Best Waterproof Cameras
When it comes to investing in the right camera for you, it can be an overwhelming process, especially if the camera you are after is one that needs to be waterproof. Cameras area great piece of gear to have on hand on your travels, as they give us the ability to document our adventures. I know what you are thinking, but we live in the twenty-first century and we have phones to take pictures with. Yes, this is the case but if you try bringing your phone in a body of water to capture some images, you won’t have that phone for too much longer after that. That is why a waterproof camera is an adventurer’s best friend. Now if you are in the market for a waterproof camera but don’t quite know which one would be best suited for your type of adventuring then this list is for you.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
Features a GPS, compass and manometer
It is equipped with an anti-fog dual-pane glass to prevent moisture from entering in
Can shoot 4K video or 1080p at 120 frames per second
- Olympus TG-5
- Nikon W300
- Fujifilm Finepix
- Leica X-U Digital
- Ricoh 16
- GoPro Hero5
- Nikon AW1
- Sealife DC2000
- Panasonic Lumix
- Olympus Stylus TG-630
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Olympus TG-5
Features a GPS, compass and manometer
It is equipped with an anti-fog dual-pane glass to prevent moisture from entering in
Can shoot 4K video or 1080p at 120 frames per second
The 4K footage is cropped
It is not a coincidence that on nearly every “best of” list that you look at for waterproof cameras, the Olympus TG-5 reigns supreme. In terms of pure performance and an overall design, no other waterproof camera can compare.Read more
Besides being able to shoot 1080p video at 120 frames per second, the TG-5 is also capable of shooting 4K video (although it is cropped). In addition, it features a specialized image sensor and a dual quad-core processor that produces sharp photos and minimizes noise.
A Microscope Control Mode allows you to magnify the lens up to 44x. Also, the Focus Bracketing and Focus Stacking modes allow you to maximize the depth of your photos. To top it off, it features a GPS and a compass.
No protective housing is needed and this camera is rated down to 50 feet underwater. However, the lens is also equipped with an anti-fog dual pane protective glass that prevents moisture from getting through.
This is built to withstand nearly anything you can throw at it as it is dustproof, crushproof up to 220 pounds and also shockproof for drops up to seven feet in height.
Even with heavy-duty gloves, the knobs and buttons are easy to operate. As for the LCD screen, it is three inches in diameter but it is not overly-crisp.
Consider this camera the king of waterproof cameras. Even though it is not perfect and does have its minor caveats, no other waterproof camera combines performance, quality, and durability better.
2. Nikon W300
Can record both 4K and 1080p video with stereo sound
Is functional even with heavy-duty gloves
Features an onboard GPS and altimeter
It can struggle in low-light environments
The Nikon W300 Camera can be taken to depths so far and you will be amazed that it still functions. With a waterproof rating down to 100 feet, anything you can imagine is a realistic possibility.Read more
Nikon designed their Coolpix W300 with the capability of shooting either 4K Ultra HD or 1080p Full HD. Also, it comes equipped with a 16-megapixel low-light sensor that provides optimal image quality.
There are several shooting modes for you to try out an experiment with. Some of the most notable is a Short Movie Show which allows you to combine background music, a Macro Mode to reveal hidden details in your surroundings and continuous shooting.
Of all the waterproof cameras on this list, none possess the depth of the Coolpix W300. It can handle down to 100 feet of water which allows you to take it fishing, snorkeling and even Scuba diving.
Besides being waterproof, it is also freezeproof up to 14-degrees, shockproof for heights up to 7.9 feet, and dustproof. All in all, it can take some abuse.
Even a caveman could operate this camera, relatively speaking. It features an extra-large grip and ideal button placement that allows it to be functioned with one hand. Also, when wearing gloves, you can simply move the camera to change modes. To top it off, the LCD screen is anti-reflective to handle sunny days.
Truthfully, everyone remembers first place but there is no shame in second-place. Given that this second-place entry is as competent as it is, some users may even prefer it over the Olympus TG-5.
3. Fujifilm Finepix
Can transfer photos via Wi-Fi with a single push of a button
Features a motion panorama 360 mode
Is waterproof, freezeproof, shockproof and dustproof
The LCD screen is rather small
When it comes to manufacturing cameras, Fujifilm knows a thing or two. It just so happens that their FinePix XP80 Camera is not only waterproof down to 50 feet but also equipped with terrific camera features such as a panorama mode.Read more
What is nice is not only can you shoot 1080p video, you can do so at 60 frames per second as opposed to 30. Even more so, the 16 million pixels sensor ensures high-quality images and there is image stabilization technology.
