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Is a basic action camera any good for scuba diving?

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Last week I posted a blog about diving at Great Barrier Reef. On that trip, I had a GoPro camera with me. So when I was writing the blog, I went through the pictures to see which ones I could add.

I found that there weren’t a lot of pictures and the ones I had didn’t really look great either.

And I was wondering: if I’m gonna go on my next diving trip, will it be worth it to buy an action camera (like a GoPro for example) to get pictures of these dives?
My conclusion: NO IT’S NOT!

Why?

 

VULNERABILITY

I actually managed to DROWN a GoPro…. Apparently that’s what happens if the casing of the camera isn’t closed properly or if something like a hair get’s stuck in the seal. Especially when you then go under water for about 45 minutes without noticing it’s leaking.. Water tends to seep in and have it’s way with the camera.. End result: the camera and my memory card were completely eroded when I came up again. I only managed to rescue the images on the card, but the rest of it was wrecked.

That in and of itself is terrible, but what made it even worse was the fact that it wasn’t my camera: I’d borrowed it from friends. What a horrible feeling!

 

USABILITY

With a regular camera (on shore) you can easily pick your target, focus on what you want to photograph, zoom in etcetera. An action camera usually doesn’t have these options. And furthermore, when you’re out diving, you don’t want to spend your time on handling your camera. So I tend to choose for the easy option: set the camera to automatic settings and have it take 3 pictures every few seconds. But most of the time throughout your dive you’re not aiming it at anything. So what do most of your pictures look like?

My beautiful picture

 

QUALITY

There are a lot of different types of camera’s, all with different features. When you get an action camera with an added red filter, or a flash for light exposure, you’ll be able to maybe capture the beauty of the underwater world. But a simple, regular action camera doesn’t have these added extras. I looked at my pictures from Great Barrier Reef, and it was horrible; such a beautiful area and you really don’t get any sense of that beauty when looking at my pictures. I took a few minutes to run my picture through an enhancement program, to improve it. The top one is the original from the GoPro, the bottom one the enhancement.

 

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

 

Seriously, would you be happy with that end result in all your pictures? I’m not!

 

Don’t get me wrong: I like action camera’s for a lot of different uses, even when in the water. If you’re snorkeling, you can sometimes take nice pictures because there’s enough daylight, and filming encounters with animals for instance will be amazing. But if you want to convey the beauty of your dive, you’ll absolutely need added features such as a red light filter or a flash to get the best result. The basic options simply don’t cut it.

 

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