No matter where in the world you dive, having the best lens for underwater photography mounted on your camera will help make your experience last forever. It is hard to describe to someone who has never been diving all the beauty and life below the ocean’s surface. 

The perfect dive lens will combine the ideal focal length and a wide enough aperture to let in enough light. The focal length refers to the distance from the center of the lens to the focal plane, where the image is formed. A standard kit lens you will often encounter ranges from 18 mm to 55 mm. A higher millimeter rating means the lens is capable of zooming further. Aperture refers to the amount of light the lens lets in by tightening or widening a ring that is inside of it. The range of aperture is usually between f/1.8 to f/22. A smaller number means that there will be more light let in for the sensor to detect. This also creates a faded or blurred area behind your subject, which is a much-loved feature that can give you amazing, professional-looking photos.

How To Choose The Best Underwater Lens – Buying Guide



Compact Camera Lenses

When you buy a compact camera, the lens is built into the camera. Compact cameras are one of your cheapest options, but the lack of versatility is a drawback. You do have some options with wet lenses, though. Wet lenses can be added on top of the built-in lens of the camera. One advantage of this is that you can swap lenses when you are under the water to get a variety of shots, without having to buy a camera with interchangeable lenses.

DSLR And Mirrorless Lenses

DSLR and mirrorless cameras are used by most professionals. They are more expensive than a compact camera, but they offer more flexibility and better pictures. With these cameras, you can switch out lenses. The main difference between the two is that DSLRs have a mirror in front of the sensor which allows you to see directly what the lens is capturing, while mirrorless cameras have a small screen in the viewfinder to show you what the sensor sees. This makes them smaller and lighter but leads their battery to be drained faster. These two cameras use different kinds of lenses, so be sure to check which is which before you make any purchase.

Type Of Underwater Photography

Before you go ahead and choose your lens, you should know a little about where you are going to take your photos and what type of photography you are going to undertake. Assembling your photography gear is as important as assembling your scuba gear. Two of the most common lenses which are used underwater are the wide-angle and the macro. These will allow you to take great photos in most situations and will have you covered for most underwater scenarios.

A wide-angle lens allows you to capture a lot of what you can see underwater. The lens gives you a large field of view, allowing you to capture a massive school of fish or a coral reef. A wide-angle lens is great for shooting seascapes.

Macro lenses are designed specifically to photograph small objects. Where a wide-angle lens will allow you to capture a lot in your shot, a macro lens will focus on the details. They are great for capturing the detail of fish and smaller creatures. Having both lenses at your disposal will allow you to go big or go small, depending on the situation you find yourself in and the shot you want to take.

Type Of Lens

Most lenses are rectangular. They are tube-like in shape, but what this means is that any straight lines in real life are captured as straight lines in the photo as well.


A fisheye lens is a type of wide-angle lens. When you are underwater, it can be useful to have a wide-angle to be able to see your subject up close while getting the background in the shot too. A fisheye lens will capture all of that, while giving a distinct curved perspective, just like the eye of a fish. Some people love the effect, but it can become tiring over time, so be careful not to overuse it.

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Macro lenses are rectangular, but they are specially designed to get up close to your subject. They have a long barrel that allows you to get close to whatever you are capturing and allow you to focus much closer than what you would be able to do with normal lenses.

Focal Length

The focal length of a lens is expressed in millimeters and represents the distance between the focal point of the lens and the spot where the image is formed. A shorter focal length indicates that you are using a wide-angle lens, which allows having a sweeping field of view of what’s in front of you. If you want something which will help you to capture images at a distance, then go for a longer focal length, as you would find in telephoto or macro lens. This will let you isolate the subject better from the background and make it stand out.

Short focal lengths are ideal for capturing a lot in your photo, thanks to the wide field of view they provide. If you have fellow divers who are swimming in the distance, and there is a school of fish swimming in between, then a short focal length is perfect. If you want more of a portrait style of photo, then a medium to long focal length is what you want. If you want to get in close, to take a photo of a shrimp for example, then you will need a macro lens which usually has a longer focal length.



Q: Why Do I Need A Special Underwater Lens?


Many cameras can focus closely on an image, so why do I even need a lens? Well, one answer to that question involves a similar answer as to why you would need lenses for shooting out of the water. Lenses will give you options for your photos. You can get good photos with your camera, but you will get better photos with additional lenses.

A problem which many cameras face underwater is that the macro mode only works at the shortest focal length. This is counterintuitive to taking a good close up photo. Short focal lengths are great for wide angle shots. When you are taking a macro photo, you want a long focal length, and many cameras cannot do that with the inbuilt lens. This is where a good macro lens comes in. By adding lenses to your camera, you can get shots which are impossible with just your camera.

Q: How Do I Clean My Underwater Lens?


After you have completed your underwater adventure, you should take the time to take care of your lens. Rinse the lens in warm water to remove any debris and salt. You want to dissolve the salt and remove it completely from your lens, or you run the risk of the lease becoming damaged. If there are any particles in the lens, then the lens can become damaged or blocked. Once you have washed your lens, you should pat it dry with a soft cloth. Do not use anything abrasive on the lens or you could damage it completely. After drying, makes sure to store the lens in a case or with some protective housing.

Q: I Am An Amateur Photographer, Do I Need A Special Lens?


Not at first, but you will want to add them over time. If you are just starting out with photography, then we would recommend taking photos with your camera to practice underwater photography. Once you become more adept at taking photos, then you can begin to think about lenses and strobes.

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It only takes one trip underwater to appreciate all the beauty and life below the sea. Once you begin your journey into underwater photography it is easy to become addicted. Taking stunning photos can quickly become a favorite hobby or even part of your career. 

Regardless of your preference when it comes to brands or focal lengths, when looking for your next lens be sure to read through the many underwater camera lens reviews before deciding on the best one for you. This will help to ensure that you get the best lens for your needs. Any of the five best lenses for underwater photography on our list are sure to leave you with excellent photos to be marveled at for years to come.

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