PART 2: 101 Beginner's Guide to using a GoPro for Underwater Scuba Diving - Optimize your GoPro Settings for Underwater

PART 2: 101 Beginner's Guide to using a GoPro for Underwater Scuba Diving - Optimize your GoPro Settings for Underwater

Optimum GoPro Settings for Scuba Diving

In Part 1, we've gone through some recommendations on the type of accessories you would need before you begin recording your very own footages underwater. Now we will go through some tips on setting up your GoPro to shoot optimum footage underwater.

Gopro Camera Setting Recommendations

Our most used setting is at 1080p 60fps Wide mode on a HERO3+ camera (For HERO3+ Silver/White, HERO3 Camera and Below: 1080p 30fps Wide). While the SuperView mode is great on land for that fisheye effect we like the wide mode to give a more natural feel to the footages. We use 60fps so that we can fit the clip into a 30fps timeline to create a slow motion playback during post editing.

When cropping is needed (filming Macro objects) or when we want to run an image stabilisation on the clip during post processing, we run the GoPro on 2.7k resolution but bear in mind that this actually eats into your power a lot faster as well so you better have some spare batteries on hand!

Spot Mode & Protune Settings for your GoPro.

  • Spot Mode - This mode should be turned off so that the camera may evaluate exposure based on the entire scene.
  • Protune - This setting should be off if you’re not going to be doing any post editing. You can choose to keep it on if you want to play around with raw colour footage during post editing

Lighting and White Balance Settings.

The challenge with shooting underwater is always lighting, lighting, lighting! Whilst the GoPro does come with some manual white balance settings we found that the auto white balance setting does perform quite well, so for most situations we tune it to auto mode!

In situations where there is minimal light (such as night diving) you will need more than just auto white balance. For filming in low light conditions investing in  additional lighting becomes a must!

Besides the white balance setting, here are also some additional tips to improve your underwater footages in natural lighting:

  • When recording is taking place, capturing footages with the sun at your back brings out the best in the images taken.
  • Footages should be taken at an averagely slanting downward angle to allow enrichment of colour and contrast while filming.

 Avoiding Blur and Wobbly Foorages during Shooting with your GoPro

While the GoPro works really well in taking wide angle shots, it underperforms when it comes to macro shots. With a high minimum focusing distance of 12 inches, any object within the range of 12 inches from the GoPro camera would be blur in the shots - making small critters not the best choice of subjects. That said, installing a macro lens onto the GoPro will help, but it certainly wouldn’t outperform your normal DSLR camera.

The GoPro camera also happens to be small which would make it difficult to obtain stability without first mounting it unto a stable object such as a pole. Even then you would need to hold it quite steadily while filming to avoid shaky clips.

If you’re using your Gopros as a ‘B” camera, than mounting it to your DSLR housing wouldn’t be such a bad choice. This would enable your strobe or light arms to keep you recordings steady. But, if you’re all out shooting with a GoPro camera only, then using support systems such as the SRP two handled tray system (we’ve talked briefly about this in Part 1 about mounting options) would significantly help in stabilizing your shots.

Taking Underwater shots with your GoPro Camera


The GoPro HERO3+ can capture 12 megapixel images with quite good quality. However, here are some useful tips to you to take even better shots:

  • A colour correction filter must be used according to the depth underwater.
  • The Sun should be behind you when you shoot to obtain the best colours for the images.
  • Video lights are essential when you’re .
  • Make sure the objects your planning to capture in your image is approximately 12 inches away from you.
  • Being as steady as possible is significant when clicking the shutter button for a photo.

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