Underwater Videography with a DSLR Camera

2 min

In today’s video I want to talk about underwater videography with a DSLR camera. With modern DSLR cameras shooting photos and video underwater has never been easier.

Do you enjoy any diving, or even just snorkeling when at a resort?  If so, you know how exciting and exotic that underwater world is. Amazing sights are everywhere.  And if you are also a keen photographer the thought of bringing back images from this other world is enough to get the adrenalin pumping. The good news is that shooting video underwater is doable. Converting your DSLR into an underwater camera is as easy as putting it into a suitable housing.

We have already talked about choosing a DSLR camera for shooting video, so let’s say you have already invested in a suitable camera. Fortunately most of the popular models have suitable housings available, so there is a good chance you will be able to find one for your existing camera from major suppliers like Nauticam, Subal, Ikelite, or Aquatica, to name some big players. Prices for housings begin around $2,000 and move up from there.

If underwater photography is on your mind, it may even be better if you haven’t yet made that choice, since not all DSLR cameras have matching underwater housings available for them, so in a perfect world your first choice will be the housing, which will then guide your actual camera purchase.

Underwater Videography with a DSLR Camera – Limitations

One of the major limitations in shooting photos underwater is lighting. Strobe lights are available to for your underwater camera and the best lights use the slave TTL mode, which synchronizes the strobe to your camera’s built-in strobe to give automatic strobe exposure.

Adding on the cost of lighting equipment may not be necessary however, since with higher speed on many DSLR cameras today, perfect shots can be made with available light, especially in shallower water.

ISO is the camera setting that allows you to maximize the light you can use. Today’s better cameras can produce top-quality images even with ISO settings of 6,400. When you recall that 400 was a high rating with roll film, things have come a long way! As you increase the setting digital noise and blurring can become problems.  However manufacturers have come a long way in increasing sensitivity without sacrificing clarity.

Is the Investment Worth it?

When shooting videos underwater higher-end cameras have several advantages. A full-frame camera like the Nikon D610 has impressive range.  It will allow you to shoot all the way up to ISO 6,400 as well as offering 24.3 megapixels.  This camera at full 1080p at 30 frames a second video recording capability for underwater videography. Going up a step the Nikon D810 may be worth the extra money for its outstanding 36.3 megapixels and a top noise-free ISO of 12,800 making lights underwater basically redundant.

In Canon the 6D is considered to work better in low light because of its higher maximum ISO, but the loss of quality at very high settings makes the upper ranges unusable for practical purposes. At the higher end the Canon 5D Mark III will go head-to-head with the Nikon D810, so the choice is yours.

Underwater Videography with a DSLR Camera

Underwater Videography with a DSLR Camera is easily doable.  If you enjoy both diving and photography, shooting video under water is not just a logical next-step; it will open new worlds of enjoyment to you. With modern equipment the underwater photography you take will be of professional quality and with your underwater camera in your hand you will soon be producing videos that you would never have thought possible.

I hope you found this video helpful. Please let me know if you’ve ever done any underwater photography and if so which brand of housing you’ve tried.

Camera and Video Recording Gear I use to make these videos:

Canon XA30 Professional Camcorder   

Nikon D7000 DSLR   

Zoom H5 Audio Recorder  

Sennheiser EW 100 Wireless Microphone   

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Rick Davis


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