Best underwater cameras for beginners

By Julius
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Scuba diver inside wreck with action cam

In part 7 of my “Ultimate Guide to buying scuba gear for Beginners” series, I will give you tips, tricks, and recommendations on buying a scuba regulator when you’re new to diving.

Use the table of contents to read to the sections you are interested in most or jump to another part of the series.

Best underwater cameras for beginners

These are my personal recommendations for the best underwater cameras for beginners in 2024. You will find neither super professional ones on here nor cheap $20 Chinese copies.

I have used all of them before and you can find samples of the images across the Social Diving site.

The best cheap action camera for underwater videos.

  • Dirt cheap
  •  Great video quality
  • Full kit for underwater videos 
  •  Includes 2 batteries
  • Does not compensate for shaking
  •  Bad image quality under poor lighting
  •  Battery life could be better

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The AKASO EK7000 is exactly what it says: A budget-friendly beginner camera for underwater videos that will serve you well.

It’s great for beginners who want to take underwater photos and videos for a very affordable price.

For less than 100$ / 100€ you get a solid action camera including underwater housing to start your journey as an underwater photographer.

It provides very high-quality images and videos and for this little money, I really don’t have anything bad to say about it.

Of course, it doesn’t match the quality of a GoPro or even a compact camera…but nobody expects it to.

GoPro Hero10 Bundle

Best Action Camera

Without a doubt the absolute best action camera on the market!

  • Small, lightweight, and compact
  •  Amazing video quality
  •  4k resolution
  •  Almost on par with mid-range DSLRs
  • Great price
  •  Lots of extra accessories like filters, housing, handles, etc.
  • No automatic underwater color correction
  •  Some reports of overheating (can't confirm)

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The GoPro action camera line is synonymous with sports videos and the lightweight, compact design is perfect for divers.

The latest version, the Hero 10, takes absolutely superb videos that are on par with many of the mid-range to higher-end mirrorless cameras out there at a mere fraction of the price.

I’d even go as far as to say if video is the only focus, you could get by easily with just a GoPro, a housing, and some filters.

The GoPro Hero10 is the best action camera on the market and the perfect entry into the world of underwater videography.

Specs & Features

TypeAction Camera
Weight0.3kg (1 lb)
Resolution5k (video)
Good forVideos
Media TypeMicro SD
Other Features

Olympus TG-6

Best for Beginners

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a great underwater camera for beginners and among the best compact cameras in general.

  • Easy to use
  •  Waterproof to 15m / 50ft (50m / 160ft with housing)
  •  Lots of tutorials and resources available
  •  Nice macro shots
  •  Good battery life
  • Lightweight and great for travel.
  • Low megapixel value
  •  Zoom not great
  • Not as extendable as other compact cameras
Olympus TG-6

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The Olympus Tough TG-6 is one of my personal recommendations for beginners and everyone who is just starting out with underwater photography.

It takes great photos, is super affordable, and it’s so popular you will find plenty of resources and tutorials on it. Moreover, it can be extended further with different lights and lenses and is very cheap.

This means you will not outgrow it even after years.

You will not find a better camera in the sub €500-€600 price range and I know dozens of professional divers who swear by it.

Like any Olympus system, it’s very lightweight and the entire bundle including the camera, housing, and lights can easily fit into a carry-on bag or a dive bag of choice.

If you have taken the Open Water Diver course at Social Diving, you have seen videos and photos taken with it throughout our theory lessons. The quality is outstanding and there are so many extension options.

If you are a beginner or intermediate scuba diver looking for a great underwater camera, check out the Olympus Tough-TG6.

Specs & Features

TypeCompact Camera
Weight1.2 kg (2.8 lb)
Resolution12MP (photo), 1080p (video)
Good forMacro photography
Media TypeMicro SD
Other Featureswaterproof down to 15m/50ft (50m/160ft with housing)

Where to buy an underwater camera for beginners?

These are my top picks for buying an underwater camera for beginners online.

Dive Right in Scuba

Great for all divers

Dive Right in Scuba has a super large inventory, very capable support, and great shipping rates. A must check-out for all divers in the US!

The largest scuba gear retailer (previously LeisurePro) is the largest scuba gear online shop in the world and offers cheap prices and a large inventory. Price matching included.


Perfect for electronics, cameras, and cheap scuba gear

Amazon needs no introduction and it’s a great place to buy cheap scuba and snorkeling gear, and electronics like cameras.

What is an underwater camera?

As the name suggests, an underwater camera allows you to take photos underwater while diving.

Many divers love capturing wildlife and scenic impressions while scuba diving. While snorkelers might get away with using their phone in a special case to take some snapshots, this won’t work at depth.

