All About GoPro Filters Underwater

Brent Durand: Hello underwater video shooters,
videographers, photographers, and scuba divers, free divers, snorkelers; whoever you are that
wants to use GoPro filters underwater, and learn about GoPro filters and video lights. We’re going to cover that today. Brent Durand: I’m Brent Durand. I shoot a lot of underwater photos, and a
lot of underwater video, and this is part of my YouTube video tutorial series. Definitely check that out, and the VIP Member
video series with hours and hours of tutorials on my website. Anyways, we’re going to talk about GoPro filters,
when to use them, how to use them, how they work, and some of the pros and cons. So let’s jump in! Brent Durand: So what do GoPro underwater
filters do? In short, these filters bring the reds and
true whites back into the scene as we’re shooting underwater. And as we descend deeper into the water column,
we realize that the scene surrounding us gets more blue, or maybe more green. More muted and less contrast. Because we’re losing channels of light starting
with red. So as we’re near the surface we start to see
all the colors, but as we go deeper into the water we lose those colors. Brent Durand: By adding a filter to the front
of the camera, we can bring those colors back. We can see truer whites. We can see reds and oranges and greens, and
some of those colors that we’re losing as we dive deeper. Brent Durand: How do GoPro filters work? We have different colors that are designed
to bring the color back into our underwater footage at different depths and in different
water conditions. So for example, I’ve got the PolarPro Divemaster
kit here. And we’ve got a red filter here. And then we also have a magenta filter. And for the most part you’re going to use
a red filter when you’re in blue water. Generally better visibility. The stuff most of us are snorkeling, free
diving, or scuba diving in. Brent Durand: For the magenta filter; these
are designed for greener type of water. So if you dive in green water, you know who
you are, and magenta’s going to work for you, but in general, we’re all looking at the red
type of filter. Brent Durand: So how do these filters work? Well you add the filter to the front of the
GoPro. And the GoPro is looking out at the underwater
scene through the red filter. And then when it is choosing an auto white
balance, it is going to choose the best white balance based on seeing all the reds back
in the picture. So in fact, you’re actually helping GoPro’s
auto white balance to determine the best white balance for the scene. There are Protune options that let you do
a manual white balance, but for the most part, most of us are using the filters just because
it’s easy to flip on and off. Brent Durand: Let’s say we take our GoPro
right here, and we have the filter attached to the front. We can leave it off, and we can pop it back
on. So it’s really easy to use. Brent Durand: So here’s a question I get asked
quite a lot, whether it’s in the comments of my videos or whether it’s direct by email
or on Facebook or Instagram. It’s: Can you use a GoPro filter with a video
light? The answer is No. You’re using one or the other. Brent Durand: So when you’re using a red filter,
you’re shooting ambient light, and the red is helping adjust the white balance of the
camera so you can see those truer colors that are lost in the water column. When you’re using a video light underwater,
you’re accomplishing the same thing by shining that light on the subject and reflecting back
those bright colors that were otherwise lost as the ambient light and those color channels
fell out of the water column. So both filters and video lights are essentially
doing the same thing but in a different way. Brent Durand: Video lights will work really
well when the subject is close to you. So think within a couple feet, a meter – you
know, getting to two meters would be the absolute max. So for shooting close subjects video lights
are great. They’ll deliver sharp, bright, vibrant colors,
and they’ll also create sharp contrasts and delineations and shadows. If the subject is a little further away – let’s
say you’re shooting a dive buddy, you’re shooting larger reef, you’re shooting something large
like that – that’s when you want the filter. The video lights aren’t going to go very far. So by using a filter, you can create those
true colors back in the scene. Brent Durand: If, for instance, you’re going
to put the filter on the camera, the red filter, and use video lights, think about it. You’re shooting with video lights, bringing
the color back. And you’ve just put a red filter in front
of the camera, so everything is going to have a very red tint. So that’s why we don’t want to use both together. Brent Durand: On a similar note, if you were
using a red filter right at the surface, you’re going to notice all of your footage is going
to be very red. So let’s say you’re shooting whale sharks
just feeding at the surface with plankton and krill. You’ve got that red filter on. Odds are high you’re going to get a lot of
red in there, especially if it’s a bright sunny day. So you would want to remove the filter and
just shoot ambient. As you dive down deeper, now you want to put
that filter back on. So it’s either or. You want the video light or that strong ambient
light at the surface, or you want the red filter, or the magenta filter. Brent Durand: Filters also provide a great
benefit for scuba divers who may want to get closer to small subjects with their GoPro. We know that the GoPro has a minimum focus
distance of 12 inches (or 1 foot), which leaves you this far away from your subject. And if the subject is very small, even if
you’re setting your camera to narrow field of view to try and minimize the superwide
or wide field of view and fill the frame with your subject, you’re still kind of far away. So several manufacturers have created macro
diopters. In this case I’ve got the PolarPro SwitchBlade
7, and we add it right here. Brent Durand: You’ll notice there’s two different
mounts on here. So we have one mount that attaches to the
regular GoPro Super Suit body, and then we’ve got another mount that will allow you to mount
to your GoPro tray, mount to your housing, mount to your handle – whatever you’re going
to use. So it’s very simple to add the SwitchBlade
and then mount it to your housing or handle. Brent Durand: And the way this work is that
we have a macro lens. So this allows you to get a lot closer to
your subject than 12 inches and delivers great picture quality. What you can do now is flip it off if you
don’t want to use it. So now we’re back to our wide-angle shots. If you go to your smaller scene, your smaller
subject just flip that right back on. Really easy flip-on flip-off to use. As another benefit, we have another layer. So now we’ve got a red filter. And if we’re shooting a wide-angle scene,
that is awesome. We’ve got a red filter. Let’s say we want to use the video lights
in our system or shoot right at the surface – that whale shark we mentioned before – flip
up the red filter, and here you go. Brent Durand: Now you’ve got just the regular
GoPro lens. Now you’ve got red. We can leave red up. And now you’ve got that macro lens if you
want to use your video light to illuminate that close subject and create really strong
contrasts and pop and color. You can do that. Or, if you’re not using a video light, you
want to keep it simple. Flip down your red filter, flip on the macro
lens, and now you’re good to go shoot. So it’s really cool that you have so much
option with the SwitchBlade filter. The other thing you can do is swap out the
red filter for a magenta filter. So you’re good to go no matter where you’re
diving or what you’re shooting. Brent Durand: So if you’re snorkeler or freediver,
this might not apply as much unless you plan to get really really close to your subjects. But if you’re scuba diving and seeing those
really small subjects, then the SwitchBlade is a really really great option for you if
you want to have that variety to shoot a lot of subjects. It might make more sense than a Divemaster
kit with regular filters if that’s your intention and that’s what you want to do. Brent Durand: So that’s pretty much it for
GoPro filters. If you have some comments, leave them below. I answer every single comment and try to give
you all the information you need. Otherwise, check out my tutorials website,
also linked below, and that’s going to take you through a lot of this information with
samples and also links to a number of different filters that you can check out for yourself. Brent Durand: And if you’re not subscribed,
hit that subscribe button below. And I look forward to seeing you guys in other
videos. Until then, have fun diving. See you in the sea!

