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The 5 Best Underwater Cameras for 2021 - Our Choices

The 5 Best Underwater Cameras for 2021 - Our Choices

You have taken the leap into a new adventure in life and become a certified diver. After buying the gear that fits your style and with a few trips to a resort or on a liveaboard, you notice many of your fellow divers are packing a camera of some sort. Some carry a small sports camera like the GoPro HERO, some carry a small compact and fully waterproof camera that requires no housing like the Olympus TG-6, and others carry a camera that looks like it was assembled by NASA. Now you have decided to become part of the photography crowd, but the question is which camera will best suit your wants and needs. The decision can be complex with so many options for the buyer. Once you start looking at cameras and housing and strobes, you may find your budget could be the driving factor. A full top end camera setup can cost a few thousand dollars.

 

We have selected what we believe are the best cameras in their category along with a couple of options on housings. This article doesn’t delve into the world of underwater strobes and lighting which deserves an article of its own. We hope this article helps you decide which camera might be your first purchase or if you already have an underwater camera and are ready to upgrade, what will be your next step.

 

Our categories are entry level compact, high-end compact, mirrorless, full frame mirrorless, and DSLR (digital single-lens reflex). Each type of camera has its own pros and cons.

 

Compact cameras offer an attached lens while both mirrorless and DSLRs offer interchangeable lenses. After shooting with a compact camera, many people eventually upgrade to a mirrorless or a DSLR. The advantage with a DSLR is the choice of interchangeable lenses. This difference limits the flexibility of a compact camera, although wet lenses that can be added while diving can help bridge this gap. You also have more flexibility with different focal lengths and better image quality from superior optics and a larger sensor. Interchangeable lens cameras also have reduced shutter lag and better focusing capability. These are huge advantages. 


Entry Level Compact Camera - Olympus TG-6

Key Features:

12MP Hi-Speed image sensor for low light performance and noise reduction

Dual Quad Core TruePic™ VIII Image Processor

F2.0 high speed Lens

4K and high speed video

Field Sensor System w/ GPS, Manometer, Compass & Temperature Sensor

Waterproof 


                               

                                               
The Olympus TG-6 is the same size as the TG-5 and has very minor improvements. The TG-6 will work in TG-5 housings. So, if you're really on a budget, take a look at the TG-5. Either the TG-5 or the TG-6 can be considered the best waterproof camera, outside of a housing. 

 

Although we are calling this an entry level camera, this is a very good underwater camera. It's also a good option for snorkeling because it's waterproof without a housing down to 50 feet (15 meters). 

 

The TG-6 has a high speed 12 MP sensor designed for excellent low light performance and noise reduction. It shoots 4k video, RAW photos, and includes built in WIFI, making transferring photos on the go easy. It's important to note that there is no full manual control on this camera. For the casual photographer who doesn't want to have to think about their camera settings this is probably not an issue. But if you want more control, you may want to consider a different camera. you'll be happier with an of the other cameras we mentioned above. For the housing, we recommend either the Olympus housing or the premium Isotta housing.

 

Pros

  • Smaller size for travel
  • Ability to change wet lenses underwater 
  • Much less cost 

 

Cons

  • Smaller sensor means less detail and more noise at high ISO
  • Shutter delay and focus delay is slow 
  • Less control over depth of field. 


High-End Level Compact Camera – Sony RX100 VII

Key Features:

1-inch 20.1 MP stacked CMOS sensor

BIONZ X processor

Built-in 24-200mm (equivalent) f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens

Electronic shutter up to 1/32000s

4K video with full pixel readout

S-LOG2, S-Log3, and HLG picture profiles

Pop-up EVF (2.36 million dots)


                                      

                                          

The Sony RX100 VII is packed with great features and improvements from its predecessor. New technologies have been integrated into the camera, which is similar to its cousins, the A9 and A6400. The improved autofocus tracking system, including animal eye autofocus makes the Sony RX100 VII a top choice for underwater photographers. You won’t find more useful technology for photographing underwater creatures on any other compact camera. Other upgrades include burst shooting without blackout and improved low light capability with a lower native ISO. 

