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 Watershot (only for iPhone 5 & 6) or ProShot. These are real iPhone snorkeling housings. Watershot is from a company who makes housings for motion picture cameras. 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.
For the iPhone 5 and 5s, there is either the standard Watershot 5, waterproof to 120 feet, or the Watershoot 5 Pro, waterproof to 195 feet. The pro versions have a better grip and the option of an interchangeable wide angle lens.
ProShot has cases for the iPhone 6, 6s and 7. They have a cool app that reprograms your physical buttons to be used underwater with their deep dive lid, which is waterproof down to 100 feet. You also get a touchscreen lid that is only waterproof down to 6 feet. Soon, they will have available iPhone 6 Plus and 7 Plus housings that have only a touchscreen lid and are waterproof down to 50 feet. They all use standard GoPro mount accessories.
What about the iPix housing? Watershot outsells them by leaps and bounds. The iPix is a decent option, but not nearly as respected.
For 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. It has a fast F2.2 lens, 8 megapixel still pictures and great 1080P video. Plus you can shoot 10 frames per second to catch that fish! The iPhone 6s even has optical image stabilization.
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.
First, and foremost, backup your phone data before snorkeling!
In the Watershot app, use these settings:
While taking pictures:
Your iPhone will likely not float in it's 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, it may be worth it to pay for the Watershot Advanced Camera App to get access to more camera functions, including some color and white balance settings.