Before the invention of this little camera it used to be really difficult and expensive to capture amazing underwater moments for casual scuba divers or snorkelers.

But since GoPro came out, underwater photography and videography has become accessible to every scuba diver and snorkeler, not only because of its waterproof capabilities (HERO 6, 7, 8 go down to 10m / 33ft without a housing) but also because this camera is affordable, easy to use and rich of accessories that will help anyone capture incredible underwater memories and share them online.

A frame shot with GoPro HERO 6 by Andrea Magri in the clear waters of Indonesia while snorkeling

All of this makes GoPro the perfect camera for filming your underwater experiences. In fact, I’m so glad that I took my HERO 6 to my first dive in Bali, where I completed a PADI diving course. On the last day the instructor took us to a Japanese wreck. And that was one of the best experiences of my life so far! After that my friends and I couldn’t stop watching my underwater videos…

And thankfully my diving instructor was also an underwater photographer and a long term GoPro user! So I learned a ton of tips and tricks which I’m going to share with you today, along with some useful GoPro accessories that will help you capture awesome underwater photos and videos.

First up, what’s the best GoPro for underwater use?

This is a recurrent question that I get from those who are thinking of buying a GoPro for their underwater adventures.

While you don’t need the latest GoPro HERO model to capture some great content underwater, I suggest to get at least a HERO 5 or above since they have a waterproof body (unlike HERO 2, 3, 4) and they are also updated with other features like Electronic Stabilization (EIS), Super Slow Motion, etc. which may turn out useful in wild environments like underwater.

So here’s a table that compares different GoPro HERO models against GoPro features relevant to underwater use:

GoPro ModelWaterproofStabilization / Slow MotionImage Quality UnderwaterAmazon Link
HERO 810 m/33 ftHypersmooth 2.0 / 240fpsGreatCheck Price >>
HERO 7
(B/S/W)
10 m/33 ftHypersmooth / 240fpsGreatCheck Price >>
HERO 6
(Black)
10 m/33 ftEIS / 240fpsGreatCheck Price
HERO 5
(Black/Session)
10 m/33 ftEIS / 120fpsGoodCheck Price
HERO 4
(Black/Silver)
Needs housingNo EIS / 120fpsOKCheck Price
HERO 3, 3+
(All)
Needs housingNo EIS / 60fpsAcceptableCheck Price

 

So which GoPro should you buy?

Well, if budget is not an issue then definitely opt for GoPro HERO 8. Its amazing Hypersmooth 2.0 will eliminate any sudden movement that you may make underwater due to strong currents or waves.

If you are on a budget then I would opt for a HERO7 Black, which in my opinion, it’s the best deal in terms of image quality/price. Otherwise you can always find previous GoPro models on Amazon, like HERO 5 Black and HERO6 Black, but either second hand or renewed.

GoPro HERO8 Black - Waterproof...
GoPro HERO7 Black — Waterproof...
(Renewed) GoPro HERO6 Black 4K...
GoPro Hero5 Black (E-Commerce...
Model
GoPro HERO 8
GoPro HERO 7 Black
GoPro HERO 6 Black (Renewed)
GoPro HERO 5 Black
Features
Waterproof, Hypersmooth 2.0, Great Image Quality
Waterproof, Hypersmooth, Great Image Quality
Waterproof, EIS, Great Image Quality
Waterproof, EIS, Good Image Quality
GoPro HERO8 Black - Waterproof...
Model
GoPro HERO 8
Features
Waterproof, Hypersmooth 2.0, Great Image Quality
GoPro HERO7 Black — Waterproof...
Model
GoPro HERO 7 Black
Features
Waterproof, Hypersmooth, Great Image Quality
(Renewed) GoPro HERO6 Black 4K...
Model
GoPro HERO 6 Black (Renewed)
Features
Waterproof, EIS, Great Image Quality
GoPro Hero5 Black (E-Commerce...
Model
GoPro HERO 5 Black
Features
Waterproof, EIS, Good Image Quality

 

What gear do you need to use your GoPro underwater?

When it comes to GoPro underwater photography or videography gear is almost essential. Over the years many third party companies hugely contributed in the development of GoPro underwater accessories, making variations of filters, deep water housings, handles, etc. available to GoPro users.

 

 Suggested GoPro Accessories for Snorkeling: 

  • Waterproof housing (only for HERO 4 and below)

Assuming that snorkeling is done at a maximum depth of 10 m/33 ft and you use a GoPro HERO 5 or above, you don’t need any extra waterproof housing since the GoPro has a waterproof body. For HERO 4 and older you must get a waterproof housing for your camera.

