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Best practices when using a GoPro for scuba diving

Best practices when using a GoPro for scuba diving

I would say that sooner or later, most of us will want to use a GoPro for diving – indeed I have just acquired a GoPro Hero 9 and shall be experimenting with it and posting photographic and video evidence on this blog in the coming weeks. For now, here is a list of some best practices when using a GoPro for scuba diving which cover pre-dive maintenance and preparation and tips on how to get the best shots underwater and make you the best GoPro Underwater photographer possible.

Pre-diving Preparation

  • Charge your main battery and any other batteries you intend to take with you on your diving trip. You can change it on your surface interval if you’re diving more than once meaning you can keep your camera on standby the entire dive, as opposed to turning it off and risking missing the action. 
  • Update your GoPro’s firmware. GoPro regularly updates its firmware and making sure you are on the latest version will help your camera perform more reliably.
  • Check your memory card and be sure there is enough space available for the pictures and videos you intend to take.
  • Plan your dives and attach the correct color correction filters for your planned depths.
  • Determine your underwater settings. I use two settings depending on what I want to capture: Video and Timelapse. For point of video (POV), I suggest the 1080 SuperView at 80fps. For still photos, I use the time lapse. I recommend shooting at the highest resolution at either one image every 0.5 or 1 second.
  • Clean your camera dive housing and inspect the rubber seal for debris (e.g. sand, hair etc.) which may eventually inhibit your housing from obtaining a tight seal. Also check for debris in the housing itself or on the outside of it – you don’t want anything obstructing or blurring the camera lens during the dive. Remember a final wipe of the camera lens ensures that you are now ready to go diving. 
  • Prepare the rest of your GoPro equipment: selfie stick, lights etc.

Tips while Diving

  • Shoot stable footage with a camera rig (or selfie stick) – It can be hard to keep a GoPro steady while diving if just handheld.
  • Lighting is an important factor – shoot with the sun at your back for the best color in your pictures. Or even better, consider some video lights for your GoPro to ensure the best quality images.
  • Use filters to enhance colors and whenever possible, compose your scenes with a good amount of neutral sand or reef that doesn’t have a lot of green growth on it.
  • Keep your subject at least 12 inches (30 cm) away. Any closer and your image will be blurry.
  • Use anti-fog inserts to absorb any humidity within your housing. Without these, humidity may condense on the inside of the case or on the lens leaving you with spoiled images.
  • Get yourself a dome port and shoot half underwater GoPro photos.

Post-diving

  • Protect your investment – Thoroughly rinse your GoPro’s underwater housing in freshwater at the end of each dive day.
  • Shorten the learning curve – Enroll in a PADI Digital Underwater Photographer specialty (which includes underwater video).
  • Get yourself a cool t-shirt from the Diverdomain Shop

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