The Best Camera for Kayaking

The Best Camera for Kayaking

Over the past two decades, action cameras have taken the outside sports realm by storm; their bulletproof toughness and small size have permitted anyone to become the videographer of their very own adventures. Bicyclists record their path as proof in case of an accident, skydivers capture videos of their acrobatics in mid-air, and skiers record their amazing jumps. Therefore, why would people who are kayak fishing not have a desire to upload their paddle strokes or trophy fish catches to Vimeo or YouTube?[toc]

The Best Camera for Kayaking

Of course with any sport you’ll want to have the best camera to get that amazing shot! Here at My Fishing Kayak we’re giving our opinion on the best camera for kayaking and why we think so. We’ll also share some details on what you should look for when choosing a camera for your kayak fishing adventure. So without further ado, here is our pick for the best camera for kayaking:

Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 Action Camera

The Best Camera for Kayaking Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 Action Camera

Buy the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 Action Camera Now!

Action Cameras: What do kayakers need in them?

An action camera must capture excellent footage. However, what makes for great video? The most recent generation of action cameras permits users to control settings like any pro photographer would: white balance, exposure, ISO, etc. The weather drastically can change the lighting and adjusting such settings will make it possible to obtain the ideal shot in any conditions. In addition, image stabilization is amazingly important for kayakers, as the jostling of the boat and waves on every stroke means the camera must work a little magic so you do not wind up with a video that induces nausea.

Then, it definitely has to be waterproof. Water is kryptonite to regular cameras; even a slight rainstorm may destroy an unprotected DSLR. Thankfully, the casing on action cameras usually will protect them, even while completely submerged (up to a specific depth). Aftermarket cases will protect them in deeper depths; however, that is mainly a concern for scuba videographers. As all action cameras may tolerate water as their protective cases are connected, the controls upon some units are hard to use while wet. Whether you are in the middle of crashing ocean waves or severe whitewater, you must have the ability to easily work the camera.

Finally, the camera requires good options for mounting. Unlike tourists recording their trips to the Louvre, kayakers cannot hold a camera – they have two hands on their paddle. The easiest method for mounting is on the front of a boat, utilizing the hooks on the bowlines in order to strap it on. It’ll give either a water-level point-of-view shot or paddling selfie, depending upon which way a camera is facing. Another option is a post mount upon the rear grab handle. It’ll work great for whitewater kayaking and capture outstanding shots of you dropping into a nasty hole. The final selection is the paddle mount. Videos recorded from this mount are the least smooth; however, may be interesting as they’ll provide the feeling of being right there with the paddler.

GoPro HERO5 Black 4K Action Camera

Right now, there are a couple of major names in the action camera marketplace: Garmin and GoPro, with Hero5 and Virb Ultra 30, respectively. These cameras are very similar: both record excellent video, are fully waterproof in their cases, have lots of options for mounting, and are sold at around the same price point. Although, there are a few slight differences between them:

Both the Garmin and the GoPro contain image stabilization features, yet the GoPro permits for it at a higher frame rate. That’d seem to give GoPro an edge; however, kayakers aren’t likely to require the 60-fps setting; it is more beneficial to athletes in fast-moving sports, such as auto racing or skiing.

As it’ll come to waterproofing, the GoPro is highly superior while comparing the cameras without a case. The Garmin is able to deal with some rain, yet it should not be used close to water without a case. The GoPro without a case may get wet yet should not be submerged. But, the Garmin shines while comparing the cameras that have their cases connected. The Garmin’s touchscreen functionality works well while wet, yet as the GoPro gets wet, you must utilize the old school switches to control it. The touchscreen will not work on either of them if they are submerged underwater, yet the Garmin works better when you have wet fingers, which is common while paddling.

Garmin, before they were a manufacturer of cameras, was the leader within in-car and hand-held GPS systems. Because of that, they packed their cameras with a ton of sensors – compass, altimeter, etc. – which keep track of your stats and movement. It’s possible to integrate these details into the videos, which technical kayakers are certain to appreciate. The Hero5 is not without sensors, yet they’re more challenging to use and do not integrate well while uploading the video.

The Garmin and GoPro are both exceptional action cameras, and no user would be disappointed if they were given a GoPro Hero5 as a gift. But, given that they are the same price and Garmin provides better operability while wet and more features, the Virb Ultra 30 is a better selection for kayakers.

Photography from Kayak: Capture the Moment

Making photos from a kayak may be somewhat complicated; therefore, before you spend thousands of dollars on equipment just to discover it to be flooded with seawater, it is worth taking time to find out what your goals are. Do you merely want souvenirs from a trip or the capability of capturing amazing nature pictures? Your selection will dictate the kind of camera you’ll carry and level of protection it requires.


For most, a simplistic Point and Shoot will do. There’s an excellent choice of waterproof cameras from Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, and Olympus. However, if you get the regular models, you will need to locate a waterproof case that protects them — Aquapac is one exceptional option.

There also are small, POV cameras such as Garmin and GoPro, as aforementioned, that may be mounted to your paddle or kayak. They’re good for problem-free video recording, getting intriguing water-angles, as well as grabbing selfies. There also is an excellent choice of accessories it’s possible to get to protect, as well as mount an iPhone. Whichever one you choose, ensure that you lash the unit to your kayak deck or PFD. It’s crazy how fast a camera is able to jump of your hands and go overboard.

