Best Waterproof Cameras
When it comes to investing in the right camera for you, it can be an overwhelming process. Even though they may be small in nature, there are a plethora of design features that top-of-the-line cameras possess. This can include everything from their pure resolution, features that improve quality such as image stabilization, and even their overall ruggedness and durability. Of course, there are also those that are designed to be waterproof. Today, those specific cameras are going to be documented in-depth and by the end, you should have a keen understanding of how to buy one. Before that, though, you need to check out some of the best models available.
- Olympus TG-5
- Comes with a GPS
- Anti-fog glass
- Nikon W300
- Stereo sound video
- Fujifilm Finepix
- Wi-Fi transfer
10 Best Waterproof Cameras
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.
- 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
- If you are not careful, the rear screen can be prone to scratches
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.
- 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
- Can’t shoot in a RAW file format
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.
- 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
- Is a bit limited with only a 5X optical zoom lens
Leica X-U Digital
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.
- Reduces aberrations and distortions for improved quality
- Features an 11-point autofocus system
- Has a very rugged exterior with anti-slip rubber
- The auto-focus can be slow
- Does not have Wi-Fi which is shocking given the price
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.
- Is waterproof down to 46 feet
- Features a rugged design that is shockproof
- Its digital microscope mode utilizes six macro LEDs for smooth focus
- Does not have RAW formatting
- Does not feature image stabilization
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.
- 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
- Can be annoying to navigate and program
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.
- It is compatible with all Nikon 1 lenses
- Features a CMOS image sensor that delivers superior image quality
- The first camera to be waterproof with an interchangeable lens
- Some tests have gone awry when judging the waterproofness
- Even though it has Wi-Fi, you must use a WU-1b adapter to utilize it
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.
- 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
- Very quirky controls with a sub-par LCD screen
Canon Powershot D30
The CMOS sensor, while not the most impressive with 12.1 megapixels, and image processor manage to minimize noise and maximize detail as much as possible. Plus, 1080p video can be rendered but only at 24 frames per second.
Thanks to Smart AUTO technology, it will detect scenes and adjust accordingly by assessing factors in both the subject and background. As a bonus, it is also equipped with GPS technology.
No doubt, this is where the PowerShot marks its claim as a top contender in the world of waterproof cameras. Why so? Simply, it boasts one of the most impressive waterproof ratings of down to 82 feet on the market.
The PowerShot D30 is built like a beast and not only can it operate within temperatures of 14 degrees and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, it can also handle drops of up to 6.5 feet.
Canon ensured that their PowerShot D30 would be easily operated underwater thanks to the oversized controls. Past this, there is a solid LCD screen that measures three inches in diameter.
An impressive waterproof rating, a very rugged exterior and above-average video quality are just some of the reasons that the PowerShot D30 landed its way on this list.
- The DIGIC 4 processor reduces excess noise
- Features smart AUTO technology that automatically detects certain scenes and adjusts the settings accordingly
- The buttons are easily accessible underwater
- At higher sensitivities, struggles to reduce the noise
- Does not have Wi-Fi or a panorama mode
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.
- If your SD card is maxed, you can store an additional 220 megabytes of footage
- Features a very rugged and durable exterior
- An integrated torch light helps record videos in dusk environments
- Does not record full HD video
- Has a low-resolution LCD screen
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
The Image and Video Quality
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.
The Camera Features
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.
The Waterproof Rating
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.
How Rugged It Is
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.
The Interface and Screen
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.
Q: Can You Use Waterproof Cameras in Salt Water?
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.
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?
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 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.
If you are in the market for anything that is waterproof, then you are in the right market. Waterproofness is such an amazing technology as not only does it protect your products from accidental water damage, in terms of a camera, it gives you the chance to create brand-new experiences. Of course, the basic design features that make traditional cameras tick are also quite important.