Underwater photography is fun and rewarding, where you can capture stunning nature shots and memories. With the release of the new iPhone 7 and its water-resistant IP67 rating, it has a lot of people wondering if you can take the iPhone 7 underwater to take photos.
In short, you can take underwater photography with your new iPhone 7, but you can still take photos if you've got an older iPhone with a waterproof case. Here are our top tips for taking underwater shots. Also see: How to dry a wet iPhone (or iPad).
How to take underwater photos on iPhone: Get a waterproof case or the iPhone 7
The iPhone 7 was released in September 2016 and is labelled as a water-resistant phone. The first iPhone to be water-resistant, although Apple never mentioned that its predecessor, the iPhone 6s could also withstand a quick plunge - see iFixit's report.
The iPhone 7 water-resistance should not be confused with waterproof equipment. It is ill-advised to take the iPhone 7 for a swim, take it into the sea or go scuba diving at different water depths. The iPhone 7 has an IP67 rating, which in a nutshell means that Apple have tested the iPhone 7 under certain laboratory conditions - certifying it to survive for 30 minutes at a water depth of up to 1m.
This means, you can't take the iPhone 7 swimming with you or have a high-pressure jet shoot water at it, and expect the iPhone to work afterwards. Its IP67 rating is meant to protect it from accidental plunges. However, given its ability to be submerged for 30 minutes, you can take underwater photography.
If you're looking to use your iPhone 7 for longer photography sessions or have an older non-water resistant iPhone, then we would strongly advise you to buy a waterproof case. A waterproof case will provide extra protectton for your iPhone and give you the ability to take underwater shots without having to constantly worry about it malfunctioning. Even Apple state in its small print: "Liquid damage not covered under warranty" - so be wary of taking an iPhone 7 for underwater photography.
See our top recommendations in our dedicated best waterproof iPhone cases article. We especially like the Optrix by Body Glove for the iPhone 6/6s, as it provides good protection and various lenses, which can create a better underwater effect. You can find the cases starting from £23 on Amazon.
To summarise, don't take the iPhone for a swim, only take under at its rated depth and don't try taking your iPhone (without a case) into salt water.
How to take underwater photos on iPhone: Setup
Before going underwater, make sure you've setup your iPhone properly to take photos with ease. When you're underwater, it will be hard for you to use the touchscreen of your phone, however you can use the volume keys to take photos, just ensure you know which button to press or go into your Camera app and configure the settings - this includes the resolution you wish to shoot at, the filters you want to apply to the video resolution (if you intend on taking one).
When you are underwater you should not hold back in taking multiple photos. You are bound to get photos that turn out horrendously, from the wrong focus to bad lighting, there's a lot that can go wrong underwater - no matter your level of photography skills, when you're underwater it's a whole different ball game.
It also might be common sense, but make sure you're fully charged up before entering the water. Taking a lot of photos and videos can consume a lot of battery, and the last thing you'll want is to run out of juice. Apple state that you should not attempt to charge a wet iPhone, and we would agree. If you need your phone after taking underwater shots, we would recommend letting it dry for several hours, before connecting it to any power source - this also applies when wanting to extract photos from your iPhone!
Also see: iPhone 7 release date and specs.
How to take underwater photos on iPhone: Lens
The iPhones have different lenses and cameras, where they will produce a different end result. In this respect, we would recommend looking into different lenses for your iPhone - these can often be bought as a simple clip-on for your iPhone.
There are so many options available on Amazon (to mention one of many retailers) that offers a lens clip-on for your iPhone. These aren't usually meant for underwater photography, but most will work when clipped on your iPhone waterproof case, or on the iPhone 7. Try experimenting with different lenses, as you might find a wide angle or fisheye lens can result in a drastically different result.
Also see: iPhone 7 Plus release date and specs.
How to take underwater photos on iPhone: Lighting
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography; it's not easy to master and takes patience getting the right light in for your shots. As you'll be underwater, you will have to remember that water refracts light in different ways, so there might be times where a shot comes out poorly due to the odd lighting conditions you're in.
We would recommend taking photos in sunlight, as you have natural light shining through. Of course, if you're in an indoor swimming pool, it should already be lit. We wouldn't advise taking night time underwater shots, as you'll be greeted with dark scenes and very poor quality photos. Smartphones, including the iPhones all struggle in low-light conditions without flash, so underwater low-light photography is practically impossible.
The flash can be used underwater, but we would advise against it - as it can disturb the focus and colours of your shots. If you really need extra light, you can buy a diving flashlight torch, such as this one on Amazon for under £15. Do remember that a flashlight will give you an unnatural light source, resulting in odd colours, even underwater. With a flashlight beaming at your subject (say an underwater plant), the plant's colour will not be natural, meaning those nature shots you wish to take will end up a little unnatural - pun intended.
How to take underwater photos on iPhone: Stability
Taking a photo when moving around a lot can be hard, let alone when you're underwater. Stability is very important, and you should have a steady hand when taking an underwater photo, while making sure your subject isn't moving too fast.
To help with stability you can try locking your arms when taking a photo, or buy a selfie stick/monopod. The Optrix by Body Glove Monopod is an example among many found online. This accessory will help you have a steady hand and create beautiful pan shots - both for video or panorama underwater shots.
How to take underwater photos on iPhone: Clothing
The final consideration is clothing. This can be from having pockets to store your iPhone, to having tight clothing, that won't get in the way of your shots. If you start getting serious about photography, even blending into your scenery might be a considering you would like to take - this would only apply where you might see your own reflection in your subject.
Having the right swimming clothing is important, but when we're taking tech under water, you should also consider how you can protect the tech you've got or store it. This principle also applies to having a wrist strap around your iPhone, or a floating piece of equipment that will prevent your iPhone from being swept away from your hands and lost forever.
Also see: The best iPhone accessories.