What Equipment is used for Ocean Photography?

What Equipment is used for Ocean Photography?

Hello everyone! My name is Terence, and I'm an Ocean/Wave photographer based in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. My connection with the ocean runs deep as I've been a part of it since a young age, starting with surfing and junior lifeguarding. The waves have always fascinated me with their unique formations, captivating curls, and ever-changing beauty. Even before I knew anything about photography, I found myself peering through a small opening I made with my hand, framing interesting parts of the waves and as the years went by, life led me on a path where I now find myself immersed in the world of Ocean/Wave photography.

In this blog post, I aim to share with you my journey as an Ocean Photographer. Instead of delving into why or how I entered this profession, I want to focus on the gear that has become an integral part of my creative process. As an ocean photographer, having the right equipment is extremely important for success. Therefore, I will provide insights into what's inside my camera bag, along with a few additional items necessary for capturing stunning images in the midst of the ocean's beauty.

Before we talk about gear, I'd like to emphasize the importance of understanding the ocean in its entirety – its tides, currents, and other essential factors. The ocean can be an unforgiving and perilous environment for the inexperienced. So, before you embark on this journey as a new hobby, please ensure that you have a deep sense of confidence and knowledge about the ocean. Now, let's dive into the fascinating world of ocean photography!


 Photo By Esmer Tener

Photo by Darren Simes 


The first product I want to highlight is a fantastic option for those who are just starting out in ocean photography and want to explore the waters while capturing high-quality photos and videos without breaking the bank. Enter the GoPro, a camera that has stood the test of time and remains a reliable companion in my gear collection.

The GoPro is a compact and portable device that offers exceptional versatility. It comes ready for action, as it is waterproof straight out of the box, allowing you to confidently take it into the ocean without worrying about damage. Whether you're riding the waves, snorkeling, or even diving, the GoPro is designed to withstand the elements and capture stunning footage.

What I truly appreciate about the GoPro is its ability to produce high-quality images and videos. It boasts impressive resolution and delivers excellent clarity, ensuring that your shots truly showcase the beauty of the ocean. It's an ideal choice for those who want to dip their toes into ocean photography and explore the incredible possibilities.

To learn more about the GoPro and its features, you can find it here: GOPRO


Taken With GoPro 


Now, let's delve into the main camera that accompanies me on my ocean photography expeditions—the Sony a6400. This compact mirrorless camera has become my go-to choice for its exceptional image quality and impressive video performance.

In recent years, mirrorless cameras have been revolutionizing the photography industry, and the Sony a6400 is a prime example of their excellence. It packs a punch despite its small size, offering outstanding image quality that allows me to capture breathtaking photos. The camera's high-resolution sensor ensures remarkable detail, while its advanced technology produces vibrant colors and stunning clarity, even in challenging lighting conditions.

One of the standout features of the Sony a6400 is its fast shutter speed, which is crucial for capturing the dynamic and fast-moving waves as they crash against the shore. This camera allows me to freeze those exhilarating moments in time with precision, resulting in truly captivating images.

Being a cropped sensor camera, the Sony a6400 strikes a perfect balance between size and performance. It remains compact and lightweight, making it convenient to carry on my ocean adventures. Yet, it doesn't compromise on image quality, enabling me to print my photos in large formats without sacrificing detail or clarity.

The color science of the Sony a6400 is exceptional, providing rich and accurate tones that enhance the natural beauty of the ocean. From vibrant blues to subtle gradients, this camera delivers outstanding color reproduction, allowing me to bring the mesmerizing essence of the ocean to life in my photographs.

To see the Sony a6400 and explore its features, you can view it here: Sony A6400 Camera

Taken with the Sony A6400


Now, let's talk about my go-to lens, the one that never leaves my side and holds a special place in my heart—the Sony 50mm 1.8 OSS Lens. Affectionately known as the "50 nifty," this lens has become an indispensable part of my ocean photography toolkit.

The Sony 50mm 1.8 OSS Lens is truly a gem when it comes to capturing stunning images. It excels in delivering razor-sharp details, allowing me to showcase the intricate beauty of the ocean and its waves. The lens's exceptional optical quality ensures that every shot I take is bursting with clarity and precision.

One of the standout advantages of this lens is its lightweight and compact design. It doesn't weigh me down during long photography sessions, providing the perfect balance between portability and performance. Its manageable size allows for easy handling, ensuring that I can comfortably capture those captivating oceanic moments.

If you browse through my portfolio, you'll notice that the majority of the photographs were taken with this lens. It has become my trusted companion, consistently delivering outstanding results. The 50mm focal length offers versatility and allows me to capture a wide range of compositions, making it an essential choice for anyone serious about ocean and wave photography.

