When I introduce people to the wonderful world of underwater photography, they’re often surprised to hear I recommend filming instead of taking pictures of marine life.
Most modern cameras give you the option to choose between video or photo as a setting. Underwater circumstances often mean that photos are just not the best and most efficient option if you want good results.
Think of it this way: your time in the ocean is very limited, so you can “get the most bang for your buck” by using video instead of still imagery.
#1 If you take pictures under water (vs video), you need the PERFECT moment
With underwater photography, taking a great picture all hinges on a fraction of a second: the moment you hit the shutter button needs to be just right.
Marine animals won’t pose for you or wait for you to be ready in order to swim by or make a spectacular move; it’s easy to miss the perfect moment… or for the perfect moment to come out all blurry because it was all happening so fast!
Instead, with video footage, you can comfortably start filming if you even have the impression something’s coming your way.
#2 With video, your marine life pictures don’t get ruined by a sudden wave or surge
Imagine this: you’re silently stalking your perfect underwater photography model (maybe a tiny but colorful fish?), waiting for it to turn around and assume the perfect angle… and as you click that shutter button, a sudden wave lifts you up and your picture turns out all blurry. And worse – that tiny fish you were looking at is now nowhere to be seen.
If you had been filming that tiny fish, you’d have caught the moment he turned your way on camera, just before the wave hit.
#3 You get lots of picks from your underwater video footage
Imagine spending 10 minutes in the perfect circumstances, observing and taking pictures or video footage of beautiful and exceptional marine animals.
When you get home and start sorting through your pictures, you’d have a limited amount of images to scroll through… and several of them would be blurry, out of focus, or not featuring that one fish that swam far too quickly.
Instead with 10 minutes of video footage, you’d have 600, 800 or 1200 frames to choose from (depending on your video settings) – you get to pick any still from your footage.
Is underwater video footage better quality than underwater photos?
Sadly, most video footage will not be 100% the same quality as your best pictures.
However after going into the ocean, I prefer to have 10 great pictures + a couple of spectacular video clips, than 99 blurry pictures and maybe one or two that make the grade!
- Free download: 10 underwater photography tips
- Article: what camera do you need to take pictures underwater?
- Online course: underwater photography & videography basics
- Check out our YouTube channel with some pretty cool examples of underwater video