My Favorite Underwater Gadgets
Having the right gear to shoot underwater shots is imperative if you want to take clear photos without having to make a lot of edits. And if you are like me and enjoy the tropics, or just being in the water, you'll be thankful when you have gear that is easy to use and hassle-free. Over the years I've tried dozens of different cameras and things to get the best shot, and some clearly have worked better than others. Currently, I'm using a GoPro Hero 7, a GoPro Fusion, GoPro housing case filters, and a Dome Port with Pistol Trigger.
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GoPro Hero 7
The underwater camera I use is the GoPro Hero 7. It is easy to use, is super durable, takes great shots underwater, and is extremely small, making it the perfect gadget to travel with. The newest version, the Hero 7, has a ton of great features, including my personal favorite: voice commands. Though this feature obviously won't work underwater, it's great to get hands-free shots in an instant with just your voice. Additional features such as a crazy 240fps shooting at 2.7k are a bonus. This is a great feature for super slow-mo and capturing extremely fast packed subjects.
Another great feature is their HyperSmooth technology. This feature allows buttery-smooth stabilization of the video footage. Other impressive features of this action camera include: TimeWarp for automatic stitching and editing of time-lapse and a pimped out HDR photo mode called Super Photo.
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Note that not all GoPros are created equal though. GoPro seems to make massive strides each and every time they come out with an upgraded version, and trust me when I say that if you're debating upgrading from an older version to a newer one, it's 100% worth it. Year after year, I am astonished by how GoPro manages to improve the quality and resolution of their new camera models. This is one thing that is worth the upgrade each time a new one comes out. And at $350, it won’t break the bank to get a new GoPro each time a new model is released. GoPro even has this really great program where you can trade in your old GoPro to get a discount off of a new one. It’s a win-win!
The Fusion is another underwater camera option that I sometimes bring along for diversity in shots, though it's important to note that it's not nearly as user-friendly as the Hero. I actually have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this device. The abilities of this camera are pretty incredible—it shoots 360 degree video and essentially allows you to hold it wherever you want and will record each and every angle, even underwater. Yes, you heard me right. Pretty damn cool. You don’t even have to point it at what you want to shoot, you just turn it on and hold it.
Sounds amazing, right? Well, it’s great in theory until you have to actually download the footage or try to export it off of the device remotely. While my Nikon, DJI Drone and GoPro Hero 7 all export the photo and video footage directly to my phone through their own apps, completely wirelessly, the Fusion does not have this feature. While you can view the videos and take screenshots of what you want, it currently does not have the feature to download the footage to your phone; you can only export to Facebook or YouTube, which I typically don’t do. So what that means is that you have to be connected to a computer to actually download the raw images.
Problem number two is that it takes FOREVER to download these videos. The footage is high quality and literally recorded every 360 degrees, so you can imagine how large the file formats are. Once they’re downloaded they’re great, but I have waited as long as 2 days just to download five or six videos from a trip. That is not something I have time to do, so what ends up happening is that I either never take the time to download what I’ve recorded or I just stop bringing it on trips with me because I get so frustrated with getting the photos off of it.
With all that said though, it really does take incredible shots. No complaints there—the quality is insanely clear and it offers a really different, unique perspective since it records a spherical image.
Dome Ports & Filters
If you're wanting to take that half underwater, half above-water shot that you've probably seen on more than a hundred influencer accounts on Instagram, you'll need a dome port to do this. It's a spherical half-dome that fits a GoPro inside, and the dome pushes the water away from the lens so you can get this half and half shot. The sperical properties of the lens act to correct the refractive properties of water.
If you are wanting to shoot underwater pics or videos with little to no color editing, then rose-colored underwater lenses are your best bet. Also sometimes called "wet lenses", these filters act as a way to cut through the murkiness and can make for a clearer photo.
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