Best GoPro for snorkelling
By Ryan Shaw
Which GoPro action camera is best for snorkelling? Based on our expert testing, we select the best GoPro cameras for capturing underwater adventures.
The best GoPro camera for you
When it comes to recording underwater, the key thing you want your camera to do is produce crystal-clear videos and photos – whether you’re filming a school of fish darting around you, or a beautiful coral reef.
Although all our Best Buy action cameras will do a superb job, the GoPro cameras below are our top-scoring models. You may find some of the previous-generation cameras, such as the Hero4, still available for a lower price, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for a bargain.
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Best GoPro for snorkelling
A brilliant action camera that is is equal parts rugged and lightweight, this is our best top-scoring GoPro. With improved battery life and still image quality, this camera excels when shooting underwater, but how easy is it to use? We tested it so you don't have to.
Yet another small and lightweight GoPro camera, this models claims to be simpler to use and shoot great video. It's waterproof up to 10 metres right out-of-the-box, but does it deliver on the promise of high-quality video and stills? Read on for more information.
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct of November 2017.
Do I need a 4K action camera?
Only some of the GoPro action cameras listed above record in 4K. This means they have a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels – more than 8m pixels in total. That’s four times the number you get in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080).
If you’re looking to buy a new action camera, you should seriously consider one that supports 4K video. You may not be able to see the high-resolution benefits immediately, especially if you don’t own a 4K TV or monitor, but a 4K action camera will still produce top-quality video and stills.
Five GoPro snorkelling tips
1. Get familiar – We recommend getting to know your camera before your trip – and that’s not just limited to GoPro models. Study the manual and try to get a feel for all the different settings; what works in some conditions may not work well for others. There are also button shortcuts available for some functions such as a quick-capture mode (immediately begin capturing video, even when the camera is powered off), or to jump back to the main menu from any location in the settings.
2. Water-depth limits – Each GoPro camera is limited to the depth it can be taken underwater, with and without the protective housing. It’s worth checking each camera’s specifications. For example, if you use a protective housing you can take the GoPro Hero4 Black and Silver down to depths of 40 metres. Whereas the latest GoPro Hero5 Black doesn’t need a special case to go underwater, but it can be submersed only to depths of 10m. You can buy an optional housing for the Hero5 Black called the Super Suit, which is purpose-made for deeper dives, and costs around £45.
3. Battery life is limited – Because GoPro batteries are small, their capacities don’t match up to other waterproof cameras. Even with the top-of-the-range GoPro Hero5 Black, you’ll get only around two hours of battery life. We recommend carrying spares if you’re going to record a significant amount of video. We also suggest picking up an external wall charger, as the GoPro comes supplied with only a USB cable for charging.
4. Keep the camera steady – Action cameras can be difficult to keep steady when shooting video. The camera’s small size means it can be hard to hold for extended periods of time, and no one wants to watch shaky videos. We recommend using an extension pole (around £30) to make the shot more stable. However, a new feature of the Hero5 Black and Session is in-camera video stabilisation, which is designed to smooth out the vibrations and jerkiness.
5. Using colour filters underwater – Above water, GoPro cameras capture stunning wide-angle video and photos with ease in good lighting. But when you take the camera underwater, it’s a different story. As you dive deeper, the water acts as a filter for red light, reducing the spectrum of red in the ambient light. This means your underwater scene will look too green or blue. However, you can use a red or magenta filter to help correct your footage.
If you haven’t found a GoPro you like, we have many more expert action-camera reviews.