Here are the best top 3 GoPro waterproof housings on available for GoPro 4 and below:

Deyard Waterproof Housing Case for...
Hapurs Diving Waterproof Housing...
Title
Deyard Waterproof Housing 45m/147ft
Hapurs Diving Waterproof Housing 60m/200ft
HERO/Session
HERO 4, HERO 3 & 3+
Session 4
Deyard Waterproof Housing Case for...
Title
Deyard Waterproof Housing 45m/147ft
HERO/Session
HERO 4, HERO 3 & 3+
Hapurs Diving Waterproof Housing...
Title
Hapurs Diving Waterproof Housing 60m/200ft
HERO/Session
Session 4

 

  • Floating Stick/Pole/Grip (Very useful! Prevents from sinking)

The floating grip is the most useful accessory to take with your GoPro when filming underwater. It will prevent the camera to sink in case you loose it. And trust me, it happens! The GoPro stick also allows a better overall control of the camera underwater. These are the 3 top rated GoPro grips available on Amazon:

GoPro The Handler Floating Hand...
SHOOT Floating Hand Grip,12pcs Anti...
Waterproof Floating Hand Grip...
Title
Floating Hand Grip - Original GoPro Mount
SHOOT Floating Hand Grip
MiPremium - Waterproof Floating Hand Grip
GoPro The Handler Floating Hand...
Title
Floating Hand Grip - Original GoPro Mount
SHOOT Floating Hand Grip,12pcs Anti...
Title
SHOOT Floating Hand Grip
Waterproof Floating Hand Grip...
Title
MiPremium - Waterproof Floating Hand Grip

 

  • Dome Port Housing

If you want to create cool split photos of above and below the water line then a Dome Port Lens is what you need. Here are a few for GoPro:

SHOOT Dome Port (6th Gen) for GoPro...
Vicdozia Telesin 6 inches Dome Port...
AmazonBasics Underwater Dome Port...
Title
SHOOT 6 Inches 6.0 Dome Port
Vicdozia Telesin 6 inches Dome Port Lens
AmazonBasics Underwater Dome Port
GoPro
HERO 7/6/5 (Black) & HERO 2018
HERO 7/6/5 (Black) & HERO 2018
HERO 7/6/5 (Black) & HERO 2018
SHOOT Dome Port (6th Gen) for GoPro...
Title
SHOOT 6 Inches 6.0 Dome Port
GoPro
HERO 7/6/5 (Black) & HERO 2018
Vicdozia Telesin 6 inches Dome Port...
Title
Vicdozia Telesin 6 inches Dome Port Lens
GoPro
HERO 7/6/5 (Black) & HERO 2018
AmazonBasics Underwater Dome Port...
Title
AmazonBasics Underwater Dome Port
GoPro
HERO 7/6/5 (Black) & HERO 2018

 

 Suggested GoPro Accessories for Scuba Diving:

  • Waterproof Housing

All GoPro camera models require a waterproof housing for scuba diving. Try to avoid cheap solutions. A good housing will protect your camera from any damage and water leak. Here are a few listed for you:

GoPro Protective Housing (HERO8...
GoPro AADIV-001 Super Suit with...
FitStill 60M Dive Housing Case for...
Title
GoPro Underwater Housing - Official GoPro Accessory
GoPro Super Suit with Dive Housing
FitStill 60M Dive Housing
GoPro Model
HERO 8
HERO 8/7/6/5
Session 5
GoPro Protective Housing (HERO8...
Title
GoPro Underwater Housing - Official GoPro Accessory
GoPro Model
HERO 8
GoPro AADIV-001 Super Suit with...
Title
GoPro Super Suit with Dive Housing
GoPro Model
HERO 8/7/6/5
FitStill 60M Dive Housing Case for...
Title
FitStill 60M Dive Housing
GoPro Model
Session 5

 

  • Red Filter Diving Lens

Red or Magenta filters are used for underwater video to bring back the reds into the picture, which are lost as you dive deeper. Red filters provide more contrast and color in deep water, while magenta filters are used for green water.

gopro underwater filter

 

So the kind of filter is well dependant from depth. That’s why I recommend to use a multi filter pack, so that divers can easily change filters as they change depth. Here are a few diving filters:

PolarPro Red Filter for GoPro Hero8
GoPro Blue Water Snorkel Filter for...
SOONSUN 3 Pack Dive Filter for...
Title
PolarPro Red Filter
GoPro Blue Water Snorkel Filter
SOONSUN 3 Pack Dive Filter
GoPro
HERO 8
HERO 7/6/5
HERO 7/6/5
PolarPro Red Filter for GoPro Hero8
Title
PolarPro Red Filter
GoPro
HERO 8
GoPro Blue Water Snorkel Filter for...
Title
GoPro Blue Water Snorkel Filter
GoPro
HERO 7/6/5
SOONSUN 3 Pack Dive Filter for...
Title
SOONSUN 3 Pack Dive Filter
GoPro
HERO 7/6/5