 

There are three things that make the RX100 series one of the best underwater compact camera series. First, the 1-inch sensor size is larger than most other compact cameras. The larger sensor produces better image quality and better low-light performance due to a larger pixel size. Second, the auto-focus speed is faster than traditional compact cameras. Thirdly, the advanced 4K video features available in the RX100 series are the top-of-the-line when it comes to compact camera video systems.

 

The highlight of this camera is its unprecedented macro capability. The zoom on the 24-200 mm f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens cannot be beaten by other compact underwater setups. Details captured with this lens are remarkable. When combined with a wet macro lens, the realm of super macro photography is attainable. The tiniest details of the smallest subjects can be captured with this set up. For the housing, we recommend either the Nauticam housing or the premium Isotta housing.

 

Pros

  • Sharp 8x zoom lens
  • Electronic viewfinder
  • 1-inch sensor design
  • Eye detection

 

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can't start video while images are writing to card
  • Limited touch functions


Mirrorless Camera – Panasonic GH5

Key features:

20MP Four Thirds sensor

5-axis in-body image stabilization system

4K footage taken using full width of sensor

Internal 4K/30p 10-bit 4:2:2 video capture

1080 video at up to 180p, enabling 7.5x slow-motion

4K and 6K Photo

9 fps shooting with continuous autofocus

Dual UHS II card slots

5GHz Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth

                      


The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 is the fifth in the company's industry-changing video and stills 'hybrid' lineup. With its 20MP Four Thirds sensor and deep video-centric feature set, it looks likely to pick up where the GH4 left off as a favorite of indie filmmakers and photographers whose interests venture into the realm of motion picture work.

 

The camera offers carefully thought-out features designed to let videographers of all levels record what they need with the new system. The body is larger and the price tag increased as a result, but the video produced speaks for itself. And the GH5's still photo capability holds its own against the best from Olympus and Sony.

 

The benefit of mirrorless cameras is that they offer the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, with a higher quality and better focusing than compacts in a smaller, lighter package than their DSLR counterparts. As the mirrorless cameras are becoming more robust, we’ve seen the sizes of these cameras begin to increase, getting close in size as DSLR cameras. We’re not quite there yet, and the Panasonic GH5, which the largest of the mirrorless options so far, is still smaller than a DSLR.

 

GH5 underwater housings are smaller than DSLR housings, and support both the GH5 and GH5s cameras, in addition to a variety of micro-four thirds lenses. The Panasonic 12-35mm lens is a popular choice for underwater video. For the housing, we recommend the Nauticam housing as it supports the largest number of lenses.

 

Pros

  • 20MP sensor gives increase in resolution without increase in noise
  • Highly impressive video specifications (4:2:2 10-bit color, 4K/60p)
  • Auto ISO added for manual movie shooting
  • JPEG color improved
  • Dual UHS-II card slots, support for faster V60 cards in the future
  • Settings can be saved to card
  • Good battery life

 

Cons

  • On the larger end of the Micro Four Thirds cameras
  • JPEG sharpening improved 
  • Viewfinder resolution drops noticeably during high-speed bursts
  • Autofocus in video can exhibit focus hunting
  • Slight decrease in video quality when shooting high frame rates (180fps)


Full Frame Mirrorless Camera – Nikon Z6 / Z7

Z6 Key features:

24.5MP sensor

5-axis image stabilization system

1080 video at up to 120 fps

4K video at up to 24 fps

12 fps burst shooting

ISO 100-51200

273-point hybrid phase-detection autofocus

 

Z7 Key features:

45.7MP sensor

5-axis image stabilization system

1080 video at up to 120 fps

4K video at up to 24 fps

9 fps burst shooting

ISO 64-25600

493-point hybrid phase-detection autofocus


                                    

                                               

The most important distinctions between the Z6 and Z7 are the sensor resolution and autofocus - both are markedly better on the Z7. Additionally, the Z7 has a native ISO of 64, expandable down to 32, which is better than the Z6's native ISO of 100 (expandable down to 50). This means the Z7 will pull out more details from the shadows and highlights than the Z6. Other than that, the cameras are almost the same, including the same physical dimensions and weights. And of course, the cost, with the Z7 about $1200 higher in price.

 

The most enticing thing about the Z6 and Z7 is the excellent construction. The weather sealing is tough in variable weather conditions. The Z7 is much smaller and lighter than the D850 (675g vs 1005g). For the travelling diver, the Z6 or Z7 wins every time. 

