GoPro For Snorkeling?

Are you thinking about using a GoPro for snorkeling? Good idea.

While the older versions were not great as a snorkel camera the newer GoPro Hero4 Silver edition is great, with its built in touch LCD screen.

  • Sharp Pictures
  • Great Video
  • Underwater Housing Included
  • Fairly Inexpensive

The Hero4 series provides sharper videos and pictures, with a bigger sensor at 12mp and an underwater housing with a flat port, as compared to some of the older series of these cameras (GoPro Hero3 and back).

These cameras do have some limitations that we explain below.

What GoPro Model Is Best For Snorkeling?

Currently there are 3 different versions available in different models.

  • GoPro Hero4 Black or Silver (models not colors). These are 20% smaller, 15% lighter and have faster wifi, compared to some of the older Hero3 models. The Hero4 Silver Edition has a 12mp sensor, built in touch LCD screen and 1080p video, and the Hero4 Black Edition that does not have a built in LCD screen but does offer higher resolution 4K video.
  • Hero4 Session, which is the smallest and lightest, with no LCD screen option, built in waterproof case, 1080p video at 60 frames per second and 8mp photos. It's the same price as the Hero4 Silver, but the image and video quality is not as good. A built-in battery means if you run out of juice, you have no backup. It's not as waterproof and you can't adjust settings without pairing it to an iPhone or tablet. Try that while snorkeling!
  • Hero+ LCD, Hero+ WIFI, Hero. These are the least expensive entry level cameras.  The Hero+ LCD & Hero+ WIFI have 8mp pictures & 1080p video at 60 frames per second. The Hero has 5mp pictures and 1080p video at 30 frames per second. Picture and video quality is not as good on these as the Hero4 Silver and they all have the built-in battery limitation.

The Hero4 Silver is what we would get. 1080p video is plenty of resolution for most people's needs and the built in LCD screen is a great addition. Plus it takes great pictures and videos.

We would now avoid all the older Hero2 and Hero3 and Hero3+ models.

Hero4 Silver Edition Features:

  • 12mp sensor that shoots at 30fps bursts
  • F2.8 aspherical glass lens, fixed at around 30mm (35mm equivalent)
  • HD video up to 1080p
  • Adjustable white balance (Auto, 3000K, 5500K, 6500K, Raw)
  • Waterproof remote control is available (does not work underwater)
  • You can bring extra batteries and swap them out

Drawbacks Of A GoPro For Snorkeling?

For sure, the biggest advantage of a GoPro for snorkeling is how small it is, at the expense of some drawbacks. The GoPro lacks features of larger more complex cameras.

The View Screen Is Tiny (If It Has One)
Some GoPros have a screen, some don't. Either way the screen is so small you can't really see much underwater.

No Zoom Lens or Controls
The camera also sacrifices controls for size. Almost everything is automatic. And it has a fixed lens focal length, which is not a big problem, but some people like having zoom when snorkeling.

Battery Life Is Limited
These cameras are so small that their battery life is fairly low compared to other cameras. We would buy extras.

Note:  The remote control available for this camera is fun out of the water, but it does not work underwater.

How To Hold A GoPro For Snorkeling

You need to choose how you will hold your GoPro for snorkeling. Most people either use an extending or fixed length pole, or a short floating handle. The extending pole is nice because you can get your camera close to the fish. We own one of the better extending poles for the price, the XShot 2.0. It extends to 37", is stainless steel, and is very compact when not extended, although it is a bit heavy.

But the short handle option is also very good. The Handler by GoPro is very popular.  The CamKix handle is cool because it has a built in compartment for valuables. And this CamKix model has it all, it can be just a grip, or extend into a longer translucent pole (so the fish can't see it), and it has a valuables compartment!

People also mount them on their masks or their wrists. Neither is great. The problem with the mask mount when snorkeling is that your head is not very close to the fish, and the camera is up high and will come in and out of the water. The wrist mount is also not great because you will end up getting your hand in the video or picture.

If you don't have a handle for your GoPro for snorkeling, make sure and get a floating wrist strap. And be very careful to keep your fingers from getting in front of the lens when taking pictures or videos.

Finally, to avoid getting a foggy lens from moisture, adding some anti-fog inserts into your case is worth doing. The ones at right are made of a natural fiber and are reusable after putting them in the oven.



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