Camera Reviews

Detailed camera reviews for underwater photo and video, including specs, key features for u/w photography and camera comparisons.
Canon USA introduces the latest member of the EOS Family
By Chino Mendoza

Canon EOS M5 Preview

Chino Mendoza
Canon USA introduces the latest member of the EOS Family

Canon USA has just announced two products to add to their EOS line, the new Canon EOS M5 interchangeable lens digital camera and the Canon compact EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens.  EOS M5 boasts a 24.2 Megapixel with DIGIC 7 image processor.  This makes the fastest autofocus speed for the EOS M line.  Aside from the autofocus feature, the camera also provides clear and crisp images and videos. This also has a built-in electronic viewfinder.

 Aside from the EOS M5, canon also announced the new Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens. Lens is very versatile with high zoom ratio with image stabilizer.  It is also very lightweight to make it easy to bring anywhere.



EOS M5 Camera Provides The Fastest Autofocus (AF) speed of EOS M-Series and a built-in Electronic Viewfinder 


MELVILLE, N.Y., September 15, 2016 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced the latest additions to its EOS M series system - the new Canon EOS M5 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera and compact EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens. The EOS M5 camera features a 24.2 Megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor, DIGIC 7 Image Processor and the fastest AF speed in the EOS M-series , enabling photographers to capture clear, sharp, high-resolution images and Full HD videos. It is also the first in the EOS camera line to include the low energy Bluetooth® Smart  feature that can maintain a constant connection  with your compatible smartphone or tablet when you use the Canon camera connect application and both applications are active. The versatile EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens is compatible with all Canon EOS M series digital cameras, and is a great option for photographers looking to capture scenic landscapes while traveling to close-up shots from afar.   

“The new capabilities found in the Canon EOS M5 Camera and  EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens set a new standard for our EOS M series of cameras and lenses, showing that Canon is constantly incorporating performance enhancements desired by our customers,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “When paired together, the new EOS M5 camera and EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens  provide image-makers of all levels with powerful tools that enable them to capture a variety of remarkable images and videos.” 

In addition, advanced photographers will appreciate the improved operability of the EOS M5 camera. It has a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) and Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF for capturing stills and shooting video with smooth and precise autofocus. This allows for Touch and Drag AF so users can easily switch the subject of their focus by dragging the AF frame directly on the LCD panel, even while looking through the camera’s EVF. Focus peaking allows users to highlight the area of the image that is in focus from within the EVF or LCD monitor. In addition to its touchscreen operability, the EOS M5 camera also has easily accessible dials that allow you to quickly adjust your settings on-the-go. 


Key Features of the Canon EOS M5 Camera Include:

  • 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, ISO 100–25600.
  • Fast and smooth Dual Pixel CMOS AF helps you capture stills and shoot video with quick and precise autofocus.
  • High-speed continuous shooting at up to 7.0 fps (up to 9.0 fps with AF Lock) and new DIGIC 7 Image Processor with improved AF tracking performance.
  • Full HD 60p helps capture fast-moving subjects and brilliant results in MP4 format.
  • Digital IS with 5-axis image stabilization when shooting movies plus increased image stabilization with both lens optical IS and in-camera digital IS when shooting with an IS lens.
  • Built-in high-resolution EVF (approx. 2,360,000 dots) with new Touch and Drag AF lets you manually move the AF frame displayed for more precise focusing in different shooting situations.
  • Intuitive touch screen 3.2 tilt-type (85° up/180° down) LCD monitor (approx. 1,620,000 dots) enables flexible positioning and clear viewing.
  • Easily customize functions while shooting using the Main Dial, Quick Control Dial, Dial Function Button and Exposure Compensation Dial.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi®  and NFC  allows for easy sharing and transferring of images and videos.
  • Equipped with Bluetooth®iii Smart for smooth pairing with a compatible smartphone by powering on both devices for easy photo sharing and remote control possibilities.
  • Shorter camera startup time  and interval time between each image capture for a more efficient shooting experience.
  • Compatible with EF-M lenses as well as the full line of EF  and EF-Sviii lenses and Speedlites for expanded creativity.


The Canon EOS M5 also features Combination IS with in-camera 5-axis image stabilization, while capturing video, a first in the Canon EOS series. With a compatible lens attachediv, Combination IS leverages optical IS and in-camera digital IS to help create tremendously smooth videos. The DIGIC 7 Image Processor makes the 5-axis IS possible even with lenses that do not contain IS, because the in-camera image stabilization functions independently to help reduce camera shake when shooting videos. 

Additionally, the EOS M5 camera shoots impressive time-lapse videos. The EOS M5 camera also allows for easy panning by setting the optimal shutter speed after analyzing the camera's panning speed and how fast the subject is moving. 

The new Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens offers a high-zoom ratio, expanding the range of photographic possibilities for EOS M digital cameras.  Its image stabilizer helps with reducing image blur and making image and video shooting easier at longer focal lengths. Along with the enhanced performance, the EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens is compact and lightweight, making it a versatile and convenient lens to carry.   


Key Features of the Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Include:

  • Canon’s first EF-M high-zoom power lens covering a broad range of shooting scenes with a high-zoom ratio of up to 8.3x (29–240mm equivalent).
  • Compact and lightweight design allows for easy portability.
  • Optical design helps provide excellent image quality across a broad zoom range comparable to the EF-S 18–135mm f/3.5–5.6 IS USM lens.
  • Maximum magnification of 0.31x at focal length 150mm.
  • Image Stabilizer effect at up to 4 stops of shake correction helps capture sharp images.


Pricing and Availability

The new Canon EOS M5 camera is scheduled to be available through authorized Canon dealers or through the Canon Online store at in November 2016, for an estimated retail price of $979.99 for the body only. It will also be sold as part of body-and-lens kits with EF-M 15-45mm/F3.5-6.3 IS STM zoom kit lens (estimated retail price of $1,099.00, scheduled to be available early November 2016 ), and with the new EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens for an (estimated retail price of $1,479.00x, scheduled to be available early December 2016x)

In addition, the new Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens, available in graphite and silver colors, is scheduled to be available in December 2016 for an estimated retail price of $499.99x. 

Additional optional EOS accessories include a Body Jacket (EM-E2) and Neck Strap (EH29-CJ) that come in black or brown. 




Chino Mendoza , is an avid diver and underwater photographer and tries to go everytime he can.  He is based in Manila which is a few hours Anilao which is the “critter capital of the Philippines”  He likes to shoot macro and his favorite subjects are nudibranchs and frogfishes.

Get in touch with him via email at

View Chino's work:  Facebook     |     Instagram


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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


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An in-depth review of the Canon 5D Mark IV DSLR with specs, autofocus tests, sample pictures, housings and thoughts for underwater photo and video
By Brent Durand

Canon 5D Mark IV Review

Brent Durand
An in-depth review of the Canon 5D Mark IV DSLR with specs, autofocus tests, sample pictures, housings and thoughts for underwater photo and video

November 2016

The Canon 5D Mark IV is one of the hottest DSLRs for serious underwater photographers and videographers. Many pros had their hands on the camera as soon as it was made available, and now that housings from the major manufacturers are available, the camera is being taken on dives around the world.

The new pro-sumer DSLR is built around a brand new 30.4 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and incorporates Canon's dual-pixel autofocus technology (thanks Canon!!). In short, this delivers quick, reliable autofocus when shooting video in live view mode, and of course, lighting quick AF when shooting through the viewfinder. Additionally, the Canon 5D Mark IV boats a DIGIC 6+ processor, 4k video at 30fps, Full HD video at 60fps, 61 AF points (41 cross-type), touch panel LCD, and enhanced high ISO performance.

The Canon 5D Mk IV has a big legacy to step into. So does it live up to the hype? Find out in our detailed camera review below, as well as auxillary reviews by pro underwater photographers.

Status:  Shipping now

MSRP:  $3,499 USD (body only)


Jump to section:

5D Mk IV Specs   |   Highlights for Underwater Use   |   Body and Controls   |   Full Frame or Crop Sensor?

Underwater Image Quality Tests   |   Dual-Pixel RAW Tests   |   DSLR Spec Comparison

Thoughts for u/w Photo & Video   |   Best Lenses   |   5D Mk IV Housings   |   Conclusion

Pro Photographer Field Reviews |  Review for Underwater Video



Canon 5D Mark IV Specifications

  • 30.4 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 6+ image processor
  • Dual-pixel AF sensor and continuous servo AF for stills
  • AF point: 61 points (41 cross-type)
  • Dual Pixel RAW recording (image microadjustment & bokeh shift capabilities)
  • ISO: 100–32,000; expandable up to 50–102,400
  • Continuous shooting: 7 frames / sec.
  • 4K video recording at 30fps (motion jpeg, DCI standard), Full HD at 60fps (All-I), HD at 120 fps (All-I)
  • 150,000-pixel RGB + IR metering sensor
  • 1.62M dot 3.2" touch LCD
  • Anti-flicker mode
  • Interval timer (finally, thank you Canon! :- )
  • Built-in GPS, Wi-Fi · NFC connection
  • Media: SDXC / SDHC / SD  (UHS-I enabled), CompactFlash 
  • The main terminal: USB 3.0, Mini-HDMI
  • Size: 116mm X 151mm X 76mm 
  • Weight: 890g


Highlights for Underwater Use

  • Fast and accurate Live View autofocus (great for video)
  • Exceptional full frame image quality
  • High ISO performance allows more creative settings options for wide-angle video
  • Wide range of Pro (L) EF lenses for all shooting situations, underwater and topside


5D Mk IV Body and Controls

The control layout of the 5D Mark IV is very similar to the Mk III. The smaller upgrades are the new graphic on the top mode dial and the new thumb-controlled AF Area Selection button. The new AF Area Selection button (located to the right of the Q button) allows the shooter to change area modes with the thumb (in addition to the previous method of the forefinger on M-Fn button).

The major update is the touch LCD monitor. The monitor works as you would expect it to. During viewfinder shooting the touch is disabled by default, but once you press the Q button (Quick menu) then you can tap any touch menu item and then adjust those properties with touches or swipes. The return (exit to main screen) touch button appears in the lower right hand corner. During live view shooting, you can touch an area of the screen and the camera will autofocus at that point. The Quick menu button is displayed ergonomically in the upper right corner of the screen, along with the return (exit to main screen) when inside a menu. All-in-all a nice system for topside shooters, but it's not too much use for underwater shooters (note that all these controls/menus can be accessed through regular control buttons and dials).


Do you Buy a Full Frame or Crop Sensor?

Full frame cameras are becoming more and more popular among underwater photographers.  Many photographers are upgrading systems to full frame and many brand new photographers are purchasing full frame as their first camera system.  But even with the popularity of large sensors, the crop sensor has a strong place in the mirrorless and DSLR market, and actually excels in many areas of undewater photo and video.

So which is the right camera for you?  Here's a quick breakdown:


Pros of a Full Frame Sensor

  • Larger sensor is more sensitive to light.

  • Better performance at high ISOs, specifically with electronic noise and color.

  • Less depth of field at the same apertures results in smoother bokeh.


Pros of a Crop Sensor

  • Cheaper than full frame camera body.

  • The standard 1.6 crop factor (1.5 on Nikon DX) essentially magnifies the image, bringing you closer to that shark swimming in the distance or to filling the frame with a small nudibranch.

  • You can use a lower aperture to achieve the same depth of field as a higher aperture on a full frame sensor. This is beneficial for three reasons:

    • Most lenses deliver their best image quality in mid-range apertures.

    • Higher apertures become prone to diffraction.

    • Lower apertures allow more light to hit the sensor, which helps bring more vibrant color from video lights (when shooting video), while maintaining necessary depth of field for the shot.

Have more questions?  Contact the experts at Bluewater Photo, who can guide you to the perfect camera setup for your shooting style and budget.


Underwater Image Quality Tests

Wow, wow, wow. I've been shooting mostly compacts over the last year, and after a few frames underwater with the Canon 5D Mark IV I could already see what I've been missing in terms of image quality. Opening the raw files in Lightroom is just as much a treat. Below are my thoughts on image quality after 5 quick dives with the camera.

Before diving into image quality, it's important to note that you can have the best image quality in the world, but if you put a cheap lens in front of it you won't see the true quality. It will be a waste. So invest in nice lenses if you're splurging on a camera body like the 5D Mark IV. Dome ports follow the same principal, so make sure to use the right dome port with the right extensions for your lens in that particular shooting situation.


Dynamic Range

DxOMark gives the Canon 5D Mark IV the highest dynamic range rank of any Canon sensor (13.6 Evs). This ranks below the Sony a7R II (13.9 Evs) and Nikon D810 (14.8 Evs), but keep in mind that this is a very technical sensor test. When evaluating overal image quality, we need to look at what the camera's proprietary RAW file format does with that data.

In the sample image below you can see the full range of the Canon 5D Mark IV, which holds detail in the brightest overexposed water (upper left corner) all the way down to the dark underexposed shadows in the lower left corner. In the subsequent image I've recovered the highlights and the shadows 100%, which brings back a significant amount of detail and even nice color from the shadows.


