I’ve been using GoPro HERO and HERO 2 cameras underwater for a couple of years now, and it’s become common knowledge in the SCUBA diving community that a flat-port lens is necessary for sharp videos and still pictures. I’ve met many topside cameramen who have gone underwater with standard GoPro housings, only to discover that all of their footage is blurry—the tiny, built-in dome port in the standard GoPro housing is far too small to allow the camera’s lens to focus sharply underwater.
The first flat-port GoPro housing I used was the Eye of Mine flat lens housing ($79), which is available with and without filter, and as a GoPro 3D version ($149). As far as I know, the Eye of Mine 3D housing is the only flat-port 3D solution that does not vignette at full wide. Since Eye of Mine released their flat-port housing, many other manufactures have followed suit, the most notable being Backscatter, an underwater-imaging speciality store in Monterey, California. Backscatter’s Custom GoPro Underwater Housing ($119) is well made and includes a glass lens and removable filter mount. They also have a 3D underwater housing ($199), but the modified flat ports are quite small and will vignette at full wide, underwater.
The new GoPro-branded Dive Housing ($49.99) features a large, glass flat lens, and is rated to be waterproof to 197 ft / 60m. Unlike the third-party modifications, the GoPro Dive Housing’s lens is rectangular, which makes the housing just a bit more bulky. One nice feature is the included protective lens cap, which snaps on and off with a satisfying click. GoPro hasn’t announced any filters for their dive housing, so if you want better color underwater while using GoPro cameras, you’ll still want to go with a third party housing.
If you’re unsure about whether a filter matters for underwater GoPro work, check out Backscatter’s stunning video, which was captured using filtered GoPro cameras:
Alex Mustard GoPro filter test:
Some of my work with underwater GoPro cameras: