Island and Beach lover

The 12 Best Cameras For Surf Photography [2023 Guide]

Catch the perfect wave with our guide to the 12 best cameras for surf photography in 2023. Discover your ideal companion for epic on-the-wave moments!

The 12 Best Cameras For Surf Photography [2023 Guide]

Trying to capture the epic on-the-wave moments can be tough if you don’t have the right equipment. Did you know that Sony A1 is rated as the best camera for surf photography in 2023? This blog post will guide you through twelve top-ranked cameras designed specifically for capturing stunning surf photos, categorized according to different skill levels.

Now, let’s dive right into discovering your perfect wave-shooting companion!

Key Takeaways

  • The Sony A1 is rated as the best camera for surf photography in 2023 due to its exceptional image quality and performance.
  •  For professional-level surf photographers, top choices include the Canon 1DX Mark III, Sony A1 Mirrorless, and GoPro HERO 11 Black.
  •  Intermediate-level surf photographers can consider options like the Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon EOS R, and GoPro HERO 9.
  •  Beginner-level surf photographers can start with cameras like the Canon EOS Rebel T6i, Sony a7 III, and GoPro HERO 8.

The Best Cameras for Surf Photography for Professional-Level

The Canon 1DX Mark IIISony A1 Mirrorless, and GoPro HERO 11 Black are the top choices for professional surf photographers.

Canon 1DX Mark III

The Canon 1DX Mark III is a top pick for pro surf photographers. It can shoot fast, which helps to grab the perfect wave shot. This camera has a full-frame sensor that makes awesome photos.

Famous filmmaker Nick Kennedy used this camera in Tahiti. Surf photographer Ben Thouard says this camera is a game-changer!

Sony A1 Mirrorless

The Sony A1 Mirrorless stands out in the world of surf photography. This powerful camera boasts a huge 50.1-MP sensor. It lets you take ultra-fast shots at full resolution. You can shoot 30 frames per second and never miss a perfect shot.

This model is excellent for underwater photos too. With the right waterproof housing, you get amazing surf photos like no other camera can do! In fact, many consider it the best choice for photography in 2023.

GoPro HERO 11 Black

The GoPro HERO 11 Black takes surf photography to new heights. It gives you a strong 27-megapixel resolution and 10-bit color for the best image quality. The bigger sensor in this camera is a big step up from older models.

Not just on land, it works great underwater too! You can take amazing surf photos as well as videos with this powerful camera. And at $399, it’s a good option for pros without breaking the bank.

The Best Cameras for Surf Photography for Intermediate-Level

For intermediate-level surf photography, the Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon EOS R, and GoPro HERO 9 are top choices.

Canon 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D Mark IV is one of the best cameras for surf photography. It offers professional-level power at a more affordable price compared to other options. This full-frame camera is easier to use, making it perfect for intermediate-level photographers.

One standout feature is its autofocus capabilities, which ensure you capture sharp and clear images of fast-moving subjects like surfers. Another advantage is that the Canon 5D Mark IV is highly recommended for underwater photography, allowing you to take stunning shots beneath the waves.

With its impressive image quality and versatility, this camera is a great choice for capturing amazing surf photos.

Canon EOS R

The Canon EOS R is a great choice for intermediate-level surf photography. It’s a weather-sealed camera, which means it can handle different conditions when you’re out taking photos and videos.

People who use the camera really like it, and professionals in the industry think highly of it too. The Canon EOS R is one of the best mirrorless cameras you can get for underwater photography.

And the best part? It’s affordable! You can buy just the camera body for $1499, so it won’t break your budget if you want to try your hand at capturing amazing surf shots underwater.

GoPro HERO 9

The GoPro HERO 9 is one of the best cameras for intermediate-level surf photography. While it may not be the newest and top option for professional surf photographers, it still offers impressive features.

Although it’s not waterproof up to 10m (33ft) without housing, its durability makes it suitable for capturing great shots in various weather conditions. With a 27 MP image resolution and the ability to capture bursts at a rate of 10 frames per second, the GoPro HERO 9 ensures you don’t miss any action on the waves.

Plus, its stunning stabilization and night mode capabilities make it an excellent choice for capturing high-quality images even in low-light conditions.

The Best Cameras for Surf Photography for Beginner-Level

If you’re just starting out in surf photography, the Canon EOS Rebel T6i, Sony a7 III, and GoPro HERO 8 are excellent options to capture your first amazing shots. Read more to find out why these cameras are perfect for beginners.

Canon EOS Rebel T6i

The Canon EOS Rebel T6i is a great camera for beginners interested in surf photography. It’s an entry-level model from Canon that offers affordability and user-friendly features. With its 24.2MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor and DIGIC 6 image processor, it delivers high-quality photos.

This camera is praised for its ease of use and reliable performance, making it a popular choice among those starting out in surf photography.

Sony a7 III

The Sony a7 III is considered the best overall camera for surf photography in 2023. It’s a popular choice among both beginner-level and intermediate-level photographers. This versatile full-frame mirrorless camera delivers fast performance and produces high-quality images.

Despite being a full-frame camera, it is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry around during your surf photography adventures. Whether you’re capturing action shots or stunning landscapes, the Sony a7 III is an excellent option that provides great value for its price.

Go Pro HERO 8

The GoPro HERO 8 is one of the best cameras for surf photography at the beginner level. It offers great features and image quality, making it an excellent choice for capturing your surfing adventures.

With its waterproof housing, you can take it in the water without worry. The GoPro HERO 8 also has a wide-angle lens that allows you to capture more of the action, and its compact size makes it easy to carry around.

Whether you’re shooting photos or videos, this camera will help you get amazing surf shots that you can share with others.

Important Considerations When Choosing Surf Photography Cameras

When choosing a camera for surf photography, there are several important factors to consider. These include the price of the camera, the type of lens it uses, its features and durability, as well as its ability to handle various lighting conditions.


Price is an important consideration when choosing a camera for surf photography. The article mentions the Nikon D500 as an affordable and powerful option, while the Sony A1 is described as high-priced but worth it for those seeking exceptional quality.

It also references Blink, a provider of affordable cloud storage for home security cameras. Considering your budget and finding a camera that offers good value for money will help you make the right choice for your surf photography needs.


Having the right lens is just as important as having a good camera for surf photography. When it comes to choosing a lens, you’ll want to consider factors such as focal length and aperture.

A wide-angle lens with a focal length between 16-35mm is ideal for capturing the vastness of the ocean and the action on the waves. Additionally, a lens with a wide maximum aperture (such as f/2.8) will allow you to shoot in low-light conditions and create beautiful depth-of-field effects.

Another important factor to consider is image stabilization. Since surf photography often involves shooting from moving platforms or dealing with unpredictable waves, having a lens with built-in image stabilization can help reduce camera shake and ensure sharper images.

Lens filters can also be useful tools in surf photography. They can enhance colors, reduce glare from water surfaces, and even protect your lenses from water droplets or spray.


The features of a camera are important to consider when choosing one for surf photography. Some key features to look for include price, lens options, environmental protection, lighting capabilities, and camera durability.

Price is an important factor, so finding a camera that fits your budget is essential. The lens choice will depend on the type of shots you want to capture – a wide-angle lens is great for capturing the vastness of the waves, while telephoto lenses are ideal for getting close-ups of surfers in action.

Environmental protection is crucial because sand, moisture, heat, and sea salt exposure can damage cameras if not adequately protected. Lighting features such as high ISO range and good low-light performance help capture clear images in different conditions.

Environmental and element protection

Cameras used for surf photography need to be protected from the harsh elements of the beach and ocean. This includes protection from salt air, heat, moisture, and sand. It’s important to choose a camera that has proper environmental protection so that it can withstand these conditions and last longer.

Look for cameras with weather sealing and durable materials that can handle the rough environment at the beach. Additionally, consider investing in additional protective gear such as waterproof housing or camera bags to provide added security for your camera.

By prioritizing environmental protection, you’ll ensure that your camera is well-equipped to capture amazing surf photos and withstand the challenging conditions of surf photography.

Lighting features

The lighting features of a camera are really important when you’re doing surf photography. Since the weather conditions can change quickly, having control over the lighting is crucial to getting good shots.

One key feature to look for is the shutter stop, which determines how much light comes in before taking the picture. This helps to capture high-quality images of those amazing surfing moments.

So when choosing a camera for surf photography, make sure it has great lighting features to get the best results.

Camera durability

When choosing a camera for surf photography, it’s important to consider its durability. You want a camera that can withstand the harsh conditions of saltwater, sand, and unpredictable weather.

Look for cameras that are water-resistant or come with waterproof housings to protect them from water damage. Additionally, consider cameras that have rugged construction and are built to handle impacts and shocks.

This will ensure that your camera can endure the rigors of shooting in challenging environments without compromising its performance.

Gear You’ll Need for Surf Photography

To capture the perfect shots while photographing surf, you’ll need essential gear like waterproof housing, an over-under water dome, editing software, a camera cleaning kit, a tripod and accessories, storage and backup solutions, as well as a camera bag and accessories.

Waterproof housing

To protect your camera during surf photography, waterproof housing is essential. SeaFrogs Salted Line camera housings are a cost-effective option that provides reliable protection in the water.

These hard-shell housings are suitable for most cameras and can withstand the harsh conditions of surfing. It’s important to remember that all cameras used for surf photography require waterproof housing to prevent damage from water and other elements.

Additionally, some water housing options even have the ability to float on water surfaces, making it easier for you to swim and capture those amazing surf photos without worrying about your gear getting wet or damaged.

