Whats the best GoPro camera for Scuba diving?

BassMachine

Standard Member
Hey guys,

I have recently started scuba diving and will be going to Belize in a few months to do an internship rescuing crocodiles but will also be spending a lot of my spare time in the reefs there.

I want a good quality camera and possibly extras but I don't know which to get since there are so many different GoPro Cameras!

I want something good enough quality that I could watch it in HD and it'd be smooth and crystal clear but I don't particularly want unecessary extras. Diving depth will be important to me of course but clarity is something I really want when filming close up details of coral reefs and sharks etc.

I don't know if its worth going for a GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition or whether a previous or lower version will do the job just as well and save me money minus some features. Things like the wifi feature I don't need since I will film and then transfer to my laptop for editing.

Extras I am considering but not sure about are an LCD BacPac so I can actually see what I am filming and also a handle of some sort.
I loved the look of Big Blue Scuba diving kit: ww.amazon.com/BigBlue-Underwater-System-Action-Camera/dp/B00H3R2UNI/ref=sr_1_30?ie=UTF8&qid=1399336704&sr=8-30&keywords=GoPro+scuba+diving
Easy and comfortable to hold and will provide still shots and also a little bit of protection from curious sharks!

Never bought an underwater camera or a camera for that matter, only what has been on my phone so I really don't know what to go for here. Any suggestions will be highly appreciated!
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
If you can afford it, then the latest version claims ( DYOR ) some advances:- ! Audio (which you can't use I assume) and video, like better low-light and improved optics. However, these could be software improvements and if the lens is better, then maybe this will be fitted to the lower-priced models soon enough. Improved battery-life may also be explained in software...
Check, but I thought you cannot use the LCD view when using the underwater housing . . . and being q. small its not going to do much for quality/sharpness - although the wide-angle solves most focus issues, any distortion can be tiresome when viewed ( back home), for long periods....er, IMHO.

Really you should try before you buy - eg by joining a FilmMaking club where GoPros are already in use.

You need to gain some operational experience, too, before any 1-off film shoot . . . . I'm unclear if this is a Holiday/hobby thing, or you are being paid as a pro? Do tell, if pos.
The advantage of the lower-priced versions is that you (might) buy two which will 1) provide a back-up should anything untoward happen, and 2) provide a second POV to help with cutaways etc.

For normal video photography a moderately decent camcorder will help, but to achieve "quality" then you can spend over £1k and the waterproof housing is extra. If this isn't a 1-off, then speak to others on the trip and plan the photo/visuals ( for Next time), when you are more experienced - their knowledge may save you lots of wasted effort.

Diving is probably risky-enough without being distracted by the video-gear.

+...I understand crocs are evil, whatever the situation.....

You'll need plenty of Memory, Batteries and in all probability underwater lighting.

Let us know how things work out.
 
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BassMachine

Standard Member
Audio is not much of a concern at all like you say, I will cut that out and put music instead. As for the other features, thats something I was thinking, I could save money by simply altering some settings of the video using software rather than spending another 100 dollars on something that wasn't particularly needed.

This isn't a one time trip, I will be going to Belize for about a month and then coming back for a while and then if all goes well plan my permanent move to Belize. Regardless of if I go permanently or not, I will enjoy videoing ocean wildlife so this is definitely something I want to look into.

I won't be getting paid for this but sharing videos on youtube, facebook etc. I just don't want cheap crap quality. However, who knows what may happen. If footage is requested by somebody for some money then that I shall do, haha.

I do believe you can use the LCD screen for underwater. I don't care much for the quality on screen, more so I just know what I am actually filming and it will also help to fine tune the settings during the dive rather than multiple dives adjusting the settings.

I don't want to go and buy any fancy gear thats going to cost me over a grand, I am not out to make a movie but I do want good quality and thats why I like the GoPro range, fairly cheap and good quality with tons of accessories and many users to help provide support etc. This leading on to my next point about the lighting you mentioned. Thats why I linked that other accessory, the Big Blue GoPro kit. It is lightwieght, comfortable and just big enough to hold secure and steady but not too big and heavy and like I said, also a bit of protection to curious wildlife.

Battery life on the GoPro Hero3+ is fine, I believe it is in the range of 2 hours or so. I don't need to be filming non-stop especially not if I can get the LCD screen so I can see what I am filming. I will simply turn it on and record when I feel it is necessary. As for memory I have checked out some sandisk 64GB Extreme SD Cards for fast writing speed and these are fairly inexpensive (about 64 dollars).

I don't really need 2 cameras whilst it is quite a good idea, it isn't something I'd be looking into as a starting setup. I would prefer to spend my money on 1 good camera than 2 moderately good cameras.

I agree on the try before you buy, trouble is I don't know anybody who has a range of GoPro's and the equipment so I want opinions from others and to do thorough research and make an educated purchase. Even if I were to buy a lower range GoPro I wont be entirely disappointed as it will still do the job but I want the best bang for my buck.

P.s thanks for the quick response!
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
I didn't think it fitted the uw-housing - has that changed now? Also, displays consume a lot of power so only perform review when it's over as you need to surface to change/open the housing (and there may be a "procedure" prior to sealing).

