Part 1: 101 Beginner's Guide to using a GoPro for Underwater Scuba Diving - Essential Accessories and Mounts
Essential GoPro Accessories and Mounts for Scuba Diving
If you’re looking to capture remarkable shots and memories underwater, the GoPro camera is undoubtedly an inexpensive and convenient way of doing so. There are millions out there recording their own experiences underwater and posting it up on the web for others to see, so let’s just say you want to get into it as well but just don’t know where to start. In Part 1 of our 2 parts series, we will go through some recommendations on the type of accessories you would need before you begin recording your very own footages underwater. In Part 2, we will go through some tips on setting up your GoPro to shoot optimum footage underwater.
Software Update and Choosing the Right Memory Card for your GoPro
As a start, your GoPro cameras would require constant updating, thus it is good practice to keep your GoPro device updated with the latest operating system software so you don’t miss out on great updates that GoPro frequently offers. GoPro cameras don’t come with any internal memory, and they don’t just take any normal memory card. You will need to get high speed memory cards for GoPros for it to function properly (or risk video corruption and any harmful damages to your system). So far, the only compatible memory cards GoPro recommends are the following:
SanDisk Extreme 32GB microSDHC (SDSDQXL-032G)
SanDisk Extreme 64GB microSDXC (SDSDQXL-064G)
Lexar 32GB SDHC 600x (LSDMI32GBSBNA600R)
Lexar 64GB SDXC 600x (LSDMI64GBSBNA600R)
Delkin 32GB SDHC (DDMICROSDPRO2-32GB)
Delkin 64GB SDXC (DDMICROSDPRO264GB)
Essential Underwater GoPro Accessories
LCD Touch BacPac
When shooting underwater, the LCD Touch BacPac is an essential unit to have as it provides footage on what your GoPro camera is actually capturing and how it would look like. Do bear in mind that the touch screen will not function underwater, so you will need to set your camera settings before inserting your GoPro camera inside the waterproof casing.
So now that you have an LCD installed on your GoPro, fogging will be an issue if you have it turned on for too long. The Antifog Inserts can be a great asset to prevent fogging issues affecting your footage. Simply place 2 antifog inserts at each sides (left and right) of your GoPro Housing each time you go for a dive. Each Antifog insert will last 4-5 times provided you oven dry them for 3 minutes after each use.
Underwater Colour Correction Dive Filter / Red Filter
Due to the way light is refracted underwater, footages taken without a filter can appear too blue or too green. This is why a colour correction dive filter or widely known as a red filter is so important to have. While being spoilt for choice on the vast array of options on dive filters, it is important to note that expensive dive filters are extensively tested at different water depths so they produce optimum colour colour correction based on the shade of red/orange/yellow. On the other hand, cheap red filters are not tested and therefore are not fully optimised for colour correction. One of the most widely used, good quality red filters in the market currently is the Backscatter Flip 3.1 Colour Correction System. Not only have they been colour optimised, they also have a unique flip system configuration which allows you to add different filters to be used all at once.
GoPro Battery Life and O-Ring Maintenance
A common fact is that batteries for GoPro Cameras are not designed to withstand long recordings (max capacity 1-2 hours depending on setting). Therefore, it is recommended that you have at least 1-2 spare batteries on hand at any point and replace it every 1-2 dives. Options for batteries include the original GoPro batteries or Wasabi Power Gopro batteries, which are one of the world's best third party battery providers for GoPro HERO cameras.
O-Ring Maintenance - IMPORTANT
Always ensure that your Gopro camera is sealed tightly within its housing before going underwater. Debris, bits of sand, even strands of hair on the surface of your O-ring (white rubber seal at the edge of your waterproof backdoor) could be a big factor leading to flooding of Gopro cameras underwater, so make sure you check and clean your O-ring thoroughly. This step of precaution should always be carried out each time you seal your GoPro camera within the waterproof casing.
Essential Underwater GoPro Mounts
The most common and cheapest way to mount your GoPro underwater is on a floating grip or a floating wrist strap. Personally we like the floating grip configuration much more as it is much better for you to get steady shots with. For just in case situations, the floating grip floats up on to the surface of the water for easy retrieval.
Alternatively, you can also mount your GoPro to a pole, which will allow you to take selfies much more conveniently and reach hard to reach spots. Although most poles are not rustproof, proper aftercare (washing thoroughly with fresh water and drying it fully after) should suffice for occasional use. For everyday use, we recommend getting a rustproof, saltwaterproof alternative such as the Goscope pole or an SP Gadgets Pole.
For those wanting to get into more serious shooting, you will need to invest in lighting as well as a 2 handle mounting tray for the GoPro to improve the stability of your footage. Snake River Prototyping has a tray that allows you to mount your GoPro on a lightweight aluminium plate as well as two handlebar mounts (one for each hand) with space to place two additional lighting (sold separately).
So now that we’ve got the basic accessories down, we move on to the technical part of optimising your settings to take good footage underwater with the GoPro.