 

The image quality on the Z7 is amazing. At first you might think that 45.7 MP is more than enough pixels in one camera. However, every bit of that information is useful. When you have so many megapixels on a full-frame sensor, you’re left with an ability to crop photos and produce a large, beautiful images with very minute details. Details like this will open new worlds for macro photographers.

 

The video on the Z6 / Z7 can be considered on par with the D850. This puts it at the top of the line for most underwater video systems. The color rendering is as good as in the Nikon D850 - which was revolutionary for Nikon at the time of its release. But the best feature on the Z7’s video is the autofocus full-time function. It outperforms the D850 and most other competing cameras. I did, however, have a little bit of trouble with this function in very low light. The most exciting thing for videographers using the Nikon Z7 is that it’s a full-frame camera with 4k video, capable of outputting video at 10 bits. Many cameras with this capability are over 10 times the price. An N-Log color profile is also available for the Nikon Z7, which will bring out more details after post-processing. 

 

For the underwater housing, we recommend the Nauticam or the premium Isotta housing.

 

Pros

  • Amazing image quality 
  • Very high resolution
  • High functioning electronic viewfinder
  • Smaller than competing DSLRs

 

Cons

  • Banding in low light
  • Noise at low ISO 
  • AF slightly lower performing than the D850
  • Battery life
  • Single XQD slot

Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) – Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Key features:

30.4MP CMOS full-frame sensor

DCI 4K 30/24p video using Motion JPEG + 4K Frame Grab

61-point AF system 

Dual Pixel AF

ISO 100-32000

7 fps continuous shooting

Wi-Fi w/ NFC + GPS

       


The Canon EOS 5D series is one of the most recognized camera lines of the digital age and the Mark IV is designed to appeal to a wide range of professionals. Nearly identical in appearance to its predecessor, it features considerable upgrades, including: a higher-resolution sensor with Dual Pixel auto-focus, 4K video capture, an upgraded AF system, improved weather-sealing, built-in Wi-Fi/NFC, an interval timer and GPS. All this adds up to an amazing camera that fits into Canon's product line.

 

The 5D Mark IV is Canon's first full frame camera that can continuously focus in Live View during stills capture, and because of the way Dual Pixel AF works, focus is generally very accurate. It's good at sticking to the original subject on which you initiated the focus, and it's easy to specify the subject by tapping on it on the touchscreen in 'Face Detect+Tracking' mode.

 

Underwater and even in poor visibility, the camera will easily snap autofocus. And, if the camera is tilted from a near subject to a far subject, the focus triggers quickly and smoothly. The new autofocus features in this camera could be a milestone in video autofocus for underwater photographers.

 

No other DSLR camera on the market can master natural light white balances underwater without a color correction filter like this camera. This allows the shooter to take lights in the water and have the option to do natural or artificial light shooting on the same dive. The white balance procedure is a little bit different compared to previous models. This camera does not allow photos in video mode. This requires an additional step to switch to photo mode, take a shot, then go back to video mode. This is not big deal, but if you were used to the procedure on a previous Canon, it’s an additional step.

 

Canon has made some vast image quality improvements over the previous EOS 5D. Still images are superb and as far as video quality, Canon is the king. For the underwater housing, we recommend the Aquatica or the premium Isotta housing.

 

Pros

  • Improved dynamic range
  • True live autofocus in video mode
  • Now shooting 4K 30p
  • High 500mbps data rate
  • 4:2:2 color space
  • 1.64 crop in 4K movie mode

 

Cons

  • No zebra or focus peaking in-camera, but available on external monitors
  • Large file sizes for 4K video
  • Fastest CF card on the market required to ensure uninterrupted video








Rocio del Mar Liveaboard - Sea of Cortez 2021 Trips - Dive Adventure

Rocio del Mar Liveaboard

Sea of Cortez 2021 Trips

Awesome Dive Adventures

Saturday to Saturday
$2,845 per person, double occupancy

Liquid Diving Adventures Price $2,645 - SAVE $200

                                    

Called "The World's Aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau, the Sea of Cortez provides a world-class international dive experience with a domestic flight. Simply fly to Phoenix, Arizona, and, in just a few hours, guests are boarding the boat in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. 

The Sea of Cortez is a breathtaking destination for scuba diving, snorkeling, and exploration. Dive on untouched walls and reefs abounding in marine life. Encounter large and small whale species, snorkel with whale sharks, dive with playful sea lions, and see countless eels, octopus, fish, and jumping mobula rays. It's a macro photographer's dream with nudibranchs, colorful blennies, dancing jawfish, and sea horses. 

                                    

Between dives, guests hike and explore remote uninhabited islets and at night gaze at the Milky Way. Give the Rocio crew one week and they will create a lifetime of memories while forging new friendships aboard Rocio del Mar. Guests will dine on incredible cuisine and enjoy the friendly service that has made the crew famous.

           July 3-10, 2021 - July 10-17, 2021 - July 31-August 7, 2021 - August 7-14, 2021
                          August 28-September 4, 2021  -  September 4-11, 2021

Calipso Galapagos Liveaboard - 2021 Discount $1700 Off All Year - Dive Adventure

Calipso Galapagos Liveaboard

2021 Discount $1700 Off All Year

                                    

This is a bucket list destination and a super discounted deal. You can book any of the available charter dates throughout 2021 and get a $1700 USD per person discount. Also get FREE nitrox and a 1-night stay in Quito or Guayaquil for ease of transit. These dates must be booked before February 14, 2021.

  • Jan 14th to July 8th, 2021: was $5495 now $3795 p.p
  • From July 8th to Dec 31st, 2021: was $5696 now $3995 p.p

                                 




Nautilus Belle Amie - LAST MINUTE - Socorros Nov 2, 2020 - $1795

Nautilus Belle Amie

LAST MINUTE DEAL 

Socorro Islands for 9 Days  8 Nights 

Departs Nov 2, 2020 - $1795 PPDO

2 Remaining Cabins


Nautilus is giving up on the Guadalupe Island Park officials for this year. For months they have been telling us to standby, we can expect good news within the week on the opening of our favorite great white shark destination. But the good news never comes. We say “screw it”. Let’s go diving. Nautilus is repositioning their boats to Cabo San Lucas and let’s get out to Socorro and start diving. The incredibly friendly giant mantas and dolphins as well as 10 species of shark are waiting. Water temps are in the low to mid 80’s. The diving is going to rock!!!

This discounted rate is for Stateroom accommodations, meals, and as many as four dives per day. Get this deal fast $1795 per person shared cabin occupancy. Rate does not include 5% tax or $65 Port Fee.

Siladen Resort & Spa - Indonesia - CV-19

News from Siladen Resort & Spa - Indonesia

* * * Inon Underwater Photography Workshop with Lisa Collins * * *

March 5-13, 2021


It has been a while since we last shared information about Siladen Resort & Spa,  and we thought it was about time to let everyone know what’s going on. It has been over six months since we waved goodbye to the last guests to stay with us, and we are yearning for the day that we can wait on the beach for the first guests to arrive back.  
Dive Travel Awards
On behalf of all the Siladen Family we would like to say Terima kasih banyak — thank you very much!
Your nominations made the resort eligible for the 2020 Dive Travel Awards! Between a staggering 1100 dive resorts, your nominations got us in the Top 25! This is already a great achievement, but the resort is asking for your help one more time and let's see if we can win this thing! Thanks to all of your votes, the resort came in first place in 2017 and 2018, and came a close second in 2019, and we hope we have done enough to pick up the gold medal once again! Being named best dive resort in the world is as prestigious an award as it sounds, and it would mean even more considering how difficult this year has been. 
You can vote here, and the polls are open until the end of October. 

Inon Underwater Photography Workshop with Lisa Collins
Lisa will be giving hands on teaching, presentations, personal feedback and help with photo editing in this 8 night workshop, from 5th to 13th March 2021.
 
During the week Lisa will be teaching a range of subjects from creative macro techniques, flash positioning to avoid backscatter, creative lighting for wide angle and shooting the sun.
 
Siladen and Bunaken are the perfect locations to help you improve your underwater photography – with the professionalism of the PADI 5 star dive centre set up for underwater photographers, the vast amount of dive sites and subjects available in Bunaken for underwater photography, all set against one of the most beautiful and luxurious resorts in Indonesia, first place award winners year after year for best Dive Resort.