Whether it's freezing a powerful wave or capturing the fine details of ocean spray, the Sony 50mm 1.8 OSS Lens excels in bringing the essence of the ocean to life through my photographs.

To see the Sony 50mm 1.8 OSS Lens and explore its capabilities, you can find it here: Sony 50 1.8 Lens

Taken with the Sony 50 1.8 OSS


Moving on to another commonly used lens in ocean wave photography, I want to highlight the Samyang 8mm Fisheye Lens. This powerful manual lens is specifically designed to capture those awe-inspiring over and under shots and provide an extremely wide perspective.

The Samyang 8mm Fisheye Lens is my go-to choice when I want to capture the vastness of the ocean and showcase the expansive beauty of the waves. It excels in delivering a unique and distinctive fisheye effect that adds a creative touch to my photographs.

One of the reasons I use this lens frequently, especially when photographing shore breaks, is its manual settings. With the ability to set the aperture and focus distance manually, I have the freedom to pre-configure these settings before my shoot. This allows me to focus on positioning myself in the right place, such as underneath the breaking wave, without worrying about adjusting the lens settings in the moment. It provides a seamless shooting experience, giving me more time to focus on capturing the perfect shot.

When you're positioned under the breaking wave, all you have to do is pull the trigger, and the Samyang 8mm Fisheye Lens captures the extraordinary moment with its wide-angle perspective and distorted curvature. It truly brings a unique and immersive feel to the photograph, adding depth and dimension to the scene.

Although the Samyang 8mm Fisheye Lens is a manual lens, the control it offers and the stunning results it produces make it an indispensable tool for any ocean wave photographer.

To explore the Samyang 8mm Fisheye Lens further and see its capabilities, you can find it here: Samyang 8m Fisheye Lens

Taken with the Samyang 8m Fisheye


Moving on to the next lens in my arsenal, I rely on the Sigma 30mm 1.8 Lens for its exceptional image sharpness and its ability to provide a slightly wider perspective compared to the Sony 50mm lens. While similar in some aspects, the Sigma 30mm lens offers a bit more flexibility for wave photography.

The Sigma 30mm 1.8 Lens shares the same impressive image quality as the Sony 50mm lens, ensuring that my shots are consistently sharp and detailed. However, where the Sigma lens truly shines is in its wider field of view. This additional room to play with becomes particularly valuable in wave photography, where capturing the entirety of the wave is crucial.

There are instances when using the 50mm lens may result in cutting off parts of the wave due to its narrower focal length. However, the Sigma 30mm lens comes to the rescue in such situations. In some surf spots, you may find yourself in a fixed position where you can't physically move back. With waves breaking consistently in the same spot, having a slightly wider lens allows you to capture the full extent of the wave without compromising its visual impact.

The Sigma 30mm 1.8 Lens provides that extra breathing space, ensuring that even when you can't adjust your position, you can still frame the wave perfectly. It offers the versatility needed to capture the grandeur of the ocean while maintaining excellent image quality.

To explore the Sigma 30mm 1.8 Lens further and witness its capabilities, you can find it here: Sigma 30m 1.8 Lens

Taken with the Sigma 30m 1.8


Now, let's discuss my next lens—the 55-210 Lens. This versatile zoom lens allows me to capture stunning shots of waves from a distance, particularly when I'm shooting from land. It becomes especially useful when the sea is particularly turbulent, and it's not advisable to venture into the water.

When the ocean is raging with ferocious waves, I often choose to photograph from a safe vantage point on land. The 55-210 Lens enables me to zoom in and get closer to the subject without needing to be near the crashing waves. This lens offers the flexibility to capture the raw power and beauty of these awe-inspiring waves from a distance.

While primarily used for land photography, I have also experimented with taking the 55-210 Lens into the water. However, I must emphasize that it can be quite challenging to achieve satisfactory results, especially in the focal range of 100-210mm. When you're dealing with such focal lengths, you find yourself at a considerable distance from the subject—the waves. Furthermore, waves are constantly moving, making it even more difficult to maintain focus.

Even the slightest movement of the camera can lead to significant displacement of the subject within the frame. This level of precision and control requires experience and expertise as an ocean photographer. Therefore, unless you are a seasoned professional, I do not recommend using this lens in the water.

However, when shooting from land, the 55-210 Lens offers great versatility and the ability to capture the magnificence of the waves from a safe and comfortable position.

If you're interested in purchasing the 55-210 Lens, you can find it here: Sony 55-210 Lens

Taken with the Sony 55-210 len


Now, let's dive into an essential piece of gear for ocean photography—the waterproof housing. I use the Seafrogs Saltedline a6xxx housing, specifically designed to fit Sony a6xxx models, including the a6000 to the a6500 and everything in between. A reliable waterproof housing is indispensable as it allows you to take your camera safely into the ocean, providing peace of mind that your equipment will stay dry.

