Dive Equipment


Dive Equipment for Underwater Photographers  


Fins, Regs and BCDs


This is a subject where there is much debate. I recommend stiff paddle fins, not split fins. I use OMS Slipstream fins. Fins that move too easily silt up the area, and make it difficult to turn, back up, etc, and are not good for underwater photographers.


Use a backplate & wing for better buoyancy, instead of a regular BCD. Use 2 computers, 1 air integrated with a low air alarm. Dive with the weight you need, so you are neutral on a low tank at 15ft. Use a high-quality scuba regulator for optimal air delivery & usage.

Dive Computers


Dive Computers are possibly the most essential piece of equipment when shooting underwater, as our minds are seldom thinking of how much time we have been underwater, what are depth is, as photographers are more focused on getting the shot than those important parameters. This is were the dive computer comes in to play. Today, dive computers have been become an essential piece of our dive gear, and to ensure you choose the correct one for you, we have put together a dive computer guide to help you choose.


There are essentially 3 types of dive computers, a wrist-mounted dive computer, a wristwatch style dive computer and a console diver computer, with each having their advantages for users. One step further than this, dive computers also cater for various gas mixtures, air, nitrox and trimix. Different dive computer brands also utilise different decompression models to base their calculations, leaving some as being conservation, others more lenient, while some brand even allow you to adjust the leniency of the cdecompression model being used.


Big high-pressure steel tank filled with Nitrox


Especially when shooting macro, there's nothing like a big steel tank filled with nitrox. Depths from 50-110ft are often prime territory for macro subjects. Using a large high-pressure steel tank means you are able to focus on taking photos, and are less worried about bottom time or air consumption, especially when doing multiple dives. Instead of 45 minute dives, you can have 75 minute dives or more. Most photographers I know in California have bought into the "big steel tank with nitrox" concept. Of course, large steel tanks are not available on all dive trips, so you might have dive with whatever is available, but it never hurts to ask.


Cover up, and stay warm.


I highly suggest you cover every inch of your body, especially the wrists, ankles, etc. Coral, stinging hydroids, jellyfish, and box jellies are all out there lurking to injure their favorite prey, photographers. Your only exposed skin should be your lips and cheeks. Don’t forget to stay warm underwater. Once you really get into photography, you’ll be doing 4 dives a day on a trip, each dive at least 60 minutes long. Many “tropical” destinations have water temps in the mid-high-70’s, you’ll want a full 3mm plus a hooded vest, or a 5mm suit plus a hood once the temperature dips below 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 Celsius), and a 7mm suit if it’s below 75 (23.8 Celsius). Don’t forget a wind-breaker jacket for the boat, especially if its an open boat.


Horns, Alerts, Markers


A good underwater signaling device can make a big difference in sharing photo subjects between buddies, or between buddies and a guide. A highly prefer horns or quackers over tank bangers and shakers, if used properly and sparingly. The best dive guide I ever (Peri) had did one "honk" for a subject, two "honks" for a great subject, and three "honks" for a very special subject. It worked very well. On our last trip to bali, we brought underwater "honkers" and gave them to our guides for them to use instead of banging on a tank.


A good dive marker can be used to mark a photo subject, like a nudibranch, while someone swims to fetch another diver. I am still trying to figure out the best markers to use underwater, perhaps a large yellow colored metal stick would work well.


Beach diving with a dSLR


If you beach dive with a dSLR, I strongly believe you need the ability to enter/exit the water hands free. This means you must attach clips to your camera arms and the front of your BCD or harness/wing so your housing can rest on your chest. I had to change my BCD to a harness with D-rings because my BCD didn't have anywhere for me to attach my camera.

Here's a review on how to rig your dSLR system for shore diving.


Underwater Photographer Travel Tips


Always bring a mask, computer, compass, backup dive light and maybe a hood

Read why you should also bring your fins

Call ahead to make sure full wetsuits are available, don't wear shorties. Remember, neoprene is not just for warmth, but also for protection again jellies. Don't be exposed.


Looking to upgrade you dive gear, or add a missing item, look no further than Bluewater Photo which no stocks a full range of scuba gear catering for all your diving needs.

Further Reading



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