Choosing the right snorkeling fins might sound like a simple subject and shouldn’t involve much real thought. However, if you are unfamiliar with the different pocket types and styles of fins you could very easily end up with the wrong type of fins for your next snorkeling trip. For example, do you choose a full foot short fin or an open heel split fin? Are you snorkeling from the shore or by boat? All of these little nuances in fins make choosing the right ones all the more important.
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Choosing a camera for snorkeling is a tricky thing, and one you don’t want to get wrong since this will be the instrument you’ll be recording your once in a lifetime moments on. With that in mind, I’ve put together a quick list of cameras I believe to be solid choices for snorkelers.
Before we get into the cameras though, here are a few camera feature requirements I made sure every camera had in order to make the cut.
- 1) Excellent Image quality in both video and photo modes
- 2) Must be simple to use but also offer the user the option of more advanced controls.
- 3) Must be able to custom white balance or offer an adequate “Fish Mode” white balance to retain those natural colors even at depth.
- 4) Housing must offer the option to attach macro or wide angle lenses.
- 5) Must cost $1,200 or less for camera and housing.
3. GoPro Hero 5-7- Cost: ~$450 for Camera and Housing
Despite their diminutive stature, the GoPro cameras are a solid choice. All models of GoPro since the Hero 5 are now waterproof out of the box—to limited depths—which is a huge bonus just incase your housing floods. Where optics are concerned, they offer remarkable 4K video footage and 12 MP photos. The stock lens is already a super wide fish-eye which is great for underwater reef scenes and large animals, and should we want to make some additions like macro lenses, red filters, and dual handled trays, there is a seemingly never ending supply of aftermarket accessories. If you already have a GoPro and are struggling with it, check out this blog for some of the most common mistakes people make with a GoPro.
2. Olympus Tough TG-5 Camera-Cost: $750 for Camera and Housing
The Olympus Tough line of cameras have become one of the best all around cameras for those wanting a more traditional compact camera, but want some high end specs. Like the GoPro cameras, the TG-6 is also waterproof in the nude for that added security against floods. It offers high end optics which include UHD 4K videos and 12 MP stills, not to mention a whole host of different modes for shooting underwater. Out of the box it’s ready to go, but should you want to make some additions to the camera down the line as your skills improve there are a number of options such as strobes and wide angle lenses.
1. Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 Mark III- Cost: $1,150
While it’s not the most recent model—the Mark IV is the most recent at the time of this blog—it still is a very advanced and versatile camera in a compact and affordable design. While the Olympus and GoPro are aimed at consumers who want something a bit more intuitive, the RX1000 Mark III is aimed at those who may be more serious about film and photo and want something comparable to their DLSR or mirrorless land camera while not having to shell out big bucks. It offers impressive 20.1 MP stills, however it does lack 4K video. That being said, unless your intending to produce sequences for the new Blue Planet, 4K is still more of a frill than a necessity. It’s HD video is still top notch and absolutely up to date. While the RX1000 will function great in any of the auto modes, the big difference between this camera and the other two are the manual functions it offers to the user.
Taking a flame to your new mask might sound like a silly thing to do, but it’s the tried and tested method for keeping your snorkel mask fog free by removing the thin layer of silicon on the glass as a result of the production process. It also works wonders for removing oils or sun screen residue for older masks which again will make your mask foggy. Follow along with this quick video to see how you can safely do it your self.
Video Key Points
- Make sure your mask is tempered glass, and not acrylic. Most masks are tempered and will have the text “Tempered” written in small font somewhere on the glass itself.
- Move the flame over the entire surface of the mask without staying in one spot for too long.
- If the glass gets too hot to touch remove the flame until it cools down or else you run the risk of damaging the rubber skirt.
- Fog and soot are normal and can be washed out later with baby shampoo and water.
- Repeat the burning process if your mask continues to fog up on your snorkel.
How to choose the right mask can seem like a simple thing but it usually ends up being a little more complicated than you might think. This short video takes you through all the important aspects of what makes for a good mask. SPOILER ALERT: It’s not how cool it looks!
- Spending more on a mask doesn’t mean it will fit any better…it just means you spent more money.
- Unless you can return your items, ordering online is not recommended since you can not see how the mask fits.
- Make sure you can feel no air entering as you inhale through your nose
- Man Beard?
GoPro cameras have become probably the most popular camera for snorkeling, and for a number or solid reasons. Their small size is perfect for traveling, not to mention all GoPro’s from the Hero 5 on are waterproof to certain depths without a housing. That being said, it’s wise to use a housing for added security. Even though the GoPro’s are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand they pack a serious punch where image quality is concerned-both in the film and photo department as they offer 4K footage and a solid 12 megapixel photo with RAW format capabilities. However, despite all of these stellar specs and intuitive design—I see a lot of people struggling with their GoPro cameras in a variety of areas. So, to hopefully alleviate some of these camera issues to make your snorkeling experience better, I’ve put together a quick list of the most common problems I see with simple remedies. Here we go.
I never edit my footage because I always have too much
If you’re one of those people who strap the GoPro on your wrist and swim around with your arm constantly extended like Mega man while the camera records the entirety of the snorkel session…herein lies your problem. It’s a good idea to fall into the habit of pressing record only when you want to film something. Just by doing this you will then have a series of short clips which are easy to scroll though so you can find the exact moment you are looking for, rather than scrubbing through hours of dizzying footage.
Everything I film looks so small and far away
All GoPro’s are equipped with a very wide fish eye lens which causes this effect. This is a good thing though as a really wide lens is the best for underwater imaging, so long as we keep one simple thing in mind. Get closer! We need to get close to our subjects-as close a physically possible without damaging the reef or bothering the subject. This will improve the overall clarity of your image as we are now shooting though less water while filling the frame with the subject. The GoPro lens is best for large subjects like turtles-mantas-and reefcapes. Shy subjects who prefer to keep their distance are not ideal subjects to concentrate on, take a mental photo and move on.
The colors keep changing when I’m filming
This is a white balance issue and is a result of the Auto White Balance (AWB) trying to figure out what white balance setting is best for the constantly changing light underwater. The best thing to do is to turn off the AWB so it’s set to a single color temperature.
My red filter makes everything looks super red and turns the water purple.
The reason for this is because you are using a red filter that is too strong, or too red. We use stronger red filters when we go deeper to compensate for the lack of red. However, since we are snorkeling and our subjects in the shallows we need just a bit of red. Switching to a lighter shade of red—something that will work up to five meters or fifteen feet in depth—will alleviate any unappealing colors and bring out the natural colors of our subjects.
My videos and photos are always very shaky and blurry.
To create more steady videos and sharp photos takes a bit of practice, and possibly some simple accessories. As snorkelers we are constantly being moved around by the waves on the surface—no matter how flat the water may seem so we need to be extra aware of this. When you see something you want to film or photograph try to duck dive down a bit, even a meter will make a huge difference. Another thing that will help will be to ditch the selfie stick and mount your camera on a tray with a single or double handle. After all, when is the last time we saw a professional camera operator using a selfie stick in the field?