Best Waterproof Cameras for Taking Pictures Underwater
This model from Olympus is one of the most durable on the market. It withstands strokes or falls, pressure or frost. You can rely on the Olympus anytime and everywhere: on the top of the highest mountains or deep underwater. You will never blame it for the quality of photos or functionality.
The Canon camera it is truly the 'deepest' device of its class in the world. You can swim and dive with it fearlessly. It can survive severe drops, accompanying all your trips and recording the best quality photos and video.
The Panasonic DMC-TS30 is a minor version of the company's best-selling DMC-TS6 camera. Being slightly inferior in terms of tech specs, this underwater camera is compact, lightweight, and really affordable. The DMC-TS30 will help you capture the best moments of your travels!
What is a Waterproof Camera
Everybody likes holidays. You can visit beautiful places and see amazing things, some of which are worth recording and keeping in your album. It may be a nice landscape, an underwater scene or snow-covered mountains. Though, you may be reluctant to take an expensive camera or smartphone to places where they could be easily damaged. Yet if you want to save your vacation memories, you should get a waterproof camera resistant to hits and falls, sand and dust. Such a camera will easily shoot photos of deep-sea inhabitants or your water-sports’ buddies and survive if you drop it on some rock or into the mud. We have chosen the most popular devices of this kind, so you are welcome to choose the right one for your needs and record the brightest moments of your life.
If you are fond of outdoor activities, you may also like our review of action cameras.
Those fond of portrait photography should check our shortlist of the best cameras for portraits.
What Features to Compare
The first thing to consider when choosing a waterproof camera is the intended scope of application. All such cameras are rated differently and so, may suit or not different purposes. For example, if all you need is to record your child swimming in a pool and maybe occasionally take pictures in the rain, you wouldn’t need the highest water protection. However, if you’d like to dive with the cam and take underwater photos, the protection should be high enough to withstand immersion up to 30 feet. For ski activities, the camera should also be freezeproof. The other properties to look for are shockproof and crushproof rates. If the camera is highly secured from external impact, it can be used in any extreme conditions fearlessly and still provide smooth operation and functioning.
Most of us use a waterproof camera as a backup option when using a professional-grade cam in extreme conditions isn’t possible and therefore, the picture quality isn’t expected to be the best. But not anymore. The most advanced devices boast a high picture resolution, good sensor size, zoom, and lenses. The number of pixels is commonly pretty much average, making 8 megapixels, but more than enough to view pics on a big screen in a good quality. Consider the sensor size, the bigger the better. The optimal sensor size for most users is about 1/2.3” delivering pictures with a higher contrast and brighter colors. Any camera should allow zooming in and out, so you should consider the focal length as well. Or you can get additional digital zooms and make shots at a higher magnification. As a rule, waterproof cameras are configured to minimize manual settings and so, offer plenty of already pre-set modes.
Besides protection rates, these cameras can provide some extra features to enhance user's experience. Some of them can have a built-in GPS to let users track their location on a global map and record the routes. Some models support Wi-Fi for instant image sharing on the Internet. Users who do a lot of active sports would appreciate having a cam that is easy to manipulate on the go by clasping or tilting it with one hand. Compatibility with other accessories can greatly expand the functionality of the camera and further picture processing for different needs.
Nikon COOLPIX AW130
Nikon COOLPIX AW130
Compact Camera for Extreme Conditions
Nikon is among the leading manufacturers of high-quality cameras, though the company isn't really known for its models for underwater shooting. However, the AW lineup is surely worth your attention. The AW130 waterproof camera we chose for the review has a compact and lightweight casing that reliably protects the hardware and optics. Compared with its preceding models, this device has many innovative features that make it a fantastic assistant for active people who adore extreme sports. First of all, the AW130 has a revamped casing with a kind of bulge that makes holding the device more convenient even if your hands are wet. As for the waterproofness, this camera can be immersed down to 100 ft, more than enough for a novice diver or snorkeler. As for the temperature range, the camera can operate at temperatures down to 14°F. Needless to mention, the unit is dustproof and survives drops from up to 6.6 ft (more than an average human height). Such an impressive protection level makes this waterproof camera an excellent choice for shooting videos and taking pictures in quite extreme conditions, whereas a built-in GPS will let you know where exactly you are and where each photo is made. Moreover, you can create a location log and keep track of your route and store other similar data. Travelers will certainly appreciate this device from Nikon!
