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Brent Durand

How to Choose the Best Underwater Camera Equipment

By Brent Durand | Authored On April 6, 2020
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How to Choose the Best Underwater Camera Equipment

A complete underwater camera system is comprised of many different essentials and accessories.

Building your first underwater camera rig can be intimidating, so I’ve put together a video below to simplify the process and explain the steps that will lead you to make the best decisions.

The best strategy is to start with the broad questions and then start narrowing down into the specific gear, all while keeping the big picture (all the extra accessories) in mind for the end.

Your Photography Intentions

Answering these basic questions about your photo and video goals will help push you towards a specific range of cameras even before we consider the underwater housings.

• Do you plan to shoot casually or seriously?

• What is your budget?

• Do you plan to shoot photos, videos, or both?

• What marine life or other subjects do you plan to shoot?

Once we answer these questions, we can start to narrow down the many camera choices into two or three options that will best suit our specific goals.

Consider Your Housing Choices
We can explore available housings now that we’ve narrowed down our camera choices. There are three main factors to consider here: Price, Port and Wet Lens Options, and Ergonomics.

Underwater housings generally fall into several distinct price points. Each will have a unique port system or shared wet lens options, and very distinct ergonomics.

Is there a right and wrong? No. This really comes down to personal preference. If possible, speak with your local underwater camera retailer or dive shop experts for their opinions. You could even seek out a regional tradeshow in order to hold some of the housings in real life.

Underwater Camera Accessories

Underwater camera accessories can help to enhance your underwater images.

Brent Durand

Plan for the Accessories
In many cases, creating great underwater images requires more than just a camera, housing and lenses/ports. It’s important to keep these accessories in mind, based on your priorities, when working on your initial budget.

Most photographers will want at least one strobe. And to have a strobe you need a tray and handle system and an arm system to hold the strobe, plus a fiber optic cable to trigger it. Most video shooters will want one or two video lights, requiring a similar base setup. On top of that, there are zoom gears, port extensions, strobe triggers, vacuum systems, focus lights and other accessories that you may want to add immediately or once you’ve gained some experience.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing your underwater camera equipment, and these guidelines will help you get out there shooting with a great system you’ll love for years.

Brent Durand is a professional writer and underwater photo instructor. Find his in-depth video tutorial series at tutorials.brentdurand.com.