What is an Underwater Camera?

Written by 90 Seconds
Last updated: October 4, 2023
What is an Underwater Camera?

An underwater camera is basically a camera that can be used to capture images and videos under water. It can be used for shoots as one is swimming, snorkeling, or with a remotely operated underwater vehicle.

Some of these cameras are even automated and can be easily lowered from the water surface to capture images and videos on their own.

And with advancements in technology, smartphones such as iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10 have been designed with submersible casings, making it possible even for the ordinary person to take underwater shots.

There are specific cameras designed for use underwater, and they include modern waterproof digital cameras.

However, cameras designed for dry work can also be used for underwater shots but only with additional housings for protection against water and pressure.

Most housings are designed to fit specific cameras and use materials such as plastic and aluminum.

These housings have control knobs and buttons that help a photographer to reach the camera’s inside, and hence enabling the use of its normal functions.

Generally, underwater photographers use macro lenses or wide-angle lenses to allow close focus and hence get a short distance between them and the subject to avoid loss of clarity to scattering.

Primary uses

Shooting documentaries

One of the major uses of underwater cameras is the production of marine documentaries.

Photographers of shows such as National Geographic get to explore marine life with the help of underwater cameras. In their quest, animals such as fish and marine mammals are among their common subjects.

However, they also explore underwater shipwrecks, seafloor landscapes, geological features, submerged caves, coral, seaweeds, and invertebrates among more. The divers also capture portraits of each other in the process.


It would virtually be impossible to cover many water sports available today without the help of underwater cameras.

A sport such as surfing under heavy tides requires a special underwater camera to capture the fast and adrenaline-filled moments of the sport with clarity.

Underwater cameras are also common in Olympics and other high-profile swimming competitions to capture the swimmers from underneath.

Secondary uses


Underwater cameras have been used to explore the deep sea in depth. In James Cameron’s film the Deepsea Challenge, specially designed underwater cameras were used to capture the famous director’s dive into Mariana Trench (the deepest part of the ocean).

Underwater cameras are used to find undiscovered marine life, document underwater voyages, and show the world what the deep sea is made of.

Capturing fun moments

Most easily portable underwater cameras, especially those on smartphones, are majorly used by ordinary people to record their fun moments underwater.

For example, a marine life lover will want to pose for a picture with a sea turtle underwater and then post it in on their social media for the fun of it.