Looking for the best surf photography cameras to capture amazing shots of surfers riding the waves? Look no further than this comprehensive guide.
In this article, I’ll review the best camera for surf photography available today, from affordable options to top-of-the-line professional cameras.
With a range of features and factors to consider, I’ll help you find the perfect camera to capture your surf photography shots.
Whether you’re a seasoned surf photographer or just starting, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and reviews you need to make an informed decision.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Best budget camera for surfing photography: GoPro HERO9 Black (I prefer this camera when I surf myself too)
Best camera for surf legues: Canon EOS 9D and Sony Alpha A9 II
Types of Cameras for Surf Photography
Choosing the right camera is important to capturing the perfect shot in surf photography.
There are many options available. Let’s go through them one by one.
1. DSLR Cameras
DSLR cameras are a popular choice for surf photographers because they offer many benefits in surf photography as follows.
- Provide high-quality images
- Interchangeable lenses
- Advanced manual controls
So, the ability to switch lenses allows photographers to capture a variety of shots, from wide-angle landscapes to close-up action shots from the best DSLR camera for surf photography.
Besides, DSLRs have fast shutter speeds and can shoot in burst mode. So this feature is ideal for capturing fast-moving subjects like surfers.
However, DSLR cameras can be bulky and heavy, but their image quality and flexibility make them a top choice for surf photography.
2. Mirrorless Cameras
Mirrorless cameras offer similar features to DSLRs.
Some of them are;
- Offer high-quality images
- Manual controls
- More compact and lightweight design
They are also quieter and have faster autofocus than DSLRs.
Besides, the smaller size may make them more challenging to handle in rough surf conditions.
3. Bridge Cameras
The best bridge camera for surf photography gives a versatile all-in-one solution for surfing photographers.
Why did I say so? Well,
- Have a powerful zoom lens
- Great manual controls, similar to a DSLRs
- Lighter and more compact designs, make them easier to carry around
Besides, Bridge cameras also have a smaller sensor than DSLRs, which may impact image quality, but they are still capable of capturing high-quality images of surfers in action.
4. Waterproof Cameras
Waterproof cameras are essential for surf photography, as they can withstand water and sand.
So, the best waterproof camera for surf photography is designed to be used in challenging environments, making them perfect for shooting in the ocean.
It has the following features.
- Being Shockproof, dustproof, and waterproof
- Have a rugged and durable construction
- Sealed lenses and body, help to prevent water from entering
- Built-in underwater shooting modes and filters
- Wi-Fi and GPS functionality is available in some models, making it easy to share photos and track location
Besides, Waterproof cameras come in a range of sizes and styles, from compact point-and-shoot cameras to rugged action cameras that can be taken as the best surfing cameras.
5. Action Cameras
Action cameras are perfect for capturing fast-moving action shots, and their small size makes them easy to carry around.
These cameras are popular with surfers and other extreme sports enthusiasts in adventure photography as another option for the best surfing cameras.
- Have a wide-angle lens, which allows for a broad field of view
- Can shoot in burst mode, capturing multiple shots in quick succession
- Lightweight and portable, making them ideal for shooting in remote locations or rough surf conditions
However, they may not offer the same level of image quality as DSLRs or mirrorless cameras.
Now that you know the main features of each camera type, you can freely think about which one is most suitable for your surf photography.
Once you have decided, you can take the first step and buy it.
During the buying process, there are essential factors that you need to consider as a surf photographer. But don’t worry, I’ll share them with you.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Surf Photography Camera
There are several factors to consider to ensure that you get the best shot possible.
1. Image Quality
The most important thing is having a camera that produces high-quality images, which will allow you to capture the details of the waves, surfers, and surroundings.
2. Autofocus System
A camera with a fast and accurate autofocus system is another best feature,
Because it will help to capture the perfect moment of your surfer or the waves photography with clarity and precision.
3. Shutter Speed
A fast shutter speed allows you to freeze the motion and capture the action in a clear image.
4. Frame Rate
A higher frame rate means you can capture more frames per second.
So, it provides you with more options to choose the perfect shot.
5. Lens Compatibility
Choose a camera that is compatible with a wide range of lenses, which will allow you to capture different perspectives and styles of photography.
