How to Use GoPro Underwater: 12 Tips + 7 Aquatic Accessories

GoPro Tips, GoPro Underwater

In this post, you'll learn how to use GoPro underwater. These underwater tips and accessories will help you take great underwater shots right away.

how to use gopro underwater

Before you head out on your next adventure, take a few minutes to review these tips.

12 Tips for Using a GoPro Underwater

  1. Clean the gasket: Make sure that there is no dirt on the white rubber gasket. Dirt on the gasket will cause the case to leak. To ensure that you get a good seal, make sure that the backdoor is completely pushed into the housing, before clamping the black latch.
  2. Clean the lens: Take a minute before closing the case and make sure that there are no fingerprints or dust on your camera lens. And don't forget to check the housing lens as well (inside and out).
  3. gopro settingsDetermine your underwater settings: I use two settings, depending on what I want to capture: Video and Timelapse. For point of video (POV), I suggest the 1080 SuperView at 80fps. For still photos, I use the time lapse. I recommend shooting at the highest resolution at either one image every 0.5 or 1 second. Here's more about GoPro settings.
  4. Use a lens filter to correct the color: Although it might not make sense at first, a red lens filter will make your underwater footage look better. You'll want a red filter in blue water and a magenta filter in green water. See some specific recommendations below.
  5. Shoot stable footage with a camera rig (or selfie stick): It can be hard to hold a GoPro steady. If you aren't going to mount the camera on your chest or head – you'll need a camera rig or selfie stick. I've had good success shooting animals underwater with a simple selfie stick.
  6. Keep your subject at least 12 inches away: Unless you're using a macro lens, you'll want to keep your subject a minimum of 12 inches from your lens. Any closer and it will be blurry.
  7. Shoot with the sun at your back: Without a flash, it's pretty hard to get a good shot shooting into the sun – regardless of where you're shooting.
  8. Thoroughly wash the housing in fresh water (especially after swimming in salt water): You should thoroughly wash the housing in fresh water. Salt can have a corrosive affect – and the last thing you'll want is to have a damaged / weakened case or gasket.
  9. elmininate gopro fogAvoid fogged-up camera housing: Anti-fog inserts will absorb any humidity in the air. Without these special inserts, the humidity may condense on the inside surface of the case – especially on the lens. This causes a fog-ring and many disappointing images.
  10. Forget about WiFi: While you can use your GoPro WiFi underwater (with the correct WiFi extension cable) it isn't easy. And you'll be tethered to a mobile device on the surface. For most settings, you'll have more fun and get better footage by shooting with WiFi turned off.
  11. split-level-dome-port-photoUse a dome port: A dome port is great for shooting those incredible half underwater GoPro photos. By moving the waterline away from the lens, you're able to get a photo showing both above and below the water. A dome port can also be used for shooting underwater.
  12. Prevent water drops on your lens: When you surface, you'll probably want to keep shooting. If you aren't careful, you're going to have weird, face-distorting water droplets on your lens – ruining all your footage. It's a surprisingly simple fix.

And those are my tips on how to use GoPro underwater. Okay, now we're going to consider some great GoPro accessories that will improve your underwater photos and videos.

7 Underwater GoPro Accessories

1) Underwater Lens Filters: These simple filters just pop on to the Hero 3+ / 4 camera housing. These filters work from 10 to 80 feet in depth. Designed for color correction in blue and tropical waters.

PolarPro also makes the same filter for the older housing (with 8 visible screws on front).

Make sure to order the correct filter mount for your camera. 

underwater gopro filter

2) Anti Fog Inserts: These are cheap, effective, and reusable.

Because of the temperature difference between air and water, lens fog is very common when shooting underwater.

We use CamKix inserts and they come in a 20-pack for $5.79 (just 29 cents each). They are vacuum packed, so they are ready to use out of the package. elmininate gopro fog inserts

3) GoPro Dome Port: There are a few options for shooting half underwater photos.

The one we have is by Telesin. It's just $100 and comes with everything you'll need.

Dive to a depth of about 65 feet.

Telesin GoPro dome port sideview

4) Floating Hand Grip: This is a great accessory for body boarding, snorkeling or while boating.

There are lots available – the important things to watch for is a good wrist strap, solid mount and that it actually floats.

This one by Smatree comes very well reviewed at under twenty dollars.

GoPro floating grip Smatree

5) Underwater GoPro LED Light: I don't have one of these yet, but it's on my list.

This model stacks a GoPro on top and the floater grip or selfie stick on the bottom.

It's waterproof to 40m and comes with a rechargeable battery.

gopro underwater light

6) Camera Rig: There are a number of ways to mount your camera to a stable rig.

Most rig's allow a couple of cameras and a couple of lights.

They make it easier to get stable shots – and front/back point of view at the same time.

Here's a DIY GoPro Rig.

7) Selfie Stick: In addition to the anti-fog inserts, this is my favorite underwater accessory. I love how I can get closer to the wildlife!

And it makes my shots more steady. I still have my first selfie stick – it is by XShot.

It closes to just 9 inches and extends to 38 inches in length.

Underwater GoPro Accessories (Sortable List)


GoPro sea turtle selfie

How Deep Underwater Can a GoPro Go?

While they are all waterproof, they aren't all equal. Here are the depth ratings for each of the GoPro cameras:

  • Hero4 Camera: This depends on the housing you're using. The standard housing that comes with each of the Hero4 cameras can go to depths of 40m (131′). If you want to go deeper underwater, you'll need the special Dive Housing and it can go 60m (197′ deep). If you are using the Touch BacPac Backdoor, you can only go 3m (10′) deep. via GoPro
  • Hero4 Session: Can go 10m (33′) deep underwater without any housing. To ensure that it is waterproof, check that the side door is both closed and locked. After exposure to mud, dust, or salt water, the camera should be rinsed with fresh water (keeping the side door closed, of course). For best water drainage, set the camera upright (with the shutter button on top). via GoPro
  • All the Older Models (HD Hero Original, HD Hero2, Hero3): These older models all came with a great waterproof housing, capable of depths of 60m (197′). via GoPro

Your Turn

What's your best underwater tip or favorite gear? Please join us in the comments below!


Hi, I'm the Author!

Bryan Haines is co-editor of ClickLikeThis: GoPro tutorial blog. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of GringosAbroad (Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with ClickLikeThis.

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