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Buying the best lenses - and ports to use them in, can be a long-term value investment. Lenses and ports can be used over and over as you buy new cameras. Buying high-quality lens solutions as you can afford them is the best plan. However, planning what lenses to buy and what format to invest in is a very important decision.

Most cameras come bundled with an inexpensive “kit” lens. These vary in value underwater, but generally aren’t wide enough, focus close enough, or offer the best sharpness to be used well underwater. Their build quality (mount and glass) isn't usually the best either. The extra expense of extensions, gears and ports can make these “inexpensive” lenses poor investments in the long run. Many new underwater photographers end up selling them after a short while as they are disappointed with the results, then are stuck with extensions and ports they can't use.

Underwater we generally want three general focal length ranges of lenses; all with the idea of getting as close to the subject as we can. Water absorbs light, color and clarity; eliminating as much of it as we can gives us the best results.

Those ranges are ultra-wide (usually fish-eye), mid-range zoom, and macro. Ultra-wide fisheye lenses yield the best corner sharpness, due to the loss of one-third of our field of view underwater, they become rectilinear. Their “round” corners match the dome ports that replace much of this loss of field of view. Normal wide-angle rectilinear lenses, as great as they are above water, generally don’t focus as close, not have the corner sharpness we desire, due to refraction.

If you’re on a budget, or not sure what you might like, consider renting some of these specialty lenses from companies like Lens Rentals.com. It’s very easy and fees are reasonable.

Below is a list of Optical Ocean Sales recommendations. This is not a finite list, if you have others you want to use, check to make sure there are port solutions for them. Older models of popular brands are generally supported and work fine. But these are supported by housing manufacturers and are known to give excellent results.

Full Frame DSLR Cameras:

Nikon

  • Nikkor AF Fisheye 16mm f2.8D
  • AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED
  • Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Fisheye*
  • Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4 VR Zoom
  • Nikkor AF-S 17-35mm f2.8D Zoom
  • Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR f2.8 Macro

Canon

  • Canon 8-15 f2.8 FE Zoom
  • Canon EF 15mm f4 FE
  • Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Fisheye*
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f2/.8L II USM
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f2/.8L III USM
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
  • Canon EF 17-40mm f2.8L USM
  • Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM

Sony a7/a7II Series

  • Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4
  • Sony FE 24-70 mm F2.8 GM
  • Sony FE 28-70mm with +5 or stronger diopter for Macro
  • Nikonos 15mm Nikkor FE f/2.8 (Nauticam only)
  • Sony FE 28 mm F2 with Nauticam WWL wet lens
  • ZEISS Batis 2.8/18
  • Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
  • Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM
  • Sony FE 50 mm F2.8 Macro
  • Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Cropped Sensor DSLR Cameras:
(Note: Most full-frame macro and mid-range zoom lenses work fine)

Nikon

  • Tokina 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 FE
  • Tokina 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 FE - used with Kenko 1.4X Teleplus Pro 300**
  • Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC Macro OS HSM
  • Nikkor AF-S 60mm f2.8 Macro
  • Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR f2.8 Macro

Canon

  • Tokina 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 FE
  • Tokina 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 FE - used with Kenko 1.4X Teleplus Pro 300**
  • Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC Macro OS HSM
  • Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM
  • Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM

Micro 4/3rds Format (Panasonic & Olympus):

Sony NEX / A-series E mount Mirrorless:

  • Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8
  • Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8 with ultra-wide converter VCL-ECU1
  • Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8 with fisheye converter VCL-ECF1
  • Sony SEL16-50mm f/3.5-5.6
  • Sony SEL10-18mm E f/4
  • Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8M Macro
  • Sony FE 50 mm F2.8 Macro
  • Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

* We prefer the less expensive, but well made, Sigma 15FE as it focuses closer than the OEM lenses.

** The Sigma 17-70 Macro Zoom is a good general-purpose lens, but we prefer the Tokina 10-17 plus Kenko TC for best sharpness and overall adaptability.