6. Durability and Waterproofing
Surf photography requires a camera that can handle the harsh conditions of the ocean environment.
Therefore, a camera that is durable and waterproof is essential. Otherwise, you may need to invest in additional equipment such as water housing to protect your camera from damage.
The price of the camera is also an important consideration.
It is essential to find a camera that fits your budget while still providing you with the necessary features for surf photography.
Based on my professional experience and knowledge, I’ll provide recommendations on the best camera to take surf photography from different criteria perspectives.
So, keep reading to discover which camera will best suit your preferences and budget!
Best Cheap Camera for Surf Photography
Capturing stunning surf photographs does not always require expensive camera gear.
There are many affordable options available that can produce quality images for surfing enthusiasts on a budget.
1. GoPro HERO9 Black
One option is the GoPro HERO9 Black, a popular action camera with a waterproof housing that is perfect for capturing surf shots.
- 5K video and 20-megapixel photos
- A touch screen and voice control
2. Canon PowerShot SX620 HS
Another option is the Canon PowerShot SX620 HS. It is one of the best canon cameras for surf photography.
- A compact point-and-shoot camera
- A 25x optical zoom lens
- Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
However, it lacks the durability and waterproofing features of other cameras.
3. Fujifilm FinePix XP140
This affordable point-and-shoot camera is waterproof, shockproof, and freeze-proof, making it ideal for use in the ocean.
It also features;
- A 16.4MP sensor
- 5x optical zoom
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
However, the image quality may not be as high as some other cameras on the market.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and budget when choosing the best cheap camera for surf photography.
Best Camera for Surf Photography from the Beach
There are a few specific features that you need to consider to capture the perfect surf shots.
Some of the top camera options for beach photography include DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
1. Sony A7 III
How about sony a7iii surf photography? Yes, this mirrorless camera is one of the best options for capturing images from the beach.
- Has a great autofocus system
- Excellent image quality
- Good low-light performance
- In-body image stabilization makes it a great option for shooting from the beach.
The only downside is that it’s a bit pricey.
2. Canon EOS 90D
Canon EOS 90D is a DSLR camera.
- A fast burst rate of 10fps
- A great autofocus system
- Good image quality
However, it can be a bit heavy to carry around.
3. Nikon Z50
Nikon Z50 mirrorless camera is also a good option for you to take surfing photos from the beach.
- A good autofocus system
- Good image quality
- Relatively lightweight
However, it’s not weather-sealed, so you’ll need to take precautions when shooting in wet conditions.
These cameras can be paired with a telephoto lens to capture action shots from the beach.
Another great option of the best camera for surf photography from the beach is waterproof or action cameras, which are perfect for capturing the surf from the water.
But they may not have as high image quality as the DSLR or mirrorless options.
Best Camera for Capturing Action Shots of Surfers
If you want to capture action shots of surfers, you’ll need a camera with fast autofocus and high frame rates.
Here are some recommendations for the best surf photography cameras for capturing surfing action shots:
1. Sony Alpha a9 II
This camera is perfect for capturing fast-moving subjects, such as surfers.
- A lightning-fast autofocus system
- Capable of tracking even the fastest surfers
- A high frame rate.
- Excellent low-light performance, which is useful for early morning or late afternoon surf sessions.
2. Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
This camera is another great option for capturing surfing action shots.
- Fast autofocus system
- A high frame rate
- Good image quality and a durable
- weather-sealed body
3. Nikon D6
The D6 is Nikon’s flagship DSLR camera and is an excellent choice for capturing surfing action shots.
- A fast autofocus system
- Have a rugged construction
- Weather-sealed body
- A high frame rate
Best Camera for Surf Coaching
What camera is best for surf coaching? For capturing footage for surf coaching purposes, certain cameras are more suitable than others.
1. GoPro HERO9 Black
The GoPro HERO9 Black is an excellent choice for surf coaching.
- Small size
- Easy to use
- Waterproof up to 33 feet
- 5K video and 20MP photos
- High-quality footage and images
- Has a front-facing screen, making it easy to frame your shots and control the camera
However, it can be a bit expensive compared to other options.
2. Sony RX0 II:
The Sony RX0 II is another great camera for surf coaching.
