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Underwater photography equipment

Scuba Photography Equipment

Scuba Divers in the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer courseYou need underwater camera equipment with specialized casings and flashes to take a camera underwater. You’ll also learn basic underwater photography tips when you take the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course.

Also known as : UW photo gear, underwater photography gear, underwater camera, digital underwater photography


The digital photography explosion has been a major benefit for underwater photography, making it easier than ever to get vibrant colors and learn what you’re doing. You can also take lots of pictures on a single dive rather than being limited to one roll of film. There are three basic divisions in cameras :

Point-and-shoot – These are compact, easy-to-use cameras designed for casual, fun pictures of friends, families and events. These are the least costly cameras.

D-SLRs – Digital SLRs (Single Lens Reflex) cameras are for those who are relatively serious about photography. They have multiple lenses you can choose from and other accessories. These are the most costly cameras.

Full-featured – These cameras bridge the gap between point-and-shoot and D-SLRs by offering a moderately compact, easy-to-use camera with many (but not all) the features of a D-SLR. These tend to be much less expensive than D-SLRs, though more expense than point-and-shoots.

You can use all three types underwater. Your PADI Dive Shop or Resort can help you decide which is right for you.

Talk to your PADI Dive Shop or Resort about underwater camera housings and the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer courseRequired features

Underwater housing – Although many modern cameras are moisture resistant, none can withstand full submersion without an underwater housing to protect them from water and pressure.




Desirable features

Underwater camera with housing and strobe lightsManual white balance – White balance is how your camera measures the color of the surrounding light and then adjusts to give you good color. Digital cameras do this automatically, but may have difficulty getting a good setting underwater. The ability to set it yourself is a big advantage.

External flash unit – Even though most cameras have a built in flash, underwater it’s beneficial to have a separate flash. This provides more power and lights from a better angle.

Full control access – Some housings limit the controls you have underwater. The more controls your housing provides, the more options you have while shooting.

Wide angle adapter – For point-and-shoot and full-featured camera, a housing system that allows you to use a wide angle lens is an advantage. (Virtually any D-SLR system has this capability).

Large memory card – The memory card should have enough capacity that running out on a single dive is essentially not an issue. 


Visit your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort to learn more about underwater camerasHow to choose an underwater camera system

If you’re just starting into underwater photography, your best bet in choosing an underwater camera system is to take the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course. Intended for the beginner through serious topside shooters, this gets you acquainted with what’s involved and helps you determine what type of system best suits your needs and interests.

  • Shop for your camera, housing and strobes or other accessories together. Not all cameras have housings available, and older models may have had housings available, but not any longer.
  • If you’re investing in a D-SLR system, consider the entire line. Over time, you’ll invest in lenses and other accessories that you’ll use new models in the same line so you don’t have to start from scratch.
  • Read, research and get help. The photo pro at your local PADI Dive Shop or Resort can help, and check out the websites of underwater photography equipment.


  • Shoot, shoot and shoot, but don’t be indiscriminate. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course will help you avoid rudimentary errors. You shoot lots of pictures in the photo course, which is ultimately what you need to do to learn this craft—practice! You can shoot all you want with digital and delete the stinkers, but, volume doesn’t offset quality. Think about each shot.
  • Use a port cover. The most fragile part of your camera housing is the lens port. Boat crews do their best, but housings get bumped and jostled in rinse tanks. Have some kind of neoprene or other material cover for the port, even if you have to make one yourself. Put it in place before you hand a camera up to go into the rinse barrel.
  • Consider your computer and software. Your computer and software complete the photo process, so be sure to have a system that matches your interest level. An awkward, difficult system will discourage showing your shots, and that defeats the purpose.