For pro-quality photography, you must carry a SLR with lenses. I suggest buying a model that has mid-range prices. You’ll want to have high-quality, yet you do not want to have a camera that’s so expensive you will not have the ability to be at ease while on the water, stressing each time the wind comes up. I personally like the Nikon D750 or Canon 7D MKII because of their higher frame rates, as well as image quality that is available for a moderate price.

Some of you may ask about the factor of a cropped sensor vs. a full sensor. If you want to concentrate on simple use and wildlife photography, a cropped sensor is the better option. They also are more compact and affordable. Generally, full-sized sensor cameras cost more, yet they’re the better option for the ones who want the best image quality and versatility.


The lens choice is tricky. Bringing several lenses will broaden the range of photographs you’re able to capture yet changing the lens on the water isn’t for everyone. Bear in mind the size of your sensor dictates what types of lenses it’s possible to use. In addition, if you are going to buy photography equipment it is worth knowing that cameras devalue over time and lenses hold value.

For wildlife, you will want a lens which brings the action to you – something within the range of 200 – 300 millimeters. If you shoot Canon, I suggest the Canon EF 70 to 300 millimeters f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens or Nikon’s NIKKOR AF-S 70 to 200 millimeters f/4G ED VR Lens or even Nikon’s NIKKOR AF-S 28 to 300 millimeters f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens

For landscaping, you will want something a bit wider, from 12 – 55 millimeters. I recommend Canon’s EF 16 to 35 millimeters f/4L IS USM Lens or Nikon’s Nikkor AF-S 16 to 35 millimeters f/4G ED VR Wide Angle Zoom Lens.

If you want to go light and fast, consider just taking one lens. Canon manufactures a good 24 to 105 millimeters. Nikon’s 24 to 70mm f/2.8 is the best of the best of lenses.  Your choice of lens, in the end, depends on how much cash you’re prepared to spend. If within your budget and possible, search for the “Vibration Reduction” function some lenses have. The technological marvel is very handy and compensates for the shaking you’ll eventually come across when holding a bigger lens.

Accessories. Be certain to have a few filters such as polarizers and UV filters. UV filters are inexpensive and are going to protect your lens. You always should have one on. Use a polarizer that removes glare from the surface of the water and make colors pop. If you have plans to go camping, it’s possible to carry a compact tripod and shutter release cable that shoots landscapes. Lastly, carry some microfiber rags inside your waterproof bags that remove the salt spray from the lens.

Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak


Depending upon your goals, your kayak choice may make all of the difference. Compact Point and Shoots and POV cameras will work in pretty much any boat. However, if you are photographing with a SLR, you will want a boat that’s stable and will not spin out of control at the smallest of breezes. Rudders are very helpful to keep a control of any movement. My recommended ride is the Wilderness Systems Tsunami that has a rudder.

X-Pak Kayak Fish-n-Tote


You never can have too much protection for gear. Storage in or on a kayak may be somewhat annoying and everyone I know who has a camera when kayaking has her or his own preferences. I personally do not like to have anything on the deck or inside the cockpit; therefore, I wind up storing all of my gear in dry bags inside the hatches. I use a couple of Sea to Summit Hydraulic dry bags – one for the camera that has one lens connected, and one for the additional lenses and photograph gear. Both are stored behind me inside the day hatch. Each time I have a desire to photograph something, I take my camera out of my day hatch, open my dry bag and place the strap around my neck. As the camera is secured, I’ll slide my dry bag off then clip it to around my wrist. I then take the shot. When I am frequently shooting, I occasionally keep my camera hanging from my neck and resting inside the dry, open bag.

This set up works for me because I’ll spend lengthy days on the water in which the weather quickly can change. Unseen waves may come from out of nowhere and capsize you. Having a Pelican Case in the cockpit or on a deck may be the better option for some, yet they’re bulky and quickly can fill with one splash from a big wave. A waterproof housing from Aquatech, Delmar or SPL might be your best protection, or waterproof shooting bags, such as the ones from EWA Marine. There aren’t any perfect options, just those that match your needs. Watershed, NRS, and Sea to Summit all make excellent dry bags — just get the thickest and toughest ones.


For shorter trips, bringing multiple batteries are going to cover your needs for power; however, if you go on longer trips you’ll need to figure out ways of charging them. Within the past 5 years, we’ve seen a significant improvement in portable power options. I once carried a bulky Brunton battery that had a big solar panel, yet currently Voltaic Systems is my company of choice. There are other ones such as Goal Zero.


Once you begin doing photography from a kayak — no matter which kind of camera you use or how much of a professional you are — one day you will suffer the wrath of the unpredictable. I highly suggest you insure your gear through pro-camera or renter’s insurance and accept all of the risks which come with the territory.

Respect Craft

If you invest in the additional effort necessary to bring a camera in the water, put a bit of time into crafting nice photographs, as well. Try to learn about compositional theory like depth of field, the rule of thirds, leading lines, and layers. Do not be afraid to experiment with the fundamentals of photography; get weird with your light, aperture, and shutter speeds.

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