New divers and the GoPro, a bad combination

July 12, 2017


Taking pictures and videos underwater is a passion for many divers, and getting ‘that’ photo can be a bit of an obsession.

With the introduction of the GoPro we have seen a huge increase in the number of divers who have their own underwater cameras, and unfortunately, also an increase in terrible beginner and intermediate divers!

Many people already have GoPros before they learn to dive, so the natural progression is to take it underwater, whilst many new divers rush out to buy the camera as soon as they are certified.

This we believe is a big mistake.

New divers must first learn how to breathe underwater, have neutral buoyancy, and have self-awareness in the water before even thinking about an underwater camera, but we are seeing this is not the case.

Maybe new students are not being advised by their instructors about using cameras before they are ready, or maybe they are ignoring the advice, but we are seeing mare and more new divers – and I mean with 4-20 dives in their logbooks, wanting to dive with their camera.

Now I can speak from personal experience. I love taking photos and videos. I have around 200 dives, and still, when I get a camera in my hand I find it very easy to forget about everything. The most worrying factors are my buoyancy and the rest of the group or my buddy. It is so easy to focus on the subject of your photo or video and find yourself 10 meters deeper in seconds, or you finally ge the angle you want and look up to find oops, you are all alone with no idea about where the group has gone.

With 200 dives, if either of these things happens to me I can either find the group again quickly or surface on my own, but if you had 4 dives or 6 dives, would you be so calm? Would you know what to do?

Now apart from your personal safety there are some other factors to consider.}

OTHER DIVERS – New divers with cameras frequently bump into, kick, knock and generally get in the way of other divers. This does not make for a happy surface interval.

THE REEF – New divers with cameras do not have good, if any buoyancy control and bounce up and down off the bottom, off the reef, off the rocks. This is not good for the environment you are diving in and can result in you being banned from the next dive in some places. The dive companies here have to follow park rules and look after the areas they dive, so if you don´t follow the rules, you are out, whether you have paid for more than one dive or not.

RENTAL DIVE EQUIPMENT – The same as above. Bouncing onto the bottom, onto rocks and reef does not do good things to our equipment. Most dive centers require you to pay for any equipment damage they deem preventable.

THE ACTUAL PHOTOS YOU ARE TAKING will be terrible. if you do not have good buoyancy your videos will be all over the place and your photos will probably only have half the subject matter in them.

Our policy at Academy Bay Diving is if you don´t have more than 20 dives you can´t take your camera, and if you have more than 20 dives and don´t do well on the first dive with your camera, you will be asked to leave it in the boat.

Our guides take a small camera and take photos and videos of you and the animals, and I can guarantee, if you are a new diver, their photos and videos will be better than yours.

So learn how to breathe underwater, how to use your equipment, practice your buoyancy, and then and only then, take your camera diving. It is not that hard to dive, but it can be quite difficult and take a lot of practice to be a good diver with good buoyancy.

If you are asked not to dive with your camera please don´t get angry. The guides are not trying to insult you, they are trying to make it an enjoyable dive for the whole group, whilst looking after the marine environment you have come to see.

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