In this post, I share my experience of using the Nikon Coolpix dive camera for travelling and scuba diving holidays. I´m so happy to take this compact waterproof camera with me when I´m ´splashpacking´. I use it as a travel dive camera for a few very good reasons which I will share here below. Also, I give you some specifics about the camera and share some links to Amazon where you can find your Nikon Coolpix or another underwater camera. All photos in this blog post are taken by using the Nikon Coolpix as a dive camera, to give you an impression of the quality of the underwater pictures. The model I use is the Nikon Coolpix W300.
My history with underwater cameras: before using the Nikon Coolpix as a dive camera
When I worked as a scuba dive instructor, I did not even have an underwater camera, for years! And for a couple of reasons. As an instructor, you need to be focussed on your students so it does not make much sense to take your camera. Also, in those years, it was very sporadic for me to go fun diving simply because I did so many dives that on a day off I did not feel like going scuba diving. And last, I did not have a high budget and I was always very packed, especially in the years I even carried the paper version instructor manual and other books.
Before the Nikon Coolpix: the traditional ´dive camera & underwater house´
Then, one day, when I was working on the Maldives, I found an Olympus camera in her housing laying on the rocks between the coral. My colleague and I called the surrounding island resorts to check if someone lost his or her camera but since we couldn´t find the owner of the dive camera, I decided to keep it. The underwater camera still worked perfectly, I just needed to order a new battery. From then on, I did enjoy using this camera during fun diving and travelling although there was one little problem.
The first advance of the Nikon Coolpix as a dive camera: no problems with the underwater house
The problem was that after a fun dive in Australia, the housing of the Olympus camera broke. By that time, the camera model was getting a bit out of date, and I could nowhere found a camera house for that specific model. This issue made me think about my next underwater camera. Sometimes the housing of the camera is as, or even more, expensive as the camera itself. If either your camera or the housing breaks, you need to make sure that the piece that breaks is still available. Plus it can get very expensive. Here is where the Nikon Coolpix comes in so handy as a scuba dive camera: you don´t need a camera house for scuba diving till 30 metres / 100 feet!
The Nikon Coolpix doesn´t need a scuba dive camera housing till 30 metres / 100 feet of depth
There are a lot of different models of the Nikon Coolpix. And as mentioned before, I am using the Nikon Coolpix W300 camera model to scuba dive. The best news about this model dive camera is that you don´t need an underwater housing till 30 metres, or 100 feet, of depth! Besides this, the camera is pretty tough. I have been using it for almost four years now, always carrying it with me on my travels. When I travel or use the Nikon Coolpix as a dive camera, I only use a cloth to protect the lens. The camera doesn´t have even a scratch so far!
Why Nikon Coolpix and not other waterproof action cams or adventure camera brands to scuba dive?
There are more brands offering similar camera models like the Nikon Coolpix to take on your scuba diving holiday. I know, for example, that Olympus and Fujifilm have similar ones too. This post, however, is focussed on the Nikon Coolpix and its use as a dive camera. Just because for me there is one big very good reason: I don´t need an underwater house if I use the Nikon Coolpix W300 as a dive camera! This is where Nikon really stands out for me because as far as I am correct here does the Olympus Tough camera go to 15 metres, or 50 feet, without the housing and the Fujifilm Finepix to 25 metres, or about 80 feet.
Tip! Check the depth limit of other waterproof dive cameras for scuba diving
Check the link below to find the Nikon Coolpix, or another camera that can be used as a waterproof dive camera, on Amazon. Please keep in mind to check the specifics in order to check from which depth on you need a camera house. The Nikon Coolpix W300 can be taken to a depth of 30 metres or 100 feet. I receive a small commission on your purchase through the link below.
Why the Nikon Coolpix camera over the GoPro for underwater pictures & dive photos?