Color Tonality

Canon has a reputation for beautiful color and the 5D Mark 4 appears to really deliver. Just look at the smooth gradation in light intensity, and minimal banding, as the blue transitions from just below the white point down to the black point in the image below.


100% Crop

I've included a 100% crop of a gorgonian shot with the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye and a 4" glass minidome. The detail looks ok for a 6720 x 4480 pixel image, especially since we have to zoom in further to see the same number of pixels, losing detail as a result (*if you're used to smaller resolution Canon DSLRs. The 5DS R is an obvious exception). My gut reaction (clearly not very scientific) is that the Tokina just doesn't deliver the image quality we want to see from the 5D Mark IV, so if you're considering the Canon 8-15mm or the Sigma 15mm, I would encourage you to go with one of those lenses instead.

Pixel peeping like this is a dangerous game though. I didn't perform any microfocus adjustments on the Tokina prior to diving. I was also using a 4" dome, which presents more distortion than a larger dome.

I'll present side-by-side 100% crop comparisions with other DSLRs at the first opportunity, but suffice it to say that the 5D Mark IV has the potential to deliver nice crispy images when shot properly with the right lenses.



High ISO Shooting

(coming soon)



5D Mk IV Dual-Pixel RAW

Dual-Pixel RAW. There's a lot of talk about this. In short, dual-pixel RAW allows you to make microfocus adjustments, small bokeh shifts and correct ghosting/flare during post production. Currently this can only be performed in Canon's Digital Photo Professional and a 3rd party software called RawDigger. Adobe is reportedly working on adding support within their products in the near future. Additionally, reports that dual-pixel raw can recover up to a stop of data in the image highlights. Wow!

How does it work? The Canon 5D Mark IV sensor contains two photodiodes within each pixel, and each records an image. Your memory card will record twice as much information, but you will only see one raw file on the memory card.

How do you use Dual-Pixel RAW?

  1. First, enable dual-pixel raw recording in the camera menu.
  2. Next, shoot away!
  3. Make sure to download Canon's DDP software and use it to select and open your raw image. Notice that each .CR2 (raw) file says DPR on it.
  4. At the top menu, open Tools, then select 'Start Dual Pixel RAW Optimizer'.
  5. Make your adjustments here.

Is Dual-Pixel RAW worth it?

On certain images, absolutely. Even with microfocus adjustments on each of your Canon 5D Mk IV lenses, the AF is not always going to lock on perfectly. This is when post-processing microfocus adjustment is benefitical, as you can see in the sample image below. 


Spec Comparison with other DSLRs

The Canon 5D Mark IV holds its own in a crowded prosumer space. Above are some popular cameras for underwater photo and video, however be sure not to discount the strong video capabilities of the Panasonic GH5 and the impressive specs of the soon-to-come Olympus E-M1 Mark II. Below are links to our reviews of all these cameras.


5D Mark IV for Underwater Photography


 Canon's 5D series has a long (digital) history making game-changing full-frame DSLRs. The 5D Mark III bridged the gap between the 'landscape only' 5D Mark II and the 'sports only' 7D with a sophisticated autofocus system. The 5D Mark IV builds on this shooting versatility with dual-pixel autofocus. As underwater photographers, we need exceptional AF capabilities (sea lions, dolphins, darting gobies) plus the aspects of image quality where full frame cameras excel: maximum dynamic range, color depth, bokeh, etc.

The 30.4 megapixel sensor is a nice compromise between having enough pixels for big crops (for those tiniest of subjects) but not so many that you need a top-of-the-line computer to process. Nicely done, Canon.

The Canon 5D Mark IV is a great camera for shooting wide-angle with strobes or video lights, but also ambient light with high ISOs (think orcas or whales in dark water). The autofocus will performs well in either situation. Macro shooters will drool over the crisp color and incredible sharpness of the 5D IV paired with the Canon 100mm f/2.8L lens.

The Canon 5D Mark IV Underwater:

 During my 5 dives with the camera I was in heaven. It's been over a year since shooting a full frame DSLR underwater, and the image quality was stunning - even on the little LCD screen. Being able to reference the histogram puts the creative ability far above the GoPro HERO5 - the camera I shot during our recent La Paz small group photo trip.

Autofocus was quickly achieved - even in dark water (cloud cover) using the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye and back-button focus. AF will likely be even faster with Canon lenses for macro and wide-angle shooting. Changing the AF point is the same as the 5D Mark III and 7D Mark II (and 5DS R I believe), so it will come natural to those who are upgrading. Ergonomics will depend on the housing.

Most other functions are the same as the DSLRs mentioned above, making it easy to review images, navigate the menu to adjust settings like video resolution, custom controls, manual white balance, etc. while underwater).

Stay tuned as we begin reviewing 5D Mark IV underwater housings in-depth.


5D Mark IV for Underwater Video

Canon revolutionized the digital video game with the 7D and 5D Mk II. They still reigned supreme with the 5D Mark III until the upstart Sony alpha Mark II cameras hit the scene, along with cameras like the LX100 and GH4. The Canon 5D Mark IV has some pros and some cons.

Update:  We will be publishing a detailed video review by mid-December.


Dual-pixel phase detection AF with continuous Servo AF in Live View. Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras don't have quick or reliable autofocus when shooting video, so Canon's dual-pixel AF has really upped the game in this regard, making autofocus something that video shooters can start to rely on for certain scenes. (The 7D Mark II and 80D both also feature dual-pixel AF sensors).

Second, the 4K recording uses DCI standard aspect ratio (4096 x 2160) instead of 16:9 UHD standard (3840 x 2160). This is similar to the Canon 1D X Mk II, which has been delivering excellent video quality.


Canon's new 4K recording uses the Motion JPEG compression instead of All-I or IPB.  This is excellent for pulling 8.8 MB .jpg stills from the 4K recording, but needs to use a bit rate near 500Mbps.  Those shooting in 4K will be investing heavily in fast, large CF cards to handle the files, and opening their housings as much as needed to swap them out.  Canon elected to use compact flash storage (along with an SD slot) instead of the new C-Fast like in the Canon 1D X Mk II.  For Magic Lantern users recording RAW in-camera this is a bummer, but it doesn't change anything for those recording externally.  If you're shooting at 1080 All-I, then it's business as usual.

Second, 4K recording only uses a portion of the 5D Mk IV's full frame sensor, essentially making it a 1.6 crop persective (similar to Super 35 on the Sony a7R II). What does this mean?  Well, if you're switching back and forth between photos and videos, you'll also be switching between full frame and 'crop' focal distances, which use very different lenses. On land it's a quick lens swap, but underwater you're going to have to commit to one lens in your housing. Will it be the wide-angle for full frame photos or the ultra wide-angle for 'crop' video recording? Maybe this is your excuse to buy the Canon 11-24mm f/2.8L (provided the housing manufacturers plan for this)!
















The Canon 5D Mark IV - side views


Best Lenses for the 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D Mark IV uses a full frame sensor, making it compatibly with Canon's EF lenses plus compatible 3rd party lenses. Underwater photography generally falls into two categories: wide-angle and macro. The lenses below are best for shooting in these styles with the Canon 5D Mark IV (and all Canon full frame DSLR bodies).




Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

This smooth and fast lens should be in every experienced (Canon) underwater photographer's bag. It provides the magnification needed for shooting small macro subjects and the tiniest subjects when combined with a diopter on the outside of the housing port. It also happens to be the only Canon macro lens for the 5D Mark IV.  View some photos shot with the Canon 100mm Macro lens on full frame bodies.


Wide-Angle Fisheye


Canon 8-15mm Circular Fisheye

This is one of several fisheye choices for 5D Mk IV shooters. A sharp fisheye at 15mm, you can also shoot this lens at 8mm without a dome port shade in order to produce circular fisheye images. Check out some examples in Wide-Angle in Bunaken or read or full Canon 8-18mm Lens Review.


Alternative Fisheye Lenses

Other great fisheye lens choices for the Canon 5D Mark IV will be the Sigma 15mm and the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens (between 15-17mm since this is an APS-C lens). The Sigma will likely deliver better image quality, however the Tokina is very convenient if you already have it in the camera bag.


Rectilinear Wide-Angle


Canon 16-35 f/2.8 III Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens

This lens was announced alongside the 5D Mark IV.  It's safe to say that this is the best choice for those who are buying their first wide-angle lens for the 5D IV and don't have a strict budget. Most underwater shooters use rectilinear wide-angle lenses for shooting subjects that don't come close enough to fill the frame with a wide fisheye lens: sharks, whales, sea lions, dolphins, etc.


Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II Wide-Angle Lens

The most popular rectilinear wide-angle lens for Canon full frame DSLRs has been the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 Mark II. This lens sat at the top of the selection for the last few years in terms of corner sharpness, speed, and price... although that will change as more new shooters purchase the version III.


Canon 11-24mm f/4L Ultra Wide-Angle Lens

Want the widest lens you can buy? The Canon 11-24mm offers a much wider field of view than 16mm. This perspective is great for reefscapes, massive wrecks and very wide shots where you do not want the distortion of a fisheye lens. The downside is that this lens is larger, heavier and more expensive than the other wide-angle lens choices.


Alternative Rectilinear Wide-Angle Lenses 

Underwater photo and video shooters on a budget will be looking towards the Canon 16-35mm f/4L or the Canon 17-40 f/4L USM wide-angle lenses. And unless you're a pixel-peeper with critical details in the corners of your images, it will be hard to tell the difference in IQ between these lenses and the popular 16-35mm f/2.8L II (we haven't tested images with the new 16-35 III yet). The quality of the dome port you are shooting through will make a much more significant difference. These lenses are also much lighter and sport 77mm filter threads instead of 82mm - which is significant for topside filter use.


Canon 5D Mark IV Housings

The Canon 5D Mk IV has a slightly smaller body than the 5D MkIII. The IV fits in most III housings natually or with a modification kit. There are also new underwater housings specifically designed for the 5D Mark IV. To add even more interest, some of these new housings also work with the Canon 5DS R. Each housing is different, so we've included links to Bluewater Photo in order to get all the details.


Aquatica Canon 5D Mark IV Housing

Ikelite Canon 5D Mark IV Housing w/ Four Lock Mount

Ikelite Canon 5D Mark IV Housing w/ Dry Lock Port Mount


Nauticam Canon 5D Mark IV Housing


Sea&Sea Canon 5D Mark IV Housing


Pro Photographer Field Reviews

Review & photos by David Fleetham:  Review: Canon 5D Mk IV with Ikelite Dry Lock Port System.

Review & photos by Andy Sallmon:  Review: Canon 5D Mk IV in Aquatica A5DMKIV Housing.


Review for Underwater Video

We worked with underwater videographer Mike Raabe to put together a detailed 5D Mk IV Review for Underwater Video. Be sure to check it out.



The Canon 5D Mark IV is a fantastic choice for Canon DSLR shooters who want a full frame instead of crop sensor (if you want a crop sensor, the Canon 7D Mark II is your best choice). A wide selection of lenses, excellent dynamic range and high ISO performance, extremely fast autofocus, 4K video and versatility will sets the bar for full frame prosumer DSLRs.

Yes, the Nikon D810 and Sony a7R II may have better technical sensor specs, but I highly advise you to look at images and video shot with all cameras instead of just this raw data. After all, we want to share the final product - not sensor data reports!

The wide range of housings fits all levels of (DSLR) budgets, and flexibility to use other backup bodies like the 5D Mk3 and 5DS R in many housings further increase the versatility of your travel kit.

Long story short, if I shot u/w photo and video seriously I'd be saving up for the 5D Mark IV as fast as possible. You should too!


Underwater Photo Gallery

(more images coming soon)

Have images shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV?  We'd love to see them and maybe even share them right here. Just email Brent.



Further Reading



Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.

Brent is an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at

Follow Underwater Photography Guide on Facebook or Instagram.


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear


Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips


Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.


First camera to feature Canon's new DIGIC 7 processor, plus faster autofocus, increased noise performance, better RAW capture and more
By Brent Durand

Canon G7 X Mark II Camera Review

Brent Durand
First camera to feature Canon's new DIGIC 7 processor, plus faster autofocus, increased noise performance, better RAW capture and more

The Canon G7 X Mark II is a powerful camera in a compact body. An upgrade from the G7 X, the Mk II incorporates the same sensor and lens but is the first camera to use Canon's new DIGIC 7 image processor to support new performance improvements.

The Canon G7 X Mark II has a faster startup, better autofocus tracking, enhanced image stabilization, longer battery life and faster continuous shooting. The G7 X Mark 2 also records 14-bit RAW files instead of 12-bit like the G7 X. In simplest terms, this means more data, which means more room for advanced post-processing.

Bluewater Photo didn't hesitate to buy a G7 X Mk II to add to their rental gear, so I had a chance to shoot that in a few different situations topside and underwater. Insights and sample photos from these tests are included in this review.

If you haven't yet, be sure to read our Canon G7 X II Best Underwater Settings Guide.



