I could begin by listing all the ways that underwater videography is useful for those looking to shoot content in and around water, but let’s get down to the truth of the matter: it just looks cool. Shooting video underwater makes even the clunkiest of movements slow and graceful. It affords a sense of motion that is not seen in land-based videography. While pretty much any conventional video camera can be made to go diving with the right accessories, there’s an entire group of cameras that is ready to take the plunge without any additional equipment necessary.
Let’s get started with the Coleman CVW9HD Waterproof HD Pocket Camera. Available in such sporty colors as yellow, blue and red, the HD Pocket Camera can capture Full HD 1080p video and 8 megapixel still images. It records onto microSD cards up to 16GB in size. There’s a USB 2.0 port as well, which allows for easy transfer of your footage to a computer. The 8.5mm lens has an aperture of f/2.8, and while it’s a fixed lens, the digital zoom feature will get up to 3x closer to the action.
A 2-inch LCD screen on the rear of the camera allows you to check your shots, while the mini-HDMI connector provides a way to view the footage later on a much larger HDTV. The design includes a rubberized grip at the base to ensure a positive hold on the camcorder, and digital image stabilization prevents camera shake while walking and shooting. The camcorder weighs approximately one pound, and it will resist water up to a depth of 10 feet (3 m). The Coleman HD Pocket Camera is powered by two AA batteries and it comes with Image Editing software for touching up your videos and photos.
Bell & Howell
The Bell & Howell WV10HD Waterproof Camcorder utilizes a 10 megapixel CCD sensor to record 1280 x 720 HD video to an SD/SDHC card. Waterproof down to approximately 10 feet (3 m), the WV10HD is perfect for splashing around at the beach or pool. It even provides a 2.7” (6.9 cm) widescreen flip out LCD, 5x digital zoom and digital image stabilization. A USB 2.0 port allows for quick downloading from camcorder to computer
The DV1 from General Electric combines 16.4 feet (5 m) of waterproof depth protection with a shockproof design that protects the camera from drops of up to 5 feet (1.5 m). A 4x digital zoom and digital image stabilization get you close to the action, while also preventing camera shake. The DV1 is equipped with a 5.08 megapixel 1/2.5-inch CMOS sensor and speedy f/2.8 5.5mm lens. It supports up to 1920 x 1080 Full HD video at 30 fps, while offering a higher 60 fps mode at 1280 x 720 HD resolution. The MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video format is written directly to an SD/SDHC memory card (up to 32GB in size).
The DV1 also features a USB 2.0 port for downloading data to your computer, along with a full-sized HDMI output for viewing your footage on an HDTV. You can record or play back footage using the 2.5-inch LCD screen. The DV1 is available in a variety of colors including: gray, orange, red, aqua blue (for underwater camouflage, most likely) and lime green.
Kodak’s Playsport Zx5, available in black, red and aqua, shoots Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps and HD 720p video at 30 or 60 fps. It also supports SD 848 x 480 video at 30 fps. It has a 2-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio LCD screen that can be used for both recording and playback. The camera features micro USB, micro HDMI and A/V out connectivity, as well as continuous TTL multizone autofocus and capture effects that include vivid color, normal color, sepia, B&W, high saturation and 1970s film look.
The 1/3.2-inch CMOS sensor can record still images at up to 5.3 megapixels and it’s fed by a 5.5mm (35mm equivalent) lens with digital image stabilization and a 4x digital zoom. Writing to a standard 32GB SD/SDHC card, the Playsport Zx5 can record approximately 10 hours of 720p HD video at 30 fps. If you plan to take it into the water with you, you’ll be able to capture stunning video and stills down to 10 feet (3 m). Plus, it’s shockproof from falls up to 5 feet (1.5 m).
Available in red, black and orange, the Samsung HMX-W300 Pocket Camcorder resists the effects of water down to a depth of 16.4 feet (5 m). It’s also dustproof and shockproof from falls of up to 6.5 feet (2 m). The W300 is NTSC/PAL compatible and can capture Full HD 1080p video or HD 720p video at 30 or 25 fps. The camera records to the H.264 format and features My Clip movie creation, which allows you to add music to your movies without drowning out any voices.
The W300 is equipped with a 5 megapixel 1/3.2-inch BSI CMOS sensor, 3x digital zoom and digital image stabilization. Video content is saved onto a microSD card and can be downloaded to your computer via the integrated USB 2.0 connector arm. The USB connection can also be used to charge the internal lithium-ion battery, which is handy for those prone to accidently leave their USB cables behind.
Besides autofocus and auto white balance, the W300 also features a built-in microphone and 2.3-inch LCD screen with 230K pixel resolution. You can use the screen for recording or on-camera playback. If you want to see your movies on a much larger screen, you can use the full size HDMI port to connect the camera to your HDTV. Additionally, an “Auto Aqua” shooting mode helps minimize color distortion when shooting underwater.