The Nikon Coolpix AW130 has extremely powerful EXPEED C2 CPU which ensures fast image processing and outstanding picture quality. The sophisticated vibration reduction system (VR) makes up for a minor trembling of photographer's hands, which is particularly important while shooting videos or taking pictures of the moving objects. The waterproof camera has a number of useful pre-set modes that you can choose in order to get the optimal settings for a specific situation. As for videos, this Coolpix camera can shoot Full HDs (1080p) with a decent detailing and a stereo sound. The high-aperture lens, a powerful flash, and an automatic focus adjustment allow you to make stunning underwater photos. Since this camera has been designed to be used in extreme conditions, it doesn't feature any small buttons. Instead, it's got a unique active control that allows performing a certain number of actions by mere tilting or shaking the cam. No doubt, divers and fans of winter sports will duly appreciate it!
The Nikon AW130 operates really fast: it boosts and focuses in no time while the image quality is really high. The high-aperture lens is able to make detailed photos and videos of underwater and performs really well under low light conditions. The camera has a 3-inch high-resolution display with an OLED panel and provides wide angles of view. With this cam, you will be able to take pictures, browse the menu, and review the shots while being on a sandy beach or on a snow-covered mountain slope. The Nikon AW130 has a GPS, a map and a switch to the action control that prevents the buttons from accidental pressing. Some customers might think that the number of manual settings is rather scarce which is quite true, yet, as the camera's designed for active users and extreme conditions, it doesn't need to be overcomplicated too.
Tough Camera for Land and Sea
If you plan to record your mountain climbing, rafting or skydiving experience but are afraid to lose or damage expensive photo equipment, you surely need to consider buying a more affordable and better-protected device for adventures of the kind. The Olympus TG-4 has been made to fit most users' needs. This gadget features a shockproof body with up to 220 pound-forces resistance. It is protected from dust, dirt, and moisture by a double cover with clamps. Although it is considered to be an amateur water-friendly camera, it is waterproof up to 50 feet, can withstand falls from up to 7 feet and is freezeproof up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Being on a mountain top, in the sea depth or in the sand storm, the camera will still provide smooth functionality. It's also got a built-in GPS to allow you to track all your routes and geotag each shot. Even when you don't use a cam, it'll keep on recording your current position. Besides GPS, the camera is equipped with a compass. You'll never get lost using Olympus camera! Not only that, it also supports Wi-Fi for quick sharing of photos and videos with your friends and relatives on the Internet, so you can tell them about all those beautiful places you've been to right away, attaching vivid memorable shots.
Speaking about the picture quality, shooting modes and adjustments, the Olympus TG-4 model has almost everything you need to make high-quality photos. Compared to some other similar devices, the menu isn't as straightforward and may seem even tricky at first, but that's only until you get used to it. Then, you'll see how many more options the cam has that other cameras lack. Thanks to the 16 MP sensor, all pictures and videos will come up highly detailed and vivid as if taken by a professional camera. Due to the CMOS sensor and TruePicVII the camera won't distort any of the pics regardless of the light, making it possible to record videos in the sunniest weather with no glare. Thanks to the original Live Composite technology, you will be able to take pictures of falling stars, lightnings, fireworks, etc. Manual aperture and focus adjustments allow making photos of varying sharpness. Switch to Microscope Mode to take photos of tiny objects and they'd be detailed and sharp as if taken from 0.4-inch distance. Try Time Lapse mode to combine several individual photos in a single short film. The list of options the Olympus waterproof camera supports is absolutely impressive, meaning its application can be extremely versatile even without using other accessories. Add to that various flashes and lenses and you'll get a mega cool companion on any trip.
Advice for Professionals
A tough waterproof camera is a useful device for people who travel a lot and for adrenaline seekers. However, these devices aren't the best for portrait photography. Thus, if you work in a photo studio, choose one of the cameras for portraits from our review.
Fujifilm FinePix XP80
Fujifilm FinePix XP80
The Japanese have a long-term experience in the production of amateur and professional photo equipment and accessories. Fujifilm is one of the world-known leaders in this sphere. This review is about Fujifilm FinePix XP80 which may become your good companion for a vacation or an extreme adventure. The active adventurers will appraise the usefulness of this Fujifilm camera under the toughest conditions. The FinePix XP80 device features the IP68 security grade meaning it is 4-way proof: it withstands sand and dust, is waterproof up to 50 feet and can be dropped from the 6-feet height safely. You can confidently take it for snorkeling or scuba diving and make high-quality pictures of the sea creatures. It works in the 14° F frost allowing you to shoot cool photos while skiing or snowboarding. The double-lock mechanism of the battery compartment prevents the cover from incidental opening. Heat or frost, sea or hard soil, you will always be able to record and save the best memories with this Fujifilm camera.
