The Panasonic Lumix LX10 is arguably the best compact, point and shoot camera for underwater video on the market. It uses a whopping 20MP sensor and shoots beautiful 4K video that you could expect from a high-end mirrorless camera. The footage is sharp and detailed due to the high megapixel count for such a compact camera. The f-stop ranges offered by the built in 24-72mm (35mm equivalent) lens allow for beautiful bokeh as well.
Panasonic is the latest manufacturer to release their line of mirrorless full frame cameras. They released the Panasonic S-series in March of 2019 and swept the photo world of its feet with these impressive new mirrorless cameras. The Panasonic S1 is the S-series camera designed for video, as it incorporates fewer, larger pixels that yield impressive low-light capabilities. The Panasonic S1 incorporates a 24MP, full frame sensor with a new Leica-L lens mount. The S-series cameras bested all other full-frame mirrorless lines in many categories. The Panasonic S1 (and S1R) is the first full frame mirrorless camera to shoot 4K at 60fps -- a feature that full frame mirrorless shooters have been waiting for for years. Not only that but with the latest firmware update, the Panasonic S1 can record 4:2:2 10-bit footage internally, making it an absolute workhorse for color science and post-processing workflow.
The Olympus TG series has a sterling reputation among the tough camera market, not only for being sufficiently specced to handle tough conditions, but also equipped with impressive imaging and video tech. The Raw-shooting, 4K-capable TG-6, is a fairly minor upgrade on the previous TG-5, but adds some nifty new features like improved LCD resolution and a new Underwater Microscope mode for getting in close. Producing 4K video at 30fps and offering the option to shoot Full HD video at 120fps for super-slow-motion, the TG-6 also has a generous 25-100mm optical zoom lens that lets you get closer and closer to the action. It's got a chunky handgrip providing a secure hold on the camera, while the internal zoom mechanism means the lens never protrudes from the body, protecting it from knocks and bumps. Straightforward but sophisticated, the TG-6 is quite simply the best waterproof camera around right now.
Before you start digging into the reviews, a few notes on choosing a cam that's right for you. You'll definitely want to consider frame rate, expressed as frames per second (fps). Some action cameras offer up to 240fps recording, while others only go to 30fps. For standard playback, 30fps is perfectly fine. It's when you want to slow footage down in editing to create dramatic scenes that frame rate matters. Footage captured at 240fps can be slowed down and played back smoothly at one-quarter speed. You may also want to go for a cinematic look, in which case you'll want one that has a 24fps capture option, the same speed used by most Hollywood productions.
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The GoPro Hero 6 is the most advanced GoPro action cam on the market today. It’s a great option for shooting video. It features SuperView™, a exclusive video mode that captures the world’s most immersive wide-angle perspective. It allows you to capture more of your surroundings in the shot compared to the earlier Hero models. It’s not uncommon to see a pro $20,000 underwater rig with one of these tiny cameras mounted on it to record high quality video while the photographer shoots stills.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is one of the most exciting cameras on the market right now for video. It provides the average videographer with high-end recording options that were previously inaccessible with a small budget. For underwater video, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera with the Nauticam BMPCCII Underwater Housing is arguably the most enticing video system on the market right now.
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The Sony a7II is the only full-frame mirrorless camera to offer in-body image stabilization systems and its performance is excellent. The body is comfortable to shoot with and offers a broad set of features that should appeal to both still and video shooters. The Sony a7 II has a 24.3MP resolution, great Full HD video capabilities and fast auto focus.
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The RX100 VA introduced an increased image buffer, burst shooting up to 24fps, and customizable menus. This is excellent for photographers seeking to capture quick pelagic animals that need good burst speed and more processing power. The RX100 VA still carries all of the advantages of the RX100 V including the 315 point phase detection autofocus system and the 20 MP/1" Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor. The main advantage of the RX100 VA over the VI is that the RX100 VA is able to shoot with both macro and wide-angle wet lenses on the same dive. This is because the lens is shorter and has less zoom capability than the RX100 VI. You also don't need to purchase additional ports/adapters for dedicated wide angle and macro set ups.
Lead camera analyst for the PCMag consumer electronics reviews team, Jim Fisher is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he concentrated on documentary video production. Jim's interest in photography really took off when he borrowed his father's Hasselblad 500C and light meter in 2007. He honed his writing skills at retailer B&H... See Full Bio
Canon is consistently a leading manufacturer of cameras and lenses in the video realm and the 1DX MkII is their flagship camera. The color science that is characteristic of Canon systems is highly sought-after and the sharpness of their lenses is not to be understated. If you are looking for a top-of-the-line DSLR that functions not only as an amazing stills camera but also as a professional-grade video camera, the Canon 1DX MkII is for you. The downside, is that the underwater housings are somewhat larger than the other housings listed in this guide.
Compared to the Olympus Tough TG-6, the Nikon COOLPIX can capture higher resolution images with more versatile zoom range. But the TG-6 has a brighter lens (f/2.0 versus f/2.8 in the Nikon), as well as the ability to shoot photos with higher ISO, so it's better in low-light photography. The Olympus also has higher burst-capture capabilities than the Nikon (20 versus 7 frames per second).
Then there's resolution and video quality. You'll want a camera that can record in 4K for sure. The top-end models from DJI and GoPro offer 60fps 4K with digital stabilization that's absolutely incredible. They're also not limited to ultra-wide views; you can set a narrower angle to remove lens distortion, making them solid choices for vlogging and travel logs.