The GoPro stock housing goes deep!

Question: How deep can you really take the GoPro camera underwater (the box says 60m)? The way this works, is that any piece of equipment is 'rated' to a particular pressure. In the case of the GoPro Hero 3 underwater case, it will be rated to 7 atmospheres, which works out to 60 metres in freshwater and around 58 metres in salt water.

This is similar to bridges: They'll have a sign saying "Maximum 3 tons" or similar. This doesn't mean that if you are driving a truck that weighs 3 tons, but a kitten sits in your passenger seat, that the bridge will collapse.

There will be variations in each individual casings, too. Some underwater cases will happily go to 80 metres, others might make it to 90 metres, but some might fail at 68 metres. So, in order to keep your equipment safe, stay above 60 metres

For most people, all of this is moot, however, as a GoPro really isn't the right equipment for dives that deep. I'm a Divemaster, and I've dived extensively, both with and without photographic equipment -- and I don't think I've ever taken a half-decent photo at depths deeper than 30 metres or so. The light doesn't penetrate that deep, for one thing, but 40 metres is actually the maximum depth you can safely dive on air (see Recreational diving) -- so if you want to go deeper than 40, you're looking at becoming a 'technical diver' (see Technical diving), which is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Realistically with a camera without additional lighting, like the GoPro Hero 3, you'll probably only get good footage at depths down to about six metres, and usable footage down to about 15.


In the comments of this article (originally published in 2013), a series of divers started posting how deep they've taken the GoPro stock housings, and I was in for a surprise! Have a look at the comments below, but some of the data points are here:

  1. Steve mentions he's taken his Hero3 Black to 106 meters (348 ft) in a stock case
  2. Jørgen mentions he's had the GoPro on a ROV to 100 meters (330 ft) in a stock case
  3. Damien says he's taken a GoPro into caves and mines and in open water to 69m (230 ft)

Please do keep the comments coming!

Congratulations to November's competition winner!

November's competition theme was wood. You presented us with so many wonderful images that we had a lot of fun looking for a winner. This month's prize, however, goes to Flickr used ludovi for his image Wounded Tree.

Wounded Tree

I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous variations in colour in this image. On top of that, it's technically great. We're very happy to award it a 12" Fracture.

There's an honourable mention, too, for Phil Walton and his Just Missed Bonfire Night. It's a fun twist on the theme, with great lighting, that made us laugh. Well done!

Just Missed Bonfire Night

Congratulations, and thanks everyone for entering. If you feel like having a go this month, December's competition is up-and-running.

September photo competition winner!

Champagne copy

After last month’s brief haitus where Haje was incommunicado and I’d crawled into a hole and hidden, leaving Gareth to judge the August photo competition all by his lonesome, we’re back. We really enjoyed judging this month’s low-key entries, too. There were some fantastic variations on the theme, with portraits, animal photos, and landscapes. But one really caught our eye. So the lucky winner of the prize from Fracture is…

Eerie SS Dicky by Steven Johnson

Many congratulations, Steven! If you get in touch with me, I’ll let you know how to claim your prize.

Everyone who entered: thank you. We loved your submissions. Everyone who didn’t enter: please think about entering this month’s competition. The details will be going up soon!

So you call yourself a photographer?

If single lens reflex cameras are banned - can you use a twin-reflex camera instead? The point's moot now anyway, by the look of things.

If someone asks you if you’re a photographer, what do you say? ‘Yes, I’m a photographer.’ Or ‘No, I take pictures, but I’m not a photographer.’ It’s something that’s been playing on my mind recently, and something that I’ve been debating back-and-forth with a friend of mine who is, as far as I am concerned, a bona fide, hand-on-heart photographer, a veteran of the analogue campaigns, with a portfolio to prove it.

The dictionary definition of photographer is pretty straightforward, it’s a person who takes photographs.

And then there are numerous variations on the phrase ‘Owning a camera does not make you a photographer; it makes you a camera-owner.’

By the dictionary definition, just about every single person in the UK is now a photographer, what with the ubiquitous camera-phone and the millions of images uploaded to FaceBook every month. By the slightly more philosophical statement, there are plenty of people out there taking photos, but they can’t all be called photographers.

So we’re at something of an impasse. It seems as if we have a society of potential photographers, but not one of actual photographers.

I’m pretty convinced that every single camera-owner isn’t a photographer. Would you say that someone who owns a dSLR but never takes it off of automode and owns only the kit lens is a photographer? And is someone who is trying her or his hardest to get the most out of a point-and-shoot not a photographer? Nope, the camera that you use, or don’t use, doesn’t make you a photographer (or not).

Still, I’m not too keen on the idea that there is some mythical ability quotient that you have to fulfil before you’re granted the title Photographer, either. Who exactly is it who decides what constitutes ‘good enough’ in this situation? It’s not as if there’s a medieval-style Guild of Photographers who grants us apprentice, journeyman, or Master Photographer status. Ability is a bit too subjective a term to decide if someone is a photographer or not, thinksme. And honestly, don’t we all take bad photos?

Is the divide professional, then? Do you have to make your living by taking photographs to be a photographer? Well, no, I don’t think so. Think of it this way: would any of the players who competed in the 1995 Rugby World Cup be too pleased if you said that they weren’t really rugby players because they happened to be accountants, doctors, and members of the armed forces in their other lives? Why else do we have the most useful terms ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ in our vocabularies? Photography, and by extension being a photographer, is not something that is determined by money-making status.

There is a common theme running through these slightly manic arguments about who is or isn’t a photographer, though. It might not be about the kit that you own, but it is about doing the best with what you have. It isn’t about whether or not your photos are good enough to be exhibited at the Royal Academy, but whether you strive to make your next shot better than your last shot. And it definitely isn’t about whether or not you earn your living from photography, but it is about wanting every photo that you take to be as good as you can make it.

Being a photographer is about practising a craft. It’s about wanting to create something; it’s about wanting to improve; it’s about wanting to learn.

So next time someone asks you ‘Are you a photographer?’ think about this before you answer: are those pictures that you take an expression of something, and part of a learning curve? If they are, then you’re a photographer.