Shooting Quality and Modes
The CMOS sensor size making 1/2.3 inches with the optical resolution of 16.4 MP allows you to shoot photos with the top quality in every detail and minimum noise. The Fujifilm waterproof camera boasts a continuous shooting mode with the speed of up to 10 pictures per second or ultra-high-speed of 60 photos. The modes can be activated by the special Burst Mode Button. A wide choice of other shooting modes includes almost all possible scenes and events. You will definitely find something suitable for your particular situation: whether you are in the mountains, desert or underwater. Impressive, Fujifilm guarantees you clear and vivid colors even in the underwater shooting modes with the macro zoom. The camera shoots video with 1080p resolution that can be watched on any large HD TV-screen. You will be able to invite your friends to watch a real movie of your own adventures. If you wish to record the same objects at a certain interval for time-lapse scenes like urban life or sunset, use an Interval Shooting Mode. You can select 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 60 seconds, 30 seconds or 15 seconds intervals. Thus, you can easily make a bright movie featuring the sun going down or a flower opening!
As for the extras, this Fujifilm FinePix camera has a standard jack for charging, USB- and HDMI-ports for file transfer and connection to PC or TV. We should also mention the available Wi-Fi allowing you to transfer files to smart gadgets. Having Fuji Remote Camera app installed on your smartphone or tablet, you will be able to control the camera right from your digital gadgets, which is a convenient feature for selfies and group shots. The power supply is the Li-ion battery NP-45S charged from the mains and sufficient for up to 210 photos. You can also use the FinePix XP80 as an Action Camera to record and broadcast your extreme adventures or sporting events. Note that this camera is available in different bright colors!
Canon PowerShot D30
Canon PowerShot D30
If you're planning to set off for a journey to the coast, make sure to get a waterproof camera to use in any weather conditions without fear or worry about its functionality. The Canon PowerShot D30 is one of such cameras that may suffice the needs of most adventurous customers. From the first glance, you wouldn't think of it having anything special, for it looks pretty much like any conventional camera. However, the cam design is rather misleading. When you look at its tech specifications, you'll think absolutely different! The Canon PowerShot D30 is waterproof and can be immersed in the water up to 82 feet deep, it can be used in winter in harsh wind at temperatures as low as 14 degrees F. Among many other compact cameras, this one is known to be the deepest waterproof model capable of shooting top-quality pictures at an extreme depth. The camera features a simple, ergonomic design without any loose parts, falling plugs, etc. for ease of use and maintenance. The lenses are waterproof sealed and shifted to the right. The Canon PowerShot D30 features GPS to track your routes and store them in memory. The Map Utility application having been installed on your phone, you'll be able to share your memorable shots with your family in an instant and look them through on social websites together with friends on coming back home.
Save Every Bright Moment
Besides the superior protection this Canon camera boasts, it can shoot the high-quality photos both on the land and in the sea. You may take it with you for a swim or other water activities and always return with bright photos. The wide-angle lenses allow you to make perfect group pictures or shoot landscape views. The shots are always vividly bright regardless of the ambient light. The HS technology and intelligent IS make your shots always sharp and clear thanks to the 12.1 MP CMOS sensor with the backlighting. The DIGIC high-speed processor provides beautiful low-light photos. This is particularly essential if you are shooting underwater in the dim light. The Macro Mode allows you to get closer to the smallest specimens both in the sea depth and on the land. The Smart Auto Mode provides you with 32 pre-set scenes for shooting, including 21 options that can be used for video. On returning home after the trip, you can make video clips out of your photos in the Video Digest Mode. To sum it up, Canon camera can assist you in recording landscapes literally everywhere in the world regardless of the environment and weather conditions.
Active people who practice camping in the woods, hiking, and traveling in general usually carry a set of essentials with them. So, we recommend you to read our review of the hydration packs and choose the model that you will use during your sports activities.
Panasonic DMC-TS30R LUMIX
Panasonic DMC-TS30R LUMIX
When you hear the word 'high-tech' you are likely to think about Panasonic. The company produces different devices and waterproof cameras are among them. We selected the DMC-TS30A model for our review. This device will be appreciated by active people who enjoy all kinds of extreme sports and wish to make stunning pictures. Compared to its senior mode, DMC-TS6, this camera is more compact and affordable, though slightly inferior in tech specs and protection rate. The camera can operate down to 26 ft underwater and it's fully dust and dirt-proof. The lowest temperature it works at is 14°F, while the casing of the camera is strong enough to survive a drop from 5 ft. Thus, if you don't intend to dive too deep, this waterproof camera delivers a decent balance between the image quality and protection rate.