The included Burst Mode is convenient when you need continuous shots of whatever you are recording; doing so at 10 frames per second. Past this, there is an interval shooting mode that allows pictures to be taken at set intervals (which you can select from).
It is waterproof down to 50 feet and as opposed to the competition, that is a strong depth. Some possess greater depths but 50 feet does allow for a lot of functionality.
In colder climates, anything above 14-degrees Fahrenheit, this camera can still operate. Also, it can handle drops up to 5.8 feet and is dustproof.
Not only does the LCD screen have an anti-reflective coating for visibility in bright conditions, it also prevents unnecessary battery drain as the screen brightness is automatically adjusted based on the current lighting conditions.
For almost everyone, this is going to be an optimal choice. Yeah, quality aficionados may prefer cameras with 4K functionality but do not worry, this is more than capable of shooting high-quality content.
4. Leica X-U Digital
Reduces aberrations and distortions for improved quality
Features an 11-point autofocus system
The auto-focus can be slow
Okay, so the price tag on this waterproof camera is going to scare a lot of people. While this is not in any way, shape, or form indicative of its placement on this list, it goes without saying that it will scare some people off.Read more
Thanks to the large 16.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor, a wide array of lighting conditions is suitable to work with. For the video quality, you can shoot 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second.
To adapt to the colors and ambiance of the underwater environment, there is a dedicated Underwater shooting mode. In addition to this are other modes such as Dynamic, High-Contrast, Natural and many more.
For up to one hour of continuous shooting, this camera can withstand depths of water down to 49 feet. Anything farther or past that time will risk the integrity of the camera.
Not only is this shockproof from heights of up to four feet and dustproof, it is also designed with an anti-slip rubber to minimize the chance of accidental drops. To top it off, there is a UW protective glass filter that guards the front.
The LCD screen itself is a 3-inch display that offers bright playback. However, the aspect that deserves the most praise is the intuitive placement of the speed and aperture control dials (right on the top plate of the camera).
For a waterproof camera of this magnitude, in terms of cost, many may have expected a bit more. Indeed, this is a fair claim but do not let that cloud the fact that this remains one of the better models out there.
5. Ricoh 16
Is waterproof down to 46 feet
Features a rugged design that is shockproof
Does not have RAW formatting
As an everyday camera, you may be a bit disappointed with this camera. It can shoot full HD video but only at 30 frames per second. In addition, it does lack image stabilization and the use of RAW formatting. However, its ultra-rugged design and waterproofness certainly make up for those minor shortcomings.Read more
Yes, it may appear on the surface that this sports poor video quality. But, that is not true because the 16 megapixels and 1080p functionality provide clear and high-quality content.
In Auto mode, the Ricoh 16 does a superb job of automatically switching between modes it feels are most ideal. But, specifically for underwater, the specific underwater mode accommodates for the reduced lighting.
With a waterproof rating for depths down to 45 feet, this is suitable for most water activities. However, for Scuba divers, it can be a bit limited.
Good luck accidentally damaging this camera as it is prepared for the harshest of elements. This includes a crushproof rating of up to 220 pounds, shockproof rating of up to 5.2 feet drops and freezeproof rating of down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overall, the LCD screen is not going to blow you away. At just 2.7 inches, it is not the largest and the visual quality is not quite indicative of the final image quality.
This is actually one of the more popular models available when it comes tow waterproof cameras. Notwithstanding its limited nature in some respects, it has enough features and fun for most.
6. GoPro Hero5
You can control this camera with voice commands
Can shoot 4K video
For its small stature, it is very durable
Does not have the best battery life
As opposed to the others, the GoPro HERO5 Session is a little different. Instead of being a point-and-shoot camera, it is actually an action camera. Because of its design, it can be mounted on any object you can imagine (with accessories) and the HERO5 Session just so happens to be waterproof.Read more
For such a small camera, it is quite compelling that the HERO5 Session can shoot 4K video. Overall, it captures smooth video and you should be more than pleased with the result.
