Using Dome Ports with GoPros for Over/Under Water Split Photos

If you're looking to get split photos of above and below the water line, a dome port is what you want. Here's a rundown of how they work with GoPros.
Telesin GoPro HERO5 Dome Port
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If you’re looking to get split photos of above and below the water line, a dome port is what you want. Technically, it’s possible to do it without a dome port, but in practice it’s very, very difficult because of how hard it is to perfectly align the water line with the center of the lens. A dome port effectively pushes the waterline out away from the lens, vastly increasing the working size. And that makes it much, much easier to work with.

Taken with a GoPro HERO4 Silver in a dome port.

Vicdozia Telesin Dome Port Lens Compatible with GoPro Hero 7 Black, Hero 6,...
  • 【DESIGNED FOR GOPRO HERO7/6/5/HERO 2018】Specially designed for GoPro Hero7 Black/Hero6/Hero5...
  • 【EXCELLENT ABOVE/BELOW WATER SHOOTING】Moving the waterline away from the lens makes it possible to...
The dome ports for GoPros are typically 6-inch domes. They’re generally not designed for diving and aren’t hardened against water pressure the way that higher-end dome ports and underwater camera housings are.

They’re also not the most convenient accessories to lug around–there’s no way around the fact that they’re cumbersome, the acrylic is easily scratched, and they’re easy to damage in transit.

GoPro HERO10 Deals

GoPro has released the HERO10 Black. The MSRP is $499, but GoPro is currently running some great deals:

And with the new model out, it's a great time to pick up a deal on the HERO9 Black. You can get it for $349 with a free spare battery, a 32GB SD card, and a 1-year GoPro subscription. More details here.

Those things aside, though, dome ports can be very useful for getting some distinctive and unique water shots from your GoPro.

GoPro Dome Port
Above and below of a small iceberg in the Arctic off the coast of Svalbard. Shot with a GoPro HERO5 Black in a dome port.

Svalbard with a GoPro HERO5 Black
HERO5 Black with a Dome Port / Kayaking in the Arctic

How GoPro Dome Ports Work

Here’s a quick rundown of how they assemble and work in the water.

In this example, I’m using the Telesin 6-inch (Model GP-DMP-T05) paired with a GoPro HERO5 Black. After having tried a few different dome ports for the HERO5 Black and HERO4 Silver and Black, this is my favorite. It’s compatible with the HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, and HERO (2018).

Vicdozia Telesin Dome Port Lens Compatible with GoPro Hero 7 Black, Hero 6,...
  • 【DESIGNED FOR GOPRO HERO7/6/5/HERO 2018】Specially designed for GoPro Hero7 Black/Hero6/Hero5...
  • 【EXCELLENT ABOVE/BELOW WATER SHOOTING】Moving the waterline away from the lens makes it possible to...

It includes the dome, a handle grip, and a mechanical pistol trigger. It’s marketed under different brand names at some retailers. Make sure to get a dome port for your specific model of camera–a dome for the HERO4 models won’t work on the HERO5 and vice versa. But the model for the HERO5 Black will also work with the HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, and HERO (2018).

Telesin GoPro HERO5 Dome Port
The dome comes with a fabric cover that’s helpful in preventing scratches. Because of the extreme depth of field of GoPros, any scratches on the dome’s plastic will be very noticeable.
Telesin GoPro HERO5 Dome Port
The handle and trigger have to be assembled. It’s just a matter of using the standard GoPro connectors between them.
Telesin GoPro HERO5 Dome Port
The back of the dome has a space purpose-built for the HERO5 Black.
Telesin GoPro HERO5 Dome Port
You close the back door. The top has a typical lock for a GoPro housing (old, simple style rather than the newer, more secure style).
Telesin GoPro HERO5 Dome Port
Fully assembled.
Telesin GoPro HERO5 Dome Port
The back door behind the camera is clear so that you can see the screen, but it’s still mostly blocked by the trigger mechanism. However, it can still be useful for at least some visual guidance with framing the shot.

Telesin GoPro HERO5 Dome Port

Getting a Good Shot

Dome ports are easiest to work with in still conditions where the water line isn’t moving. Waves and ripples can make it harder to get a good shot.

That holds true when you’re moving, too, but sometimes you can mitigate it to some extent. When I use a dome port when kayaking, for example, I’ll reach forward and gently move the port back as I’m shooting, in an effort to keep the camera in the same place relative to the water. It’s not always easy or effective, but you’ll often end up with a better shot than if the camera is moving through the water. Of course, that’s not always true. Sometimes you can end up with something unusual in less-than-ideal conditions.

GoPro Dome Port

This one is shot looking straight up, with the dome only partially submerged.

Things Worth Knowing

If you’re used to using high-end dome ports for DSLRs or mirrorless rigs, there are some key differences here you should watch out for. They’re conceptually the same thing, but the key difference is in the quality control. These sub-$50 ports simply don’t have the same quality control or refinement as the lens ports many times that price. And some of the quirks are related to the unusually deep depth of field of the fixed-focus lenses GoPros have.

Scratches. One is scratching the plastic. That’s always an issue with dome ports, but the materials used here aren’t strengthened to be more scratch resistant in the same way that some more expensive ports are. And because of the camera’s unusually deep depth of field, those scratches will show up sharp and in focus in your images.

GoPro Dome Port
In most instances, if you’re taking photos fully submerged you’ll be better off not using the dome. But it can nevertheless work fully submerged–at least at very shallow depths–as this photo shows. But if you take it deeper there’s a strong chance of it leaking–they’re really designed for around water level, not diving.

Leaking. The second is leaking. Having been through several dome ports now, I’ve found that some are better than others when it comes to withstanding leaks, even when using them at the water’s surface.

Now you might think that doesn’t matter because the HERO5 Black (or HERO6 Black or HERO7 Black) is itself waterproof. And that’s true. But a leaking port creates a few thorny problems. Even a slight leak is likely to result in water droplets sticking to the inside of the lens port. And they’ll be marvelously in focus and prominent in your shots. I’ve included an example below. Drying it out takes some time because the only airflow can come through the relatively small opening where the camera goes. And even when it’s dry, there’s likely to be some residue marking the inside the port, something I found especially true with salt water and salt marks. So it’s well worth testing for leaks before you take it out for a real shoot.

GoPro Dome Port
This is a good example of two issues. The first is that the water droplets in the top part of the frame are actually on the inside of the dome, the result of a leak. The other is that with the dark water at the bottom, the reflection of the frame around the camera’s lens is clearly visible.

Reflections. Something else to watch is that in some circumstances the reflection of the camera itself shows up in the frame. This happens when there’s bright light from the top (as is normal during daytime) and a particularly dark section below. It’s not something I’ve found to be an issue in conditions like the beach, pool, or shallow reefs. But I did run into it while kayaking in the Arctic where the water is exceptionally clear but can also be very dark under the shadows of ice floes. Again, I’ve included some examples here.

Where to Find Them

You can find them at Amazon.

Vicdozia Telesin Dome Port Lens Compatible with GoPro Hero 7 Black, Hero 6,...
  • 【DESIGNED FOR GOPRO HERO7/6/5/HERO 2018】Specially designed for GoPro Hero7 Black/Hero6/Hero5...
  • 【EXCELLENT ABOVE/BELOW WATER SHOOTING】Moving the waterline away from the lens makes it possible to...

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2021-09-22 at 11:39. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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