Jump to section:

Canon G7X Mk II Specs   |  Changes from G7X   |   Body and Controls

Comparison with Compact Cameras   |   G7 X II for Underwater Photography

Sample Photos (high ISO, 100% crop)   |   Underwater Housing Options

Conclusion   |   Underwater Photos


An ornate ghost pipefish poses for a portrait with the Fantasea G7XII housing in the Lembeh Strait, Indonesia. ISO 125, f/8, 1/200. Shot with a single SeaLife Sea Dragon flash. Photo: Brent Durand


Canon G7 X Mark II Specs

  • Bright f/1.8 (w) - f/2.8 (t), 4.2x (24-100mm equivalent) optical zoom lens with IS and 9-blade iris diaphram
  • 1-inch 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • New DIGIC 7 image processor
  • Multi-angle 3.0 inch capacitive touch panel display
  • 1080p Full HD video recording
  • In-camera RAW conversion/editing (customize and view edits prior to sharing from camera)
  • WiFi and NFC built-in
  • U.S.A. retail price: $699.99


Changes from the G7 X

The Canon G7 X Mark II has the same control layout as the original G7 X, but in a larger body. This means that the Mk II camera will likely not fit inside the older housings. It's a bummer but just the way it is with new cameras.

The major physical differences are highlighted below:

  • Front Control Ring:  New switch to allow click or smooth action (smooth action is great for manual focus).
  • LCD Screen Articulation:  Now pulls away from the body, allowing for 45 degree downward view (i.e. used when holding the camera in the air in a crowd).
  • Exposure Compensation Dial:  This has been reversed. Maybe it's more intuitive now?
  • Top Control Dial:  Creative effects mode has been removed from the control dial.

In addition to the physical differences above and the spec upgrades we highlighted earlier, the G7 X Mark II has other new features to be discovered. One is a new timelapse mode that video shooters will find useful. Another is new in-camera RAW file editing. The theory behind this is that you can edit your photos before sharing with your mobile device (and then social media) via the camera's WiFi or NFC. I prefer to transfer the image, edit on my mobile device (using Lightroom Mobile or other apps) and then share the content. There's no right or wrong workflow though.



G7 X Mk II Body and Controls

Like the G7 X, the Canon G7 X Mark II has a great set of controls and is easy to hold and shoot. Of primary importance is the front control ring, which controls aperture when in manual mode, but can be changed quickly through a dedicated button. The rear control ring defaults to controlling shutter speed but can also be custom programmed.

The red video record button is tucked under the flared thumb grip on the back of the camera, which makes it easy to access but also difficult to hit accidentally. The quick / set button, playback and menu buttons are also tucked under the thumb so that they are out of the way but easy to press when desired.

Lastly, the LCD touchscreen works very well. You can quickly access the Quick menu by pressing the Q in the top right corner, or adjust settings by pressing the aperture or shutter speed. My personal preference is to access these controls via the physical controls, but the nice thing is that every shooter can use the camera as they wish.



Compact Camera Comparison

For detailed comparison tables with the Canon G16, G5 X, G9 X, Sony RX100 IV, and Olympus TG-4, view our article Best Compact Cameras of Summer 2016.

You can also learn about Bluewater Photo's recommended compact camera and housing combinations in Best Compact Cameras and Housings for 2016.


G7 X II for Underwater Photography

The Canon G7 X Mark II is one of the best choices for underwater photo and video with a compact camera. The Canon G7 X has been very popular, even with stiff competition from the Sony RX100 IV (which also has a 1-inch sensor plus higher-resolution video recording).

Canon has a long reputation for excellent image quality and the G7 X II holds true to this, delivering crisp images, bold contrast and great color. The new DIGIC 7 processor and resulting performance upgrades make the camera feel fast - faster than some top mirrorless cameras I've recently tried.

On white balance: Underwater videographers will find that the Canon G7 X Mark II has no one touch custom white balance. Videographers looking to record with a custom white balance must take a photo at depth, then enter the camera's menu (camera menu tab 6), select Custom WB, and then follow instructions to set the WB off the desired image (2 more clicks). The white balance mode can be adjusted through the Quick menu (in 2 clicks) or through customizing the Ring Control button (1 click), but note that this simply provides access to the menu for selecting the WB mode (auto, cloudy, tungsten, etc.).

The Canon G7 X II is fun to shoot underwater. The small size of a compact setup (I was using a single SeaLife Sea Dragon strobe in Lembeh) makes it great for those who want to travel light but still have great image quality. The camera controls are simple to operate, with aperture and shutter speed at your fingertips, ISO one tap away, and immediate control of focus box placement within the frame. Image review and scrolling through the different info displays (i.e. to see the histogram) and zooming in on areas of the photo is simple and quick.

Macro with the G7 X II is very nice. You can zoom in a bit past halfway and still use autofocus, or switch the camera to macro mode and get closer to the subject without zooming in. Autofocus had no trouble finding the subject. It tracked well for video, however did jump off the subject from time to time - an issue which plagues most video shooters using AF.

The G7 X Mark II will be supported by a number of housing manufacturers, which means that accessories like wet diopters for macro and wide-angle wet lenses will be readily available for capturing any underwater scene.


Canon G7 X Mark II Sample Photos

G7 X II Fast AF Tracking


Image Quality at 100% Crop


Image Quality at 100% Crop


High ISO at Night


Canon G7X Mark II Underwater Housings

Canon G7 X Mk II housings are now available from several leading manufacturers. Unfortunately, the larger size of the Mk II means that it will not fit in the original G7 X housings.

Canon G7X Mk II (approx: 105.5 x 60.9 x 42.0 mm).  Canon G7X (approx: 103.0 x 60.4 x 40.4 mm).

Below are some great housing choices from our sister company, Bluewater Photo. Check out the housings and be sure to reach out for the best recommendations on accessories like macro and wide-angle lenses, lights and strobes.


Ikelite Canon G7X Mark II Housing - $550

This compact and lightweight underwater housings provide full operation of the camera up to depths of 200 feet (60m). Large, easy-to-reach controls are provided for all camera functions including the front and rear dials. Rear controls are marked with easy-to-see laser engraved symbols which never fade or fall off.

Ikelite Canon G7X Mark II Action Housing - $299

Action Housings are designed for water sports and travel. It is built for toughness yet compact and lightweight. Housings depth rating of 200 feet (60m).


Fantasea Canon G7X Mark II Housing - $399.95

Fantasea G7X II Camera / Housing Bundle - special price

Although inexpensive, the polycarbonate Fantasea Housings give you access to all of the important camera controls and dials. A double o-ring provides extra security while large buttons make it easy to operate. Read our Fantasea G7XII housing review.


Nauticam Canon G7X Mark II Housing - $1100

The Nauticam Housing is one of only two housings to offer an optional short port option for better wide-angle wet lens options. Also has an optional vacuum check system, and includes a shutter release extension.


Recsea Canon G7X Mark II CW Polycarbonate Housing
 - $599

This tiny housing fits the G7X II like a glove. The material is vey high quality, you will even think it is an aluminum housing. Easily fits in your BCD pocket.


Recsea Canon G7X Mark II Housing - $1100

Recsea's aluminum housing. Very small, high quality housing with precision controls rated to 100 meters. Optional vacuum check system and LCD viewfinder. Short port options for several wide-angle lenses including the UWL-04 fisheye lens.



The Canon G7 X Mark II delivers excellent image quality in a very small camera body. While it faces tough competition from the Sony RX100 IV for underwater video, the G7 X Mk II holds its own for still photography. 'Shutter Lag' (actually focus lag) is barely noticeable, even when shooting in low light underwater.

The 1" sensor delivers great color, and the speed of the DIGIC 7 processor is readily apparent when powering on the camera, shooting in burst mode and focusing. Pair the G7 X Mk 2 with a nice underwater housing and you have an excellent, and versatile, photo rig for macro and wide-angle.



Canon G7 X Mark II Underwater Photos

Below are some sample photos from shooting the Canon G7 X Mk II in the Fantasea G7XII housing.








Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.

Brent is an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at

Follow Underwater Photography Guide on Facebook or Instagram.


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear


Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips


Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.


We compare the best compact cameras for underwater photo and video, including specs, photos
By UWPG Editors

Best Compact Cameras of Summer 2016

UWPG Editors
We compare the best compact cameras for underwater photo and video, including specs, photos

For underwater photographers looking for a compact camera setup, there are many different options to choose from. And with so many similarities between camera names and specs, the comparison process can be a bit confusing.

In this article, we will look into the compact cameras that we recommend for underwater photography, weather they are available now or coming later this summer. We consider things like image sensor size, megapixels and lens specs. To find specific housings and Bluewater Photo's complete underwater kit recommendations, you can check out the 2016 Compact Camera Buyer's Guide.



Skip to:

Olympus TG-4   |   Sony RX-100 IV   |   Canon G16

  Canon G5x   |   Canon G7x Mk II   |   Canon G9x


Camera Comparison Charts   

 Summary of Strengths and Weaknesses 

 Underwater Housing Availability 

Be sure to check out Bluewater Photo's Compact Cameras Buyers Guide to learn which camera and housing is best for you


Olympus TG-4

The Olympus Tough TG-4 is a tough camera that is waterproof down to 50ft even without the housing. RAW photo recording (new for the TG-4) allows for greater post-processing options while a new Microscope mode lets shooters capture intricate macro details. Read our complete Olympus TG-4 Camera Review.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 112 x 66 x 31 mm

  • Weight: 247g

  • Sensor: 16MP - 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: TruePic VII

  • Lens: 25–100 mm F2.0 - F4.9 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1080P, Timelapse feature

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 380 Shots

  • Other features: Waterproof upto 50ft. (15m), Sensor-shift Image Stabilization, Face Detection Focusing, Built-in GPS

Olympus TG-4 Housing $299
Recsea TG-4 Housing $690
Nauticam TG-4 Housing $800 

Sony Rx-100 Mk IV

The Sony RX100 Mk IV is a versatile and advanced compact camera with 1 inch sensor that produces high resolutions photos.  It also excels on capturing videos, with 4k and slow motion high bit rate capabilities. Read our complete Sony RX100 IV Camera Review.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 102 x 58 x 41 mm

  • Weight: 298g

  • Sensor: 20MP - 1" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor:  Bionz X 

  • Lens: 24–70 mm F1.8 - F2.8 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 4K (3840 x 2160 video resolution)

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 280 Shots

  • Other features: Image Stabilization, Articulating Screen, Electronic Built-in Viewfinder, Face Detection Focusing,1.229k dots LCD Resolution, Viewfinder

Sony RX-100 Mk IV Underwater Housing Options


Canon G16

The Canon G16 features a 12.7 MP sensor and delivers excellent image quality, even in low light. It is able to shoot in RAW with full manual mode and comes equipped with a fast and high-quality zoom lens.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 109 x 76 x 40 mm

  • Weight: 356g

  • Sensor: 12MP - 1/1.7" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: Digic 6

  • Lens: 28–140 mm F1.8 - F2.8 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1920 x 1080 video resolution

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 360 Shots

  • Other features:  Image Stabilization, Face Detection Focusing, Timelapse Recording, 1/4000s High Shutter Speed

Canon G16 Underwater Housing Options


Be sure to check out Bluewater Photo's Compact Cameras Buyers Guide to learn which camera and housing is best for you 


Canon G5x

The Canon G5X features 2.36 million dot electronic viewfinder, large 1 inch sensor and fast zoom lens. It is also fitted with numerous physical controls, including a dedicated exposure compensation dial, front dial, control ring and control dial for quickly customizing various shooting settings.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 112 x 76 x 44 mm

  • Weight: 353g

  • Sensor: 20MP - 1" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: DIGIC 6

  • Lens: 24–100 mm F1.8 - F2.8 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1920 x 1080 video resolution

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 210 Shots

  • Other features: Image Stabilization, Articulating Screen, Touch Screen, Electronic Built-in Viewfinder, Face Detection Focusing, Timelapse Recording, 2360kdot Viewfinder Resolution

Canon G5x Underwater Housing Options


Canon G7x Mk II

The Canon G7x Mk II is notable for imaging qualities; camera has a 20.1 MP sensor, new DIGIC 7 processor with faster startup, less noise when shooting at higher ISOs, better autofocus tracking, enhanced image stabilization, longer battery life and faster continuous shooting. It records 14-bit RAW files which have more data and more room during post processing. Read our complete Canon G7 X Camera Review.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 106 x 61 x 42 mm

  • Weight: 319g

  • Sensor: 20MP - 1" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: DIGIC 7

  • Lens: 24–100 mm F1.8 - F2.8 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1920 x 1080 video resolution

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 265 Shots

  • Other features: Image Stabilization, Articulating Screen, Touch Screen, Face Detection Focusing, 31 Focus Points, Timelapse Recording

Canon G7x Mk II Underwater Housing Options


Canon G9x

Canon G9X has a 20.2 MP sensor and DIGIC 6 image sensor which delivers clean, clear image quality, sensitivity to ISO 12800, continuous shooting up to 6 fps and Full HD 1080p/60 movie recording. It has a notable intelligent image stabilizer which helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake for sharper handheld shooting in difficult lighting conditions. 

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 98 x 58 x 31 mm

  • Weight: 209g

  • Sensor: 20MP - 1" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: DIGIC 6

  • Lens: 28–84 mm F2.0 - F4.9 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1920 x 1080 video resolution

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 220 Shots

  • Other features: Image Stabilization, Touch Screen, Face Detection Focusing, 1.040k dots LCD Resolution, Timelapse Recording and offers 2 colors to choose from.

