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.
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.
Currently there are 3 different versions available in different models.
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:
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.
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.