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Recommended Lenses for Underwater Photography

Recommended Lenses for Underwater Photography

Once you move up from Compact cameras to interchangeable lens Mirrorless and DSLR cameras, it's all about the glass!

Buying the best camera lenses, and ports to use them in, for underwater photography and videography is a long-term investment. Lenses and ports can be used over and over as you buy new cameras. It's important to plan what lenses to buy and what lens format to invest in. Then buy high-quality lenses and matching extensions, gears and ports as you can afford them.

Most cameras come bundled with an inexpensive "kit" lens. Typically, these lenses aren't wide enough, with focus close enough, or offer the required sharpness to get great results underwater. Their build quality (mount and glass) isn't usually the best either.

The extra expense of extensions, gears and ports for underwater photography and videography can make these "inexpensive" lenses poor investments in the long run. Many underwater photographers end up selling the kit lenses after a short while. They are disappointed with the results, but then are stuck with extensions and ports they can't use.

Underwater we generally want three general focal length ranges of lenses, all with the idea of getting as close to the subject as we can. Water absorbs light, colour and clarity. Eliminating as much of it as we can gives us the best results.

Those three focal length ranges are for ultra-wide, mid-range zoom, and macro. Ultra-wide fisheye lenses yield the best corner sharpness. With the ability to focus within a few inches of the lens, fisheyes are the go-to option for close focus, wide angle photography. Wide-angle rectilinear lenses generally don't focus as close and require much larger dome ports to get the same corner sharpness. They are most suitable for shy pelagics, when having a narrower field of view provides extra reach.

Below is a list of underwater photography and videography lens recommendations. This is not a finite list. If you have others you want to use, check to make sure there are port solutions for them. Older models of popular brands are generally supported and work fine. But those listed here are supported by housing manufacturers and are known to give excellent results.

Micro 4/3rds Cropped Sensor Mirrorless Cameras

Panasonic and Olympus Lenses

  • Panasonic Lumix G Fisheye 8mm F/3.5
  • Olympus M.Zuiko ED 8mm F1.8 Fisheye PRO
  • Olympus MZ Digital ED 12mm f2.0 Lens
  • Olympus M.Zuiko ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO
  • Olympus M. Zuiko ED 9-18 F/4-5.6
  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F/4
  • Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH. POWER O.I.S.
  • Olympus MZ Digital ED 12-40 f2.8 Pro (use with large dome port)
  • Olympus MZ Digital ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ
  • Olympus M. Zuiko 60mm Macro F2.8

APS-C Cropped Sensor DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras

Note: Most full-frame macro and mid-range zoom lenses work fine.

Nikon F Mount Lenses

  • Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 FE
  • Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 FE - used with Kenko 1.4X Teleplus Pro 300
  • Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro OS HSM
  • Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro
  • Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR f/2.8 Macro

Canon EF Mount Lenses

  • Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 FE
  • Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 FE - used with Kenko 1.4X Teleplus Pro 300**
  • Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro OS HSM
  • Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Sony E mount Mirrorless

  • Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8
  • Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8 with ultra-wide converter VCL-ECU1
  • Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8 with fisheye converter VCL-ECF1
  • Sony SEL16-50mm f/3.5-5.6
  • Sony SEL10-18mm E f/4
  • Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8M Macro
  • Sony FE 50 mm F2.8 Macro
  • Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Full Frame DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras

Nikon F Mount Lenses

  • Nikkor AF Fisheye 16mm f/2.8D
  • AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED
  • Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Fisheye
  • Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4 VR Zoom
  • Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro
  • Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR f/2.8 Macro

Nikon Z Mount Lenses

  • Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S
  • Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S
  • F Mount Lenses with Nikon FTZ Mount Adapter

Canon EF Mount Lenses

  • Canon 8-15 f/4 Fisheye USM
  • Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Fisheye
  • Canon 11-24mm f/4 Lens
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
  • Canon EF 17-40mm f2.8L USM
  • Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM
  • Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM

Canon RF Mount Lenses

  • Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM
  • Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM
  • EF Mount Lenses with Canon Mount Adapter

Sony E Mount Lenses

  • Canon 8-15 f/4 Fisheye USM with Metabones Adapter
  • Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Fisheye with Sigma MC-11 Adapter
  • Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM
  • Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
  • Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4
  • Sony FE 24-70 mm F2.8 GM
  • Sony FE 28-70mm with +5 or stronger diopter for Macro
  • Sony FE 28 mm F2 with Nauticam WWL Wet Lens
  • ZEISS Batis 2.8/18
  • Sony FE 50 mm F2.8 Macro
  • Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Panasonic L-Mount Lenses

  • Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art
  • Panasonic Lumix S PRO 16-35mm f/4
  • Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH
  • Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens
  • Canon EF Mount Lenses with Sigma MC-21 Adapter

Please see Port and Gear Chart Links for information about the port and gear options for using these lenses with various underwater housings.

Please Note: The Scuba Doctor does not sell cameras and lenses. You are better off purchasing them from the major camera stores who have the buying power to offer you better prices than we ever could. However, we have for you underwater camera housings, strobes and lights, arms and trays, plus other gear. We also have the knowledge and experience to help you turn your camera into an awesome underwater memory making system.

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