m without it’s underwater housing, and waterproof to 147ft / 45 meters with it’s underwater housing.
With the ability to shoot excellent quality video at 4K / 30fps for high definition or 1080p / 120fps for slowmo as well as a 12mp sensor for snapping crisp, clear photos, the Olympus Tough TG 66 is a great all rounder as well.
It’s image stabilization corrects lens shake to produce smooth and seamless video footage, whilst the RAW support increases image quality and also provides the ability to easily correct photos that would normally be hard to fix.
There’s no full manual mode; instead the TG6 relies on an easy auto mode and shortcut menu – this actually makes it extremely easy to use even for beginners although more experienced underwater photographers/videographers may find it a little limiting. White balance can be manually adjusted.
Action cameras are small digital cameras used for sports like such as skating, biking and scuba diving! To be used underwater they must be placed in an underwater housing.
These types of cameras are cheap and can be used for many different activities but they’re a little limited for diving – they don’t have any special underwater features as seen in cameras designed more exclusively for diving such as underwater colour correction as seen in the Sealife Micro 3.0 and the Paralenz Vaquita or a macro mode like the Olympus Tough TG6.
All the same, action cameras make great backup cameras to divers because they’re small, cheap and easy to rig on a table mount alongside a larger camera.
GoPro are a legendary brand in the action camera world – to this day they continue to produce the absolute best action cameras out there. Their newest model – the GoPro Hero 10 is currently the only underwater action camera that has the ability to shoot in 5.3K/60fps!
Other cool features are manual white balance adjustment, live burst capture, RAW support and 8 X slow mo. You can read about other makes of underwater action cameras here.
The Gopro 10 has higher video and photo stats than any other action camera but is also a fair bit more expensive than other action cameras. In the next section we review the cheapest underwater camera available this year.
Despite being the cheapest underwater camera, the Akaso EK7000 is pretty damn impressive!
It can shoot 4K/30fps video and has a 16mp image sensor for very clear and crisp 16mp pictures. If you want to avoid having a greenish / blueish tint to your underwater photos and videos then you’ll need to manually adjust the white settings for the depth you plan to dive at, which requires some experience.
Encased within it’s underwater housing, the EK7000 is waterproof to 98ft / 30m; a depth that recreational scuba diving rarely reaches. The anti-shake feature, whilst not as sophisticated as video stabilization tech of more expensive diving cameras, still does a pretty good job at making videos appear less shaky.
To discover more cheap scuba diving cameras feel free to check out our article on the best cheap underwater cameras.
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!
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.
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).
The underwater housing gives the Panasonic Lumix GH5 water resistance to 300 ft / 90 m and is made from high quality aluminium with superbly ergonomic quick access of all the controls as well as a moisture detection feature.
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).
Before we dive into what makes the Sony A7III a superb underwater camera and a great 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.
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.
It’s aluminium underwater housing provides water resistance to an impressive 330 ft / 100 m and provides full access to the Sony A7III functions in an extremely ergonomic layout with piano key controls, interchangeable viewfinders and more.
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.
|Price with Waterproof Housing||Waterproof Housing Included||Depth Rating with Waterproof Housing||Max Video||Megapixels||Video Stabilisation Rating||Zoom Lense||Focus Range||Dedicated Dive Modes||Slow Mo||Diving Squad Rating|
|SeaLife Micro 3.0||$$$$$||Yes||200ft||4K @ 30fps||16||4 / 5||No||Infinity to 15″||Yes||4X||4.8 / 5|
|Olympus Tough TG-6||$$$$||No||147ft||4K @ 30fps||12||3 / 5||4 X Optical||Infinity to 3.9″||No||4X||4.2 / 5|
|GoPro Hero9||$$$||No||196ft||5K @ 30fps||24||4 / 5||Digital Only||Infinity to 12″||No||8X||4.6 / 5|
|DJI Osmo||$$||No||200ft||4K @ 60fps||12||4 / 5||No||Infinity to 12″||No||8X||3.2 / 5|
|Apeman A87||$||Yes||131ft||4K @ 60fps||20||2 / 5||8 X Optical||Infinity to 15″||No||4X||2.8 / 5|
|Panasonic Lumix GH5||$$$$$$$$||No||200ft||4K @ 60fps||20||5 / 5||No||Infinity to 12″||No||4X||4.5 / 5|
|Sony A7III||$$$$$$$$||No||200ft||4K @ 30fps||24||5 / 5||No||Infinity to 12″||No||4X||4.4 / 5|
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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