The feature-set and price point of the DJI Osmo Action make it pretty obvious from the get-go that it's an attempt to undercut the GoPro HERO7. Does it succeed? Like all things, it's complicated. The front-facing screen is a boon, the stabilisation is just as silky smooth as the HERO's, and it's wallet-friendly price is nothing to sniff at. That's not to say it's perfect; there are a few lag issues at high resolutions, the app can be unreliable, and video from the HERO is a touch flatter, which counts in professional realm when it comes to the grade. For an affordable alternative to the HERO7 Black though, the Osmo Action is a fantastic choice.
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.
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.
We believe that all moments spent exploring marine life are worth capturing. This belief, along with our passion and dedication to marine life, has led us to create our high quality SplashCam underwater cameras and underwater video products. Since 1988, our goal has been to give you the opportunity to document your underwater experiences and gather invaluable HD underwater footage.
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.
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.
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.
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The latest flagship GoPro model is our favorite action camera available right now. A key difference from its predecessor (and especially the less expensive Hero7 Black) is that there are fold-out feet, giving you the advantage that the camera mount is now built in. Furthermore, you can accessorise the Hero8 Black with a new series of bespoke optional extras called Mods – we particularly like the Display Mod, which adds a second monitor that is perfect for vloggers, but there are plenty of others, including a Media Mod for improving the production value of your videos, and a Light Mod LED light too. These add-ons cost you more – but if you are looking for the very best action camera, and the best GoPro for image quality and features, then the Hero8 Black is it.