Diving the Galapagos with the Canon R8: Why You Need a Small Camera to Dive in Current

Diving the Galapagos with the Canon R8: Why You Need a Small Camera to Dive in Current

By Jenny Hanna and Nirupam Nigam
All images © 2024 Nirupam Nigam

Photos by Nirupam Nigam using the Ikelite Canon R8 system and dual Ikelite DS230 strobes.

The Galapagos Islands, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, are renowned for their breathtaking marine biodiversity and unique ecosystems. It’s an incredible dive destination, with unforgettable encounters with schools of hammerhead sharks, playful sea lions, marine iguanas, and many more exciting species.


Seal copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite Underwater Housings

You’ll want a camera to capture the unique Galapagos marine life. Photos © 2024 Nirupam Nigam

Feeding Iguana copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite Underwater Housings


Galapagos dive conditions are challenging, with strong currents at most dive sites supporting the thriving marine life. These conditions are particularly challenging for underwater photographers. Even highly experienced divers find strong currents intimidating and may struggle to perform skills that are second nature in calm conditions. Add an underwater camera to the mix, and intimidating currents can quickly become overwhelming. Diving with the best camera for the conditions is paramount to having an enjoyable experience while capturing lifelong memories.

Introducing the Canon R8

When it comes to underwater photography in the Galapagos, the importance of having a small camera becomes evident when diving in its strong currents. During our most recent trip to the Galapagos, we brought Canon’s smallest and most affordable full frame mirrorless camera, the Canon R8 in an Ikelite R8 housing. The R8 is so compact that even though it’s a full frame camera, it manages to fit in Ikelite’s smaller DLM housing system usually designed for cropped sensor cameras. When we combined all our ports and the housing, we managed to shave a few pounds off our total travel weight as well!


Canon R8 with Housing copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite Underwater Housings

The 200DLM/D housing for the Canon R8 has a very small profile which is ideal for pushing around in a current. 

Canon R8 Housing Rear copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite Underwater Housings


The hydrodynamic properties of compact cameras and DLM housings help reduce drag and enable you to use less energy and air as you navigate currents, so you can enjoy every minute of bottom time without a bulky camera slowing you down. Streamlined underwater photography rigs also reduce drag on the camera itself, making it more stable and easier to hold. You can focus on framing the perfect shot (while maintaining buoyancy control) instead of concentrating on holding the camera still enough.

Easy Ergonomics

Small cameras are often equipped with ergonomic controls and intuitive interfaces, allowing you to make quick camera settings adjustments. Paired with one of Ikelite’s easy-to-use underwater housings, you’ll be able to react swiftly to capture the Galapagos’ incredible marine life encounters.

Swimming Iguana copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite Underwater Housings

You need to react quickly to get a shot of a swimming marine iguana. 

Clip It Off 

Another advantage of a small camera in the Galapagos is the ability to clip it to your BCD or dangle it from a lanyard on your wrist. In strong currents, it’s sometimes critical to have both hands free to hold onto the rocks, deploy a surface marker buoy, or safely address any problems that may arise during the dive. During our dives with the Canon R8, we needed to clip it off countless times to deploy surface marker buoys in strong currents.

Going Small Doesn’t Equate to Lost Quality

Advancements in camera technology have made compact cameras capable of delivering images and videos comparable to larger full-frame cameras. The R8, for instance, is equipped with Canon’s fastest autofocusing system, capable of handling autofocus tracking with quick subjects moving along the current.

Sea Turtle copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite Underwater Housings

Autofocus features assist in capturing wide angle details in currents. 

Coral copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite Underwater Housings


The Sony RX100 VII, a popular compact camera, also features excellent autofocus and burst shooting, 4k video, and performs well in low light conditions; paired with the Ikelite RX100 VII housing, it’s a great option for shooting in the Galapagos’ challenging conditions – especially for those looking for a camera smaller than the Canon R8. 


Octopus copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite Underwater Housings


Galapagos copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite Underwater Housings


Reduce Your Luggage Weight

Small cameras have the added benefit of reducing your luggage weight – and we all know every pound counts when embarking on a holiday to any dive destination. With heavy scuba equipment and everything else we need to travel with, having a more compact camera system makes packing and traveling easier. Small cameras are also often more affordable, making them accessible to more scuba divers to take up underwater photography as a hobby or profession.


When all is said and done, a small camera is the perfect accessory to capture unforgettable memories of the Galapagos Islands’ unique habitat and rare endemic species. Enjoy your dives without the added stress of handling a large camera rig in strong currents and share the images of your experience to inspire others to explore and preserve our oceans.


Additional Reading

Canon R8 // Underwater Housing Assembly Ikelite 200DLM/D [VIDEO] 

Customer Photos | Liza Díaz Lalova in the Galápagos Archipelago 

Understanding Octopuses for a Friendly Photographic Experience

Canon R8 Underwater Macro Footage from Croatia [VIDEO]

The Best Canon RF-Mount Lenses for DLM Underwater Housings


Nirupam Nigam Nirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Underwater Photography Guide and the Marketing Director at Bluewater Photo. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in the local Channel Islands. He received degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, at the University of Washington. Check out more of his photography on his website


Jenny Hanna Bio Pic

Jenny Hanna is a technical writer and dive instructor. Born and raised in a landlocked city in Canada, she fell in love with scuba diving on a trip to Thailand. Jenny eventually left her corporate finance career to work as a dive instructor and manager in Indonesia. She holds a degree in English Literature and a Graduate Certificate in Technical Writing. Jenny combines her passions - writing and scuba diving - in her role at Bluewater Travel. 


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