Over-Under Water Dome

The Over-Under Water Dome is a popular choice among surf photographers. It is compatible with GoPro cameras and helps eliminate water droplets for clear photos. The dome creates a barrier between the camera and the water, protecting it from damage.

Designed to withstand water pressure, it allows photographers to capture stunning images both above and below the water’s surface. Investing in a high-quality dome is recommended for optimal results in surf photography.

Editing software

When it comes to editing your surf photography, the best software recommended by surf photographers is Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. These programs are easy to use and allow you to make adjustments to colors and enhance your surf photos.

Not only are they great for surf photography, but they can also be used for editing other types of photos as well. So if you want to take your surf shots to the next level, consider using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for all your editing needs.

Camera cleaning kit

A camera cleaning kit is an essential accessory for surf photography. It includes a cleaning cloth, dust brush, dust blower, and lens cleaning spray. This easy grab bag pack helps you keep your camera and lenses clean from sand and saltwater.

It’s convenient to have on hand so that you can quickly remove any dirt or smudges that may affect the picture quality. Before heading out to take amazing surf photos, it’s recommended to test your equipment with an old camera using the cleaning kit to make sure everything is working properly and there are no faults.

Tripod and accessories

A tripod is a must-have for surf photography, especially in low-light situations. It helps keep your camera stable, reducing blur and allowing you to capture clear shots of the action.

With a tripod, you can also experiment with long exposures to create beautiful motion effects in the waves. In addition to a tripod, there are other accessories that can enhance your surf photography experience.

For example, waterproof housing will protect your camera from water damage while shooting near the shore. An over-under water dome can help you capture unique split-level images of both above and below the water surface.

Storage and backup solutions

To ensure the safety of your surf photography shots, it’s important to have proper storage and backup solutions. This means having a reliable external hard drive or cloud storage service where you can save your images and videos.

By doing this, you can protect against any unforeseen data loss or damage to your camera equipment. It’s also a good idea to create multiple backups in case one fails. Having a solid storage and backup system in place will give you peace of mind knowing that your amazing surf photos are securely stored and easily accessible whenever you need them.

Camera bag and accessories

To protect your camera and keep all your gear organized, you’ll need a reliable camera bag. The best one in 2023 is the Canon Camera Bag 20L, which is highly recommended by professional surf photographers.

This bag has enough space to carry your camera body, lenses, batteries, memory cards, and other accessories. It also comes with padded dividers to keep everything secure and protected during transport.

Additionally, it has adjustable shoulder straps for comfortable carrying and even a rain cover to shield your gear from unexpected weather conditions.

Along with a camera bag, there are other essential accessories you should consider for surf photography. A waterproof housing is crucial to protect your camera from water damage while shooting in the ocean.

An over-under water dome can help capture both underwater scenes and waves breaking above the surface. Editing software will enable you to enhance and fine-tune your photos after capturing them.

A camera cleaning kit will ensure that sand or saltwater doesn’t damage your equipment.

You may also want to bring a tripod for stability during long exposure shots or time-lapses. Storage and backup solutions are important so that you won’t lose any of your precious images out in the field.

And finally, having smaller accessories like lens filters, extra batteries, lens cloths, and lens hoods can make a big difference in getting those perfect shots on the beach.


In conclusion, whether you’re a professional, intermediate, or beginner surf photographer, there are plenty of great camera options available. The Sony A1 takes the top spot for its exceptional image quality and performance.

For professionals, the Canon 1DX Mark III remains the industry standard. And if you’re just starting out, cameras like the Canon EOS Rebel T6i and GoPro HERO 8 are excellent choices.

Remember to consider important factors like price, lens options, and environmental protection when making your decision. Happy shooting!


1. What is the best option for a camera to use in surf photography?

The Nikon Z, Sony RX, and Olympus OM-D E-M are top picks as some of the best surf cameras due to their sharp focus points, high video quality, and long battery life.

2. Are there waterproof cameras that can be used for surfing photography?

Yes! Action cameras like GoPro are great options because they’re water-resistant and have a decent lens for capturing photos.

3. Can DSLR cameras be used in surf photography?

DSLR cameras could also be an excellent choice since they offer higher dynamic range, fast shutter speed, and burst mode features with live-view mode functionalities which will help take great photos during surfing activities.

4. Does the type of camera impact photo quality in surf photography?

Certainly! A better camera often has more advanced features such as a wider zoom range or better low-light performance which may make a significant difference when taking pictures on long shoots at different times of day.

5. Is it possible to share these digital photos from my camera right away on social media?

Most professional cameras now come with Wi-Fi connectivity allowing you to connect your device immediately after shooting and share your surfing snaps on social media quickly!

6. Should I consider the price point in buying a new camera for my surfing trips?

While it’s important not just to go by price alone; considering all aspects such as electronic viewfinder clarity,in-body image stabilization, cropped sensor size, and good frame rate along with reasonable prices will help you choose the perfect camera suiting needs.

Share the Post:

Related Posts