Capturing the beauty of life underwater through photography is incredibly difficult. On top of having to understand how light moves underwater, you also need an extreme amount of patience and skill to capture stunning photographs that do the underwater world justice. Having the right type of equipment and tools can help you achieve certain shots. While most underwater photographers stress the importance of having proper external flash lighting or the correct type of lens, not many people spend a second thought on getting camera leveling tripod heads. However, this equipment can really help you get clear shots. Here are 3 features you should look for when purchasing one.

Gimbal Head

Life underwater is constantly in motion. To be able to get some good shots in, you'll need to have a stable base for the camera that will allow you to also smoothly track moving subjects. Similar to bird photography, use camera leveling tripod heads with a gimbal head when shooting life underwater. This tripod head will allow you to station yourself in a fixed position while you smoothly track moving subjects before snapping a shot of them.

While most tripods come with ball heads, these models are not ideal for underwater photography. Tripods with ball heads are only ideal for stationary subjects. Unfortunately, life underwater isn't going to wait for you to focus your lens to get a good shot.

Counterbalance System

Heavier camera leveling tripod heads often also come with a counterbalance system. This system is capable of balancing the weight of the camera through the entire tilt movement regardless of whether the camera is being moved up or down. If you let the camera go while you get other equipment or stuff ready, a camera leveling tripod head with a counterbalance system will hold the camera firmly in place without letting it 'drop' or 'dive', so to speak.

This is ideal for underwater photography – especially since it can be difficult to hold your camera steady when there are strong moving currents all around you. A counterbalance system will make it a lot easier for you to focus your camera or attach lenses and different accessories with ease. You'll be able to let the camera go while you draw your attention elsewhere.

Waterproof – not Water-Resistant – Abilities

Although camera leveling tripod heads don't have any electronic features to them, the inner structure is made from metal, which can be easily damaged if it is not perfectly sealed away from prolonged exposure to water. Camera leveling tripod heads used for underwater photography must be waterproof, and not just simply water-resistant. Waterproof means that the tripod heads can withstand water and can be submerged in water for long periods of time. Some manufacturers do specify how long the tripod heads should be used underwater.

Water-resistant, on the other hand, means that the tripod heads can tolerate water in small doses. These tripod heads are ideal if you're simply taking photographs at the beach and expect some of the seawater to splatter onto the equipment from time to time. They are not recommended for underwater use, as the equipment can be easily damaged.


Having the right type of equipment can help you get that perfect shot you've always dreamed of. The underwater environment is much harsher at times than above ground. You'll have to deal with strong currents, limited or reduced mobility,  and other issues while trying to capture the beauty of some quick moving subjects. Investing in the right camera leveling tripod head can really help take your photography up to the next level and make your task a lot easier.