GoPro cameras have literally changed the way everyone sees the underwater world, including millions of non-divers who can see dramatic first-person video footage of amazing scenes underwater. Their relatively low cost, combined with outstanding image quality and ease of use, allow almost anyone to bring home dramatic video footage of their latest scuba dives, ski trip, river kayak trip, or mountain bike adventure. Everyone from casual users to the largest television network producers use GoPro cameras in their productions, and they’ve rightfully earned their place as a staple in filmmaking, television, and in the bags of many scuba divers.
This may sound like an ad for GoPro, but it really isn’t – I’ve been a fan of them for years and their new versions have just made these so practical that I think every diver should have one in their kit. If you’re a diver of almost any level, you should seriously consider picking one up. Here are a few reasons why:
1. You never know when you’ll see something amazing underwater
Scuba divers regularly come across things most people will never see in their lifetimes, and having a GoPro with you will allow you to capture video or stills of it quickly as easily. There are thousands of videos on YouTube right now that people never planned on capturing but were able to because they had a GoPro on them. With a GoPro, you can capture stills or video footage of that one-in-a-lifetime encounter.
2. They’re compact and easy to carry underwater
Taking along a GoPro camera won’t take up much room and will easily fit inside a BC pocket. Even with a light or handle added, they weigh nothing underwater and take up almost no room. (In fact, they’re so small and compact many people tend to lose them, so tie it on a leash!)
3. Almost anyone can use one
With just a little practice, anyone can easily turn one on, set the mode, and start shooting. The innovative touchscreen now offered on the latest HERO4 camera makes this even easier than it was with earlier models. About 5 minutes or practice on the surface is all it takes to being shooting with a GoPro camera underwater.
4. They’re a great back-up system for fully rigged photographers
Even if you own a full underwater DSLR rig, a GoPro is very handy to have. Mounted on your housing, you can capture video footage while you’re shooting stills. Now you can come home with beautiful still photos of that shark swimming by, along with video footage of the experience, taken at the same time. If you have problems with your DSLR, run out of battery power or fill up your memory card during the dive, you have an alternate method of filming a unique, unplanned encounter that may come up.
5. It’s a great way to share what scuba diving is really like with non-divers
For many years, I never had any photos of video of myself scuba diving to share with friends. I could try to explain the experience of diving in giant kelp forests, swimming through lava tubes, or seeing a giant ray underwater but most people just don’t understand until they can see it for themselves. Inspire your family and friends with great video footage and you’ll likely end up with a new dive buddy.
6. They’re ridiculously affordable
GoPro now has their basic HERO camera available (new) for just $129.99 (here it is on Amazon.com). There isn’t much other dive gear you can get for just over a hundred bucks. For $499, you can buy the top-of-the-line HERO4 GoPro kit, which allows you to shoot in 4K (plus a load of other pretty cool features). Right out of the box, even the basic GoPro camera is waterproof to 132 feet, so you’re ready to take it diving right away.
7. They’re versatile
As mentioned, you can shoot still photos, video, and even time-lapse video with your GoPro camera. If you buy a GoPro for diving, you can also use it for road trips, mountain biking, backpacking, and your kids will have fun using it in the pool. Once you start shooting with it, you’ll find other ways to have fun with it.
8. They’re indestructible (well, almost)
The GoPro has a durable case that will withstand drops to the pavement, a depth of 130 feet underwater, and falling off your car. Television producers mount them all over cars, boats, and airplanes because of this, and even if one does get completely smashed, you can likely still grab the memory card out of it to see how it happened. And trashing a GoPro camera won’t cost nearly as much as any other camera that will get you this kind of footage.
9. Getting the footage off is easy
You don’t need to be a techie anymore to transfer the footage from your GoPro camera to your computer – just connect the camera via a USB cable and you can transfer it all in a few minutes. Need to edit the footage? GoPro even has video editing software that’s easy to use, and best of all it’s free. You can download GoPro Studio here and add music, titles, and more. It’s nicely-designed software that really does make it easy to create great finished videos.
10. They’re kid-friendly
If you have kids, they’ll love shooting stuff with a GoPro. I loaned a GoPro to family friends who went to Hawaii for a week and they said it was literally the highlight of their trip. The kids took the camera body surfing, snorkeling, jumping off rocks, and hiking and they watched the footage each evening when they got back to their hotel. The kids uploaded clips to their Facebook accounts, and the parents have photos and video clips they’ll have for a lifetime.
I’m sure there are other reasons divers should own a GoPro camera (please share yours in the comments below!), and it didn’t take long to put this list together. If you’re a diver, grab one before this summer. You’ll be glad you did.