Canon G9x Underwater Housing Options


Be sure to check out Bluewater Photo's Compact Cameras Buyers Guide to learn which camera and housing is best for you 


Camera Comparison



Shooting Features








Summary of Strengths & Weaknesses


Underwater Housing Availability



Best priced aluminum housing, available in awesome colors

See choices / prices


Polycarbonate housing, excellent value, good ergonomics

See choices / prices


Clear housing, TTL capability with some housings, outstanding support

See choices / prices 


Aluminum housing, Vacuum check available,excellent options for wet wide angle lenses.

See choices / prices 


Aluminum housings, very small & long lasting, G16 on sale for $699

See choices / prices 

Recsea CW 

Polycarbonate housings, very very small, housing for RX100 & RX100 II also available.

See choices / prices 


Learning how to use your new camera

What to learn how to use your new underwater setup? Join one of our photo trips, which are perfect for people with their first underwater setup, their first GoPro, or a new underwater setup.


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear


Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips


Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.


16 megapixel high resolution power with Full HD video in a very compact, easy-to-use underwater camera
By Brent Durand

SeaLife Micro 2.0 Camera Review

Brent Durand
16 megapixel high resolution power with Full HD video in a very compact, easy-to-use underwater camera

The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is the flagship of a great line of fully-sealed, easy-to-use compact cameras. We have reviewed much other SeaLife gear, including shooting Sea Lions with the Micro HD+, and the Micro 2.0 earned it's position, delivering high quality photo and video.

So what's different? In short, the SeaLife Micro 2.0 is built around a new 16 MP Sony CMOS image sensor. This sensor delivers the image quality Sony is known for, plus full HD video (fun fact: Sony also makes most sensors in Nikon cameras). The Micro 2.0 also features a 130 degree field of view lens, SeaLife's trademark piano key dials, and compatibility with the SeaLife Sea Dragon line of video light accessories.

In this review, we take a closer look at how the Micro 2.0 really performs for underwater photo and video.

Purchase: SeaLife Micro 2.0 at Bluewater Photo

MSRP:  $499 (32GB)


Key Specs and Features

  • Permanently sealed - no o-rings to maintain

  • 16 MP Sony CMOS image sensor

  • Full 1080p HD video, including 60fps for slow motion

  • 130 degree fisheye lens (adjustable)

  • 3x piano key controls for simple operation

  • Adjustable ISO settings

  • 32 or 64GB internal memory

  • Picture in video capability

  • Various capture modes (single, continuous, HDR, burst)

  • Easy set-up mode

  • USB cable connection for transferring photos and charging

  • Compatibility with Sea Dragon lights and accessories

  • Minimum focus distance:  12"

  • Weight and size:  279g (10.1oz), 4.2" x 2.1" x 2.9" (10.7cm x 5.3cm x 7.4cm)

  • Waterproof:  200ft (60m)


Purchase the SeaLife Micro 2.0 on Bluewater Photo.


A diver passes mangrove roots in the Yucatan cenotes of Mexico. Shot with SeaLife Micro 2.0.


Micro 2.0 in the Lab










The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is easy to hold; the body is rubber armored and shockproof, with flared right side to help hold between fingers and thumb. The shutter button is angled for optimum trigger finger ergonomics. There is a standard (1/4-20) tripod hole for mounting the Micro 2.0 to a tray/handle setup... or a tripod.

Charging the Micro 2.0 and transferring photos is easy. Simply remove a rubber plug that covers the wet USB contacts and slide in the USB adapter. You can also transfer images via WiFi, as we explore later.

The SeaLife menu is very easy to operate. You turn on the camera by holding down the Play button. A push of the center Menu button brings you to three menu categories.

Photos are recorded as .jpg files. While .jpg doesn't offer the same post-processing flexibility as RAW files, it makes the photos easy to share straight from the Micro 2.0 and SeaLife mobile app. For one-click editing, be sure to check out our review of Vivid-Pix.


Easy Setup

Push the shutter to enter this menu. This is where you can select a land mode or 3 different underwater modes. The difference between them is the camera's white balance setting, or how much the camera corrects for the blue/green color you often see in u/w photos.

Once in the Setup menu, just press the up or down arrow (video & menu buttons) to choose Land or Underwater modes. If you choose Land, you're done.  Woo Hoo!  If you choose Underwater, you can now select from diving, snorkeling or diving with video light(s).


Image Settings

Self Timer:  Off

Capture Md:  Single. The other modes may prove useful in certain situations but are for advanced users.

Scene Md:  Leave as is. This is another way to change the mode you initially set in the Easy Setup menu.

WB:  Auto

EV:  0.0

FOV:  Wide 130.  Tip: if you are shooting smaller subjects like fish, try setting this to medium 100 or narrow 80 degree field of view in order to help fill the frame more.

Picture Res:  16MP (4:3)

Video Res:  1080p-30fps

ISO(Picture):  Auto

Quality:  Super Fine

Sharpness:  Standard

Metering:  Center.  We recommend this setting for the most common shooting situations - fish, divers, corals, etc. If you are shooting things like reefscapes, try using Average.

Video TimeLapse:  Off

Color:  Standard


System Settings

WiFi:  Off.  Turn this on and download the SeaLife App to control the camera and view photos/videos via your phone or tablet.

System Reset:  Restores factory default settings.

Format:  This deletes all photos and videos.

Upside-Down:  Off

Shotcut:  Off

Date/Time:  Set as desired

Auto Off:  3 min.

Fimware Version:  V1.24 (as of 4.3.16)

Sound:  On

Microphone:  On

Quick View:  Off

Language:  Set as desired.

Light Frequency:  60Hz

Mem. Available:  Variable depending on how many photos/videos are stored in memory.

SSID:  Available when WiFi is turned on.


Most of the settings above are camera defaults, so you don't really need to dive into these menus if you are a bit intimidated. That's exactly why SeaLife created the Easy Setup!


Scene from the kelp forests of California's Channel Islands National Park. Shot with SeaLife Micro 2.0.


A moray eel and cardinalfish share a narrow crevice under a rock at Catalina Island - a shot unreachable with a bulkier camera/housing kit. Shot with SeaLife Micro 2.0.


Micro 2.0 in the Water

I took the SeaLife Micro 2.0 into the water on three dives:  once stuffed down my wetsuit in the cenotes, once in my drysuit pocket and once as a primary camera mounted to a tray and light system. Pictured is the Flex-Connect tray, handle and the Sea Dragon 2500 lumen light, part of the Micro 2.0 Pro 2500 kit. The camera is easy to use whether hand held with finger or gloves, or mounted to handle and tray.

Unlike most compact cameras, the SeaLife Micro 2.0 focuses just before it shoots, instead of by half-depressing the shutter. This serves to make things more simple. You can also shoot a still photo or start recoding video without changing modes, plus shoot still photos while recording video. Easy.

In each shooting situation you see in the pictures in this review, I simply chose Underwater in the Easy Setup menu and then shot away with out any changes after that. Reviewing images is easy; just press the playback button and then the up and down keys to select an image to magnify, then the shutter button to magnify the image. Press Playback again to go back a step.

One important note is that the minimum focus distance is 12". Be very mindful of this when shooting macro images as anything closer than 12" will not be in focus. The compact V10 focus light provided plenty of light to bring out vibrant colors of the reef and macro critters.


Underwater Video with the Micro 2.0

The SeaLife Micro 2.0 records Full HD 1080p video. It does this at 30fps, which is standard for digital video editing. In addition, it can shoot at 60fps, which allows editos to slow the footage down for slow motion! I didn't get a chance to test the Micro 2.0 video, but it is sure to perform even better than this great demo shot with the Micro HD+.


Recommended Accessories



SeaLife Sea Dragon 2000 Video Light





SeaLife Aquapod





Micro 10x Closeup Macro Lens






The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is a great camera for divers who are looking for simplicity as well as divers looking for a small and compact first camera system. The ability to add the SeaDragon tray, quick-connect handle and video lights makes the system scaleable, while the fact that you don't have to deal with any o-rings makes maintenance a dunk in fresh water (literally).



  • Compact with no o-ring maintenance or flood risk

  • Easy 3 piano key operation

  • Simple menu

  • Ability to add Sea Dragon or 3rd party lights

-  New powerful Sea Dragon 1500 and 2500 video lights will make video even easier - wide 120 beam angle perfect for the Micro 2.0's fisheye lens, with light color temperature dialed for precise color representation (5700K and 5000K respectively).

  • Several modes for various shooting conditions

  • New SeaLife super macro lens coming in May '16 for close focus of 3.5 - 7 inches



  • No manual controls for advanced photographers

  • No RAW file recording for advanced post-processing


The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is available with 32GB or 64GB of memory, making the pricepoint right no matter your budget.


Purchase the SeaLife Micro 2.0 on Bluewater Photo.


Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.

Brent is an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at

Follow Underwater Photography Guide on Facebook or Instagram.


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear


Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips


Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.


Review and comparison of the 80D, featuring a 24.2 megapixel dual-pixel CMOS sensor, 45-point AF system, DIGIC 6 processor
By Brent Durand

Canon 80D Review for Underwater Photo & Video

Brent Durand
Review and comparison of the 80D, featuring a 24.2 megapixel dual-pixel CMOS sensor, 45-point AF system, DIGIC 6 processor

The Canon 80D is a feature-rich DSLR for underwater photography and videography. The successor of the 70D, the Canon 80D sits in the lineup behind the iconic 7D Mark II. The 80D is built around a 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, combining lighting fast autofocus with a wide pattern of sophisticated autofocus points for accurate AF when shooting through the viewfinder or Live View (i.e. for video). Divers can also now shoot 60 frames per second at full HD (1080p) resolution, instead of 30fps as on the 70D, which can be used to create a slow motion effect during post processing. A fast processor and 100% coverage through the viewfinder sweeten the deal.

The specs are impressive, and so is the price in relation to all of these features. In this review we'll take a closer look at the Canon 80D for underwater photography and video, plus compare it with the competition.


Jump to Review Section:



Canon 80D Key Specs

  • 24.2MP APS-C Sensor

  • Dual-Pixel CMOS AF

  • Digic 6 Processor

  • 1080p/720p MP4 video recording, both with 60fps (30fps with All-I)

  • Servo AF for video shooting

  • 45 Point "All Cross-Type" Autofocus

  • 100% coverage viewfinder

  • 7 FPS

  • ISO 100-16000

  • SD, SDXC, SDHC memory

  • Built-in Flash

  • WiFi and NFC

MSRP:  $1,199 USD

Highlights for Underwater Use

  • Advanced, fast autofocus system with more focus points for photography

  • Fast live view autofocus for video, plus Full HD recording at up to 60fps (for slow motion)

  • Increase in megapixels for more resolution than 70D and 7D MkII

  • WiFi for fast sharing to social media

  • Great price compared to 7D Mk II or 5D Mk III


Body and Controls

The Canon 80D feels great in your hands. The ergonomic build of the body makes it easy to hold, whether in shooting position or down at your side with a heavy lens attached. 

The control layout closely matches that of the 70D, with all essential functions right at your fingertips. The control dials for aperture and shutter speed are easy to adjust, with crisp action so that you can quickly move 3 clicks (1 stop of light if set to 1/3 stops). AF, drive and ISO are in located in Canon's standard pointer finger position. The Menu and Info buttons remain on the left back of the camera, out of the way until needed. The playback buton is accessed with right thumb, which can then roll through images with the thumb control dial. The Q button (quick menu) is easy to press with the thumb, as many shooters will use this menu to adjust all or some settings underwater. Switching between photo and video modes is also easy to control via thumb yet won't be bumped accidentally.

The 80D control dial sports two different custom (Program AE) modes (the 70D only had one), plus a new mode for creative effects. These will certainly come in handy with advanced underwater shooters.

On the left side, the 80D now features a headphone jack (the 70D does not). This is great for "serious amateur" videographers who want to record and monitor audio internally. The older 70D pushed the shooter to accept whatever audio was recorded (no monitoring via headphones) or invest in external audio recording equipment. The E3 remote trigger port has also been moved to its own position on the 80D, presumably for landscape shooters who use a trigger but want to keep the headphone and mic ports clean and weather sealed.

















Memory is handled through choice of an SD, SDHC or SDXC card, accessed through a spring-loaded door on the right side of the camera.



80D Best Lenses for Underwater Use

The Canon 80D uses a crop (APS-C) sensor and is compatible with Canon's EF-S and EF lenses, plus 3rd party lenses. Underwater photography generally falls into two categories, wide-angle and macro. The lenses below are best for shooting in these styles with the Canon 80D (and all Canon APS-C DSLR bodies).


Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

This lens is the first lens for underwater macro photographers, with a very close focus distance to subjects. The 60mm is also much easier to use than the 100mm mentioned below, making it ideal for those without experience shooting underwater macro with DSLRs.


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

This smooth and fast lens should be in every experienced (Canon) underwater photographer's bag. It provides the magnification needed for shooting small macro subjects and the tiniest subjects when combined with a diopter on the outside of the housing port. Read our Canon 100mm Macro Lens Review.


Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X DX Fisheye Zoom

This Tokina fisheye lens is heralded as the best lens for shooting reefscapes, big animals, divers and more. It provides the best image quality on crop sensors. Make sure to get the Canon version and not the Nikon version, as these are different mounts. Read our Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye Lens Review.


Mid-Range Zoom Lenses

Divers who will be shooting sharks, whales or other objects that may be further away with opt for a mid-range zoom lens like the Canon 10-22mm, Sigma 10-20mm or Tokina 11-17mm. Many divers also use the Sigma 17-70mm OSM HSM for it's great flexibility between wide-angle and macro.


Canon 80D Spec Comparison

Read our detailed camera reviews:


Canon 80D vs. Canon 70D

We got the Canon 80D into the hands of Tommy Stylski from Bluewater Photo, who shoots regularly with his 70D, for a comparison. Below are his thoughts.

I’ve shot with the Canon 70D for a few years and have been looking forward to getting my hands on the recently released Canon 80D. It nearly has the same mold and button/control positions, but as with most new camera models will not be compatible with the previous model's underwater housings.

The main improvements the new Canon 80D has over its predecessor is mostly seen when shooting video. The new model has upgraded from 20.2 to 24.2 megapixels and boasts many others advantages, but when getting the camera underwater you clearly notice the upgraded autofocus. Since having doubled its cross-type AF points from 19 to 45; its auto-focus capability is extremely fast. These additional autofocus points tracked moving swimmers and kids in the pool very well when using live view for video, allowing a wider range of compositions without needing to focus and recompose.

I look forward to seeing more underwater photos and videos made using the Canon 80D once this exceptional camera catches on with underwater photographers and videographers.


Canon 80D vs. Canon 7D Mark II

The Canon 80D is priced under the Canon 7D Mark II, so it's natural that there are some feature compromises when comparing both models. These compromises, however, are not a huge concern for undewater shooters. The bottom line? The 80D is likely the camera for you.

The 80D is smaller than the 7D Mk II (better for travel), with more megapixels, WiFi, touchscreen for topside and faster video framerate (up to 60fps).

The 7D Mk II has more autofocus points, dual memory card slots and faster burst shooting (10 vs. 7 fps) with larger memory buffer. The 7D Mk2 also uses Canon's pro level controls, the highlight being a joystick above the rear control wheel and left thumb buttons for faster image review.

Long story, short if you're not shooting fast action sports, the 80D will likely be a great choice!



Canon 80D Sample Photos

These photos were shot in RAW with some global adjustments added in Lightroom during post-processing prior to export.



Example of very shallow depth of field with the Canon 80D and Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens, handheld.

Settings:  ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/60






Wide-angle scene with the Canon 80D and Canon 24-105mm f/4L zoom lens, handheld.

Settings:  ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/40






Shallow depth of field shot at minimum focus distance of the Canon 24-105mm f/4L zoom lens at 58mm, handheld. Learn more about close focus wide-angle underwater.

Settings:  ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/80







Canon 80D Underwater Housings



Ikelite Canon 80D Housing

$1,599.95 - More info on the Ikelite 80D Housing




Nauticam Canon 80D Housing

$3,300 - More info on the Nauticam 80D Housing




Sea&Sea Canon 80D Housing

Sea&Sea 80D Housing coming soon!




Aquatica Canon 80D Housing

Aquatica 80D Housing coming son!



View all of our Camera Reviews for Underwater



The Canon 80D is an excellent camera. It is packed full of features for underwater photo and video shooters with a much better price tag than Canon's prosumer and pro DSLRs.

Underwater housings are already available, and they support all the lenses used in underwater photography. So whether this is a first underwater camera or an upgrade from a smaller system, you can't go wrong with the Canon 80D.



Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.

Brent is an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at

Follow Underwater Photography Guide on Facebook or Instagram.


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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


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In-depth review of the Sony a7R II with best lenses, comparison with other cameras and underwater housings
By Kelli Dickinson

Sony a7R II Camera Review

Kelli Dickinson
In-depth review of the Sony a7R II with best lenses, comparison with other cameras and underwater housings

Sony wowed the photography world last year with the release of the Sony A7, A7R & A7s cameras. A full frame, 35mm sensor packed into a small mirrorless body. It was the first of it's kind and did not disappoint. With the large sensor and small body, it was easier to travel with, created a lower profile underwater than larger DSLR's and the three different camera bodies gave photographers the ability to choose the one that best fit thier needs without buying a completely separate housing if they wanted to switch between two versions. The biggest downside to this great new Sony camera was the lens choice. 

Flash forward a year and we not only have several great new lens options, but Sony has revamped their A7 line with the release of the A7 II, A7R II and A7S II. Both the A7II and A7S II are great. Choose the A7 II if you want the high detail of the 35mm sensor but without the added expense of the high resolution R version. Choose the A7S II for the best video production, including internal 4K recording - a great new feature. 

For the best of the best though, the A7R II takes the cake. This camera offers high megapixel count on the 35mm sensor creating extremely detailed images and allowing you a little wiggle room to crop photos without losing important resolution.

Quick Links:   Best Lenses   |   a7R II vs. Other Cameras   |   Underwater Images   |   Underwater Housings


Garibaldi shot with Sony a7R II

Garibaldi shot with Sony a7R II. Photo: Kelli Dickinson.


Sony a7 II Versions:

  • Sony A7 II - The original. Full Frame 35mm sensor, excellent image detail. 24.4 MP CMOS Sensor - the perfect choice for those wanting a small full frame camera without breaking the bank. 

  • Sony A7R II - R stands for Resolution. This beast features a 42.4 MP back illuminated full frame sensor. Extra wide range of ISO sensitivity and super fast phase detection and contrast detection auto focus. Built in 4K video recording. The A7R II offers the best of all worlds, with the back illuminated sensor improving low light capability, 4K recording mode offering improved video recording ability and high megapixel count priving incredible detail in still images. This is the one to choose when you want the most detail possible and cost is not so much a concern. This camera will be the best choice for most underwater photographers.

  • Sony A7S II - S stands for Sensitive. This low megapixel version improves on the original A7S with high sensitivity in low light. The lower resolution (12.2 MP) means larger pixels which can let in more light creating better low light performance. If you are dedicated to video this is the camera to choose. New internal 4K recording mode offers full pixel readout without pixel binning, resulting in the highest resolution 4K possible. ISO goes up to a mind-boggling ISO 400,000.


Sony a7R II for Underwater Use:

I recently had the opportunity to take the Sony A7R II underwater and it did not disappoint. Paired with dual Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes, the resulting images were not only incredibly detailed, but also vibrantly colored and crisp. This is definitely the option to pick if you want the best of everything with this Sony line. 

The biggest problem with the Sony A7 II Cameras, especially the A7R II is that it eats through batteries. Sony continues to use the small NP-FW50 which aids in keeping the overall camera body small, but it means you'll want to change batteries or charge the camera between every 1-2 dives max. One saving grace with the A7R II is that Sony did include a second battery with the camera, so you don't have to buy it, however for us underwater photographers, it does mean opening up the housing more often than you may like.

For Video Shooters: If you want the flexbility of shooting high resolution still images and high quality HD video then the A7R II is the choice for you. This camera also records 4K video internally as the A7S, and offers two crop modes to shoot in. The Super 35 (APS-C) 4K crop mode is specified by Sony to offer the best overall video quality. This mode uses a smaller portion of the sensor but does not use pixel binning, offering you better overall 4K quality than in the Full Frame 4K mode. While I have not yet had a chance to test it, reviews differ on which mode has a worse rolling shutter effect when panning side to side. One really nice aspect of the A7R II due to the innovative back lit sensor is that the low light quality is excellent, a plus for video shooters underwater.


Sony a7R II Specs:

  • Full Frame 35mm Back Illuminated Sensor

  • 42.4 Megapixel Resolution

  • Wide ISO range of 100-25,600 (expandable to 50-102,400 for still images)

  • .51" OLED Electronic Viewfinder & Large 2.95" LCD Screen

  • Fast Hybrid Auto Focus (Phase and Contrast Detection AF)

    • 25 Contrast Detection AF Points / 399 Phase Detection AF Points

  • XAVC S/AVCHD / MP4 Video Recording

  • Internal 4K recording supported!

  • Battery Life of approximately 290 Shots (Viewfinder) & 340 shots (LCD Screen)

    • Includes 2nd Battery in Box!

  • Dimensions 4.69" x 2.74" x 1.50"

  • Weight 20.53 oz Solo / 22.05 oz with battery and media card

  • Magnesium Alloy Body with Enginerring Plastic Exterior


View underwater cenote photos shot at high ISO with the Sony a7R II.


Best Lenses for Underwater Use:

Finally Sony stepped up and released some great new lenses that are ideal for underwater photography. The first released FE 16-35mm F4 lens offers nice wide angle, but still left us lacking for that super wide angle of view that can only be obtained with a fisheye lens. In addition there was no macro support, leaving underwater photographers struggling to use a diopter with the kit 28-70mm lens. Now we have support for both Fisheye and Macro, here's the best lenses for underwater use with the A7 II line of cameras. 


  • Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro - this native lens is great and offers 1:1 magnification

  • NEW Sony 50mm F2.8 Macro lens - this will be a bit wide for shooting full frame, but excellent for Super 35 video (available September 30, 2016)

  • Canon EF 100mm F2.8 Macro with Metabones adapter

Standard / Mid-Range:

  • Sony FE 28-70 F3.5-5.6 - standard kit lens

  • Sony FE 24-70mm F4 - higher end mid range lens

Wide Angle:

  • Sony FE 16-35mm F4

  • Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8 with Metabones adapter


  • Sony FE 28mm F2 with Sony Fisheye Conversion Lens -while not a true fisheye, this lens and converter combination works excellently, offering the wide field of view in a native Sony lens.

  • Canon EF 8-15mm F4 Fisheye Lens with Metabones adapter

  • Nikonos 15mm Fisheye Lens with Nikonos Adapter (Nauticam) -a good option if you have one of these laying around or can find one, though not as wide as the 28mm + FE Conversion Lens.


Excellent dynamic range and image quality at the Yucatan Cenotes, Mexico. Sony a7R II with Sony 28mm lens + fisheye converter. ISO 100, f/8, 1/125. Photo: Brent Durand


Sony a7R II vs. Other Camera Formats:

The Sony A7 series sits somewhat in its own class of camera. Without a mirrorless it can't be considered a DSLR, but it comes equipped with a Full Frame sensor. With the larger sensor it stands apart from other mirrorless cameras like the Sony A6000 and popular Olympus O-MD cameras.


  • Much smaller camera body = smaller housing

  • Full frame sensor, high 42 mp count is better than some DSLRs and on par with Full Frame DSLRS

  • Overal focus speed and responsivness is not quite as quick as high end DSLRS

  • Camera controls and functions all the same as DSLR

  • Battery life is MUCH worse than a DSLR

  • Electronic viewfinder vs optical viewfinder

  • Less variety of lenses

A7R II vs Other Mirrorless:

  • Slightly larger camera body = larger housing. Also lenses are larger than most mirrorless lenses

  • Full frame sensor and high megapixel count means much more detail and resolution

  • Camera controls are similar as many mirrorless have DSLR like controls

  • Battery life is similar, possibly a bit worse than other mirrorless

  • Olympus mirrorless have a better variety of lenses

Sony a7 II Underwater Housings

The Sea & Sea a7II Housing, Nauticam a7II Housing, Aquatica a7II Housing and Ikelite a7II Housing are all currently on the market.

Both Nauticam and Sea & Sea have released underwater housings for the A7 II line of cameras. Since the only difference between all three cameras is that the A7R II and A7S II have a locking mode dial where as the A7 II does not, we can confirm that all three cameras will work in the same housing. While not an issue for most people, this is excellent for pro shooters who may buy the housing an choose the body they need based on the shoot requirements. 

Sea & Sea a7 II Housing - $2,499.95

The Sea & Sea housing combines the sleek, simple engineering of their high quality DSLR housings into a smaller package. You have control over all camera functions with this housing and the controls are further to the left to make them easy to reach. Designed like a miniaturized DSLR, you have included molded grips, stainless steel latches, easy to use shutter release lever and support for the Optical YS TTL Converter. 


Sea & Sea Housing Specs:

  • Body: corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy (machined)  / Grip: corrosion-resistant die-cast aluminum alloy

  • Depth rating 100m / 330ft

  • Dimensions (WxHxD) 325 x 160 x 104mm / 12.8 x 6.3 x 4.1 inches

  • Weight Approx. 2,250g / 79.4oz. - Without grips: 1,860g / 65.6oz

The YS Converter is a real selling point for this housing. As one who has been skeptical of the results I get through onboard camera flashes and fiber optic cables I tend to shy away from TTL. However, I tested both in Manual mode and in TTL with this housing and the Sony A7R II and was very impressed at the accuracy. For most wide angle shots it was great (shooting into the sun is always the exception), and when using the macro lens I left it in TTL without even thinking and ended up with great exposure every time. 

Overal I found it intuitive to use the housing, and really liked that Sea & Sea offers quick access to the C1 and C2 buttons through well placed levers on the side. Changing my settings was a breeze and I was able to reach all controls underwater, with my average sized female hands. The overal buoyancy was decent (a little buoyant with the large dome when using the 16-35mm lens and a little bit negative with the 90mm macro). The housing is compatible with both the 45° and 180° viewfinders and includes the hotshoe bulkhead for using sync cords if you do not opt for the Optical Converter. 

