Underwater Camera Buying Help

There are plenty of things that need to be considered when buying an underwater camera. Here we try to help by guiding you through the many things to consider.

When to Buy

Photography and Videography with a point-and-shoot camera is easy, and might become one of the first things you want to do after certification. It's a great way to bring back the fun of diving to your friends and lets you remember the experience for years to come.

Whether you begin with a point-and-shoot compact camera (as many divers do), or with something more sophisticated may be determined by what sort of topside photographer you are, and what sort of cameras you already own. If you already have a current-model, premium SLR and you know how to use it well, then you'll probably be happiest shopping for a housing, ports, strobes, arm and tray designed to work with that camera. But if you are just starting out — or if you are a traveling diver for whom space is at a premium — you may want to look at packages or equipment sets that include the underwater camera (or camera and housing) and a strobe or strobes.

Photography can be as simple or as sophisticated as you like it. Lots of traveling divers purchase one-use film cameras in housings through their local dive centre or destination dive centre, just to make sure they record their trip.

Likewise, if you already have a GoPro or similar action camera, or video capable compact camera, all you probably need to take it underwater is an appropriate housing. But take a hard look at your camera first as the technology in this field changes so quickly that, if your camera is more than three years old, you might be happier buying an all new setup (camera and housing both), as you'll have all the latest features and image quality developments.

How to Buy

Oftentimes underwater camera gear is available through camera shops but, unless the shop has a dedicated underwater imaging department staffed by knowledgeable professionals, you are not as likely to encounter the hands-on know-how that you'll find in a dive centre with a underwater imagery knowledgeable staff.

A dive shop like The Scuba Doctor is probably your best bet when it comes to shopping for underwater camera packages. The staff is familiar with the product and they also know how it works and how easy it is to handle underwater.

For more advanced camera gear, our staff at The Scuba Doctor is equipped to not only sell you the gear but to explain to you (or even show you) how to use it. We also have access to the specialist knowledge of the experts in various brands of underwater cameras, lights and accessories at our suppliers.

Camera Maintenance

Camera housings, underwater cameras and strobes should be left connected and set up while on the dive boat, and rinsed in clear water and kept moist (so salt crystals do not form on it) after each dive. At the end of the day, before breaking down your camera gear, soak and then rinse it in warm water (the bath tub or a deep sink are good places to do this). Many dive boats have camera rinse facilities that allow you to soak your camera gear after a dive.

Consult you owner's manual to see which O-rings on your camera should be lubricated between dives with silicone grease. Avoid setting camera gear down in gritty environments or on sandy beaches, and be sure all O-rings and seals are clean and free of sand, hair or lint before closing equipment back up.

While minor scratches on the outside of a lens port typically have little effect on image quality (the water 'fills them in'), you could use port covers to protect ports and lenses between dives. And you should either carry your camera gear onto airplanes, or pack it in rugged, foam-padded cases. Most modern camera gear is actually amazingly rugged, but you'll feel better knowing that you are taking care of it!

Suunto D5 at The Scuba Doctor Dive Shop

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
— Jacques Cousteau