Designed for splashing around in a pool or at the beach, the Toshiba Camileo BW10 HD Waterproof Camcorder resists damage from water down to 6.5 feet (2 m). You can use it to shoot Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps, utilizing its 5 megapixel CMOS sensor and a fixed-focus f/2.8 lens with a 10x digital zoom and electronic image stabilization. Available in silver or yellow, the BW10 can also capture 720p HD video and VGA 640 x 480 video at 30 fps. It records using the MP4 (H.264) format and its SD/SDHC/SDXC slot supports cards up to 64GB. A 2-inch LCD screen adorns the back, which allows you to view the shot during both playback and recording, while a mini HDMI port facilitates connection to larger displays. The USB port allows downloading directly from the camera to your computer.
The BW10 can capture still images up to 5 megapixels at 2592 x 1944 resolution. Other features include autofocus, auto white balance, a 10 second self timer and an LED video light for low-light situations. The built-in battery supports approximately one hour and 10 minutes of video recording. The included software makes editing your water adventures a breeze.
The Sony HDR-GW77V series (in black, blue and white) offers Full HD 1080p recording either to its 16GB internal memory or to a Memory Stick Micro or microSD/SDHC card. It’s equipped with a 1/3.91” Exmor R CMOS sensor, BIONZ image processor and ClearVid array color filter system. The handheld camcorder supports 1920 x 1080 progressive and interlaced recording at 60 fps. Options for 1440 x 1080/60i and 720 x 480/60i recording are offered as well, along with different quality settings for each.
Rounding out the optics is a Sony G lens with Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with Active mode. The 10x optical zoom (with a variable aperture from f/1.8 wide open to f/3.4 at full telephoto) can be supplemented with a digital zoom function that allows up to 120x magnification. The HRD-GW77V also has a flip-out 3-inch XtraFine LCD screen. If you plan to take it into the water with you, you can take it as deep as 16.4 feet (5 m) without risking water damage. Plus, the HDR-GW77V is shockproof from falls of up to 5 feet (1.5 m).
Another waterproof camcorder from Sony is the Bloggie Sport HD Camera, which is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a more compact and portable design. A 1/4-inch Exmor CMOS sensor and fast f/2.8 lens combine to record crisp 1080/30p Full HD video and JPEG still images to 4GB of internal flash memory. Downloading is performed via a swing-out USB connector arm (similar to the Samsung HMX-W300). Available in red, blue or black, the Bloggie Sport is perfect for those who want a durable camera to take with them that is simple to operate.
The Bloggie is built to go anywhere. It’s dustproof, shockproof and waterproof down to a depth of 16.4 feet (5 m). Other features include Face Detection, SteadyShot image stabilization and a 2.7-inch touch screen that supports full-screen playback. There are several convenience features as well, including a 10 second self timer, Date/Time stamp function and a power save mode.
The Panasonic HX-WA2 HD Waterproof Dual Camcorder is available in both blue and orange. With its 14.4 megapixel 1/2.33” CMOS sensor and 6.8-34mm (f/3.5 - 3.7) optical zoom lens, the HX-WA2 can shoot Full HD 1920 x 1080p at 30 fps or 1920 x 1080i at 60 fps in the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format. The footage is stored on SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. A faster frame rate mode of 1280 x 720/60p is also an option. A 2.6-inch LCD screen conveniently folds into the grip of the camera when it's not in use, and a micro HDMI port ensures easy connectivity to larger displays (an additional A/V port supports output to older televisions as well). A USB port allows the camera to double as an SD card reader for transferring footage to a computer. The HX-WA2 is waterproof down to a depth of approximately 10 feet (3 m).
Outside of the traditional camcorder or point-and-shoot form factor, Liquid Image offers a Wide Angle Scuba Series Full HD 1080p 12 MP Camera Mask with a 1920 x 1080p camera built right into the mask. Available in mid-size skirt and large/extra large skirt models, the Liquid Image goggles couple a 12 megapixel CMOS sensor with a wide-angle lens (with a maximum aperture of f/2.8). The mask records H.264 video to an inserted microSD/SDHC card, and is capable of shooting video for up to four hours on four AAA lithium batteries (conveniently provided in the package). Since this is a scuba mask form factor, it should come as no surprise that the camera is capable of operation down to a depth of 130 feet (39.6 m), making it an excellent choice for someone looking for an unobtrusive camera that can easily handle a deeper dive.
From the traditional-looking camera to cameras built into legitimate dive gear, if you’re in need of some underwater video shots, you have plenty of models to choose from for your exact needs.