What makes the “Best Underwater Video Camera”? When shooting underwater video, or video in general, there are many factors to consider. To start, being able to record 4K video is now a luxury that is expected out of any respectable video camera and 4K capture is definitely something you should consider when choosing your underwater video camera. The good news is nearly every new DSLR, mirrorless or compact camera features 4K recording capabilities. Where it becomes complicated is the 4K Video Type, which basically is the way in which a camera records 4K video. There are three types of cameras when it comes to 4K recording. The most ideal camera is one that has a full pixel readout from a 35mm sensor (often shooting the initial video in 6K) that will downsample to 4K, adding additional details to the video. Intermediate 4K quality comes from cameras that use pixel binning to process their 4K video. The worst 4K quality comes from cameras that “crop” the video by using only part of the sensor to capture 4K footage. This produces the worst quality because less sensor area is being used to capture light while filming video. The Canon EOS R was a disappointment for videographers for this reason.

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The Sony A6500 and A6400 are Sony’s top-of-the-line cropped sensor mirrorless cameras. They feature a 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor and records UHD 4K up to 30fps. The Sony A6500 offers many of the same pro-level features characteristic of Sony’s a7 series cameras, such as 5-axis image stabilization and S-Log picture profiles. The Sony A6400 offers the capability of shooting with hybrid log gamma, and an improved color science from the A6300 and A6500. Thanks to the smaller sensor, however, both cameras come at a much lower price point than the full frame a7 series.

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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.

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When coupled with the Atomos Ninja V, the Nikon Z6 will output RAW video over HDMI -- similar to what the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K can do internally. RAW video capture, similar to RAW photos, preserves more data than compressed formats and allows you to record more color and capture more detail in the shadows and highlights. This firmware update makes the Nikon Z6 with the Atomos Ninja v recorder one of the most competitive video kits on the market, competing with high end cinema cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars.

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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.

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.
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

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