Scuba Diving Action Cameras


By Matt Taylor
November/December 2012

Underwater photography is more popular than ever, with advancements in technology and accessibility of equipment meaning anyone with a modest budget and a love of diving can capture and relive their underwater explorations in high definition.

There are two very clear ends of the underwater video camera spectrum: there are cameras which can be purchased over the counter at your local supermarket, and there are specialist cameras which can set you back more than your mortgage. This post will look at a group of cameras which fit somewhere in between the two - the HD action camera.

Small, head-mounted and easy to operate, action cameras are capable of shooting in full HD quality in the most challenging of underwater conditions. They’re also affordable, can be used straight out the box and require no prior camera skills, making them an ideal purchase for anyone with a passion for diving.

So first things first, what are the options? Featured below are three different actions cameras, each of which has its own unique style and set of features. While no means an exhaustive list, these models all perform well underwater.

GoPro

GoPro is the household name of the action camera world, and has become the ‘go to’ camera for a large proportion of action sport enthusiasts, from diving to downhill mountain biking and everything in between.

GoPro’s newest and best camera yet is the GoPro HD Hero2, which is available in three sport-specific packages. One of which, the Surf Edition, contains everything you need to get filming underwater in glorious high definition.

The GoPro HD Hero2 Surf Edition offers full HD broadcast quality 1080p recording, 11MP (megapixel) photo capture with ‘burst’ and time-lapse modes, and is waterproof to 60 metres. The camera will take a memory card up to 32GB (gigabyte) and has a battery life of approximately two hours. You also have the option to shoot in 720p at 60fps (frames per second), which is great for smooth, slow-motion post dive editing.

To further enhance the performance of this camera, GoPro recently rolled out the GoPro Dive Housing. With a large, flat glass lens, this scuba-specific accessory maximises the sharpness of underwater footage in all conditions, with no vignetting.

Drift

Drift is another action camera brand which is well known amongst action sports fans world-over. Its bullet-shaped body, matte black finish and 170 degree wide angle lens make it one of the best looking cameras on the market, while its vast array of features make it extremely powerful.

The Drift HD shoots in full 1080p, captures photos at 9MP, and has a battery life of up to 2.5 hours. Like the GoPro, the Drift HD also allows you to shoot in 720p at 60fps, for precise slow-motion editing.

Two unique and beneficial features of the Drift HD are the built-in LCD screen, which is useful for navigating the camera’s menu, lining up shots or replaying footage on the go; and a rotating lens, which allows you to mount the camera at any angle while keeping shots in line.

In order to use this camera underwater, you will need to purchase the additional Drift HD Waterproof Case, which once the Drift is inside can be taken down to 30 metres. The case has exterior buttons for easy control, and is made of clear plastic, so that you can still take advantage of the camera’s colour screen.

Liquid Image

Liquid Image cameras offer something entirely different to the GoPro and Drift, as they come in the form of a dive mask, with a built-in camera. At the top end of the Liquid Image scuba range is the Scuba Series 1080p, which has two skirt size options - mid-size (Scuba Series 1080p 324) or extra large (Scuba Series 1080p 325).

As well as shooting in full HD, the Scuba Series 1080p can shoot at 720p at 60fps, and captures still images at 12MP. The camera uses microSD cards up to 32GB, has a battery life of around two hours and has a depth rating of 40 metres.

The Liquid Image has been designed with scuba diving in mind: it has a lever-style button for use with dive gloves, while the different camera modes are indicated by LED lights inside the mask, so you can see whether video or photo mode is enabled without removing it..

For an ‘out of the box’ action camera to use for diving exclusively, Liquid Image cameras are a more than worthy consideration.

See Page 2 for your Action Camera Buying Checklist.

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About the Author

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  • Matt_Taylor's picture

    Matt Taylor is the manager at Action Cameras. Action Cameras was founded  in January 2006 with the objective of bringing the latest developments in helmet camera technology to Europe so that its customers can record and share their extreme sports experiences with the world. For more information visit http://www.actioncameras.co.uk/.

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