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Reef Photography Tips & Tricks

Reef Photography Tips & Tricks

Ever wonder how in the world people is taking those amazing photography of their reef tank and corals on those social media? Today, I am going to share some tips & tricks about taking photographs of your reef tank, which you can learn about easily. As part of this hobby, taking beautiful and nice corals of your tank and being able to share it with your friends via social media is rewarding, however, due to the camera setting or lighting, taking a nice macro shot might not seem easy after all, if you do not know what you are doing. It might not just about your photography skills, but also, understanding how lighting and your camera setting affect the output of your shot.

Taken with TG-4 without any filter or white balance

Although I might not be a professional photographer, however, through some personal experience and trial and error, here are some of some tips and trick that hopefully can help you take a better photograph of your tank the next time.

Underwater camera vs Camera phone

We do not need to compare the specifications between a latest iPhone 12 Pro and an Olympus TG Camera specification, but most importantly getting yourself familize with the function of your camera or phone setting that you can play around with especially the color temperature setting which will affect the oversea effect of your photograph .


Most of the time, reefer will find that the photo that they are taking using their phone is either too blue or out of balanced, this is mostly due to the LED lighting which makes up of most of the aquarium lighting nowadays.

Complementary color wheel

So in order to solve this problem, you can either set/adjust your white/ balance or color temperature of your camera setting to warmer color to compensate the ” Blue” effect. Or else, thanks to the product available in the market, you can easily purchase a coral lens which usually makes up of a few color lens which will absorb its complementary color of the blue effect making it look nicer. This will allow you to capture the colors of the coral more accurately, try play around with the filter lens that come with it and you might get some amazing color of your corals that you didn’t know it exists.

Coral taken without camera lens on a Iphone 12

D-D Coral Colour Lens

Currently, there are many company brands that produce these types of camera lens, be sure to find one that fits your phone model. This small and simple gadget will make it convenient for you to take better photos on the go.

Coral taken with camera lens on a Iphone 12

Exploring Underwater camera

For those reefers who love to explore more in-depth and would like to take better quality photos, investing in an underwater camera would provide you the nearest take that you can find inside your reef tank. Yes , i mean inside your tank, as these underwater camera, for example, the popular Olympus TG series is able to submerge fully into the water for your underwater photograph. : Olympus TG-4 16 MP Waterproof Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD  (Black) : Camera & Photo

Not only does a underwater camera allow me to take pictures underwater ,it also has varies function that allow better photography underwater, for example the white balance setting allows user to auto-filter the blue light effect .

For those using Olympus TG camera, i am going to share with you some tricks how to set the auto white balance easily .

Firstly, point your camera to a clear white surface that has blue light background. Alternatively, You can also find place a white acrylic plate in the tank for the camera to be able to set the auto white balance. Press “Capture WB (Menu)” and save the setting!

Setting the auto white balance function

And thank god you only need to set this once, and the next time you take pictures with your camera, you can quickly select the filter effect and start taking imdiately.

The image on the left is taken with an auto white balance function, and the image is taken without the white balance function

Other than being able to take photo underwater, some of the underwater camera has a macro shot mode which enable you to take up close up shot of your corals enabling you to see all the fine details of all the colors /polyps ect .

Closed up of macro image of zoas taken underwater

Tips for Reef photography

Now we have suggested ways that prevent your photos that get too “Blue” , the next thing that affects your picture quality is the glass wall barrier that come between you and the corals that could affect the image quality. Subject to the thickness of the glass, the pictures you take might tend to be blurry and not focused even when you are using a good camera. So below are some trips you can use to improve your photography.

  • place your camera as close as possible to the glass or even touching it so that the autofocus function of the camera is not detecting the glass as the ” Object”.
  • If you do not have any camera lens or filter, adjust your lighting to warm white or a more natural white lighting. 12k and 14k lighting is good for photography.
  • Use an acrylic box, take your photo on top of the water surface.
  • Stop all pump and wavemaker in the tank
  • Do not use the zoom function unless necessary, as it will result in poorer quality picture.

Camera Phone or Underwater camera?

We make an comparison between using a cameras phone and a Olympus camera to see the difference.

Image Captured using iPhone 12 Pro with a coral lens

image Captured underwater, inside of the tank using Olympus TG-4 with auto white balance function

Thank you for reading my article. I will share some of the macro shots taken below for everyone to enjoy!

True Rasta taken using TG-4

My favorite dragon eye zoas

Vampire Slayer taken using TG-4

Are you able to identify these three zoas?