Unlike the CMOS sensor on the DMC-TS6, this Panasonic waterproof camera has a CCD sensor which costs less. The normal ISO range this camera provides varies from 100 to 1600 but it can be extended to 6,400 in High Sensitivity mode. The Panasonic device can shoot 720p videos at 30 FPS; though it isn't a groundbreaking result, the videos are quite detailed and have a decent quality. You can start recording a video by just pushing a special button. It's also easy and fast to switch between the photo and video modes. The lens of the Panasonic camera has a 4x optical zoom and the focal length of 25-100 mm. The device offers different modes (sport, beach, mountains, snow, etc.) that allow taking high-quality pictures at the best settings possible. A powerful flash will help you make bright pictures at nighttime and underwater; it illuminates the objects within around 13 ft. Moreover, you can use the flash for lighting your path! So, this model can be used as a real flashlight! The Creative Panorama function provides a lot of help in shooting landscapes, whereas the Creative Retouch function allows you to edit and enhance (brighten, adjust the colors, and so on) the photos you've taken. Tough cameras are used by active people who take pictures on the move and that's why a stabilization system is a must for such devices. No wonder, this Panasonic camera boasts an effective MEGA O.I.S. image stabilizer. Don't worry that the trembling of your hands may spoil the picture, thanks to the given optical stabilizer they will still be top quality. One of the other advantages of this item is that it allows taking some more shots after the memory card has already been filled. The internal storage space makes decent 220MB. As you can see, this tough camera is a nice device for a reasonable price!
Are going to a ski resort? Or maybe you plan to take part in a rafting tour down the river? No matter what kind of extreme sports you prefer, you surely wish to be able to capture the best moments of your pastime! A good waterproof camera will be really useful but we recommend to consider getting some additional accessory for taking stunning pictures and capturing the best views. For instance, a good camera tripod allows taking panoramic photographs anywhere.
Q: What’s the difference between underwater and conventional cameras?
A: The major difference can be guessed from the very name. Unlike conventional photo capturing devices, waterproof cams can be used underwater. There is no need to use a waterproof case. Just immerse it in the water and take pictures.
Q: How deep underwater can these cameras be used?
A: It depends on the model you choose. Some devices can be used down to 30-50 feet, whereas others can take pictures at a depth of 100 feet. Therefore, you can use this camera for many purposes: from capturing the mesmerizing photos of the fish on the coral reef to taking pictures of your family swimming in the pool.
Q: Are they good in terms of image quality?
A: Most of them have CMOS optical sensors which provide a really good image quality. Similar sensors are used in professional-grade DSLRs as well. Many models have an optical stabilization for dust- and blur-free photos.
Q: Is there an optical zoom?
A: Yes, these devices provide both optical and digital zoom. Just like a conventional camera.
Q: Can waterproof cameras shoot videos?
A: Yes. As usual, they can shoot Full HD 1080p videos. Some models even provide a time-lapse function, so you can capture the beauty of the moving sun or clouds, for example.
Q: Are these cameras shock-proof?
A: Yes, the majority have a fairly durable shock-proof casing that withstands falls from a small height (as usual, around 5-7 feet). Also, such cameras are also dustproof.
Q: Are there any features for tourists in waterproof cameras?
A: Yes, a lot. The best of them are equipped with many handy functions. For example, a GPS adapter allows you to check your whereabouts and put a location tag on each photograph. Some models have an altimeter to show you at what altitude you are, a compass to find the right direction, and a depth gauge to tell you how deep underwater you dive.
Q: What kind of batteries do these devices need? Can I replace them?
A: As usual, they have a Lithium-ion battery specific to each manufacturer. Therefore, the batteries can’t be interchanged. Needless to mention, you can’t use conventional batteries (AA, AAA, etc.).
Q: Do such cameras have wireless connectivity?
A: It depends on the model you choose. Many of them have a built-in Wi-Fi that allows an instantaneous transfer of images and videos to a computer, laptop, or any other Wi-Fi-enabled device. Also, if a camera has Wi-Fi, you can send your best shots to a wireless printer and have them printed in no time.
Q: What memory card type do I need for a waterproof camera? Is it included in the package?
A: In most cases, a memory card should be purchased separately. As for the type, these devices require SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. They are quite affordable and available in any department or online store.
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