There are few reasons why I prefer the Nikon Coolpix over the GoPro as a dive camera. First of all, the Nikon Coolpix has a built-in camera flash. Although you can get a separate flash or light for the GoPro, with the Nikon Coolpix you don´t need to buy anything else since it´s already built-in. The same applies to the macro mode option. The Nikon Coolpix has two different underwater mode options and on top of that, you can use a macro option for macro life like a nudibranch or other small ocean life (see some underwater pictures below). A third feature I really like about the Nikon Coolpix as a scuba dive camera is the 5x optical zoom option, with vibration reduction. As far as I know, only the latest version of GoPro, like model 8 and 9 of the GoPro camera, have a zoom function.
Underwater videos vs scuba diving pictures with GoPro or the Nikon Coolpix
That said about underwater pictures, for making videos, however, I use both the Nikon Coolpix and an action camera. Since I lost my GoPro during the drama in Peru, I wasn´t able to compare the video quality of the GoPro with the Nikon Coolpix for underwater filming. Right now, if I go ´splashpacking´, I use the Nikon Coolpix and an action camera for underwater videos. Click here for Splashpacker YouTube channel to see some dive videos I made with a combination of the two. This post is specifically related to the Nikon Coolpix as a camera for underwater photography during diving.
The GoPro might be better for underwater filming & scuba dive videos
The Nikon Coolpix can also be used for underwater filming. It comes with a 4K ultra HD video mode, including time-lapse and stereo sound. And although in my experience it does make good scuba diving videos, I highly believe that the GoPro is better for underwater videos. Check the link below for the latest GoPro on Amazon. Keep in mind that only the version 8 & 9 of the GoPro offer a zoom, and that you need to get a camera flash light and macro lens separate. I receive a small commission on your purchase through the link below.
The Nikon Coolpix is also an action camera & great for adventures above the water
The Nikon Coolpix is not only great as a scuba dive camera, but it also has a lot of great features to be used for your adventures other than scuba diving during travelling! Some features of this camera include image stabilization, a built-in bright led light, it is shockproof to 2,4 metres, freezeproof till -10 degrees Celcius / +14 Fahrenheit, and dustproof. The tough camera also comes with built-in WiFi, BlueTooth, GPS, depth gauge, barometer, altitude meter and E-compass.
The compact underwater camera is great for travelling too
As an addition to the above, I would like to mention that I´m really happy with this camera as a travel camera too. Next to the fact that it does not take up much space in my already full scuba diving bag or backpack, it also doesn´t weight much. So instead of carrying, and being worried about, an expensive camera with underwater house on a diving holiday, I just put the small Nikon Coolpix somewhere in my hand luggage and don´t have to worry about it at all. The small camera only weighs about 230 gram and the size is only something like 111 x 66 x 29 (in cm) or 4,4 x 2,6 x 1,2 (in inch). And with the EN-EL12 Li-ion battery you can take about 280 photos with a full battery and it takes only a couple of hours to fully recharge it.
Conclusion about the Nikon Coolpix W300 for underwater photography & dive travel camera
So, for me, this camera is one of the best things I ever bought for my splashpacker adventures. To conclude this post I put the advantages of the Nikon Coolpix as a dive camera in a short overview:
- in contrast to most underwater tough action cameras, no underwater house is needed for a depth until 30 metres
- the camera comes with the option for macro photography mode, 5x zoom option, a camera flash and a built-in led light: great for all kinds of underwater photographing. Without needing to buy extra accessories.
- with the 4K ultra HD video mode, time-lapse and stereo sound it also is a great camera for scuba dive videos and underwater filming
- because it´s light-weighted, compact and tough, it´s easy to carry with you and there is no need to worry about damaging the camera on any kind of travelling
As a scuba diver who travels a lot and sometimes goes to the most remote places, it´s one of the things unmissable in my backpack! I can make nice fishlife and oceanlife photos during scuba diving (see all underwater dive pics in this post) without having to worry about an expensive, vulnerable camera with separate housing. Click here to buy on Amazon.com and Splashpack receives a small commission on your purchase through this link.
Splashpacker website: eco-concsious scuba diving & travelling
Splashpacker is focussed on environmentally friendly and sustainable travelling and scuba diving, founded by a female scuba diving instructor on the road since 2006. Are you interested in more blog posts with information about things to pack for your scuba diving holiday? Click here for a link to my packing lists.
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