St Lucia Dive Fest - $200 Discount

5th Annual St Lucia Dive Fest

September 5-12, 2020

Anse Chastanet Resort, St Lucia


Anse Chastanet Resort and their scuba operation Scuba St. Lucia have created a week of special activities in celebration of Saint Lucia’s 5th annual Dive Fest. The dive fest at Anse Chastanet will celebrate everything about Saint Lucia’s marine life and diving, with a week full of boat and shore dives, PADI courses and photo competitions. The week’s activities include a lionfish hunt followed by a cooking demonstration and special dinner feast of the lionfish prepared by Anse Chastanet’s culinary team.


Guests participating in the DIVE FEST get treated to a JAZZY sunset cruise as part of the Dive Fest package. For those non-diving guests, Anse Chastanet offers an array of other activities from biking to sailing, kayaking to bird watching, chill on the beach, or try out the complimentary sunrise and sunset yoga classes. Non-divers staying at Anse Chastanet can also try a scuba beginner's course for free.



Fest package includes 7 nights run of house accommodation, airport transfers, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, all tax/service, welcome drink, Dive Fest special activities,12 beach or boat dives, sunrise and sunset yoga, non-motorized watersports. Marine park fee not included.


Published rates - we are offering a $200 discount off these rates...!

Diver:  $2,719 USD per person double occupancy

Non-Diver: $2,329 USD per person double occupancy

We also have discounted rates for triple occupancy. Please request.

Manta Fest 2019 - Manta Ray Bay Resort - Yap

 

August 24 to September 8, 2019

CONTACT US NOW...!

We have 4, 7, 10 and 14 night packages from

$1039, $1709, $2399 and $3239

Packages include:

  • Hotel room
  • 3, 5 or 11 dive days (2-tank)
  • Participation in photo contest
  • Seminars and workshops
  • Evening Media Presentations
  • Shark split photo 
  • Land/culture Photo opportunities
  • Private Beach BBQ
  • Land, culture & island tour 
  • Local dinner buffet/meal; 
  • Breakfast
  • Roundtrip airport transfers
  • Free Wi-Fi in public areas
  • Hotel Taxes
  • Wake-up service with coffee and tea


Manta Ray Bay Resort - Manta Mania 2016

Manta Ray Bay Resort - Manta Mania 2016

Citizen Science Eco-Tourism Week - February 7-14, 2016

Get involved…! Join a manta ray conservation party on an upgraded luxury vacation package at Manta Ray Bay Resort. Yap is one of several research sites with Manta Trust - for one week leading manta ray and shark scientists will host a "hands-on" citizen science field research symposium and media event. 

“This is an rare opportunity for divers to dive with manta rays together with the scientists who study them. You’ll get to see the type of equipment we use, how we gather information and how its processed. We planned this event to take place during manta mating season, the most active time of year where close interaction with multiple animals is nearly assured - we are hoping to get a lot of valuable information. During the day you’ll dive with mantas and over the pristine reefs surrounding Yap, in the afternoon you’ll attend workshops to learn about megafauna, and in the evening you get to see pictures of these amazing animals. Not only will you be learning about mantas but also their very close relatives the mobula, sharks and other marine mammals. We hope everyone will come away from this experience awed by the ocean and its creatures with a deep appreciation for Yap and love for it’s people and culture."

Join Julie Hartup, Guy Stevens, Vanessa Jaiteh, and Steve Lindfield for a week of diving, symposiums, and hand-on experiences with mantas and sharks around Yap.

Packages are $1699 for standard room, $1799 for ocean view and $1999 for deluxe ocean view. Rates are per person double diver occupancy. Contact us for complete details.

Package Includes:

  • Manta ray awareness workshops, field research events and diving with leading scientists
  • Shark feed specialty, mating Mandarin fish and night dives
  • 1 three tank dive day with lunch in a Yapese village
  • Complimentary Wake-up service w/ coffee & tea
  • Culture Tour in a Yapese village center
  • Private beach BBQ on Saturday
  • Photo and video workshops
  • Daily breakfast buffet
  • Double occupancy room
  • Airport transfers
  • NITROX
  • Taxes

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