A conventional camera can be adapted for underwater use by enclosing it in a sealed waterproof pressure housing with a viewport. The viewport, as an optical interface between water and air needs to consider both the camera and water optical characteristics while also providing a high pressure water seal. Limited hydrospace visibility drives a need for wide angle viewports. Practical optical interfaces between seawater and air vary from simple flat plate windows to complex water contact lenses. This paper first provides a brief overview of the physical and optical properties of the ocean environment along with suitable optical materials. This is followed by a discussion of the characteristics of various afocal underwater viewport types including flat windows, domes and the Ivanoff corrector lens, a derivative of a Galilean wide angle camera adapter. Several new and interesting optical designs derived from the Ivanoff corrector lens are presented including a pair of very compact afocal viewport lenses that are compatible with both in water and in air environments and an afocal underwater hyper-hemispherical fisheye lens.
"Afocal viewport optics for underwater imaging", Proc. SPIE 9192, Current Developments in Lens Design and Optical Engineering XV, 91920P (25 September 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2061445; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2061445