There have been many improvements in the compact camera lines over the past few years. Larger sensors, faster focusing, and more controls have all led to a selection of cameras that work smoothly, keep size tiny and are functional with a variety of lenses and accessories to round out your underwater photography experience. Sony and Canon have both given their compact cameras one inch sensors, and greatly improved focus speeds over the cameras of a few years ago. Olympus continued to add features to their cameras while keeping both price and size down.
Here, we have outlined the best cameras for underwater video in order from best to last-best. Yes -- indeed the last camera mentioned has been classified as ‘last-best’ since if it were not an excellent choice for underwater video, we would not put it on this list! Here we will walk you through some of the key points that make each camera great for underwater video and hopefully make the process of choosing which underwater video camera is best for you, a little bit easier.
The TG-6 can capture excellent 12 MP stills in up to a whopping 20 frames per second, as well as ultra crisp 4K video via a 4-times magnification optical zoom lens with f/2.0 aperture. Microscope mode for ultra close-up shooting is also among the camera's features, as is the ability to capture panoramas and time-lapses. Advanced photographers have the option to save their images in RAW file format for more extensive edits.
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The Nikon Z6 is the Nikon equivalent of the Panasonic S1 -- Nikon’s lower-megapixel version of their Z Series full frame mirrorless cameras. The Nikon Z6 offers a 24MP, full frame sensor with fewer, larger pixels than the Z7 making it a more favorable choice for video due to the low light advantages. One benefit of the Nikon Z7, as compared to the Panasonic S1, is its size. The Z7 is small and compact -- a major reason why people are turning from DSLR cameras to mirrorless cameras. The Nikon Z7 has phenomenal autofocus capabilities with 273-point hybrid phase-detection contrast autofocus technology. It tops out at 4K 30p but can natively output 10-bit 4:2:2 over HDMI in the new N-log color profile, promising greater dynamic range and flexibility in post. Beyond that, with its new firmware, it will become the first hybrid camera to offer RAW video output when coupled with the Ninja V monitor/recorder.
Can a GoPro take pictures?
What is the best camera for underwater photography? As you may know from reading the Underwater Photography Guide, it is important to select a compact camera that offers full manual controls, the ability to shoot in RAW, HD video, and the ability to accept wide-angle and macro wet lenses. We need to look at not only the camera features, but the quality of available underwater housings.
Another particularly exciting camera that we are anxiously awaiting, and which should be released anytime time now, is the Sony a7S III. Due to the success of the Sony a7s II we think the a7S III will be an even more exciting release. When Panasonic announced 6K capability in the S1H, there has been some speculation that Sony may try to match this capability with the a7S III, but it’s impossible to know.
The next most immediate specification to consider would be the frame rate that your video camera allows you to record in. Top-of-the-line video cameras record at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second (fps), giving your footage that smooth, slow-motion cinema look that everybody loves. This is a highly sought-after capability and only a select few cameras on the market (excluding high-end cinema systems) provide this feature.
While the original Sony RX0 drew plenty of attention for its 1-inch sensor in a tiny body, it was somewhat hamstrung by the fact that to record 4K video it needed to be physically tethered to an external recorder. So while it was waterproof, shockproof and all that jazz, this limitation meant you couldn't record 4K video in these extreme situations. The RX0 II does away with this restriction, recording pristine 4K video internally, and also adds welcome extra features like a flip-out screen. It's the most expensive on this list, but if you need the low-light latitude a 1-inch sensor gives you, it's really an unrivalled prospect.
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?
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Panasonic is well established brand in the video realm and their reputation definitely precedes this product. They included a fast working DFD feature that calculated the focus distance to help prevent your video from being blurry or out of focus. If you want a simple, compact camera that will render high-quality underwater video, the Panasonic Lumix LX10 is a great camera for you.
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.
GoPro's all-new HERO8 Black is the best waterproof camera for capturing video. It's capable of recording great-quality, 4K content at up to a brisk 60 frames per second. Most importantly, in line with GoPro's action-sports credentials, the HERO8 videos feature superb image-stabilization tech. Rather impressively, the latter is even better than the one used in the device's already fantastic predecessor.
What is the best GoPro camera?
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.
best budget underwater camera