Comments 9

  • If I use filters in the lights! Still can't not used the red filter?

  • thanks for the info

  • Another great video! I like the confirmation about video lights and the red filter doing the same thing. Again, this video appeals to all levels of underwater videography enthusiasts. Thank you!

  • Awesome video, Brent! I've always said strong ambient sunlight (not overcast, the sun is overhead or shooting between 11am-3pm) & water clarity are slightly more important factors to great UW images/videos. If/when shooting from surface-15ft.

    Speaking to the PolarPro set-up, have you also tried the Backscatter filter package? I've been deliberating between the two & can't seem to find a comparison review. — But overall, how do you rate the PolarPro one?

  • Based on your experience, does Polarpro switchblade 7 gets rust? Did you encounter any problem switching from one filter to another or using filter only then combination of filter and lens?

  • Hey Brent! Scuba diver here, newly getting into underwater photography! Just looking for a pointer, you said the gopro has a focus distance of a foot, but with the macro lens you can get closer to your close would you recommend? I bought the switchblade for my upcoming trip to Curaçao, hoping to get some sweet macro shots! Great vid, couple things I was wondering answered!

  • Hi~ I used waterpoof case with red filter underwater. But there was leak between waterproof case and Red filter. Is it normal?? I think there are no sealing btw waterproof case and Red filter. All product is like that??

  • Hello! Congrats for the nice series of video tutorials!

    I have the switchblade7 for my gopro hero7 but I'm not sure what is the best FOV setting for shoot with the macro filter. What do you prefer? Linear? Wide?.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Hi Brent. You know filters absorb some light which is bad when we are deeper, so isn't it better to shoot without filters and then color correct it with computer?

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