There are a few cons to the Sea & Sea housing, the primary one is that they used the same port diameter of about 85mm as they used in previous mirrorless housings like the Sony A6000. The problem with this is that many of the Sony FE lenses have wider diameters that will not fit through that sized port opening so in order to use them you have to put the camera sans lens into the housing, close up the back, then attach the lens to the camera from the front of the housing, then put on the port. It also means that if you want to remove a memory card or swap batteries you'll need to reverse that whole process. 

One saving grace is that Sony also includes a USB charging cable and AC Adapter. It works out perfectly that the mini USB port on the camera is accessible without having to remove the camera body from the housing. Simply remove the back of the housing and plug in the cable. On a one hour surface interval you can regain about 20-30% of your battery life, giving you plenty for the next dive. 

SEA&SEA a7 II Housing  - Buy or view ports, lenses & product video on Bluewater Photo.



Nauticam a7R II Housing - $2,750

The Nauticam A7 II housing continues with the ergonomic design of previous housings offering easy to use controls and a variety of useful accessories. Similar in size to the Sea & Sea housing it is much smaller than any DSLR. All controls are very well labeled and designed to be within easy reach. Just like the DSLR housings, the A7 II housing includes rubberized grips and ball mounts. The shutter release lever is large and sensitive, they offer two rear levers for movie record and AF/MF/AEL control. The two custom function buttons are simply buttons on top of the housing, similar to their placement on the camera. All camera controls are accessible within the housing and it utilizes Nauticam's excellent port release system which uses internal components to lock and unlock the ports allowing you to simply push on and pull off - no twisting, no strap wrench needed. In addition, Nauticam created a new port size with the original A7 line which they continued with this housing. The N100 (100mm) port opening is larger than the standard mirrorless allowing the new larger Sony lenses to be used without having to assemble from the front. 

The housing includes both an M14 and M16 bulkhead allowing you to use a variety of accessories, such as HDMI bulkhead for external monitors, vacuum bulkhead and electronic sync cords if you don't want to use the flash trigger. These accessories are one thing that set's Nauticam apart from other housing options, its easy to add on and create the perfect system for your needs. In addition the Nauticam Enhanced viewfinders are also compatible with the A7 II housing.


Nauticam Housing Specs:

  • Depth Rating: 100m

  • Weight: 2.35 kg (including handles and ball mounts)

  • Dimensions including handles: 335mm x 165mm x 110mm

While there is no TTL capability with the Nauticam housing they do offer a nice accessory in their fiber optic flash trigger. This piece slides directly into the hotshoe on the camera and produces light for the fiber optic cables through two small LED's. Since the A7 II cameras do not have any built in flash this is the only way to use fiber optic cables with the Nauticam housing. 

The one small thing to keep an eye on is the locking camera tray. For some reason Nauticam combined both versions of their tray into this housing, so it locks twice. There is the red locking tab that you push in to release the tray and that clicks into place automatically when you insert the tray, but there is also the black locking lever that you open to release the tray and have to also close after inserting the tray. Its a bit redundant and if you forget to close that black lever it will be very difficult to close the housing, and it will prevent the housing from creating a solid seal once you force the housing closed. This will result in a flood.

Nauticam a7 II Housing - Buy or view ports, lenses & product video on Bluewater Photo.


Aquatica a7r II Housing - $2,599

The Aquatica a7R II housing is definitely a fantastic option for the A7RII (or other A7 II cameras). Well built, and ruggedly designed to stand up to challenging ocean conditions, it has the classic Aquatica matte finish and full camera controls available. In fact it is the only housing option that truly offers complete control of the camera due to their innovative dial control on the back of the housing. This control corresponds with the dial on the back of the Sony camera and allows for quicker scrolling through menu and setting options as well as a third custom dial option when setting up the camera. One custom function that can be set is ISO control, which gives the shooter immediate access to adjusting ISO on the fly - something that video shooters may find extremely helpful.

Aquatica also moved the control for the OK button on the camera to a large lever, well positioned by your thumb. They extend a lever for the C1 Function button on the top of the housing as well. I found this nice since they did not reposition the AF/MF button on the housing. Instead of using AF/MF for focus lock I set the C1 button to AF ON which then allows the camera to auto focus when you press the C1 button. This is very useful for macro with the 90mm lens which is not super fast to focus. You can lock focus with the C1 button, turn the AF w/ Shutter control to OFF, and then shoot as many exposures as you like without refocusing which can save time and stress under the water .

All the controls on the Aquatica housing seemed well placed, well designed and easy to use. They function as they should making the overall shooting experience underwater a breeze.

In addition Aquatica has gone one step further than the other housing manufacturers and created a flash trigger for this housing that comes included at no extra cost. This flash trigger is compatible with the Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes and offers the shooter the ability to fire strobes using fiber optic cables on the A7R II camera despite having no pop up flash. You also maintain the faster recycle rate of the UW strobes since you are not relying on an accessory flash or on camera flash. When purchasing you have the option to get the housing with the Fiber Optic ports + flash trigger, with a manual nikonos bulkhead or with a manual Ikelite bulkhead. Just like with the Nauticam housing, there is no TTL option for firing strobes, only Sea & Sea or Ikelite offer TTL when using their own branded strobes.

The A7RII housing utilizes the same port system as the Aquatica DSLR housings. This means that there will be a wide variety of good port options to fit any lens choice, and that there will be no issues with fitting the larger diameter lenses through the port opening on the housing. They have port options for all the Sony FE lens options for underwater as well as Canon lenses with the Metabones adapter giving a wide variety of options for the Sony A7R II camera.


Aquatica Housing Specs:

  • Dimensions: 6’’ x 3.75" x 11.2" (with handles attached)

  • Weight: 6.3 lbs (including handles)

  • Depth Rating: 90m or 130m available

Overall I was very impressed with the housing, and found it was easy to get comfortable shooting underwater and controlling the camera from outside the housing. The excellent image quality of the Sony A7R II and the ease of use with the Aquatica housing make this a perfect combination for underwater photography or videography.

Aquatica a7 II Housing - Buy or view ports, lenses & product video on Bluewater Photo.


Ikelite A7r II Housing - $1,499.95

The Ikelite A7r II Housing has just been recently released. Though we have not yet had a chance to check out the housing, it looks like is has great lens support, and it very well priced. The Ikelite will likely be a bit more bulky than the aluminum options as is the case with other housings. They have a new composite polycarbonate being used that changes the overall look of the housings. No longer complete see through the new Ikelite A7 II series housing features a beige opaque front with the classic clear back so you can still check o-ring seal and housing controls. This new polycarbonate is lighter and stronger.


Ikelite Housing Specs:

  • Weight: 5lbs (not including tray with handles)

  • Dimensions: 9.1" x 7.1" x 6.1"

  • Depth Rating: 60m

The A7 II housing utilizes the same port opening as the DSLR housings so you have access to a full line of ports that will fit a variety of lenses including the Sony FE lenses and canon options with the meta bones adapter. Lastly it is one of a few housings that offer TTL control with the A7 II cameras. Using Ikelite strobe and electronic sync cords you can shoot in TTL mode for easy, accurate lighting control.

Once we get this housing in our hands we'll get more information up, but overall it looks like the Ikelite will offer a perfect solution for the underwater photographer that wants the A7 II but can't afford the more expensive aluminum options.

Ikelite a7 II Housing - Buy or view ports, lenses & product video on Bluewater Photo.



Overall both housings are great for the Sony A7 II / A7R II and A7S II. Pick the one that best suits your needs as they both offer a full line of ports. For TTL lovers the obvious choice is the Sea & Sea, but if you want to have a few extra bells and whistles then the Nauticam may be more enticing. The Ikelite is a great value, and the Aquatica housing combined a bulletproof design with great ergonomics.

If your unsure of which A7 II camera to purchase, go with the one that both fits your budget and your shooting needs. Dedicated video shoots will want the A7S II for its high resolution 4K shooting and excellent low light performance. Those wanting the most detail possible will want to pay the extra money for the A7R II, but if that is out of your budget, the original A7 II is still an incredible option. 

Sony A7R II Underwater Images:



Check out the Sony a7R II and recommended lenses, housings and accessories on Bluewater Photo:

->  Sony a7R II for Underwater


Kelli Dickinson is an avid diver and underwater photographer who shoots primarily on mirrorless cameras. Familiar with a variety of cameras and housings she tries to shoot on as many different options as possible to improve her overall knowledge of underwater camera systems. In addition she is Manager of Bluewater Photo. In her spare time she can be found running, hiking or underwater. 

Connect with her on instagram @kelnkelp or at

She can be reached via email at


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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


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Canon 5Ds camera review with 5D Mark III comparison by underwater photographer Ken Kiefer
By Brent Durand with Comparison & Photos by Ken Kiefer

Canon 5Ds Review plus 5D Mark III Comparison

Brent Durand with Comparison & Photos by Ken Kiefer
Canon 5Ds camera review with 5D Mark III comparison by underwater photographer Ken Kiefer

The megapixel war between camera manufacturers has been reignited over the past year, with several mega-megapixel camera bodies entering the market. Canon's entry is the Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R, which pack 50.6 megapixels into the same body frame as the Canon 5D Mark III.

As underwater photo and video shooters, we look to the Canon 5Ds. The 5Ds R cancels the low-pass filter that is built into most DSLRs (including the 5Ds). This produces an ever slightly sharper image, but makes the camera much more susceptible to the effects of moire when shooting things like fabric (i.e. wedding dresses) or architecture. Suffice it to say that the 5Ds is the better choice unless you're well-versed in AF microadjustments on your lenses and advanced post-processing techniques.

The high-resolution of the Canon 5Ds makes it the perfect camera for those who make large photo prints, or for those who need the freedom to make major crops of their images. This very high resolution makes it essential to use high-quality lenses and achieve crisp, sharp focus.

The Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R also have an Intervalometer and a Time-Lapse Movie Mode that provide two different time-lapse options. These are useful for those shooting video who don't already have other time-lapse accessories or software like Magic Lantern, and those shooting time-lapses inside their housings where accessories won't fit.

Quick Links:   5D Mark III Comparison   |   ISO Tests & Comparison   |   Macro Test & Comparison   |   Sensor Ratings   |   Best Lenses   |   Underwater Housings


Canon 5Ds Specs

  • 50.6MP CMOS sensor

  • Full frame (35mm sensor)

  • 61-point autofocus system

  • RAW image capture in several aspect ratios

  • Full HD video recording

  • CF and SD (SDHC, SDXC) memory cards



Canon 5Ds Comparision with 5D Mark III

Through the years, I’ve used a few different setups for capturing images or video underwater.  From a Sea&Sea MX-10 I progressed through some video-only setups, a Nikonos V, and Canon’s early Rebel cameras in my pursuit to show others some of the incredible sights of the underwater world.

In the never-ending march of technological progress, most photographers end up asking themselves every couple of years or so whether enough has changed to make a camera upgrade worthwhile.

Last year, I was trying to decide whether my Canon 5DMark3 had come to the end of its run in favor of the recently released Canon 5Ds.

But it turned out that I didn’t really have to choose. Through a turn of events, one of my friends made me a deal that I could not pass up - to trade my backup 5D3 for a lightly used 5Ds and an unused lens. 

Because Canon uses the same physical frames for both cameras; and basically left all the controls in the same locations, I can fit both cameras in my Ikelite housing without any sacrifice or modification.  All of the buttons and dials work perfectly. 

Finding myself with the decision to choose between the two cameras, I generally grab the 5Ds any time I’m going to shoot underwater. But the reasons that I generally grab this camera aren’t cut and dry.


5Ds vs 5D Mark III

Both cameras have basically the same weight, size, screen, controls, etc.  They also produce images that are for most intents and purposes identical. 

However, there are two factors that help tilt me in the direction of the 5Ds.  First is the fact that it has 50 megapixels.  I don’t print out images 60” and up very often, but every once in a while I do, and several of my customers do as well.  Having such a huge file does make a difference for the really large prints.  And, I never know for sure while taking a shot whether I might love it enough to want the overload of pixels.  The other factor is a little hard to put my finger on.  The images come out of this camera with a little different feel than the ones from the 5D3.  It’s nothing I can point out, and it’s not even possible to see unless I’m working with the full resolution images on my large screen at home.  It could be that the added depth from so much resolution creates a velvety texture.  It’s also possible that it’s all in my head : )

The focus speed on both the 5D3 and 5Ds is superb. In the water and on land, I can detect no difference in subject asquisition or the ability of both cameras to maintain AI Focus on moving subjects.

The 50.6 megapixel files do come with some compromise.  The need to stock up on large/fast memory cards is pretty evident.  I don’t use anything smaller than 64GB and usually prefer 128GB.  Also, working with and storing the files requires some different equipment.  I had to upgrade my external storage.  And, while I was doing that, I went with Thunderbolt connections to speed up the transfer.   

There are times that I choose to load the 5DMark3 in my housing over the 5Ds.  Usually, I choose the 5D3 when I’m going to be shooting all day; either with a swim team or a large fashion shoot.  

