A GoPro is often mentioned as one of the best underwater action cameras for scuba diving. That is why learning how to work with this small action camera should be part of any guide to underwater photography.
So what are you waiting for? On your next dive, make sure you are ready to capture that amazing whale shark swimming past or the tornado-like formation of Barracuda with an action camera.
How else are you going show everyone who wasn’t on your dive just how awesome it was?
Everything You Need to Know for Using GoPro for Underwater Video
Taking scuba videos is somewhat different to photos which is why we created this list of videography advice. We’ve put together this beginner’s guide to GoPro for underwater video and tips and advice to help you get the most out of your new action camera.
These pointers in addition to some great underwater photography tips, you will be well on your way to documenting marine life in the most beautiful way.
If you’re looking to start your underwater GoPro journey, these are the three products you need;
- HyperSmooth Stabilization
- Waterproof to 10m
- 4K60 Video + 12MP Photos
- Live Streaming
- GoPro Hero7, 6 & 5
- Waterproof to 25m
- Inc. Custom Case
- Red, Mag & Snorkel Filters
Why Use a GoPro When Scuba Diving?
When looking for the right underwater camera, you are faced with the option of choosing a professional DSLR with a special casing or going for a more compact action camera. Though there is something to be said for personal preference, a tiny device like a GoPro is much more portable, easy to navigate and specifically designed for action sports.
Overall, we can claim that a DSLR with underwater casing is a great choice for underwater photography while a GoPro is better suited to action shots and videos.
Do You Need a Casing for GoPro?
So do you need a housing (case) to use your GoPro when scuba diving? Well, this all depends on how deep you are planning to dive and also which GoPro version you are taking with you.
The newest Hero7 Black is waterproof up to a depth of 33 feet so if you remain in shallower waters or plan on snorkeling you technically don’t need a housing for it.
If you are venturing deeper, then browse online for a scuba diving casing. There are plenty of accessories available and it is worth it checking out different brands for the best deal.
Don’t forget to wipe down the lens and accessories with a suitable wipe. This prevents blurry shots and oily finger marks.
Remember that videos take up a lot more space than pictures so you want to work with a larger memory card – 32GB or 64GB is the minimum size you should use. Refer to the table of recommendations on the GoPro website for the best MicroSD for each of their models.
Try to clear your memory card every day by transferring the footage to your backup storage or laptop. If you don’t do this you might realize you are missing out on great shots when you are already underwater with no way to resolve the memory issue.
If you are going out on a dive boat for a full day of diving then you might want to bring an external hard drive with you. This way you can transfer the data quickly between each dive without using a computer.
Check the Batteries
Being out on the water and then realizing that your camera ran out of charge is the worst feeling. Avoid this by remembering to check your batteries before leaving the dive center.
Some divers bring two sets of batteries with them to quickly switch out whenever needed. For this purpose, it is handy to bring a battery charger with you so that you can charge both batteries at the same time.
Turning off the screen in your settings can slow down how fast the charge goes but this also means that you cannot see what you are capturing. With such a small camera it is hard to guess the exact shot so it is wiser to just double check that your batteries are full.
Best Standard Settings for Underwater Videos
The most important settings to get familiar with are the resolution, frames per second (fps) and the color functions. Fortunately, these are all quite intuitive to find and program on a GoPro.
HD resolution, also called 1080 resolution, is the best for underwater videos. It gives you clear imagery while also making the editing easier.
Higher resolutions like 4K videos require more powerful electronics and programs to edit properly. It also takes up more of your memory.
A video is actually a rapid sequence of pictures which is why there is the option for the number of frames per second.
The higher the fps, the smoother the video but also the larger the file size.
A good balance between clear movements and memory is 60 fps which should prevent blurring in most cases. However, if you are capturing a very fast action you can hike up the fps to 120.
Using GoPro Filters for Underwater Video
Another common question is whether you should filters when using your GoPro underwater. Using a red filter or magenta filter to create more contrast is a very popular thing to do. It will also depend on the type of GoPro you are using since the newer models may compensate for this in some way.
With many different options of scuba diving filters for action cameras available, you are better off buying a pack which offers different colors. That way no matter what your water conditions may be, you’ll be prepared.
Just take a look at the difference adding a dive filter can make to your footage in the below images;
What you should pay attention to is the lighting and yes, you should use a video light during scuba dives. This is the aspect of underwater videography that requires the most practice so continue experimenting with distances, angles, and lumen.
You won’t be a master overnight so have fun experimenting.