Ready to dive with a GoPro Hero 3

How To: Mount a GoPro Hero 3 Camera to a SCUBA Mask 13

GoPro Hero 3 mounted to SCUBA maskMy wife bought me a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition video camera for my birthday last month. I’m excited to try it out in a number of different environments, including the racetrack, or attached to a SeaDoo, or even while being beat up in karate class. But what I am most excited about is recording underwater video.

After reading online about a lot of different ways to use a GoPro underwater, I decided to mount it to a SCUBA mask, turn it on before I get in the water, and then just forget about it during my dive. I don’t want to be fumbling with it, or tethering it to my BCD, or even thinking about it. Like pitch man Ron Propeil always says, I want to “Set It, and Forget It.”

For this mounting method, the first thing you’ll need is a SCUBA mask with a solid section above the nose that is outside the silicone skirt of the mask. I chose the Italian-made Cressi Super Occhio Plus in classic black (just under $50 on Amazon). Technically, it’s a free diving mask, but a lot of SCUBA instructor buddies I know dive with them, and love them. They are very low volume masks that are easy to clear and have good visibility. I chose black because (in addition to looking like an old-skool Frog Man) black is what’s generally recommended for underwater photography.

The next thing you’ll need is a GoPro tripod mount (about $6 on Amazon), as well as one of the mounting screws from your GoPro “bits” box (all GoPro owners need a box of random mounting bits).

Finally, you’ll need to drop by the local hardware store to pick up a 1/4 inch stainless steel bolt (1/2 to 5/8 inches in length is ideal), a stainless lock washer, and an optional stainless flat washer (if you want to include one between the mount and the camera housing). You’ll also need a drill, a 1/4″ drill bit, and a Phillips screwdriver.

Items needed to mount a GoPro camera to a SCUBA mask

Items needed to mount a GoPro camera to a SCUBA mask

If you have a GoPro Hero 3, what you don’t need is the GoPro dive housing (which is shown in this photo). This dive housing only fits earlier GoPro cameras. The housing included with the Hero 3 has a flat-front (like the optional dive housing made for the Hero 1 and Hero 2), and it works fine up to 200 feet underwater. Live and learn… and Amazon return.

Start your project by peeling back the silicone skirt on the back side of the mask. You’ll see that the solid nose bridge has plenty of room, as long as you pull the skirt out of the way while you drill. You may want to consider using a zip-tie to keep it out of the drill area, but I simply held it back with my left thumb while using the drill with my right hand.

Peel back the mask's silicone skirt with your thumb while you drill

Peel back the mask’s silicone skirt with your thumb while you drill

If you’re cautious, you may want to use a smaller drill bit to drill a pilot hole first, but I just loaded the 1/4″ bit in my drill and went for it. You’ll want to drill the hole for your tripod mount as high on the mask as possible, while still being firmly attached. If you use the same Cressi mask, don’t drill in the middle of the triangle logo (it’s tempting, but don’t). Instead, drill in the top part of the triangle, where the outer edge of the drill hole will just barely extend to the edge of the sides of the triangle, as shown in this photo:

Perfect hole location for the Cressi Superocchio

Perfect hole location for the Cressi Super Occhio

Drill slowly (to avoid cracking), and rest the mask on something disposable as you drill (I used the Cressi mask storage case). I held the mask up in the air for the final bit of drilling and didn’t damage the case. Clean out the hole with some high speed drill spins, making sure no plastic bits are still attached.

Finished hole for mounting GoPro to SCUBA mask

Finished hole for mounting GoPro to SCUBA mask

If you drilled slightly high on the triangle like you were supposed to, flip the mask over to see that the hole is perfectly centered in the back:

Centered hole placement in the back

Centered hole placement in the back

Put the lock washer on the 1/4 stainless bolt, and insert it in the hole.