To handle processing the larger files, the 5Ds uses more processing power, which takes more battery power.   Depending on how much image review I do, I’ve found approximately 25-30% less shots possible with 5Ds versus 5D3 in similar situations before needing to swap batteries.  And, that is more of an extreme case.  I sometimes take over 2500 shots of a swim team in a day.  Not a normal occurrence for most underwater shooters.


ISO Tests and Comparison

The Canon 5Ds and Canon 5D Mark III have excellent performance shooting at higher ISOs. Ken set up some tests with both cameras to evaluate image quality when shooting at the base ISO of 100, as well as ISO 6400, which is useful for subjects like topside wildlife, surfers during the golden hours and indoor shooting.

Below are the original .jpg files followed by 100% crops of the RAW files, exported from Adobe Photoshop as unmodified .jpg files at 100% quality (no optimizing, etc). These photos were all shot with the Canon 85 f/1.2L lens.


1) 5D MkIII @ ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/80

2) 5D MkIII @ ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/250

3) 5Ds @ ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/80

4) 5Ds @ ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/250


Image left:  Canon 5D MkIII - ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/80
Image right:  Canon 5Ds - ISO 100 f/1.8, 1/80


Image left:  Canon  MkIII - ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/250
Image right:  Canon 5Ds - ISO 6400 f/5.6, 1/250

In looking closer at these 100% crops it's easy to see the additional resolution of the Canon 5Ds (which is why you see less of the subject in the frame than the 5D Mk3 photos). It's also apparent that the images shot with the 5Ds are slightly darker than those with the 5D Mk3. This is due to the increased pixel density of the 35mm sensor on the 5Ds, where each pixel picks up slightly less light. 

Both cameras show great IQ at ISO 100, but it's not quite fair to compare the noise and depth of field of each camera at 100% crop for ISO 6400, so I've created a new crop from the 5Ds ISO 6400 image to match the 100% crop of the 5D MkIII image for a fair comparison.


With pictures being equal, we can see that the depth of field of each image appears equal (as it should for same-size sensors). We can also see that noise at ISO 6400 is virtually the same.

In conclusion, high ISO noise performance on these cameras is great. What you do see can be easily smoothed out during post-processing. The 5Ds requires slightly more light, so underwater video shooters will need to open the aperture 1/3 stop more (decreasing DOF) or increase their ISO a 1/3 stop to create the equivalent exposure. 


Canon 5Ds vs. 5D Mark III Macro Test

For macro testing, Ken was able to set up both camera bodies in his Ikelite housing (one at a time, of course!) with Ikelite DS161 strobes, shooting the below photos with the Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens.


Both cameras show excellent quality when set up in a housing. Note that composition and strobe lighting were changed somewhat when switching cameras, so these photos serve only as indicators of image quality. You better believe that those nudibranch rhinophores will be sharp and crisp with either camera.



DxOMark Sensor Rating

Let's geek out a second. DxOMark is a group that provides independent image quality measurements and comparisons via RAW file. For this section of the review we'll look at sensor measurements for the Canon 5Ds.

Canon 5Ds

  • Overall Score:  87

    • (Nikon D810: 97, Canon 5DMkIII: 81 bits, Sony a7R II: 98)

  • Portrait (color depth):  24.7 bits

    • (Nikon D810: 25.7 bits, Canon 5DMkIII: 24 bits, Sony a7R II: 26 bits )

  • Landscape (dynamic range):  12.4 Evs

    • (Nikon D810: 14.8 Evs, Canon 5DMkIII: 11.7 Evs, Sony a7R II: 13.9 Evs )

  • Sports (low-light ISO):  2381 ISO

    • (Nikon D810: 2853 ISO, Canon 5DMkIII: 2293 ISO, Sony a7R II: 3434 ISO )



What Does This Mean for Underwater Photography?

The DxOMark scores above must be interpreted with proper context. Let's go through color depth and dynamic range:

  • Color Depth:  Color sensitivity of 22 bits is excellent, and differences below 1 bit are barely noticeable.  The 5Ds is rated well into "excellent", although ranking below the Nikon D810 and Sony a7R II.

  • Dynamic Range:  A value of 12 Ev is excellent, with differences of 0.5 Ev usually not noticeable. The 5Ds ranked about 12 along with the D810, but the 5D3 and a7R II fell below. 


This must all be taken with a grain of salt. The results above speak for themselves, but it is important to remember that this sensor data is only one small piece of the image-making equation.  Equally important is what the camera does with that information, which is why the debate over best IQ will always continue among pixel-peeping photographers.


Best Lenses

Canon full-frame DSLRs benefit from high-quality lenses. This is especially true for the Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R's large resolution. We've listed the most popular lenses for underwater photography below.


  • Canon 8-15mm Fisheye Lens Review

    • The fisheye lens of choice for Canon full-frame shooters, offering traditional wide-angle shots at 15mm and circular shots at 8mm.

  • Canon 11-24mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide-Angle Lens

    • An ultra wide-angle lens for Canon full-frame shooters. This lens has excellent image quality, but comes with heavy weight and price tag.



Related Reviews


Canon 5Ds Underwater Housings

The Canon 5DS and 5DS R will fit in housings designed for the Canon 5D Mark III, which is very convenient for those who have both DSLR bodies. Below is Bluewater Photo's selection of housings.


The Ikelite Canon 5D Mark III housing (fits the 5DS) is full-featured yet affordable and includes built-in TTL conversion circuitry that puts perfect exposure at you fingertips. Uses the traditional Four Lock Mount port system.

Read our Ikelite Canon 5D Mark III housing review.

For more info and recommended ports and accessories, visit Bluewater Photo's Ikelite Canon 5D Mark III housing page.


The Ikelite Dry Lock Port Mount housing fits the Canon 5DS, 5DS R, 5D Mark IV and 5D Mark III cameras. This new port system makes changing ports and lenses simple, secure and easy.

View the Ikelite Dry Lock Port 5D MkIV Housing at Bluewater Photo.


The Aquatica Canon 5DS R housing (fits the 5DS, 5DS R, 5D Mk III) is precision built with smooth knob and button operation that will feel like new no matter how much you use and abuse it.

Read our Aquatica Canon 5D Mark III housing review.

For more info and recommended ports and accessories, visit Bluewater Photo's Aquatica Canon 5DSR housing page.


The Nauticam Canon 5D Mark III housing (fits the 5DS) is intricately engineered to re-position camera controls to the most ergonomic and convenient locations on the housing, plus converter for fiber optic cable use.

For more info and recommended ports and accessories, visit Bluewater Photo's Nauticam Canon 5D Mark III housing page.


The Sea & Sea Canon 5D Mark III housing (fits the 5DS) is a compact and popular housing. This Version II housing features a built-in converter for fiber optic cable use and TTL shooting.

Fore more info and recommended ports and accessories, visit Bluewater Photo's Sea & Sea Canon 5D Mark III housing page.




The Canon 5Ds packs a whopping 50.6 megapixels into the body of the Canon 5D Mark III. If you own a 5D Mark III and are considering upgrading, you will not be disappointed.  Just make sure that your computer and hard drives can handle the large amounts of data. 

If you are deciding between the 5D MkIII and the 5Ds, there are pros and cons for each camera. The 5Ds offers greater resolution for large prints or large crops, but battery life is a little less, the files will move slower on your computer and technical aspects of photography, like focus, are critical. The 5D MkIII is a proven workhorse for full frame shooters but doesn't offer you the massive amount of resolution of the 5Ds.

Luckily, both cameras fit in all the 5D Mark III underwater housings, and the nice L glass you buy is compatible with most Canon DSLRs.


Ken Kiefer is an underwater photographer that specializes in big animals and fashion/fitness shoots.  He uses his images of sharks to educate children about the realities of sharks –vs- media portrayal.  

View more of Ken's work at:


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear


Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


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The long awaiting D500 finally arrives. Can it do ISO one million? See what the hype is about
By Scott Gietler

Nikon D500 Review

Scott Gietler
The long awaiting D500 finally arrives. Can it do ISO one million? See what the hype is about

It has been 7 years since the D300s arrived, and many photographers have given up waiting for the D400. Well, Nikon skipped directly to the 20 megapixel D500, and what a powerhouse it is. Let's pre-review the Nikon 500 and how it may fit into your underwater photography or video arsenal. The Nikon D500 body arrived in March 2016 for $1,996 USD.

NIkon D500 ISO & Focus Testing

View our real-world Nikon D500 ISO & Auto-focus tests to see how the Nikon D500 performs shooting great blue herons in the dark, fast moving terns & cormorants, and distant moon shots at high ISO's, using different auto-focus modes, shooting at 10fps, and using the auto-ISO feature.

Nikon D500 - 4K Video

  • 4k video captures at 30p

  • 4k video is available only as an additional 1.5x crop, relative to a regular picture taken with the D500. That's a 2.25x crop relative to a full-frame sensor photo taken with the lens.

  • Simultaneous recording to memory card and external reader

  • Active D-lighting can now be applied to video

  • New 3-axis "Electronic VR" feature can stabilize video via software in 1080p mode

  • Create 4K time-lapse movies in-camera

  • Auto-ISO smoothing provides smooth transitions through exposure changes

The D500 can record 4K video, 3840 x 2160 at 30p/25p/24p as well as 1080/60p video for up to 30 minutes, with simultaneous output via HDMI available. It is also possible to generate 4K time-lapse movies within the camera. In Full HD or HD mode, the D500's electronic Vibration Reduction function reduces the effects of camera shake in the horizontal, vertical and rotational directions during hand-held movie recording, while Active D-Lighting preserves details in highlights and shadows to capture footage with natural brightness. Overall, the video capabilities look great!

ISO 51,200, expandable to ISO 1,640,000

We'll have to wait and see how useable the higher ISO ranges are on this camera. Even the Sony a7S II is only expandable up to ISO 400,000. Still, we would be surprised if these higher ISO ranges are actually useable. The native ISO is 100 - 51,200. My own guess is that we'll see 1 stop performace over the D7200, and for higher ISO's you'll want to stick to the ISO 6400 - 25000 range, but we'll see.

153 Auto-Focus points

  • 99 cross-type sensors

  • 55 user selectable points

  • 15 of the auto-focus points will operate at -4 EV for what we expect to be exceptional low-light performance

We have high expectations for the auto focus capabilities of this camera, for underwater, birds, behavior, sports and wildlife.

Dual card slot - XQD / SDXC

Switching away from compact flash, the new XQD cards can read & write at over 350MB/s, faster than any CF card. XQD cards are not cheap, a 64GB XQD card will run you over $200 USD, plus $35 - $45 for the reader.

10 fps for 200 frames

10 frames per second in the Nikon D500's high speed shooting mode is quite fast, but sometimes it is the number of frames you can shoot that really counts. With a XQD card, you can shoot 200 frames of 14 bit lossless compressed RAW files - that is huge! This buffer size blows away other cameras, and means you can shoot at 10fps for 20 seconds.

Bluetooth - always on

The camera has an always-on bluetooth connection called SnapBridge for fast and simple transfer of images to smart devices.

Pro Body

The pro body of the D500 is more like the Nikon D810 than the semi-pro D7200 body, which will allow greater stabilization in the hands of more experienced shooters. This body has the same weather sealing as the D810. Most of the body is made from magnesium alloy, with the front reinforced with carbon fiber.

Control via WT-7A Wireless Transmitter

The new WT-7A wireless transmitter ($799 USD) allows high-speed transfer of images over a range of 650 feet, if you have line of sight of the camera. The data transfer rate is 130Mbps, and the WT-7A can then transfer images to a computer or FTP server over ethernet. Users can also take complete control of the camera remotely using this device. Image comments and copyright info can be edited remotely on the fly.

Other notable features

  • 100% circular viewfinder, with 1.0x magnification - very nice!

  • 20.9 megapixel sensor

  • No built-in flash

  • PC sync socket and 10-pin port for connectivity

  • No low-pass filter for better sharpness

  • CIPA battery rating is excellent - 1,240 shots

  • Has a new "advanced scene recognition" system that we look forward to testing out

  • Single hand ISO changes are finally possible!

  • Dedicated joystick on the rear of the camera for easier moving of focus points

  • Optional battery pack / grip is available

  • Shutter rated to 200,000 actuations

  • Battery rated for 1,240 shots

NIkon D500 Underwater Housings

We expect this camera to be popular for underwater photography & underwater video, and there is no doubt that we'll see underwater housings from several - look for the Ikelite D500 housing, Sea & Sea D500 housing, Nauticam D500 housing, Aquatica D500 housing, and one from Subal. Exactly when is anyone's guess, the companies will have to get their hands on the camera first, but Ikelite and Nauticam are usually pretty fast to market.

Since there is no pop-up flash, we will expect to see flash triggers from most manufacturers. Nauticam, Sea & Sea, and Aquatica have all demonstrated the ability to make flash triggers, S&S has one embedded in their optical TTL converters, so we don't expect this to be an issue. 

Ikelite D500 Underwater Housing


Polycarbonate Ikelite housing support a very wide range of lenses and deliver an incredible value, and include a free TTL converter. 