BTW, a £1k camcorder wouldn't be good enough for a movie (although some may suggest the Pocket BlackMagic, but only if you own some decent glass - and it is probably unsuited to budget uw filming.).

The GoPro is probably the best option, but the WA view is tiring IMHO when viewing an Edited film. For that reason, keep it for the uw sequences and cut it with a normal camcorder footage . . . . if you can, buy gear that films to the same frame-rate and video standard....

Here in UK we're PAL/50fps - but - America uses NTSC and 60fps . . . . most Editors will handle both, but it should make things easier if all gear is the same standard . . . do you know what is used in Belize?

It will be tricky finding folks that have Scuba/photo/GoPro experience, but a club is a good starting point. They will know folks in a wide range of interests and just one connection could be very useful.

You may know this already but FWIW...Video is about telling a story and you need a Start, Middle and End, preferably with some topic (or person) as the "interest" so the story revolves round . Don't overindulge in the uw aspect, as this is probably only a part (maybe 1/4) of the whole experience. Of course it's nice to have a second camera, if only to prove you were there and what you did.
2x GoPros provide some degree of "insurance", but you may wish to restrict yr Budget, I understand.

"Cutaways" can be filmed later - like attaching the camera to a helmet, or diving(?) into the sea, etc. However, they will look a lot better when filmed on a regular camcorder where you can focus only the subject. Also, you may be lucky and see dolphins/sharks/etc (and you mentioned crocs!) - where a camcorder will enable you to get maybe 20x closer, while staying at a safe distance, such is the WA lens on the GoPro. However, you need to practice being steady even though many camcorders offer image stabalising - not all are equal.

Good luck.
 
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DocJackal

Well-known Member
For filming underwater you need the flat port housing. This is not standard on the old models, but is on the later ones.

Also, if you want much more pro looking footage (mabey if you start selling it) have a look at Gates Underwater Housing. They do various models, including housing for certain Sony Handycams.
 

DocJackal

Well-known Member
Also, be wary of the early GoPros - the old housing has an issue where, when taken to depth, the pressure shuts the housing door so much that the catch actually looses grip, opening the door and flooding the housing. I've seen a fair few GoPros die this way, including 3 at once :rolleyes:

Also, make sure the seal on the housing is 100% clean before you shut the door. One bit of dirt or sand on it and the seal may be compromised = flooded GoPro. I've tried cleaning salt off the inside of GoPros before & I've never managed to get them going again.
 

BassMachine

Standard Member
For filming underwater you need the flat port housing. This is not standard on the old models, but is on the later ones.

Also, if you want much more pro looking footage (mabey if you start selling it) have a look at Gates Underwater Housing. They do various models, including housing for certain Sony Handycams.
Sorry if this is a noon question but what exactly is flat port housing? I have decided to go with the GoPro 3+ black edition. I will buy an LCD BacPac which will come with the GoPro 3 dive housing which will allow me to use the LCD screen and also allow me to dive deeper.

Also, be wary of the early GoPros - the old housing has an issue where, when taken to depth, the pressure shuts the housing door so much that the catch actually looses grip, opening the door and flooding the housing. I've seen a fair few GoPros die this way, including 3 at once :rolleyes:

Also, make sure the seal on the housing is 100% clean before you shut the door. One bit of dirt or sand on it and the seal may be compromised = flooded GoPro. I've tried cleaning salt off the inside of GoPros before & I've never managed to get them going again.
I will be using the best diving housing go pro sells which was the dive housing for the go pro 3 which allowed you to go down as far as 60M. I doubt I will be going much deeper since I will only be filming coral reefs etc. Fairly close to the surface.

Oh right thanks for the tip. What's the best way to properly clean the seal?
 

DocJackal

Well-known Member
Flat port housing is basically the square bit over the lens on the GoPro 3 housing. It only became standard on the Hero3, and wil lcertainly be included if you're getting a scuba kit, so all good. It basically compensates for refraction etc underwater. Check out this vid for an example;



Just basically keep the seal free from dirt, hair, sand etc. Nothing high-tech, just dust off and clean where the housing meets the rear door.

Also, 60m... that's deep! When I trained PADI was only to 30m (at advanced level)
 

DocJackal

Well-known Member
Oh, and one tip - on your first dive don't take the camera down. Instead stick some toilet paper in the housing and take that down. When you surface, check it over and make sure the paper is 100% dry.
 

Jazz Monkey Jr

Distinguished Member
Sorry if this is a noon question but what exactly is flat port housing? I have decided to go with the GoPro 3+ black edition. I will buy an LCD BacPac which will come with the GoPro 3 dive housing which will allow me to use the LCD screen and also allow me to dive deeper.


I will be using the best diving housing go pro sells which was the dive housing for the go pro 3 which allowed you to go down as far as 60M. I doubt I will be going much deeper since I will only be filming coral reefs etc. Fairly close to the surface.

Oh right thanks for the tip. What's the best way to properly clean the seal?
Good choice, the 3+ will give you the best quality. I would shoot 1080p at 50 or 60 fps or maybe 720p 120fps if you want to slow it right down for action shots.
For the best video editing option then pro tune is your best bet if you are competent at editing as this will give you the most flexibility to tweak exposure/sharpness etc afterwards.
 

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