The Seafrogs Saltedline a6xxx housing is a high-quality and durable solution. It offers full control of the camera, allowing you to access and press any button while your camera is securely enclosed. Additionally, it features a convenient detachable design, enabling you to easily remove and reattach the housing, which comes in handy for battery conservation.

The housing provides a clear viewfinder, which I primarily use for composing my shots. However, there's also the option to utilize the LCD screen when needed. Its lightweight construction ensures ease of use without compromising on robustness. The Seafrogs Saltedline a6xxx housing boasts a depth rating of 60m, making it suitable for scuba diving enthusiasts.

Another notable feature is the ability to change ports, which allows you to attach different lenses to the housing. This versatility expands the creative possibilities for capturing diverse perspectives in the underwater realm.

To enhance the shooting experience, the housing can be paired with a pistol trigger, which I personally utilize. This trigger is particularly beneficial when you need to act swiftly and don't have time to press the traditional shutter button. It proves especially useful when using the aforementioned Samyang fisheye lens, as it allows you to reach out and capture shots efficiently.

Overall, the Seafrogs Saltedline a6xxx housing is an exceptional waterproof case. If you're considering getting this case for your ocean photography adventures, I recommend visiting the Sea Frogs website and using the code "orangerock" to enjoy a small discount. Seafrogs Housing 

Seafrogs a6xxx waterproof case


Next on the list of must-have equipment for ocean photographers are swim fins, also known as flippers. These are indispensable tools that play a crucial role in helping you maintain the correct position in the water. Swim fins become your lifeline, offering support and assisting you in navigating challenging situations, such as strong currents. Unless you plan on shooting in knee to waist-deep water with small waves, swim fins are highly necessary. You can find the swim fins I use here: DaFins

Another item to consider, depending on the water temperature in your area, is a wetsuit. While optional, a wetsuit provides numerous benefits, especially if you struggle with the cold or swim in ice-cold waters. Beyond keeping you warm, a wetsuit also offers protection from the sun's rays. It's a valuable investment that can enhance your comfort and safety during your ocean photography sessions. For more information on wetsuits, you can explore further here: Wetsuit

Dafins & Wetsuit



Another essential piece of equipment for me is my MacBook Pro laptop. I rely on it every day for my ocean photography work. When you delve into photography, editing becomes a crucial part of the job. As a professional, I shoot in RAW format to retain as much information as possible, allowing for more flexibility during post-processing. However, RAW files can be quite large, requiring a powerful computer to process them smoothly. The MacBook Pro 14-inch, with its sufficient power, is an ideal choice. You can explore it further here: MacBook Pro 14" 

For editing my photos, I highly recommend Lightroom. It is a powerful and user-friendly software that allows for efficient post-production. Lightroom, along with other editing tools, is an essential program for any photographer. You can learn more about Lightroom here: Lightroom

As an ocean photographer, investing in reliable storage solutions is essential. The image sizes are large, and over time, they can occupy significant space. Therefore, having a dedicated hard drive for storing your photos is a necessity. I use this particular hard drive, which you can view here: LaCie Hard Drive 

To streamline my workflow, I utilize a USB Docking Station for MacBook Pro. This compact accessory allows me to connect multiple hard drives and memory cards simultaneously, making it convenient for efficient file transfers. You can check it out here: Docking Station for MacBook Pro

Keeping your camera and lenses clean is of utmost importance, especially for ocean photographers. The salty air around the ocean and beach can have a corrosive effect on your equipment over time. Therefore, I recommend investing in a camera and lens cleaning kit to ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your gear. You can explore products like this one: ZEISS Lens Cleaning Solution Kit

Essential Equipment


In conclusion, becoming an Ocean Photographer is not a simple endeavor. It requires careful consideration of expenses and acquiring pre-existing knowledge before embarking on this path. However, if you possess confidence in swimming safely with a camera, a genuine love for the ocean, a passion for photography, and the means to acquire the necessary gear, this could become a highly enjoyable hobby or even a potential career.

It's important to note that ocean photography is not for the faint-hearted. It can be physically demanding and challenging. However, the breathtaking beauty you will witness firsthand makes every effort worthwhile. The satisfaction of capturing those remarkable moments and sharing the ocean's wonders with others is immeasurable.

I hope that this list has provided you with answers to some of your questions regarding camera gear. Remember, selecting the right equipment tailored to your needs and aspirations is crucial. Embrace the challenges, revel in the beauty, and embark on an incredible journey as an Ocean Photographer.

Happy shooting, and may the ocean's splendor always inspire your creativity!


Here is a simplified list of the gear and the links to purchase them

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