Want to use your iPhone snorkeling for pictures and videos, instead of lugging around another camera? It's a good idea, if you get a quality underwater housing. The iPhone can take some good pictures snorkeling, but there are some pluses and minuses to it we share below, along with some setting tips and recommended waterproof housings and accessories.
Your iPhone is worth a lot of money, and it has a ton of your pictures and contact information on it. Don't risk snorkeling with a lesser waterproof case.
For iPhone snorkeling, we recommend you get a housing made by ProShot or Watershot. These are real iPhone snorkeling housings. Both of these are much tougher than the other iPhone waterproof cases, have real underwater housing seals, optical quality glass lenses, and great apps that give you many picture/video controls on your phone. Tons of people use these and love them, even diving. Note, some glass screen protectors don't work with these housings.
Note, the new iPhone 7 & 8 are already waterproof to an IP67 rating, but that is not suitable for snorkeling; you will still need an underwater housing.
ProShot has cases for the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8 and 8 Plus. They have a cool app that reprograms your physical buttons to be used underwater, or touch screen options.
They make two different versions, the Dive and the Touch. The Dive model is waterproof down to 100 feet, but does not offer use of the touch screen. The Touch model is waterproof down to 50 feet, and it does offer touch screen features. They all use standard GoPro mount accessories.
ProShot is seems to be developing more noteworthy products of recent, compared to Watershot, with more options available.
Watershot is designed and produced by a company who makes housings for motion picture cameras.
Watershot has current options for iPhone 7, 7 Plus & 8 and 8 Plus, although quantites available seem limited. They have made housings in the past for iPhone 5 & 6 and variations, but most are either out of stock or production.
These are very robust housings, and are normally offered in either a standalone flat port option, or a kit that also includes a wide angle lens. They are depth rated down to 195', and come with a app that customizes your camera controls. The housing also has a tripod mount on the bottom. The housings use a locking cam latch.
What about the iPix housing? The two companies above are outselling them by leaps and bounds. The iPix is a decent option, but not nearly as respected and stopped with the iPhone 6.
iPhone snorkeling conditions we would avoid all of the cases made by
these companies, and all soft bags: LifeProof, Otterbox, Armour Shell,
Pelican, Dog & Bone, Catalyst, Lunatik Aquatik, Hitcase, Seideio,
Incipio, Griffin, Snowlizard, Optrix, Mophie, Tech21, PureGear.
The biggest benefit of using your iPhone snorkeling is that you already own it! You don't have to buy and carry around another camera, and it's easier to share pictures from. You can get some pretty good snorkeling pictures with it. iPhones have either a fast F2.2 or F1.8 lens, and an 8-12 megapixel sensor capable of 1080P or 4K video, and image stabilization. The new 7 Plus & 8 Plus have dual lenses, for quick changes between standard and wide angle.
The iPhone has a small sensor, so the image quality will not compare to cameras with bigger sensors. And you do not have much control of functions. The iPhone camera tends to select too slow a shutter speed, which will give you blurry fish pictures at times. You also don't have the white balance control of better cameras, so your colors will not be great in deeper water. There are a couple of possible solutions to this you can read about below. And let's face it, you are risking losing your phone and everything on it.
Here are a couple of tips to get better pictures snorkeling with your iPhone.
While taking pictures:
Your iPhone will likely not float in its housing. So you must have a strong wrist lanyard, and preferably a floating buoyant lanyard. Note that the iPhone 6s is too heavy for this lanyard and will not float.
For better color with a Watershot housing, get a red filter.
You will definitely want a iPhone car charger for between snorkel spots.
Get more anti fog strips. They will help keep the housing and lens from fogging up.
Finally, if using a Watershot housing you can buy the Watershot Advanced Camera App that provides access to more camera functions, including some color and white balance settings.