 

  • Diving Camera Rig

For more stable footage and better control I suggest trying one of these GoPro camera rigs:

Movo GB-U70 Underwater Diving Rig...
SHOOT Aluminium Alloy Underwater...
Title
Movo GB-U70 Underwater Diving Rig
SHOOT Aluminium Alloy Underwater Video Light Stabilizer
GoPro
All GoPro
All GoPro
Movo GB-U70 Underwater Diving Rig...
Title
Movo GB-U70 Underwater Diving Rig
GoPro
All GoPro
SHOOT Aluminium Alloy Underwater...
Title
SHOOT Aluminium Alloy Underwater Video Light Stabilizer
GoPro
All GoPro

 

  • Waterproof LED Lights

Video lights are well recommended if you dive in dark spots or at night time, but also in deep waters where the wavelengths of sun light are lost and absorbed in the depths of the water. Depending on the power of the light (lumen), diving lights can light up a distance of about 3-6 feet away, bringing back those colors that were lost without an external light.

Here are a few LED underwater models for GoPro:

Underwater Lights Dive Light for...
Neewer Underwater Lights Dive Light...
Neewer Waterproof Up to 131ft/40m...
Title
Hongdak Diving Light High Power Dimmable Waterproof LED
Neewer Underwater Lights Dive Light 60 LED Dimmable Waterproof LED
Neewer Waterproof Up to 131ft/40m Underwater 20 LED
Lumens
400 Lumens
1800 Lumens
700 Lumen
Underwater Lights Dive Light for...
Title
Hongdak Diving Light High Power Dimmable Waterproof LED
Lumens
400 Lumens
Neewer Underwater Lights Dive Light...
Title
Neewer Underwater Lights Dive Light 60 LED Dimmable Waterproof LED
Lumens
1800 Lumens
Neewer Waterproof Up to 131ft/40m...
Title
Neewer Waterproof Up to 131ft/40m Underwater 20 LED
Lumens
700 Lumen

 

  • Large micro SD

Don’t underestimate your GoPro memory card space! You don’t wanna end up preparing all your diving gear, going for a dive, and then discovering that your SD card is full 😱

Since we can’t (still) change sd cards underwater, ensure that you stock your GoPro with an empty and large SD card before any activity. Here are a few sd card models that work well with GoPro cameras:

SanDisk Extreme 64GB microSD UHS-I...
Samsung (MB-ME64GA/AM) 64GB...
Lexar Professional 1000x 64GB...
Model
SanDisk Extreme UHS-I 160MB/s
Samsung EVO Select 100MB/s
Lexar Professional 1000x
Fit
All GoPros
All GoPros
Does not support: HERO3, HERO3+, HERO+, HERO (2014)
Capacity
64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 400GB
32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Rating
41,736 Reviews
64,378 Reviews
1,365 Reviews
SanDisk Extreme 64GB microSD UHS-I...
Model
SanDisk Extreme UHS-I 160MB/s
Fit
All GoPros
Capacity
64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 400GB
Rating
41,736 Reviews
Samsung (MB-ME64GA/AM) 64GB...
Model
Samsung EVO Select 100MB/s
Fit
All GoPros
Capacity
32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Rating
64,378 Reviews
Lexar Professional 1000x 64GB...
Model
Lexar Professional 1000x
Fit
Does not support: HERO3, HERO3+, HERO+, HERO (2014)
Capacity
32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Rating
1,365 Reviews

 

  • Batteries

Since we can’t swap batteries while scuba diving, it’s a good practice to remember to fully charge the battery before any dive since it won’t last much longer than a session.

Also having multiple charged batteries available on the surface will help you enjoy the dive and be free of worries between each dive.

Pro Tip: Before going for a dive ensure that both bluetooth and WiFi are disabled. This will help you save battery. Check this tutorial for tips on how to extend battery life.

