My Lenses for Underwater Photography

Lenses for Underwater Photography

My Lenses for Underwater Photography


The lenses used for underwater are mainly wide-angle and macro, because we always need to be as close as possible to the subject to reduce the water filter between us. There is no use of any kind of telephoto lens underwater.

Lenses on the picture here above, from left to right, Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 with zoom gear, Nikon 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 with zoom gear, Nikon 105mm micro f/2.8, Nikon 60mm micro f/2.8 and Nikon 10.5mm Fisheye f/2.8

Macro Lenses

For my macro shoots, I use two 1:1 lenses. The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 is my main macro lens and my second one is the Nikon Micro 60mm f/2.8. Each of these lenses is very high quality. The 105 lens enables to keep a little bit further from the subject to shoot, which is sometimes important for the “shy” ones.

Fimbriatic moray shot with the Nikon micro 105mm f/2.8 lens – Picture was shot with one flash only set on the moray’s left side to get that dramatic and mysterious effect
Longnose Hawkfish shot with Nikon Micro 105mm
Wide-angle lenses

My wide-angle lenses are Nikon 12-24 for DX format f/2.8-4 (love it!) and my very favorite Nikon 10.5 fish-eye for DX f/2.8, which is my go-to for underwater photography. After I bought the Nikon 10.5 fish-eye lens, Tokina came out with a wonderful zoom fish-eye lens, 10-17. As I already owned the Nikon when this hit the market, I didn’t buy the Tokina, but it’s a very popular and versatile lens which helps underwater photographers to make beautiful images.

Boy free-diving in Papua New Guinea – Shot with Nikon 12-24mm lens
Underwater Nemo33 diving pool shot with Nikon 10.5mm fish-eye lens

The fish-eye lens is perfect for half and half shots (mid-air/mid-water) pictures and I love these! Another post to be published soon, will give some tips for the half & half/split images.

Fish-eye lens gives a wonderful depth effect when used underwater and has a very short focus distance. It’s a must for underwater photography.

Macro-Wide Zoom
Red grouper zoom-in shot with Sigma 17-70mm lens


I have another Magic Macro-Wide lens which is great for many uses. The Sigma 17-70 Macro is a great lens which enables wide-angle shooting and macro as well. It makes also a great job in all the zoom-in/zoom-out effects. It’s the perfect lens to travel light. This lens turns the DSLR into point-and-shoot camera! 🙂

Sometimes I use some of these lenses for my “dry” images. The lens I use the most for non-underwater pictures is the Nikon 18-200, which is very versatile and easy to travel with.  I like it so much that after I broke my first one, I tried to upgrade.  I couldn’t find anything that surpassed it, so I bought exactly the same model for the second time.


As we saw in this post, underwater photographers use wide-angle and macro lenses. Some of them use both kinds, some others shoot only macro and others only wide. This post helps to understand  the differences between the lenses. Anyone who wants to begin may decide to go to the easiest choice, a zoom lens enabling both macro and wide, like the Sigma 17-70mm. Those who prefer a lens for each kind of shooting, may choose for the macro shooting, something like the Nikon 105mm and for the wide shooting, either a fish-eye like the Nikon 10.5/Tokina 10-17, or a rectilinear lens like the Nikon 12-24.

For info, I have written in this post about lens models that I owe, but similar models exist in other brands, like Canon and more. Make sure to choose high quality lenses, as they are your camera’s eye and they will follow you each time you will change your camera body, if you keep the same brand and sensor size. 


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