Now is the time to start thinking about what gear you'll be taking on your upcoming dive trip. For the best results, start shooting topside with your camera several weeks (or months) in advance to get used to the camera's control placement and menu settings. Here are the top 3 compact systems for taking stills and video underwater right now:
Olympus Tough TG-6
This is the premier waterproof, rugged-style compact camera on the market. The camera features a bright 25-100mm f/2.0-4.9 lens and a 12MP sensor. A step above its competitors, the TG-6 also wins with RAW support and 4K video recording. Where it really shines is in its microscope macro mode that's capable of professional quality close-up images. The housing is depth rated to 200 feet (60 meters), and features an ergonomic control set and 67mm threaded front for the attachment of optional wide angle and macro lens accessories.
Best if you are:
- Looking for the most compact and lightweight system for travel
- Expecting to shoot a lot of close-ups of small fish and creatures
- Wanting a waterproof camera for carefree use on the beach and boat deck
Add a color correcting filter for tropical blue water # 6441.41 if you're planning to shoot mostly reef or wreck scenes and wide angle in sunny conditions. Add a strobe or constant-on light if you're planning to do a lot of macro close-up photography. A DS strobe with RC1 TTL Receiver can actually communicate with the camera for the fastest and most accurate strobe exposure on the market.
MSRP $749 includes camera and housing
MSRP $1,595 includes camera, housing, and DS51 strobe kit
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VI
Sony's RX100 series has dominated the high-end compact market for several years. The latest model features a great 24-200mm lens and a huge 20.1MP 1" sensor. The RX100 VI has a fast and accurate autofocus system and shoots stunning 4K video. The housing is fully featured with a robust build quality and fiber optic connections for the attachment of external strobes.
Best if you are:
- Looking to shoot a lot of high definition video
- Expecting to shoot a lot of small to mid-size subjects
- Wanting a lot of creative exposure control over your stills
Add a color correcting filter for tropical blue water # 6441.41 if you're planning to shoot lots of video. Add a strobe or constant-on light if you're planning to do a lot of still photography.
MSRP $1,695 includes camera and housing
Canon Rebel SL3
One of Canon's answers to the mirrorless trend is this fantastic shrunk-down DSLR camera. Unlike similarly sized mirrorless models, the SL3 accepts standard Canon EF/EF-S lenses—including the phenomenal Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye—and features a built-in optical viewfinder for framing. Like much larger DSLR cameras, there is fast focus, good battery life, and virtually no limit to your creative expression. The new SL3 also adds 4K ultra HD video to the mix. The housing is nearly as tiny as the camera and a complete system with strobes can easily be carried in a backpack style carry-on. The included dome port is interchangeable with optional ports to accommodate a variety of popular lenses.
Best if you are:
- Looking to shoot DSLR quality images with a compact package
- Expecting your system to adapt to any shooting scenario
- Wanting to downsize from a larger system
Add a flat port # 5516.50 to shoot close-up with the Canon EF-S 60mm Macro. Add a strobe with sync cord to take advantage of the system's TTL exposure capabilities.
MSRP $2,045 includes camera, Canon EF-S 18-55mm STM lens, housing, and dome port with zoom