Nauticam D500 Underwater Housing


Available now, this popular housing offers great ergonomics, the easiest port change system and numerous innovative features.


Aquatica D500 Underwater Housing


The aluminum Aquatica housings are known for an excellent finish and holding up really well against the test of time. 


Sea & Sea D500 Underwater Housing


Sea & Sea aluminum housings deliver a great combination of ergonomics, reliability over time, and small size. 


Recommended Lenses for Underwater

Recommended lenses for underwater photography with the Nikon D500 include the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye for wide-angle, the Nikon 10-24mm wide-angle lens for sharks & pelagics, the Sigma 17-70mm for a mid-range lens, and the Nikon 60mm and 105mm VR lenses for macro. For wildlife, I'd go with the NIkon 100-400mm VR, or for more serious shooters the Nikon 200-400mm F4 VR. For underwater video, we like the Tokina 11-16mm F2.8, the Nikon 16-35mm F4, or the Nikon 17-55mm F2.8.

Sample Photos:

Great White Shark from Guadalupe, Mexico. Nikon D500, Nikonos 13mm lens, F4.5, 1/400th, ISO 640

Pygmy Sea Horse from Anilao, Philippines. Nikon D500, Nikon 105mm lens + Nauticam SMC-1, F7, 1/200th, ISO 100


The specs on the new Nikon D500 are quote amazing, It was definitely worth the wait. After using the camera for the last 2 weeks, I can say that it is the most fun camera I have ever shot with. With high speed shooting turned on, taking photos is like using a toy machine gun, you have to experience 10fps to really appreciate the speed.  In addition, being able to shoot at very high ISO's is very spoiling, and makes it very hard to shoot with a lesser camera. For wildlife action/behavior and low light shooting, it is hard to beat the D500 as a choice -  Scott


Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel, and the Underwater Photography Guide. Bluewater Photo, based in Santa Monica, CA is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious underwater camera stores, serving many thousands of customers each year, where nothing is more important than customer service. The Underwater Photography Guide is the world’s first website to feature free tutorials on underwater photography, and has become the most trafficked resource on underwater photography worldwide. Bluewater Travel is a full-service dive travel wholesaler sending groups and individuals on the world’s best dive vacations. 

Scott is also an avid diver, underwater photographer, and budding marine biologist, having created the online guide to the underwater flora and fauna of Southern California. He is the past vice-president of the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society, has volunteered extensively at the Santa Monica aquarium, and is the creator of the Ocean Art underwater photo competition, one of the largest underwater international photo competitions ever held in terms of value of prizes. He lives in California with his wife, newborn girl and scuba-diving, photo taking 4 year old son.


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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


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Features, Housings, Wet Lens tests, Underwater photos, plus slow motion video demo
By Scott Gietler

Sony RX100 IV Review

Scott Gietler
Features, Housings, Wet Lens tests, Underwater photos, plus slow motion video demo

Sony RX100 IV - a 3 Trick Pony

Slow motion video, fast shutter speeds, 16fps high-speed shooting

The Sony RX100 IV has some amazing tricks up its sleeve. Aside from its amazing image quality and easy to use menu, it boasts 3 amazing features unmatched by most other cameras -  960fps slow-motion video, 16fps high-speed shooting, and 1/32,000th shutter speed.

Although the 960fps slow-motion video has some limitations, the quality is fairly good and it will allow you to capture footage that no other underwater rig can capture, as you can see in our underwater video down below.

The 16fps high-speed shooting is easy to use by changing the drive mode, and is so fast you have to experience it yourself to believe it. It sounds like a futuristic high-speed Gatling gun, and after using it the first time you want to run around seeking high-speed scenarios to shoot with this mode.

The 1/32,000th shutter speed (that is not a typo - it really is that fast) does not need any special mode to access, the shutter speed just keeps going faster and faster. This opens up a whole new world of wide-open aperture scenarios in bright light.


The Sony RX100 line of cameras is one of the most popular options for compact camera underwater shooters. A large image sensor, great feature list and variety of underwater housing options have kept the RX100 cameras at the top of their class.

The Sony RX100 IV brings new technology to the series, with a new Exmor RS CMOS sensor. This sensor is stacked with a lightning-fast DRAM memory chip, which reads image data 5 times faster than the older Exmor R sensor. The result is extremely fast electronic shutter capability, which allows for a 16fps burst and video recording at up to 960 frames per second (this means very, very slow motion!). The sensor also records video at resolutions up to 4K.

Bluewater Photo store manager, Kelli Dickinson shared the camera with me on a couple dives to create the underwater photos below. We hope these photos show the sensor's dynamic range, camera's nice auto-focus and great overall image quality.

Sony RX100 IV review

Sony RX100 IV pros and cons for underwater photography

Sony RX100 IV Pros:

Slow motion, 4K, Increased bit rate for video

  • If you have the right memory card, the RX100 IV can shoot in 4K, at a 100Mpbs bit rate. In addition, it can also take 2 seconds of 960fps footage in quality priority mode (which we recommend, or 4 seconds in regular mode), that will take 32 seconds to replay at 60fps. 

Electronic viewfinder included, better than the RX100 III

  • An electronic viewfinder is included. This 2.36 megapixel OLED EVF (compared to 1.44 meg in the RX100 III) can be useful in very bright-light conditions. However, the underwater housings do not support the EVF, so this feature is not useful for underwater photos. On land, I've tried the EVF and it is bright and fairly sharp, and will be a welcome addition for certain shooting conditions.

Lens is very bright at the long end

  • New 24-70mm F1.8/2.8 lens is brighter (F2.8) at 70mm than the lens on the RX-100 / RX-100 II. This will be beneficial for low-light shooting indoors, but for underwater photography I actually prefer the longer lens of the RX-100 and RX-100 II. Also, I don't find myself shooting wide-open very often underwater anyways when I zoom in, but on land I do.

3-stop ND filter included

  • If you are using your camera for shooting creative waterfall shots, or in extremely bright conditions, then this feature will be quite useful.

Great Focus Speed

  • The Sony RX-100 IV focuses very fast, must better than most other compact cameras

Awesome photos and video

  • The image quality of the images and video is outstanding, professional level photos and video can be taken with this camera

Cons of the RX100 IV for underwater

Slightly Larger and less pocketable

  • 10% larger and 15% heavier than the RX-100. When holding the 2, the RX-100 IV is slightly heavier. Although it is still a small camera, I would consider it "semi-pocketable", instead of slim and truly pocketable like the original RX-100


  • The RX-100 IV is more costly than all the other RX100 models.

Less macro capability

  • The 24-70mm lens will not give as much magnification as the 28-100mm lens will. The RX-100 can take a photo 3 inches across, the RX-100 IV can take a photo 4 inches across. When using the Bluewater +7 macro lens, I am able to take a photo 1.37 inches wide at maximum magnification with the RX-100. With the RX-100 IV, I can take a photo 1.78 inches across, and I also have a little less working distance with the RX-100 IIV. So while you can still get good macro shots, you get more magnification with the first two RX-100 versions.

Less reach for shy subjects

  • 24-70mm lens gives less working distance for shy subjects. For gobies, mantis shrimp, jawfish, etc. I like to zoom in to at least 100mm, preferable 120 - 140mm. Of course, you can always just crop the photo.

Not the fastest flash recycle time

  • If you are using a strobe, you'll have to wait 1 - 4 seconds for the internal flash to recycle, there is no way to turn down the internal flash power like the Canon compact cameras have.

TTL Capability

You can get optical TTL when using fiber optic cables with the Sea & Sea YS-03, YS-01, YS-D1, and YS-D2 strobes. You can also use the Inon Z240, S2000, or D2000 strobes. TTL works in all modes - P, A, Tv, and manual mode.

Sensor Ratings

The DxoMark sensor rating of the Sony RX100 IV is 70, very good for a compact camera. The sensor is rated slightly better than the RX100 II & III, and about equal to the Canon G7X. The sensor rating takes color depth, dynamic range, and low-light ISO performance into account.

White Balance Capability

Although the Sony RX100 IV does not have "1-touch" custom white balance, I did find the custom white balance very good and easy to use. The custom white balance function uses a small circle in the center of the photo to evaluate the white balance, instead of using the entire screen, which is very nice. You can store the white balance setting in 3 different banks. You can't set the white balance in video mode, but you can start and stop video in any of the camera modes so that is not really a big deal in our opinion.

Compared to RX100 II, Canon G7X

The RX100 II and the G7X both have a lens that goes to 100mm, which gives slightly more magnification for macro photos. The RX100 II supports the UWL-04 fisheye lens, which can produce more dramatic wide-angle and close-focus wide-angle shots than other wide-angle lenses. Still, the RX100 IV is our preferred choice for wide-angle over the G7X, as the G7X only has good wide-angle options when using certain housings and a special short port. 

Sony RX100 IV Underwater Housings

There are four housings available for taking the Sony RX100 IV underwater. Each features a different pricepoint and ergonomics, while all offer a wide range of accessories available through Bluewater Photo.

Nauticam RX100 IV Underwater Housing

The Nauticam Sony RX100 IV housing is an ergonomic and reliable piece of gear that will stand up to saltwater and the daily rigors of diving. Since the housing accesses all of the camera controls, including the front control ring, the user can take advantage of the enhanced programmability in the RX100 IV. The housing is compatible with a wide range of wide-angle and macro wet lenses and accessories. It includes a leak detector and supports an optional vacuum check system. It also has an additional bulkhead port for HDMI output. It has a 67mm port and can support the Nauticam WWL lens.

Purchase the Nauticam RX100 IV Housing.


Recsea RX100 IV Underwater Housing

Recsea housings are made of high quality machined aluminum with excellent controls and full camera functionality. The Recsea housings fit the camera like a glove, offering the smallest housing on the market without losing any functionality. Easy to use, adaptable with many different wet wide angle and macro lenses, and including strobe connections, the Recsea housing is the perfect tool for taking your Sony RX-100 IV underwater.

Purchase the Recsea RX100 IV Housing.


Acquapazza RX100 IV Underwater Housing

Acquapazza is a high quality aluminum housing made in Japan. Small and easy to use, it allows for full access to the camera features, with split out button and dial controls. Built in 67mm threads allow for easy attachment of wet lenses. Acquapazza housings are available in a number of different anodized colors.

Purchase the Acquapazza RX100 IV Housing.


Fantasea RX100 IV Underwater Housing

The Fantasea Sony RX100 IV housing is made of tough plastic, creating a lightweight and sturdy housing. Controls are easy to access and very clearly labled. The housing is also compatible with flash accessories, plus wide-angle and macro wet lenses and other gear. A cold shoe mount makes it easy to attach a focus light, video light, a GoPro or other accessory. If you are looking for a lower priced housing, this is an excellent choice.

Purchase the Fantasea RX100 IV Housing.



Ikelite RX100 IV Underwater Housing

The Ikelite Sony RX100 IV underwater housing is just-right-sized to hold comfortably in your hand, although it is slightly larger than the Fantasea housing. Controls are provided for all important camera functions including the rear dial. The camera's versatile front control ring is gear driven to place the control within easy reach. A sensitive shutter lever makes it easy to half-depress the trigger for focusing and metering. Works with wide-range of lens and strobe accessories. The housing is clear, so you can see inside to check for leaks.

Purchase the Ikelite RX100 IV Housing.

Wet Lens tests

RX100 IV wide-angle lenses

  • Fantasea Bigeye Dome - decent wide-angle option for the Fantasea Housing, restores the original angle of view

  • Nauticam Wetmate Dome - decent wide-angle option for the Nauticam Housing, restores the original angle of view

  • Dyron Super Wide Lens -  good wide-angle option for all housings

Sony RX100 IV wide-angle wet lens underwater

Nauticam Wet Wide Angle Lens - very good wide-angle option for the Nauticam housing

RX100 IV macro lenses

Bluewater +7 Macro Lens - a sharp, small lightweight, stackable macro lens

Nauticam Compact Macro Converter (CMC) - a sharp macro lens with very good magnification, albeit at a high price


Macro lens tests

 These tests were done on land with natural light / auto-white balance, and are designed to show magnification differences between various wet lenses / diopters. We used a postcard as a subject.

Sony RX100 IV review for underwater photography


Sony RX100 IV wet lens tests


Sony RX100 IV macro lens tests


Sony RX100 IV Nauticam CMC tests


Sony RX100 IV review for underwater photography


Sony RX100 IV review for underwater photography


Sony RX100 IV Specs

  • 20.1MP 1.0-type Exmor RS CMOS Sensor
  • ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens (f/1.8 - f/2.8) with focal length 8.8 - 25.7mm
  • Lens minimum focus distance: 0.17ft
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Super Slow Motion Video (maximum of 40x)
  • 4K Video Recording
  • 16 frames per second burst shooting
  • Front control ring (great for underwater settings adjustments
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • 180 degree tiltable LCD screen

Sony RX100 IV Underwater Photos








Sony RX100 IV Slow Motion Underwater Video

Filmed by Scott Gietler and Tommy Stylski of Bluewater Photo at 960fps.



With stunning image quality, amazing high-speed capabilities and a wide-selection of underwater housings & lenses, the Sony RX100 IV is on of the top choices for underwater photographers looking to do great things in a tiny package. 


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