There are single, burst and time-lapse modes available for you to select from. Also, when you press the Shutter button, the camera will be powered on and will start recording autonomously.
The HERO5 Session can withstand depths of water that down to 33 feet. While this is not the best for Scuba diving, it will suffice for normal water activities.
Despite it sporting a small stature, it is actually quite rugged and durable. It does not even need an additional housing as the lens is behind reinforced glass that is secured by several screws.
You will not find an LCD screen on this camera but fear not, you can tether it to your smartphone to fix many of the interface issues present.
Know what you are getting with the HERO5 Session as opposed to the rest, it works best with additional accessories because it is designed to be mounted on several different objects.
7. Nikon AW1
t is compatible with all Nikon 1 lenses
Features a CMOS image sensor that delivers superior image quality
Some tests have gone awry when judging the waterproofness
Nikon is yet another brand that you have no doubt heard of and for good reason. While some users and testings have questioned the AW1’s waterproofness, it just so happens to be one of the only cameras on the planet that is waterproof with an interchangeable lens.Read more
With fixed focus, this is capable of shooting at 60 frames per second but this drops to 15 with full autofocus. In addition, you can shoot full HD 1080p video and the 14.2-megapixel image sensor produces stellar images.
One of the best features of the Nikon 1 AW1 is the Slow View Mode as this allows you to slow down a clip of action to ensure a perfectly timed shot. Past this, you can also preview effects such as motion blur and background softening on your images.
This is ideal for swimming, rafting, snorkeling, you name it, with a waterproof rating down to 49 feet.
Not only is this ideal for your summer activities, it also accommodates winter very well. Because it still operates over 14 degrees Fahrenheit, it could be used for snow sports. Oh yeah, it can also handle drops of up to 6.6 feet.
Navigating through the camera’s software is quite easy thanks to the simple user interface. Plus, with action control, you can move through menus by tilting your hand.
This is one of the pricier options on this list and while it may not quite be worth the astronomical price tag, it remains highly-functional and terrific as, after all, Nikon did manufacturer it.
8. Sealife DC2000
Features four specific underwater modes
Has a 20-megapixel image sensor
It is waterproof down to 60 feet
The RAW formatting slows the camera down significantly
SeaLife is probably not the first manufacturer many people think of when imagining the best cameras in the world. They may not have the market value of a Nikon or Canon but guess what, their DC2000 Camera, in some respects, is one of the best.Read more
Not only does the image sensor feature 20 megapixels but you can also capture images via RAW formatting, as opposed to JEPG. In addition, full 1080p HD video can be captured at 60 frames per second.
With the DC2000, there are modes up the wazoo. This includes eight standard shooting modes and when submerged in water, four special modes such as snorkel and external flash.
This actually has one of the more impressive waterproof ratings on the market. Being capable of dropping below depths no further than 60 feet, it can be used for any water sport imaginable.
If you were to accidentally drop this camera, granted it does not exceed heights of five feet, it is designed to withstand it.
Due to the large piano-key buttons on the interface, it is easy to navigate through this camera underwater. However, the controls are a bit quirky and the LCD screen only takes up about half the area.
At first, you may be hesitant to buy from a manufacturer you may have never heard of before. Fear not because as the specifications and performance prove this is a worthy addition.
9. Panasonic Lumix
If your SD card is maxed, you can store an additional 220 megabytes of footage
Features a very rugged and durable exterior
Does not record full HD video
Just because this next camera does not feature the performance benefits and quality advantages of some of the others, it does not signify that it is expendable. In fact, it is rugged enough to handle all the elements and even includes some internal memory for storage.Read more
Hand shaking can be an issue and this camera compensates for it to produce better images. However, its max resolution for videos is 720p.
To account for the colors beneath the surface, there is a special underwater mode. Also, it does feature a panorama function for a 360-degree outlook.
In terms of depth, this is one of the most limited cameras on the list. At just 26 feet, you can all but forget about Scuba diving with this camera.
Besides boasting a waterproof design, the Lumix is also shockproof, dustproof, and freezeproof.
The 2.3-inch LCD screen is not the greatest but will suffice. But, the interface and button-layout are very user-friendly and easy to understand.
If you are not too picky when it comes to video and image quality, this is a perfect match for you. It suffers in that respects a little but makes up for it with its rugged design.
