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.
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Another highly sought-after, and relatively exclusive, feature within the video camera realm is the ability to record in RAW or ProRes. These are uncompressed formats that maximize the information gathered by the sensor and provide you with extended flexibility when it comes to color grading and post-processing. As mentioned, this feature is quite an exclusive one and only available in a select few cameras on the market with good processors (again, excluding high-end cinema systems). Some select cameras can record in ProRes Raw with an Atomos Ninja V external recorder. Nauticam offers a housing for the Ninja V for use with your underwater system.
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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
Is GoPro better than DSLR?
The Nauticam Panasonic S1/S1R housing offers an M28 bulkhead, designed to be used with the HDMI 2.0 cable with the Atomos Ninja V monitor/recorder. When shooting the Panasonic S1 with the Atomos Ninja V monitor/recorder, you will immediately be able to record 10-bit 4:2:2 HDR footage direct to Apple ProRes or Avid DNx. This is highly advantageous and the Nauticam housing for both the Panasonic S1 and the Atomos Ninja V work hand in hand to provide a particularly user friendly system.
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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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.
underwater camera best buy