- Being waterproof, shockproof, and crushproof
- 4K video and 15.3MP photos
- Great image quality
However, it does not have a built-in screen, which can make it difficult to frame shots.
3. DJI Osmo Action 3
The DJI Osmo Action is a powerful camera that is perfect for surf coaching.
- 4K video and 12MP photos
- High-quality footage and images
- Waterproof up to 16m without Waterproof Case, 60m with Waterproof Case
- Front-facing screen
However, the camera’s battery life is not as good as some other options, and the audio quality is not the best.
Best Camera for Surfers
If you’re a surfer looking to capture your waves, you may be wondering what is the best camera for surfers.
Well, you need a camera that is easy to use and can withstand the ocean environment.
Here are some of the best camera options for surfers:
1. GoPro HERO10 Black
The GoPro HERO10 Black is another best surf camera, which is a popular choice for surfers due to its compact size and durability.
It also offers;
- Waterproof up to 33ft
- 5.3K video at 60fps
- Its HyperSmooth 4.0 stabilization technology ensures steady footage
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
However, the battery life is relatively short.
2. Sony RX0 II
The Sony RX0 II is a premium compact camera that is perfect for capturing action shots of surfing.
- Waterproof up to 33ft
- Has a 1-inch sensor that captures 4K video at 30fps
- An advanced autofocus system
- A tilting LCD screen for easy framing
But, it may be more expensive than other options.
3. Fujifilm XP140
The Fujifilm XP140 is a budget-friendly option for surfers.
- Waterproof up to 82ft
- 4K video at 15fps
- A rugged and durable construction
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
However, the image and video quality are not as high as other options on this list.
Best Camera Housing for Surf Photography
In surf photography, sometimes you need to get up close and personal with the action by shooting from inside the water.
In these cases, a camera housing is essential to protect your camera from salt water and other elements.
These are my top choices when it comes to the best camera housing for surf photography:
1. Aquatech Elite II Sport Housing
This housing is designed for professional use and is suitable for cameras such as the Canon 5D Mark IV and Sony A7 III.
- It is made of high-grade aluminium
- Features an ergonomic grip for comfortable shooting
- Interchangeable lens ports to accommodate different lenses.
However, the price point may not be affordable for everyone.
2. SPL Water housing
SPL Water housing is another choice for surf photographers, which is compatible with a variety of cameras, including the Canon 6D and Nikon D850.
- Made of lightweight and durable polycarbonate
- Comes with a pistol grip for easy handling
- Waterproof up to a depth of 33 feet
But, some users have reported issues with the pistol grip trigger.
3. DiCAPac WP-S10 Pro DSLR Camera Series Waterproof Case
This is a budget-friendly option for those who want to protect their camera while shooting in the water. You can check the price of this case before purchasing it.
It is compatible with most DSLR cameras and comes with a detachable lens port.
However, this housing is not recommended for professional use as it may not provide adequate protection in extreme conditions.
Besides, when choosing a camera housing for surf photography, it’s important to consider the compatibility with your camera, the level of protection it provides, and the price point.
By the way, if you are interested in shooting surf photos underwater, you can check out my previous article series on how do you shoot underwater pictures at night and how do you edit underwater photos.
Additionally, the article on the best action camera for snorkeling is also helpful in learning about the best underwater camera for surf photography.
In conclusion, surf photography requires the right camera gear to capture a stunning photo of the moment of surfers and the waves in the ocean.
I have discussed several factors to consider when selecting the best camera for surfing, including the camera’s speed, image quality, durability, and compatibility with water housings.
After reviewing the different options, I recommend the Sony A7 III as the best overall camera for surf photography due to its exceptional image quality, fast autofocus, and overall versatility.
The Sony Alpha a9 II is an excellent choice for capturing action shots from the water’s surface.
For surf coaching and instructional purposes, the GoPro HERO9 provides excellent image quality and a range of advanced features.
Besides, I recommend the AquaTech Elite A7 III underwater housing for those looking to take their surf photography to the next level.
Finally, no matter which camera you choose, always remember to prioritize safety and respect for the ocean environment while enjoying your surfing photography.
Justin Parker is a professional photographer and has been in the industry since 2007. He attended the University of Georgia. Justin combines his passion for photography and his interest in writing to give life to this blog which talks about photography in order to help and inspire young photographers.