10. Olympus Stylus TG-630
Waterproof & Freezeproof
Hard to delete photos
This waterproof camera is the closest you can get to indestructible as it is not only waterproof, but freezeproof, shockproof, and dust proof. If you are an adventurer then this is the camera for you, as no matter what the terrain and weather throw your way, you will be able to document it all with your new camera from Olympus.Read more
This camera is 1080P and films in full HD, it also has HDMI output and input to ensure you can hook it directly to your TV or computer to view the video instantly.
Thanks to Smart AUTO technology, it will detect scenes and adjust accordingly by assessing factors in both the subject and background. The zoom can also not be matched on this camera and not only allows you to zoom in but the quality stays clear to capture an up close and personal photo.
This camera is waterproof and can be submerged up to 16ft.
This camera not only is waterproof but also freezeproof up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof up to dropping 5 ft, and dustproof to ensure you can bring this camera in any terrain and still capture photos.
Screen size is a little small on this camera at 3inchs so you can operate no problem above water, but if you are submerged you may have a hard time using the screen underwater.
An impressive waterproof rating, a very rugged exterior and above-average video quality are just some of the reasons that the Olympus TG-630 landed its way on this list.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
No matter what type of camera you are aiming to invest in, the quality of content it produces will always remain a high priority. With most cameras, they will have the ability to both shoot videos and capture images. Let’s address images firstly as it is a bit more in-depth. First and foremost is the image sensor and its integrated technology. In short, the larger a sensor is the more light it can collect and the less noise it picks up. Of course, without the proper technology and processor, the difference between smaller sensors will not be that great. In addition to this, image stabilization technology and the option for RAW formatting are also vital for quality.
Image stabilization manages to reduce the blurring effect that is associated with a motion camera. RAW formatting, on the other hand, as opposed to JPEG, is ideal as it adds little to no processing data to maintain the integrity of the original image. Thus, improving quality. As for videos, check out both the resolution and frames per second. 1080p is classified as full HD and 4K, which is the best, is known as ultra HD and both can produce stellar videos. But, the frames per second also come into play as the higher the amount (say 60 or 120) the smoother the playback will be.
Pure quality is one thing entirely, but cameras live and die by their various features. From one camera to the next, this can vary quite a bit. However, despite this, there are some highly-popular modes that some people may be looking out for. For example, how about a continuous shooting or a Burst Mode? As the name indicates, this allows you to take multiple shots within frames of each other. Clearly, this is not possible without the technology and it is accomplished either by holding down or pressing the shutter button. This is ideal if you are trying to capture subjects that are fast in motion.
Also, as these are waterproof cameras, you may be interested in capturing content underwater. As all photographers know, the lighting is different underwater and as such, special modes are necessary to produce above-average and realistic images and videos. Typically, these types of modes will account for this reduction of lighting to produce the best content possible. Another cool feature that you may be interested in is an integrated GPS. In a camera, this allows you to pinpoint the exact location at which you captured your images.
All the cameras on this list are different in some ways but alas, they all are waterproof and share that in common. With that being said, not all of them will be rated for the same depths. This “rating” is what you need to pay attention to with waterproof cameras (or anything waterproof for that matter). Because these are waterproof they are not only suitable for splashes and poor weather, but for submersion. The real question you need to ask is why do you want your camera waterproof? Is it just a precaution to protect it from accidents? Do you want to swim with it and produce content underwater? Or, are you looking to do something serious like Scuba dive with it?
This is important because this will determine what rating you need. For example, a camera that is rated to withstand depths of 100 feet of water can be suitable for Scuba diving. According to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, most Scuba divers only go as deep as 130 feet. But, if you only want to swim with a camera, 25 to 50 feet will do just fine unless you are diving into hardcore depths of water.
Technically, the camera being waterproof alone makes it somewhat rugged. However, there is much more that goes into it. With most of the cameras on this list, they are also shockproof, dustproof, crushproof, and freezeproof in some way. Again, there will be ratings that accompany this. Accidents happen when you are handling technology devices so sporting a design that is not fragile is ideal. Even if it is only rated to withstand drops of five feet, this will protect it when it drops from the average person’s hand. Ditto for being crushproof. Then, there is the integration of being freezeproof. If you desired, this would allow your camera to be operated in most winter conditions.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Throughout this entire guide, it has yet to be addressed what type of water that these cameras are suitable for. Generally speaking, they can be used in salt water but some care has to be taken. Salt can be a corrosive material as it can accelerate the formation of rust. However, because these cameras will employ the same technology that is used in camera housings, it will prevent the salt water from seeping through. But, if you leave it in salt water for extensive periods of time and do not immediately rinse it off in fresh water, rust may start to form.
