Best Underwater Cameras and Housings

Best Underwater Cameras and Housings

This is a constantaly and rapidly changing product category, but we'll do our best to help you with these recommendations. (Last Updated: 1 March 2020)

GoPro and Action Cameras

Best All Around Action Camera
GoPro HERO7 Black
GoPro HERO7 Black Action Camera
GoPro HERO7 Black

Olympus Tough TG-Tracker Action Camera for 30 metres without a housing.

Nikon KeyMission 360 Action Camera for 30 metres without a housing.

GoPro HERO8 Black

For underwater photo and video the new GoPro HERO 8 Black released in October 2019 offers some excellent improvements over the GoPro HERO 7 Black. We expect it to become the most popular underwater action camera this summer.

It's completely waterproof down to 10 metres (33 feet) without a housing, which is great for pier and shallow water divers. However, once you want to go deeper, or use lens and filter accessories, things get a bit more complicated.

The GoPro HERO8 Black has different dimensions to the previous GoPro models, plus the lens cover design has changed. The GoPro HERO8 Black won't fit in previous 3rd party underwater housings. This means GoPro has a new dive housing design, rated to 60 metres (200 ft), and other housing manufacturers, e.g. Isotta, will currently be busy working to create their new GoPro Hero8 Black housings.

Existing macro lens setups, filters, and flip systems, e.g. from Backscatter, will not fit the new GoPro dive housing. We're expecting to see new ones that will from our various suppliers early in 2020.

Last updated: 2020-03-01

Best Compact Cameras

Compact cameras are some of the best cameras for shooting underwater, as they are often easy to learn, easy to dive and travel with, and less expensive than their SLR counterparts, while still yielding outstanding image results and fast shooting speeds.

Entry Level Compact Cameras

Best All Around Compact Camera
Olympus Tough TG-6 Compact Camera

Olympus Tough TG-6 Camera
Olympus Tough TG-6 Camera
The Olympus TG-6 is an incredible underwater imaging tool. It's shockproof, freezeproof, waterproof (to 45 ft without the housing), dustproof and basically lifeproof. Olympus has always targeted its Tough series towards divers by producing their own underwater housings to increase the depth limit and allow external accessories to be mountedsuch as lenses and lights. The TG-6 has become incredibly popular among underwater photographers.

Products and packages popular for use with the Olympus Tough TG-6 Camera are:

Isotta Olympus Tough TG-6 Underwater Housing Isotta Olympus Tough TG-6 Underwater Housing
RRP: $1,226.78, Our Price: $1,190, You Save $36.78 (3%).
Easy access to all key/main Olympus Tough TG-6 compact camera controls by means of clearly labelled laser engraved long lasting buttons. The back door has a large window for a fine camera display view and it is entirely detached from the front body to make for easier camera fitting.

Backscatter M52 Wide Angle Air Lens for Olympus TG Series Backscatter M52 Wide Angle Air Lens for Olympus TG Series
RRP: $288, Our Price: $259, You Save $29 (10%).
This lens expands the underwater field of view to 81 degrees by canceling the refraction effect on the flat port of the housing. This is the same field of view that the Olympus TG-6 has topside, so that's why it's called it the "Air" lens. The advantage of the Backscatter M52 Wide Angle Air Lens is that it does not have to be removed to shoot macro. This wet-mount wide angle conversion lens is designed to work best with Olympus Tough TG series camera housings. The lens cancels out refraction and restores the camera's topside field of view underwater while also enhancing the image clarity, sharpness, and contrast.

Backscatter M52 Underwater 0.50X 120° Wide Angle Wet Lens Backscatter M52 Underwater 0.50X 120° Wide Angle Wet Lens
RRP: $722, Our Price: $649, You Save $73 (10%).
Every compact camera needs a wide angle accessory lens to expand the field of view. This allows the shooter to get closer to large subjects and fill the frame. This one was designed with the Olympus Tough TG 1 through 6 series of cameras in mind. With a 120 degree angle of coverage, sharp corners, and no vignetting at 24 mm, this lens is the perfect combination for the first time wide angle shooter with a TG camera.

AOI UMG-01 LCD Magnifier for Olympus Compact Camera Housings AOI UMG-01 LCD Magnifier for Olympus Compact Camera Housings
RRP: $264, Our Price: $259, You Save $5 (2%).
This is the best accessory we've seen yet for the Olympus Tough TG-3, TG-4, TG-5 and TG-6 underwater camera system because it cuts out annoying screen glare in bright water and it allows you to get a large, sharp magnified image from the camera's LCD screen.

