The GoPro HERO12 Black is Waterproof Out of the Box

The GoPro HERO12 Black is waterproof out of the box without a separate waterproof housing or case. But there are still limits to how waterproof it is, and there are also ways to make it even more waterproof.

GoPro HERO12 Black. Photo by David Coleman " havecamerawilltravel.com
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:
Filed Under: GoPro Tips & Tricks

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Good news: The GoPro HERO12 Black is waterproof without a separate housing. By itself, it’s rated for full submersion underwater to a depth of 33 feet / 10 meters.

If you need to take the camera deeper than that, or just want extra protection, you can add a protective housing. II have more details on that below, including which model is compatible withis camera. But the housing adds extra waterproof protection; the camera’s design has basic waterproof protection built in.

Is the GoPro HERO12 Waterproof?

This is a question that comes up often. In part, it’s because older GoPros needed a separate clear plastic housing to add waterproof protection. So if you’ve used an older GoPro and skipped some of the more recent models, it’s a pretty major design change (and mostly for the better).

Since the HERO5 (or, more accurately, the Session), GoPro cameras have switched to having the camera body itself being waterproof. So for many situations in and around water, you no longer need to have a separate waterproof housing, as you did for the HERO4 models and earlier. The GoPro HERO12 Black continues that approach.

Photo taken with a GoPro HERO7 Black

How to Make a GoPro HERO12 Black Even More Waterproof

The HERO12 Black by itself is rated to a depth of 10 meters, or 33 feet.

That’s the same as several previous models of GoPro cameras, and it’s plenty for many uses: swimming, snorkeling, rain, waterfalls, paddleboarding, and so on. I’ve submerged mine in the surf and swimming pools and in heavy rain with no problem at all.

But what if you want to take it deeper than that? In most cases, that means SCUBA diving. Or maybe you’re dropping the camera down on a line to film fish.

That’s where a Protective Housing comes in useful.

The Protective Housing is rated down to 60 meters, or 196 feet. That’s well below the depth of standard recreational SCUBA diving. Even recreational NITROX diving maxes out well under that.

GoPro Protective Housing for HERO12 Black
  • Rated waterproof to 60 meters, or 196 feet
  • Above-water protection against mud, dust, and knocks

GoPro used to call these dive housings, but they now call them protective housings. And that’s because they’re also a useful accessory above the water. It adds quite a lot of protection to your GoPro from dust, mud, and grime, and if it gets cracked from a knock, it’s much cheaper and easier to replace just the housing rather than the whole camera.

Be sure to get the Protective Housing specifically for the HERO12/11/10/9 cameras.

The HERO12 Black uses the same housing as the HERO11 Black, HERO10 Black and HERO9 Black. But it’s worth knowing that GoPro has used the “Protective Housing” name for other models too, which can make it a bit confusing. For example, the HERO8 Protective Housing, for instance, won’t work with the HERO12–the camera body dimensions and shapes are slightly different. So be sure to get the Protective Housing that’s specifically for the HERO12 Black, HERO11 Black, HERO10 Black, or HERO9 Black.

Things Worth Knowing

  • Waterproof protection is only as good as the weakest seal. So it’s always a good idea to ensure that the camera’s side door is properly locked in place and that its rubber seals are intact and don’t have any grit or sand that could create a gap for water to get in. And make sure that the lens cover is locked in place. That’s really only an issue if you’ve removed or replaced the lens—I’ve never seen the lens coming loose by itself so long as it’s properly attached.
  • For the camera to be waterproof, the side door needs to be fully attached and closed. The HERO12 is only waterproof when using its internal battery and without the Media Mod. Anything that requires access to the USB-C port–such as an external battery, an external monitor, an external microphone, or the Media Mod–means opening the side door to access the USB-C port and therefore leaving it exposed. GoPro does sell a USB Pass-Through Door that allows external access to the USB port, but it’s weather-resistant rather than fully waterproof, so it’s suitable for things like rain, spray, or occasional splashes, but it’s not suitable for submersion. The same goes for most third-party external power kits (some are rated as water-resistant or weather-resistant).
  • I have some more detailed recommendations on using GoPros around water here.
  • Touchscreens don’t work underwater, but you can still use it as a viewing screen.
  • GoPro cameras don’t float. Not even a little bit. There are several ways to tackle this problem, all of which involve some kind of accessory—I cover some of the best options in a separate post: How to Make a GoPro Float.
  • Wifi and Bluetooth won’t work underwater. That’s not a shortcoming of the HERO12 Black–they’re limitations on how Wifi and Bluetooth signals work. (NB: The HERO12 Black does not have GPS, another technology that doesn’t work underwater.)
  • An implication of that is that you can’t access the SD card underwater. All the more reason to get an SD card with plenty of storage space so you don’t run out mid-shoot. 

Waterproof Depth Ratings for GoPro Cameras

Newer GoPro models have a waterproof body. Older models required an external waterproof housing. Here are the depth ratings for the cameras themselves.