Here is what you should do. First, immerse the camera in a bucket of fresh water for around 10 minutes. From there, allow the camera to air dry (away from direct sunlight) and wipe off any excess water that is on it. As a side note, when you submerge it in fresh water, ensure the battery cover is sealed.
Other Factors to Consider
With almost any technology device or system in the world, there will be some type of interface that you must interact with. This is an essential component of a camera and one that you may overlook at first. It really comes down to two aspects. The first being the physical buttons and user-friendly nature of the navigation. Not only under normal operation but also when you are underwater. Possessing an ideal button placement for easy navigation is enhanced underwater as your body will not be used to functioning while submerged in water.
Then, there is the screen. Not only does the screen size matter, but also how crisp it is, and if it can be adequately seen on bright, sunny days. An anti-reflective coating will assist with this so you are not constantly squinting to view the screen.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Do You Need a Lot of Zoom?
When it comes to digital cameras, some photographers are fixated on its zooming capabilities. But, should you be that concerned with it? To be honest, the amount of zoom you desire comes down to how you intend to use your camera. If you are simply looking for everyday shots, even the most basic cameras should provide enough zoom for you. However, if you are little more into photography and plan on shooting videos and capturing images of subjects and objects from great distances, you may be looking for a little more.
In such instances, you may want to aim for 6X, 10X, 20X, etc., in terms of zooming power. Know this, the higher the number the closer you will be able to zoom in on your intended target.
q: How Do You Maintain the Waterproofness of my Camera?
It may shock you to know this but a camera can still be damaged by water in some manner, just like any other waterproof product in the world. Clearly, you know if you do not abide by the waterproof rating that your camera could become compromised. But, it goes far and beyond this and if you are not careful, you could actually end up damaging your camera. Here is what you need to avoid doing, no matter the waterproof rating.
Firstly, try not to leave your camera underwater for excessive amounts of time. Each camera will be different but just try and have an internal clock as too much exposure to water can still end up damaging the appearance of a camera. Also, do not directly pour water on the camera from a faucet or garden hose. Lastly, and of course, do not use harsh chemicals when you clean the camera.
q: Are the Camera Settings Difficult to Figure Out?
The interface and button-layout have already been addressed. But, you still may be wondering if camera settings (in general) are simple enough for a novice to figure out. For the most part, the answer to this would be a resounding yes. Of course, if you have never touched a technology device then you may struggle a bit. However, a basic understanding of cameras should be all you need. Even more so, most modern digital cameras offer many helpful features for you.
As with anything else, start out slow and once you begin to grasp the basics, move onto some of the more advanced settings of the camera. To be honest, there will be some settings that you will never need to mess with. At the end of the day, if you still are confused than refer to online guides and tutorials to assist you.
q: Can You Change the Batteries or SD Card Underwater?
A really good analogy to answer this question is that of 4K technology. In order for you to maximize and get the full experience, each device you use must have 4K technology. For example, if your TV had it but your video game system does not, the output will not be natural 4K. Understand, now take this concept and relate it to attempting to change batteries or your SD card in your waterproof camera underwater. The camera may be waterproof, but the batteries and SD card are probably not. Even more so, when you open the port cover, it can flood the camera and internally, it is not going to be waterproof.
In short, you should never, ever attempt to do this. Unless you are 100 percent certain each component is waterproof, which is pretty much all but impossible, open the cover and change the components above water.
q: What is the Difference Between Digital and Optical Zoom?
The difference between digital and optical zoom has not been referred to a whole lot but in case you run into it, here is the main difference between the two. Both allow you to zoom to a specific target, but an optical zoom is the more traditional version. Honestly, it is the version you probably depict when you think about zooming. It uses the lens’s optical glass to magnify the image. A digital zoom, on the flipside, is basically the same concept except that it is digital and blows up the pixels using interpolation.
With both, the more you zoom in the more you blow up the pixels and as such, the quality will begin to diminish.
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