Scuba Doctor Olympus TG-6 Minimalist Package Scuba Doctor Olympus TG-6 Minimalist Package
RRP: $767, Our Price: $709, You Save $58 (8%).
Keep it simple with this minimalist lighting and lens package for the Olympus TG-6, and other compact cameras. The versatile air lens combines with the X-Adventurer M2500-WSRBA 4-in-1 Smart Focus Video Light to give you four lighting solutions with the one underwater light.

Backscatter Olympus TG-6 Whales & Waves Package Backscatter Olympus TG-6 Whales & Waves Package
RRP: $1,149, Our Price: $1,029, You Save $120 (10%).
A complete travel package that has everything you would need for the Olympus TG-6 and other compact cameras when shooting in ambient light and snorkeling.

Scuba Doctor Ring Light Nudi Hunter Package Scuba Doctor Ring Light Nudi Hunter Package
RRP: $545, Our Price: $529, You Save $16 (3%).
A minimalist solution to lighting nudibranchs and small critters for great close-up macro shots with compact and mirrorless cameras. The 1,800 lumen Ring Light is great for video and focus lighting for photos. The optic fiber cable triggers the 3,000 strobe mode.

Scuba Doctor Olympus TG-6 Nudi Hunter Package Scuba Doctor Olympus TG-6 Nudi Hunter Package
RRP: $2,029, Our Price: $1,869, You Save $160 (8%).
Macro Addicts Rejoice! We've put together this Nudi Hunter lighting package. It's everything you need for the Olympus TG-6 and other compact or mirrorless cameras when shooting underwater macro subjects like nudibranchs.

Scuba Doctor Dual YS-D2J Strobe Light, Tray and Ball Arm Package Scuba Doctor Dual YS-D2J Strobe Light, Tray and Ball Arm Package
RRP: $2,879, Our Price: $2,589, You Save $290 (10%).
For the ultimate strobe setup, here is our dual handle tray, dual Sea & Sea YS-D2J Strobe, dual wide angle ball arm, and dual optic fiber cable package. No excuses!

Backscatter Mini Flash 1 and Optical Snoot Combo Package Backscatter Mini Flash 1 and Optical Snoot Combo Package
RRP: $839, Our Price: $749, You Save $90 (11%).
We think Olympus TG series users are going to love this combo package of a video light, strobe and snoot to enhance their underwater photo and video opportunities when it arrives in December 2019. (Both Sam and Michelle are considering adding one to their camera setups.)

Scuba Doctor Compact Camera Single 3000LM Video Light Package Scuba Doctor Compact Camera Single 3000LM Video Light Package
RRP: $969, Our Price: $909, You Save $60 (6%).
The powerful 3,000 lumen X-Adventurer M3000-WRUA 3-in-1 Smart Focus video light makes this package the perfect introductory lighting set for your compact camera system. With this compact yet powerful light, you can start shooting like a pro on day and night dives.

Scuba Doctor Compact Camera Dual 6000LM Video Light Package Scuba Doctor Compact Camera Dual 6000LM Video Light Package
RRP: $2,549, Our Price: $2,399, You Save $150 (6%).
Everything you need to shoot awesome videos underwater with your compact or mirrorless camera. Light up the underwater world with two powerful 6,000 lumen X-Adventurer M6000-WRBT Video Lights to take wide angle blackwater and wreck video like a pro on any dive.

Canon G9X Mark II

Canon's entry level compact, the G9X Mark II, is a fantastic choice for beginners and advanced users alike. The simple interface relies mostly on the camera's touch screen, but with proper initial settings you can control everything you need inside a housing as well without compromising on ease of use. The G9XII features Canon's 1-inch sensor, so image quality is at par with its bigger brothers from the G series. Most users don't need the advanced features on the pricier cameras. The major compromise compared to the G7X or G5X series, is the lens on the G9X II isn't as sharp.

Best Compact Video Camera
GoPro HERO7 Black with Flip7 Filter Kit

See details above.

High End Compact Cameras

Best Advanced Compact Camera
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10 Compact Camera

Panasonic has done a great job with this model. The LX10 produces stunning 20MP stills and 4K videos. Indeed, video is where it really shines. Panasonic have plenty of experience with video from their popular GH4 and GH5 cameras and they have integrated that experience and some great advanced features, into the LX10. Zebra striping and focus peaking are available and incredible useful for videographers. The LX10 is the only compact we know that offers back focus AF — a feature usually found in DSLR's or mirrorless cameras and very useful for composing shots properly in-camera. A significant advantage is accurate and easy white balance, even at deeper depths.