Scuba diver filming manatee underwater
In situations like this, you want to have a good camera.

Types of underwater cameras for beginners

There are many different underwater cameras out there, ranging from inexpensive action cams to introductory underwater cameras and up to super expensive professional photography kits for wildlife photographers.

These are the three most common types of underwater cameras:

Action Cameras

The easiest way to get started with taking photos and videos underwater as a beginner is to buy an action camera.

They are small, lightweight, and take great quality images at any pricing tier. They are especially well-suited for beginners as they can be strapped to the BCD and as such don’t require the diver to pay much attention to it during the dive.

They start at under $80 for cheap sets including a camera and underwater casing but are available at a much higher quality like the GoPro Hero 10.

Recreational underwater cameras

If you want to take great underwater photos and want to pick up underwater photography as a new hobby, you can invest in a dedicated underwater camera like the Olympus G6.

What makes these cameras much more suited for underwater photography than action cams are the numerous housing, lighting, and lens options available for them.

You can achieve high-quality images and videos, and get into macro photography if you like.

Professional underwater cameras

Professional underwater photographers and videographers use professional underwater camera sets to achieve the highest quality images.

These cameras are not suited for beginners and as such, I will not list them in my recommendations.

They can cost tens of thousands of dollars and as such you will know when you need to upgrade to one of these. 😉

You can browse through my list of the best underwater cameras in 2024 though and check them out.

Underwater photographer inside structure
Professional underwater camera sets can be very expensive.

Why buy an underwater camera for beginners?

Scuba diving is fun and eventually, most people want to capture special moments and beautiful dive spots on camera.

Let’s see why you might want to buy an underwater camera for beginners.

It’s fun

Taking photos underwater is fun! You get to play around with shiny equipment and capture your best moments while diving.

Buying an underwater camera for beginners allows you to take photos of your favorite sea animals and might be the start of your career as an underwater photographer.

Starting out is not expensive

Buying an underwater camera used to be super expensive and reserved for professional wildlife photographers.

Nowadays, you can get started for less than 100€ and achieve quality images that can very well be featured on social media or elsewhere.

You focus more on your environment

Taking photos underwater involves a lot more than just pressing a button.

You look around for interesting photo opportunities, find the right lighting and angle and spend more time enjoying the details.

Tips for buying an underwater camera for beginners

Now that you know the different types of underwater cameras for beginners and why buying one is a great idea, here are some more tips and tricks.

Start out small

I suggest buying something small and rather inexpensive first, before upgrading to something larger. There is no point in buying everything at once when you are still learning.

An action camera or introductory underwater camera will be perfect for starters.

Learn the basics of underwater photography first

Before you start taking loads of photos of everything and anything, start out with the basics.

Understand how lighting works, what color filters do, and how to find the right angle for taking great underwater photos.

Scuba diver photographing wreck
Master buoyancy before picking up an underwater camera!

Taking an underwater photographer specialty course will help you tremendously in this endeavor.

Be a good diver first

This is a big one! Be a good diver, before trying to become a good underwater photographer first.

Not only will it make taking photos much easier when you have mastered buoyancy and your scuba gear first, but it will also prevent you from breaking corrals or stirring up sediment in the process.

Set a budget

Of course, having the biggest, baddest camera of all is fun (hehehe 😎), but it will also set you back a few thousand dollars. Sure, there are cheaper options, however, set a budget and stick to it.

If you ever make money taking underwater photos, you will know soon enough when you need better equipment.

You do you

As usual, in all my guides I want to remind you to always do what you feel most comfortable with and don’t be distracted by what everyone else says.

If you want that big shiny camera and are sure it will sparkle your creativity and love for diving and photography…get it and take those photos!


This concludes this beginner’s guide to buying an underwater camera in 2024.

If you have any questions or need help finding the right one for you, leave a comment below.

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃



©2024 Social Diving. All rights reserved. The content presented here is the exclusive property of Social Diving and may not be copied or distributed, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Social Diving.

Social Diving is your #1 online source for scuba diving, scuba travel, water sports, learning, and having fun in and under water. We have scuba online articles, review plenty of (scuba) gear, and regularly post travel guides around the world.

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About the author

Hey! I'm Julius, professional scuba instructor, diver, outdoor lover, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Social Diving. I write about scuba diving (including tech, cave, sidemount, and freediving), travel, and love what I do. If you have any questions, send me a message. :-)

©2024 Social Diving. All rights reserved. The content presented here is the exclusive property of Social Diving and may not be copied or distributed, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Social Diving.

Social Diving is your #1 online source for scuba diving, scuba travel, water sports, learning, and having fun in and under water. We have scuba online articles, review plenty of (scuba) gear, and regularly post travel guides around the world.

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