Stainless bolt and lock washer installed

Stainless bolt and lock washer installed

The head of the bolt looks big, but don’t worry – it doesn’t touch your forehead when you wear the mask. If your bolt is long enough, you can use a flat washer on the front side, too.

Using the Phillips screwdriver, mount the tripod mount to the front of the mask, so that the mount curves upward. Align the mount so that it’s straight, then secure as tightly as you can. If you’re not strong enough to hold on to the mount while you tighten, use a towel and some pliers to hold it in place without marring it.

GoPro tripod mount attached to SCUBA mask

GoPro tripod mount attached to SCUBA mask

Next, grab your GoPro housing and attach it to the mask with a GoPro mounting knob:

GoPro Hero 3 mounted to a Cressi Superocchio SCUBA mask

GoPro Hero 3 mounted to a Cressi Super Occhio SCUBA mask

The final step is to put the mask on, snap a photo of yourself, then go freak out your puppy.

Ready to dive with a GoPro Hero 3

Ready to dive with a GoPro Hero 3

I’m planning on using this setup in Cozumel in two weeks, and will post my first underwater videos here when I’m back.

Happy diving!

UPDATE: Used the mask-mounted cam for the first time and it worked great! Looking at the footage, there’s lots I’d do differently (like move my head more slowly), but I’m still happy with how it turned out. Bubbles aren’t visible with my face down, but since I was keeping my eye on my daughter for most of the dive, my face was up.

  • liam

    Hey man, great guide! Was just wondering if you have any footage yet? Did you have any problems with bubbles from your regulator obscuring the view at all? Cheers. Liam

    • I do! Posting now!

      • liam

        Wow amazing video Steve! Looks like you had a great time. I think the bubbles add to the authenticity of the footage rather than take away from it! Just another question…was this filmed using any filters on your gopro or was is ‘au naturel?’

        • Thanks! Nope, no filters. I might try some color correction in the future, but that footage is straight off the camera.

          • liam

            Wow looks great! I have my gopro ordered so just waiting on it to arrive…then a dive trip to malta at the end of may…might get some filters before then and experiment some…thanks for the help!

  • Marion Kopulos

    Thanks for sharing Steve! I just ordered my GoPro yesterday and plan on using it in the Dominican at the end of May!! I’m so excited, one question Did it feel heavy at all on the mask having the camera on it I’m always so freaked out that my mask will leak etc.? Your footage looks great and your daughter did a great job!
    Thanks again!

    • Nope – couldn’t feel it at ALL! The mask was new to me, so that took some getting used to, but the camera is light to begin with, so you barely notice it at the surface, but once you’re underwater it’s weightless!

  • Cloud R.

    Hey, that’s it. i’m just looking for this.
    mine is H3+ with the housing for 3+.
    I use the housing for 3 to contain the camera and lcd.
    I will try it. thanks.

  • kym

    Can this be done on any mask? I have a mask that I have with a prescription already in the lens and need to use it to see. And what mount would you recommend for the older model gopro. I am a first timer but getting ready for a week in the keys. 🙂

  • Bill Brinegar

    I think you need filters because the blue doesn’t fade out at depth as much as the red, yellow, and orange. I you wanting to see the colorful coral and fish, you need the filter. probably the red one.

  • Tim Simpson

    thats definitely a handy DIY option, and the video footage from cozumel looks great. I recently reviewed the Octomask, which is basically what you did here but in a mass market model. I can see your method being a good option for those who have a specific dive mask they absolutely love though 🙂

    • Hey, Tim. That’s cool – the Octomask really does look a lot like what I did! Thanks for sharing the link.

  • Lee Dockstader

    For color correction use a filter in front of the GoPro. It is very difficult to correct the color with post processing. I use one from Backscatter called the Flip 3.1. It comes with three filters that are used at 3 different depth ranges. It works incredibly well. A video light also helps a lot if you are down more than about 30 feet. Light & Motion GoBe Underwater Video Light – 700 Lumens is a good low cost one.