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II Four-Thirds Compact Camera
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III Compact Camera
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Mark VII Compact Camera

    The Sony RX100 VII features a 24-200 mm lens. For underwater photographers, this is both a curse and a blessing. On one hand, you get more zoom to play around with, and utilise it for increased working distance and more magnification when shooting macro. On the other hand, housing manufacturers have a harder time supporting it, and compromises like interchangeable ports need to be made, in order to properly support the full range of the zoom. Using it for macro can be challenging but very rewarding and you may require different diopters for different types of shots.

    • Isotta Sony RX100 Underwater Housing for 100 metres

    Canon G7X Mark III

    The Canon G7X III has significantly improved video capabilities and added an external mic jack, as well as the option to live stream your video to YouTube. While you probably won't be using the mic jack underwater, or broadcasting ourselves live from 30 metres, the 4K video makes this upgrade worthwhile. The Canon G7X Mark III also supports a mindblowing 30fps RAW burst shooting, to ensure you nail fast action shot. It can also shoot HDR (High Dynamic Range) video.

    Mirrorless Cameras:

    Best All Around Mirrorless Camera
    Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Camera
    Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Camera
    Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Camera

    For underwater shooters with a passion for both videography and still images, the Panasonic GH5 is one of the best for video. It is one of the few cameras using the full width of sensor for 4K and currently the only shooting 4K 60p with plenty of options for bit rate, colour space, frame rate and bit depth. Its improved white balance functions make it one of the most accurate mirrorless cameras for white balancing underwater without the use of filters.

    An upgrade from GH4, the GH5 has improved the video overall, but also better low light performance, improved white balance functions and 5-axis stabilisation. The camera also has focus peaking which confirms focus by outlining in colour areas in focus and other exposure aids like zebra striping, vector scope and waveform display. The GH5 also has several custom function buttons which are great for underwater shooters.

    Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Mirrorless Camera

    The Olympus E-M1 Mark II is the company's top consumer mirrorless camera, highly customisable, packed with pro features mirrorless camera. It has a large 3-inch LCD screen making images easy to view underwater. The Mark II has improved Auto Focus and AF tracking, improved image stabilisation (5.5EV, compared to 4EV on the E-M1), completely revamped video mode with higher 4K resolution, faster frame rates, and it comes with an accessory flash allowing for strobe triggering both electrically and slave. Many lens options are available as well as wet mount lens.

    At 20 megapixel, this camera also has to possibility to create composite images up to 50MP by capturing multiple frames through pixel shifting the sensor. This is great to make super high resolution images, although in order for it to work underwater there can be no motion, so a tripod may be necessary for sharp images. Focus peaking mode will show which parts of an image are in focus using color lines.

    Olympus makes its own underwater housings and the Olympus PT-EP14 has large dials and housing buttons for all camera buttons. The port is also removable to allow for the capability of other ports.

    Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera

    The Sony a6500 is a small size and light weight camera which feels like a compact, but its exceptional performance shoots like a dSLR. Shooters have the ability to keep it simple and small with easy to use auto functions and just a single lens; or expand its capabilities by shooting in manual and adding other lenses and accessories. Even underwater it can be set up as a simple underwater rig or with many lenses and ports, wet mount lenses, and strobes fired by slave or sync, etc. Not only will Sony lenses work on this camera, but with an adapter you can use Canon mount lenses including the underwater photographer favorite, the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye. The 24MP camera can shoot 4K video and particularly shines when shooting macro underwater and focus peaking makes it easy to confirm focus on the 3-inch screen or optical viewfinder by showing areas in focus as a color. Improvements from the a6300 include 5 axis in-body image stabilization, improved autofocus and burst shooting, and a touchscreen LCD.

    • Sea & Sea MDX-A6300 Housing for 75 metres (available as special order)

    Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras:

    Best Dual-Purpose Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera
    Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

    Sony a7R IV Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

    The Sony A7R IV is a full frame mirrorless camera that while still smaller and lightweight competes with larger dSLRs when it comes to image and video quality. The A7R IV's sensor is a giant leap from the A7R III, boasting 61MP back illuminated full frame sensor. The means incredible image quality, unmatched dynamic range and superb low light capabilities. Autofocus speed and accuracy have improved over previous models, particularly in low light. The camera has room for two memory cards and battery life has improved.

    The A7R IV is a top performer for video as well, shooting 30fps 4K which is initially sampled from 6K as opposed to 5K on the predecessor. This means better quality video overall. It also utilises AI technology for subject recognition as well as Real-Time Eye AF ensuring that every subject you shoot is tack sharp and focused on the eyes.

