Favorite Underwater Camera Gear

Under water photography gearJust wanted to share a little bit about some underwater photography gear that I’ve used (and loved).

My favorite underwater photography gear My favorite underwater photography gearBest under water photography gear My favorite underwater photography gear Best underwater camera bag

I recently went on a short trip to Tulum with some friends and business associates (how grown up-ha!). Maybe you saw some of my snapshots from the trip over the weekend? Anyway, one of the days we were there, we visited some of the Cenotes, which are kind of like cave pools. The ones we visited were called Dos Ojos, and if you get a chance to visit any Cenotes in that area, I highly recommend it because they were like nothing I have ever seen before! We actually have lots of caves in the Ozarks where I live, but nothing quite like this.

For my birthday this past year, Trey got me a DSLR Waterproof Case, and this was finally a great opportunity to use it. I had only used it once before at the lake. So I already knew that the case worked well but that I needed some clearer water than our local lakes to get any good photos.

I LOVE this case. It works so well, and I love that I can just use it in addition to my DSLR that I already take with me on trips. Even if you don’t want to completely submerge your camera, you can still use it to protect your gear while on a boat or near the water. For me there are only two real drawbacks to this case. First, it’s pretty bulky. So you have to make space to pack it in your suitcase and then you have to be willing to carry it while out exploring. For me this is no big deal because carrying a DSLR is already a bit cumbersome at times, so I’m used to it. I think it’s totally worth the inconvenience because I LOVE photography. The second drawback is you can’t really change your settings once the camera is in the bag. You can turn the camera on and off and press the shutter release button, but other than that, it’s pretty tough to do much else. I like to shoot in manual mode, so I’m constantly changing my settings. So having to shoot in auto during a fairly tough lighting situation (underwater caves) is a bit frustrating, but you still can get so many good pictures that it’s still worth it if you ask me. On the plus side, if you are with friends, it’s fun to pass the camera around and let everyone play with it. So having it stuck in auto mode sort of works out as not everyone wants to mess with camera settings all the time.

Using a go pro underwater Using a go pro underwater Gopro hero 3 plus black edition with waterproof case

The second piece of gear we’ve used and loved is the GoPro HERO3: Black Edition with a waterproof case. We’ve taken this to Costa Rica (the pool and the ocean) as well as Colorado (skiing in the snow!). This little guy is great because it’s super lightweight and easy to carry. It can take great video as well as photos. So it’s great for vacations, especially if you’re doing something active like skiing or scuba diving. This is really Trey’s camera. It’s something I bought for him a couple years ago. But he’s good at sharing, so I play around with it from time to time. 🙂

The only real drawback to the GoPro for me is we basically had to buy a whole new camera just for the features we wanted (waterproof, lightweight). Although, it is certainly less expensive than my DSLR was. The other thing is it’s completely different from using a DSLR camera, so it’s not quite the same photo-taking experience, which is important to me. But, it works great and takes great photos. So if you’re looking to capture some fun underwater moments, it’s a fantastic product to try.

Iphone underwater caseI’ve tried a couple different waterproof iPhone cases, but none that I felt were good enough to recommend to you. Most of them have done a great job of protecting my phone from water, but they don’t work well once the phone is completely submerged. It’s really hard to press the “shutter release” button once underwater. Basically the best I ever get is a photo like this one above, where the camera isn’t actually underwater yet. If any of you have underwater iPhone or smartphone case suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Thanks for letting me share. xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Emma Chapman and Trey George. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • The inconvenience is totally worth it, you got so many great shots from your trip! Thanks for the casing recs, I’ve been preparing myself for our next trip and I’m making sure I got all the right gears, this helps a lot.

  • The pictures look great and not all fuzzy. Thanks for suggesting these cameras!

  • Thanks so much for the tips! Can’t wait to try them on my next vacation!


  • The cenotes look amazing. The water is so clear and beautiful. Love your recommendations.


  • I love this! I would be so scared to take my DSLR in the water even in a waterproof case, though!

  • Wow amazing photos! I love this use of technology. It gives a lot of fun for sure 🙂

  • This is great, I just came back from a long weekend and was telling my husband we should’ve gotten a GoPro to take pictures and record underwater. He mentioned something about a Sony also have a camera that is very similar to the GoPro as well! Something to look into I guess!

  • OMG i love those photos! so cool!
    XO Ellen from Ask Away Blog


  • Both are great things Emma! I especially love the soft housing for cameras. They are so affordable!


  • Love this post, didn’t think about an underwater camera before. Great pictures http://www.hannamarielei.com

  • I was pretty scared the first time. I kept thinking, “What if I got a factory defect or something?!” So I very carefully and slowly dipped it part-way a few times to see if any water seemed to soak in. It’s built very similar to a dry bag (for canoeing or kayaking) and I’m always amazed how well those things work too. But it’s still pretty terrifying.


  • This stuff is so cool! I need to buy something that allows me to take my camera underwater.


  • Aloha!

    This post is awesome because underwater photography is near and dear to me. I just wanted to mention the Watershot Housing (http://www.watershot.com/underwater-camera-housing-iphone) as a contender for smart phone housings. I can personally vouch for how well built they are…I’ve had mine for about 2.5 years and haven’t had one incident.

  • I love underwater photos! There is something so calming about them.


  • These photos look beyond cool guys! You make me want to actually invest in and buy one. 🙂


  • I really want to try that waterproof case for the DSLR. That looks like a lot of fun.

  • This was a fantastic and extremely useful post! However, I will say that the thought of submerging my (very) expensive DSLR camera into water is enough to make my palms sweaty. What if the water trickles in? Gah!

    But, it is reassuring to know that it’s tried and tested by an authoritative voice!

  • Cool – I just returned from sea vacation and would love to have photos like these from it. I thought about getting one of these waterproof camera cases before and I am defientely buying one next year! Cool post.
    x M.

  • Actually the volume buttons on the iPhone double as shutter releases. If any of your waterproof cases allow you to comfortably reach one of these then problem solved! 🙂

  • Your photos are so lovely! Even with a waterproof case I’d be terrified to put my dslr underwater so you’re a lot braver than I am! xx

  • Great post! Thanks so much for writing this – I love swimming, and have always been too scared to make camera or phone down under with me (hence why I’ve stuck with underwater film cameras), but am definitely interested in purchasing the cover for the DSLR! Thanks again!


  • i use the lifeproof case for my phone and i love it! remember you can use the volume buttons on the side of your phone to take a photo when the shutter button on screen isn’t working. that’s what i do when the phone is completely submerged and i’ve gotten great photos!

  • Really? Even with your Otterbox on? That sounds pretty good, I’ll have to look into that. Thanks!


  • I bought the FRiEQ Universal Waterproof Case for iPhones/Smartphones this Summer. I love it! I have a protective case over my iPhone already (an Otterbox) and even so I felt I coujd still easily press the shutter button while it was in the waterproof case. I’m really happy with it!

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