In this post, you’ll learn how to use GoPro underwater. These underwater tips and accessories will help you take great underwater shots right away.
12 Tips for Using a GoPro Underwater
Before you head out on your next adventure, take a few minutes to review these tips.
1. Clean the gasket
Make sure that there is no dirt on the white rubber gasket. Dirt on the gasket will cause the case to leak.
To ensure that you get a good seal, ensure that the backdoor is completely pushed into the housing before clamping the black latch.
2. Clean the lens
Take a minute before closing the case and make sure that there are no fingerprints or dust on your camera lens. And don’t forget to check the housing lens as well (inside and out).
3. 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. Here’s more about GoPro settings.
4. Use a lens filter to correct the color
Although it might not make sense at first, a red lens filter will make your underwater footage look better.
You’ll want a red filter in blue water and a magenta filter in green water. See some specific recommendations below.
5. Shoot stable footage with a camera rig (or selfie stick)
It can be hard to hold a GoPro steady. If you aren’t going to mount the camera on your chest or head – you’ll need a camera rig or selfie stick.
I’ve had good success shooting animals underwater with a simple selfie stick.
6. Keep your subject at least 12 inches away
Unless you’re using a macro lens, you’ll want to keep your subject a minimum of 12 inches from your lens. Any closer, and it will be blurry.
7. Shoot with the sun at your back
Without a flash, it’s pretty hard to get a good shot shooting into the sun – regardless of where you’re shooting.
8. Thoroughly wash the housing in freshwater
(especially after swimming in salt water): You should thoroughly wash the housing in fresh water.
Salt can have a corrosive effect – and the last thing you’ll want is to have a damaged/weakened case or gasket.
9. Avoid fogged-up camera housing
Anti-fog inserts will absorb any humidity in the air. Without these special inserts, the humidity may condense on the inside surface of the case – especially on the lens.
This causes a fog ring and many disappointing images.
10. Forget about WiFi
While you can use your GoPro WiFi underwater (with the correct WiFi extension cable) it isn’t easy. And you’ll be tethered to a mobile device on the surface.
For most settings, you’ll have more fun and get better footage by shooting with WiFi turned off.
11. Use a dome port
A dome port is great for shooting those incredible half-underwater GoPro photos. By moving the waterline away from the lens, you’re able to get a photo showing both above and below the water.
A dome port can also be used for shooting underwater.
12. Prevent water drops on your lens
When you surface, you’ll probably want to keep shooting. If you aren’t careful, you’re going to have weird, face-distorting water droplets on your lens – ruining all your footage. It’s a surprisingly simple fix.
And those are my tips on how to use GoPro underwater.
Okay, now we’re going to consider some great GoPro accessories that will improve your underwater photos and videos.
6 Underwater GoPro Accessories
Here are some great accessories to get the most from your GoPro when shooting underwater.
1. CamKix Waterproof Telescopic Pole
This GoPro float pole is both a telescopic pole and bobber hand grip. It extends from 6.7 inches to 15.7 inches. The pole’s use of transparent material makes it nearly invisible in pictures.
For the feature set, this is one of the best floating GoPro handles.
The hollow handle functions as a storage compartment, with space for money, keys, or other small valuable items. It also allows the pole to float in water when empty.
You can fill the empty handle with water to create a hand bobber. The weighted handle will sink below the water, flipping the pole upside down and keeping the camera above the water’s surface. Great for shooting water sports where you need a hands-free solution.
2. Underwater Lens Filters
These simple filters just pop onto GoPro housing. These filters work from 10 to 80 feet in depth. And they’re designed for color correction in blue and tropical waters.
Make sure to order the correct filter mount for your camera. They all look the same, but they are mostly model specific.
3. Anti-Fog Inserts
These anti-fog inserts are cheap, effective, and reusable.
Because of the temperature difference between air and water, lens fog is very common when shooting underwater.
We use CamKix inserts and they come in a 20-pack for around seven bucks (just a few cents each). They are vacuum-packed, so they are ready to use out of the package.
Here’s more about how to shoot half underwater photos.
4. Underwater GoPro LED Light
I don’t have one of these yet, but it’s on my list. GoPro makes a light mod with up to 200 lumens.
This model stacks a GoPro on top and the floater grip or selfie stick on the bottom. 500-lumen light with 36 LEDs. This light is waterproof to 147ft (45m) and comes with a rechargeable battery. Works great in conjunction with a camera rig.
5. Camera Rig
There are a number of ways to mount your camera to a stable rig. This one is solid aluminum and has two cold shoe mounts.
Most rigs allow a couple of cameras and a couple of lights. They make it easier to get stable shots – and front/back point of view at the same time.
6. Selfie Stick
In addition to the anti-fog inserts, this is my favorite underwater accessory. I love how I can get closer to the wildlife!
And it makes my shots more steady. I still have my first selfie stick – it is by XShot.
It is super compact (6.5″ when not extended), and has a tripod adapter in the handle, so it can attach to a tripod. It closes to just 6.5 inches and extends to 30.58 inches in length.
Learn more about your camera’s capability in our GoPro Waterproof Guide for all models.
How Deep Underwater Can a GoPro Go?
While they are all waterproof, they aren’t all equal.
Here are the depth ratings for each of the GoPro cameras:
- Hero11 Black: 33 feet (10 meters). Increase to 196 feet (60 meters) with the protective housing.
- Hero10 Black: 33 feet (10 meters). Increase to 196 feet (60 meters) with the protective housing.
- Hero9 Black: 33 feet (10 meters). Increase to 196 feet (60 meters) with the protective housing.
- GoPro Max: 16 feet (5 meters). GoPro doesn’t make a protective waterproof housing for Max.
- Hero8 Black: Waterproof to 33ft (10m) without an additional case. If you add the case, it is waterproof to 200ft (60m).
- Hero7 (White, Silver, Black): Waterproof to 33ft (10m) without additional housing. The GoPro SuperSuit is waterproof to 196ft (60m)
- Hero6 Black / Hero5 Black: Waterproof to 33ft (10m) without additional housing.
- Hero4 Camera: This depends on the housing you’re using. The standard housing that comes with each of the Hero4 cameras can go to depths of 40m (131′). If you want to go deeper underwater, you’ll need the special Dive Housing, which can go 60m (197′ deep). Using the Touch BacPac Backdoor, you can only go 3m (10′) deep. via GoPro
- Hero4 Session: Can go 10m (33′) deep underwater without a housing. To ensure it is waterproof, check that the side door is closed and locked. After exposure to mud, dust, or saltwater, the camera should be rinsed with fresh water (keeping the side door closed, of course). For best water drainage, set the camera upright (with the shutter button on top).
- All the Older Models (HD Hero Original, HD Hero2, Hero3): These older models all came with a great waterproof housing, capable of depths of 60m (197′).
What’s your best underwater tip or favorite gear? Please join us in the comments below!
- About the Author
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Hey, I’m Bryan! I’m a content creator and co-founder of Storyteller Tech.
Experienced GoPro Videographer: I’ve been shooting with GoPro cameras for over 11 years. My first GoPro was the Hero3 Silver, bought for a Galapagos work trip in 2012. Today I own 20+ action cameras, including GoPro, DJI, and Insta360 cameras.
Professional Creator: Dena and I have developed video and content marketing plans for numerous international travel brands. And we also run several content businesses.