    This camera is great for the underwater shooter because it has lots of customizable buttons, focus peaking in manual focus mode shows focused areas highlighted with colour to guarantee image focus. White balance has improved from the previous model and is better than most other mirrorless cameras, although it still isn't perfect for blue water. The pixel shift feature lets image makers create super high resolution composite images, however, while taking the images the camera must be completely still (like on a tripod) for it to work. The A7RIV competes with dSLRs for quality but in a smaller package.

    Nikon Z7 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

    Nikon's first full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Z7 does not disappoint. The Z7 is a 46 megapixel camera. Consistently compared against the dSLR, Nikon D850; this camera comes close to producing comparable images and some of the best results from any mirrorless camera. The autofocus is fast and accurate (and although still slower than a dSLR, one of the best when compared to other mirrorless cameras.) The Z mount for lenses allows for the use of Z mount lenses and there is an adapter to use F mount lenses (Nikon.)

    This mirrorless has an improved electronic viewfinder than other mirrorless cameras which often lack dynamic range and detail, which leaves a photographer uncertain of the final image when reviewing underwater. You can also review playback images in the viewfinder, so you never have to take your eye away from the viewfinder.

    The Nikon Z7 has the same video specs as the Nikon D850 with no crop factor which is great for wide angle video, although it is possible to crop to DX mode which is better for macro video.

    Canon EOS R Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

    The Canon EOS R mirrorless boasts the most focus points of any camera and one of the fastest autofocus systems of any mirrorless camera. The EOS R does excellent in low light situations and is easy to use underwater with intuitive menus and easy access while diving. This camera is particularly attractive to those who already have Canon lenses as they can be used with an adapter. The electronic viewfinder is better than some mirrorless cameras, but not the best overall in dynamic range and detail. However, it is possible to see image playback and the menu in the EVF, so a shooter can do all of these things without taking their eyes off the viewfinder.

    The EOS R shoots 4K 30p video with overall high quality, although it does have a crop factor of 1.8x and the camera lacks in-body image stabilisation, which is found in most other mirrorless cameras.

    Exciting update: The new Canon EOS Rs is scheduled to be released on Feb 2020, and housings will follow shortly after. According to confirmed rumors, the new Canon EOS Rs will include a 75MP sensor (!!!) which directly competes and surpasses Sony's 61MP sensor on the A7R IV. It will also include dual card slots which many professionals were missing from the original EOS R. There is some chance it'll fit in the EOS R housings, but hard to know at this point.

    DSLR Cameras:

    Nikon D850 DSLR Camera

    For underwater shooters looking for great images and video, the full frame Nikon D850 does it all. Capabilities include extensive dynamic range, beautiful colour and sharp detail. It shoots true full frame 4K video and has one of the fastest and most accurate autofocus systems (153 AF points and 99 cross type). It does well even at extreme ISO ranges including low light situations where even when getting an underexposed shot, details can be pulled from the black in post processing. Shooting 7 frames per second with 51 shot buffer allows you to take many images before the processor slows down to catch up. It also makes switching from video to still very easy and fast as it holds the previous settings from both.

    The Nikon d850 does well in all underwater situations from lightning fast autofocus on tiny, fast moving, macro subjects to extreme detail in deep and dark ambient light situations like wreck diving. It also has some of the best 4K video capabilities in a dSLR.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera

    The Canon 5D IV is a full frame, 30mp camera that shoots 4K video is known for its autofocus capabilities in video mode. This camera performs well in high ISO levels creating images with little noise and takes high quality images. The white balance in underwater settings with ambient light is one of the best on the market. Its ability to shoot live autofocus means shooters do not have to lock autofocus and refocus as the situation changes. It does have a 1.64x crop, but this can be advantageous in macro video. The Nikon d850 has a slightly higher image quality, but if video is your main concern, this camera wins.

    Nikon D500 DSLR Camera

    Canon EOS 1D X Mark II DSLR Camera

    Pro Video Cameras:

    Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera

    Canon EOS 1D X Mark II DSLR Camera

    Red Epic Dragon Weapon

    Please Note: The Scuba Doctor does not sell any of the above cameras. You'll find then at competitive prices in specialist camera retailers.

    We have available dive housings to suit some of these cameras. Most importantly, we have available the camera trays, arms, mounting and lighting options to enable you to create a brilliant underwater camera setup. See Underwater Photography and Video Gear at The Scuba Doctor Dive Shop.

    The Scuba Doctor Online Dive Shop

    Never hang your dive gear on the line of fire.
    — Old diver's proverb