GoPro ModelWaterproof Depth Rating (without external housing)
HERO12 Black33 feet / 10 meters
HERO11 Black33 feet / 10 meters
HERO11 Black Mini33 feet / 10 meters
HERO10 Black33 feet / 10 meters
HERO10 Black Bones EditionNot waterproof or water-resistant.
HERO9 Black33 feet / 10 meters
HERO8 Black33 feet / 10 meters
MAX16 feet / 5 meters
HERO7 Black33 feet / 10 meters
HERO7 Silver33 feet / 10 meters
HERO7 White33 feet / 10 meters
Fusion16 feet / 5 meters
HERO6 Black33 feet / 10 meters
HERO (2018)33 feet / 10 meters
HERO5 Black33 feet / 10 meters
HERO5 Session33 feet / 10 meters
HERO4 Session / HERO Session33 feet / 10 meters
HERO+ LCD131 feet / 40 meters
HERO+131 feet / 40 meters
HERO (2014)131 feet / 40 meters
HERO4 BlackNot waterproof. Requires external waterproof housing.
HERO4 SilverNot waterproof. Requires external waterproof housing.
HERO3+ BlackNot waterproof. Requires external waterproof housing.
HERO3 BlackNot waterproof. Requires external waterproof housing.
HERO3 SilverNot waterproof. Requires external waterproof housing.
HERO3 WhiteNot waterproof. Requires external waterproof housing.
HD HERO 2Not waterproof. Requires external waterproof housing.
HD HERO OriginalNot waterproof. Requires external waterproof housing.
SD HERONot waterproof. Requires external waterproof housing.

Protective Housings / Dive Housings for GoPro Cameras

To go deeper, you can put the camera inside a protective dive housing. These are the compatible protective housings for recent cameras.

GoPro CameraCompatible Protective HousingDepth Rating of Protective Housing
HERO12 BlackProtective Housing (for HERO12/11/10/9)196 feet / 60 meters
HERO11 BlackProtective Housing (for HERO12/11/10/9)196 feet / 60 meters
HERO10 BlackProtective Housing (for HERO12/11/10/9)196 feet / 60 meters
HERO10 Black Bare BonesNot compatible with protective housing.
HERO9 BlackProtective Housing (for HERO12/11/10/9)196 feet / 60 meters
HERO8 BlackProtective Housing (for HERO8) (AJDIV-001)*196 feet / 60 meters
HERO7 BlackSuper Suit196 feet / 60 meters
HERO7 SilverProtective Housing (for HERO7 Silver/White)131 feet / 40 meters
HERO7 WhiteProtective Housing (for HERO7 Silver/White)131 feet / 40 meters
HERO6 BlackSuper Suit196 feet / 60 meters
HERO (2018)Super Suit196 feet / 60 meters
HERO5 BlackSuper Suit196 feet / 60 meters
HERO5 SessionAftermarket Dive Housing
HERO SessionAftermarket Dive Housing
HERO4 SessionAftermarket Dive Housing
HERO4 BlackAftermarket Dive Housing
HERO4 SilverAftermarket Dive Housing
* NB: Despite sharing the name, there are a few different versions under the same name of Protective Housing. So be sure you're getting the specific version for the camera you're using. For example, the HERO10 Black and HERO9 Black share the same one because their camera body is the same. But the Protective Housing for the HERO8 Black is different. And they're all different again from the Protective Housing for the HERO7 Silver and HERO7 White.

GoPro HERO 12 Waterproof FAQs

Is the GoPro HERO 12 waterproof?

Yes, the GoPro HERO12 Black is waterproof without the need for a separate waterproof case or housing. By itself, the camera is rated for 33 feet / 10 meters. So you can comfortably take it swimming, surfing, snorkeling, or paddle boarding.

If you’re SCUBA diving deeper than that, you can buy a Protective Housing to make it even more waterproof (down to a depth of 60 meters / 196 feet).

How deep underwater can the GoPro HERO12 Black go?

The GoPro HERO12 Black is rated for full submersion to a depth of 33 feet / 10 meters without an external waterproof housing.

By adding an external waterproof housing, you can take your GoPro deeper. The official housing for the GoPro HERO12 Black, the GoPro Protective Housing (model number ADDIV-001), is rated to a depth of 196 feet / 60 meters. Aftermarket housings might be rated for different depths and be subjected to different quality control protocols.

Is the GoPro HERO12 suitable for diving and underwater activities?

Yes, the GoPro Hero 12 Black is an excellent choice for diving and underwater activities. It is waterproof without a case, allowing you to capture high-quality underwater photos and videos with ease. It’s also easy to operation underwater (although the touchscreen doesn’t work under water).

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2024-02-21 at 02:30. 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.

Text & Photos by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here.

I've been shooting with GoPros for years, starting with the HD HERO, and have owned and used just about every model since. More »

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