Ultimately, your choice in action camera should come down to performance and ease of use. We've filmed hours of footage with many of the major contenders to determine where each device stands in the field. Some excel in all manner of extreme situations, while others can fall apart underwater or once the sun goes down. And what good is an action cam if it's not built for action?
What's the best helmet camera?
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC4K) is known as a disruptor camera, as it offers most of the features videographers hold in high regard at an impressively affordable price. The BMPCC4K has a Micro Four Thirds sensor, records 4K video at 60fps and even records RAW and ProRes files. This small, highly affordable cinema camera offers key features that were previously held captive by top-of-the-line, high-budget demanding cinema systems like the Canon C200, RED Digital Cinema Cameras, or the Arri Alexa Series. Recording in RAW or ProRes provides you maximum flexibility during post-processing and allows you to apply professional color correction to your footage.
The BMPCC4K has a built in 5” monitor, which makes viewing and framing your subjects underwater a breeze. The LCD screen on the BMPCC4K is lovely -- it’s sharp, bright and has good contrast. The BMPCC4K has no in camera stabilization, but this can be solved in post-production with the free Davinci Resolve subscription that comes included with the camera. Also, the BMPCC4K only has single-point autofocus, which is challenging when shooting video underwater. The solution to this, which most videographers prefer anyway, is to use manual focus. With the Nauticam BMPCCII Underwater Housing, there are numerous MFT lenses that Nauticam supports manual focus for. To see a list of supported lenses with the Nauticam BMPCCII Underwater Housing, see our Nauticam Port Chart.
The new Canon EOS Mark III 5D is a top of the line camera that was designed for photographers who want the best. With at 22MP full frame CMOS sensor it delivers high quality video with decreased noise at high ISO settings (100-25600). The Mark III is a great option for professional underwater photographers and advanced enthusiasts who want the best.
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).
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.
The Sony A7 series has led the charge in full frame mirrorless cameras and the A7 III and A7R III have been some of the most popular cameras on the market since their release in April 2018. Similar to the Nikon Z6 and the Panasonic S1, the Sony A7 III has fewer, larger pixels compared to the A7R III and therefore, a more favorable for video use due to the resulting low light capabilities. The A7 III tops out at 4K 30p and records internal 4:2:2 8-bit video. You also have the ability to shoot on various picture profiles like HLG & S-Log3 Gammas, which offer less-compressed video capture and facilitate maximum color rendition and dynamic range for post-production flexibility. It also has impressive autofocus capabilities with a 693-point hybrid autofocus system.
What accessories do you need with GoPro?
The rest of the camera's highlights include Wi-Fi for smartphone connectivity (via an app), GPS, a built-in eCompass, and a temperature sensor. You can embed data from the sensors in your images when you edit them, thanks to a dedicated app by Olympus. And the 3-inch LCD display means navigating through all the camera's features is easy. The screen is considerably sharper than one found in the device's predecessor.
What do you do with a GoPro camera?
So what makes a good underwater camera? In addition to image and video quality, there are several other important factors to consider, like the overall quality of the camera's optics, including zoom range and maximum aperture. The latter is crucial for low-light photography, as larger aperture typically results in better photos since it allows more light in. It also minimizes motion blur, making larger apertures perfect for action shots. (Note: The smaller the number, the larger the aperture.)
What are the best GoPro accessories?
Action cameras have replaced traditional point-and-shoots and camcorders for many types of underwater and outdoor work. Their small, go-anywhere designs and ultra-wide lenses make them ideal for mounting—whether it be to a surfboard or dive helmet—and they are built tough. While many of these cameras still require an external case to be waterproof, the GoPro Hero8 Black can go down to 33 feet without one, and offers class-leading video stabilization, making it our top pick.
Fortunately, we are now blessed with several cameras and great underwater housings that meet these criteria for the "best underwater camera". Whether you are looking for the best underwater camera for scuba diving or snorkeling, we are sure you will find it here. I'd also like to point out, that we define a compact camera as a camera with a fixed lens.
The Sony RX100 VA, VI & VII cameras are the latest additions to the Sony RX100 series and are packed with lots of awesome features for underwater photography. They are the top of line compact cameras to date. Autofocus is lightning quick in both cameras, which is very beneficial for underwater application. Both feature a large 1" sensor with 20 MP resolution, which provides excellent image quality, fast autofocus, useful video modes (like slow motion) and full manual controls. The RX100 VI's key upgrade is its enhanced zoom using a 24-200 mm f/2.8 – 4.5 lens. The RX100 VA's key upgrade is 24fps sequential shooting, enhanced image buffer, and a customizable menu system. The RX100 VII has some minor improvments over the VI.