Here are a few batteries suggested for GoPro in case you need an extra back-up:

Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) &...
Rechargeable Replacement Battery...
Wasabi Power HERO4 Battery (x2) and...
Title
Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) & Dual Charger
Rechargeable Replacement Battery by Re-fuel
Wasabi Power HERO4 Battery (x2) and USB Triple Charger
GoPro
HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, Hero (2018)
HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, Hero (2018)
Hero 4
Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) &...
Title
Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) & Dual Charger
GoPro
HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, Hero (2018)
Rechargeable Replacement Battery...
Title
Rechargeable Replacement Battery by Re-fuel
GoPro
HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, Hero (2018)
Wasabi Power HERO4 Battery (x2) and...
Title
Wasabi Power HERO4 Battery (x2) and USB Triple Charger
GoPro
Hero 4

 

How to shoot underwater with your GoPro

A frame shot with GoPro HERO 6 by Andrea Magri in the clear waters of Indonesia while snorkeling

Here’s a check list of the main steps for shooting underwater:

1. Preparing the Gear

Ensure that you have at least some basic accessories that will protect your GoPro in underwater environments. Double check your GoPro model in the table above and see if you need a waterproof case or not. Remember the floating grip, it’ll prevent the camera from sinking.

2. Charging Batteries

Don’t risk that your battery goes dead during the best experience of your life. So I’d ensure that the battery is fully charged before any dive. Usually a full charge won’t last much longer than a diving session.

3. Emptying SD Card

Same as for batteries…check that your SD card is empty or there’s enough space before any diving session.

4. Adjusting the Camera Settings (before diving!)

Check the full recommended camera settings for underwater (below). And remember that if you are going to shoot videos in dark places, avoid the use of electronic stabilization or hypersmooth, and reduce the frame rate to 30fps to allow the camera to capture more light in the dark.

5. Filming

We finally get to the best part: filming underwater. I’ve listed a few tips here below that will help you achieve better videos underwater. “Make it good use” 🙂

  • Keep Camera Steady: Use a hand grip or camera rig to avoid vibrations and shaky video, especially if you switched the Stabilization off (in low light).
  • Keep the sun behind you: to get a high contrast image, full of colors, avoid filming against the sun.
  • Use lights if dark: Small underwater LED lights are perfect to brighten up an underwater scene.
  • Record long sequences: Avoid too many takes (new recordings) and focus on the dive first, while enjoying filming.

A frame shot with GoPro HERO 6 by a diving instructor in Tulamben, Bali – Indonesia.

Video: Recommended GoPro Settings for Underwater

  • FOV : Wide or equivalent wide angle
  • Frame Rate: 60fps / 120fps
  • Resolution : 4k / 1080p)
  • ISO: Protune-> ISO min. 100 / ISO max. 800
  • Sharpness: Medium
  • Color: “Flat” if you intend to color grade, otherwise “GoPro”
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Stabilization: ON if well lid / OFF if dark
  • Turn Screensaver and Auto Off to Never

Photo: Recommended GoPro Settings for Underwater

  • Photo: RAW
  • FOV: Wide
  • Color: “Flat” if you intend to color grade, otherwise “GoPro”
  • ISO: Protune-> ISO min. 100 / ISO max. 800)
  • Sharpness: Medium

 

How to Edit Underwater GoPro Videos

Editing underwater videos is not much different from editing other kind of action videos in terms of software and skills. The only thing you should bear in mind is that usually scuba diving videos are loooong.

close up of computer screen with editing timeline

If you are only looking to create a video to show to your family and friends, try to keep it short: 3-4 minutes should be enough.

Your unedited files will probably be huge if you filmed long diving sequences, so try to include only the best part and cut out the rest.

Mobile Editing: If you want to quickly make a video out of your experience, without fancy filters, and effects, then you can achieve basic edits with these free Apps:

  • Quik (GoPro)
  • Splice
  • Adobe Premiere Clip
  • iMovie (iOS)

Editing GoPro Videos on PC/Mac: If you are looking to make higher quality GoPro edits, then you need a professional video editor like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X (Mac). These editors are not difficult to learn, especially Final Cut Pro if you have a Mac.

Editing your GoPro videos on a proper computer gives you freedom. The editing quality will be higher as you are not limited to simple cuts and trims (like on mobile) and you can also use video effects like the GoPro LUTs filters and the Pro Editing Bundle to make your video editing more cinematic.

If you want to learn more how to edit a video please check this editing tutorial >>

 

FAQ’s

  • How long can a GoPro be underwater?

There’s no timing limits for a GoPro to remain underwater. As long as the battery lasts you can keep your GoPro underwater.

  • Is GoPro 6/7/8 waterproof without lens cover/case?

Yes. GoPro HERO 5/6/7/8 have a waterproof body up to 10 m/33 ft. Below that depth it needs a scuba diving housing.

  • How deep can a GoPro go underwater?

A GoPro can go as deep as the body or its housing can support. GoPro HERO 5/6/7/8 support 10 m/33 ft without housing. Most GoPro diving housings support 60 m/197 ft.


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