Best Waterproof Camera for Underwater Photography
If you’re planning on taking photos underwater, a waterproof camera is the most cost-effective solution for most photographers.
While an underwater camera housing may yield better results, there are several downsides including high costs, large size, and complex model selection.
Waterproof cameras offer efficiency, simplicity, and much better bang for your buck.
|Olympus Tough TG-6Dustproof, crushproof, waterproof and freezeproof, the Olympus Tough lives up to its name.||Get Price|
Underwater photography, whether in the ocean or just your local pool, can open up a whole new world of creativity.
If you’ve ever tried to make your camera waterproof with a dodgy underwater camera bag and failed miserably (!), choose from one of these dedicated waterproof cameras instead.
Let’s take a closer look at the best waterproof camera for all budgets this year.
Table of Contents
Best Underwater Cameras in 2021
|Olympus Tough TG-6||View Price →|
|SeaLife DC2000||View Price →|
|Nikon Coolpix W300||View Price →|
|Fujifilm XP140||View Price →|
|GoPro Hero8 Black||View Price →|
1. Olympus Tough TG-6
The Olympus Tough TG-6 is an ideal camera for divers or for adventure seekers that enjoy getting out and about in nature.
Alternatively, it will completely suit a family that wants to capture regular trips to the beach exploring rock pools for crabs.
This underwater camera will survive the transition from exploring reefs in the ocean to spelunking in caves. It has a broad range of features perfect for capturing such activities and much more.
The Olympus Tough has the ‘Tough’ tag for a very good reason. It is stated to be waterproof to 50 feet (15 meters) however there is also a separate waterproof housing that can be purchased to increase this.
It is also dustproof, shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof and boasts an anti-fog system. It has a drop rating of 7 feet (2.1 meters) and claims to be crush-proof up to 100Kg – not bad for something that doesn’t require any bulky waterproof camera case.
The TG-6 utilises a 12mp CMOS sensor that produces great image quality even with its 4x optical zoom.
This little camera has a range of shooting modes including a number of different macro modes and underwater modes. These modes allow for underwater microscope and white balance management.
Further to this, it shoots 4K video and full HD video paired with its built-in image stabilisation. Features such as these make this camera a stand-out performer amongst its competition – especially at the price that this camera is available for.
Thanks to features such as RAW shooting and its f/2 lens, you can capture high-quality images of your adventures. Should you want to step it up a notch, there is a full range of Olympus accessories that will expand your shooting capabilities.
With the Olympus Tough TG-6, white balance is well managed as is the true representation of colours even in underwater and lowlight situations. Finer controls can be made that cover saturation, gradation, contrast, sharpness as well as noise reduction in-camera. These are features usually seen in much higher-end cameras.
The menu settings are easy to follow and navigate, and despite the lack of a physical owner manual, the camera provides intuitive guidance. Custom shooting modes are easy to set up and stay in place even after powering off.
This camera is priced at the top end of similar cameras in this field. However, the level of features and quality of performance make this great value for money.
Investing in a quality product that is as tough and capable as the TG-6, will be well worth it when you see the images and videos it can deliver.
Overall the Olympus Tough TG-6 is an incredible waterproof digital camera that is built tough to survive so much more than a dip in the pool. It is one of the best options on the market and will provide you with lasting memories of some of your most unforgettable activities.
👍🏼: Tough | Image Quality | Features | Shooting Modes
👎🏼: No Lens Cover | No Physical Manual |
2. SeaLife DC2000
The SeaLife DC2000 has been designed and manufactured very much with divers as the intended user group. It has the ability to go deeper than most cameras in this field plus it boasts some amazing specs.
This compact camera has a small waterproof body that is able to shoot in RAW and JPEG formats, which is great for post-processing options. Also beneficial is the large Sony one inch 20-MP sensor that will capture all the light, colour and details of your image.
The inner camera has an impressive depth range of 60 Ft (18m) and weighs in at just 8.3oz (234gm). However, it has greater depth capabilities as it comes with a separate waterproof shell. With this housing, the depth range increases to 200 Ft (60m).
The SeaLife DC2000 features full manual controls including aperture controls from f/1.8 to f/11. Being able to shoot wide open at f/1.8 will ensure great subject separation while drawing in as much light as possible.
Further to this, it features an autofocusing system with a minimal focus distance of 3.5″ (9cm) to infinity. Combined with a wide aperture, this minimal focus distance guarantees some dynamic close up shots of underwater species.
The DC2000 inner camera and outer case both have controls that are easy to access and use and are fit for either land or sea photography. Dials and buttons are well positioned and provide a somewhat familiar layout.
The rear of the body features a bright 3″ 920K Dot LCD. As there is no viewfinder, all of your shots will be composed through this screen. Even in the murkiest of conditions this screen will illuminate enough for you to see what you are shooting.
The SeaLife DC2000 comes with a sturdy strap that has a neoprene wrist cuff.
Also included is a lens cover with a corded attachment to protect the very front of the lens. This is beneficial especially if you are diving around rocks or reefs.
While the camera does shoot video, it unfortunately does not shoot in 4K video, which is now the industry standard. It does shoot in full HD 1080p at 60fps which is still a reasonable video mode to capture your underwater adventures – if you’re keen to capture better quality movies, the Paralenz Vaquita is an interesting option.
It includes four underwater shooting modes, namely Dive, Snorkel, External Light and Flash. The camera also features three additional colour correction settings based on the depth of water you are diving in.
Image quality is great given the capacity of the sensor and the ability to control aperture. SeaLife also provides flash and lighting kits that attach to your SeaLife DC2000 to help illuminate your subjects. This would be especially recommended for deeper dives with the camera.
In terms of value for money, it is one of the higher-priced cameras in the underwater range. That said, it easily qualifies as one of the best waterproof cameras as it is also one of the only ones that can operate at such a considerable depth.
The SeaLife DC2000 is the perfect companion for the serious diver.
👍🏼: Versatile Two-Body System | Greater Depth | Easy Controls | Shooting Modes
👎🏼: External Flash Recommended | Price | No 4K Video
3. Nikon Coolpix W300
The Nikon Coolpix W300 is a true outdoor adventure camera thanks to its rugged build and ability to face water, weather, dust and shocks. This camera is designed to provide quality images and video either on land or at sea.
The camera is well suited for snorkelling or diving as it has a depth range of 100 Ft (30m) and is able to withstand temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C). If you are hiking along a frosty ridge or diving deep into the gloom, it will endure. It will also survive a drop of 8Ft (2.4m) and has dustproof sealing.
Given the compact size of it, you would easily believe that this camera was limited in its abilities and functions. However, the Coolpix W300 packs some incredible technology to maximise the shooting experience.
The W300 features an Active Guide tool that will show your location and direction thanks to its built-in compass. Furthermore, you can obtain altitude and depth information and set the camera to track this at regular intervals.
It also features Nikon’s SnapBridge technology that provides a direct and constant link via Bluetooth and WiFi between the camera and your smart device. Photos are automatically transferred to your smartphone or tablet, from which you can share to friends or social media.
The Nikon Coolpix W300 features a 24mm (35mm equivalent) wide lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8. Image quality is good but not great, especially in dark settings, and this is partly attributed to slower autofocus and not having a wide enough aperture on the lens.
This waterproof camera features a 5x optical zoom and 10x Dynamic Fine Zoom that provides excellent reach and the ability to capture distant subjects. This is supported by a vibration reduction system to ensure you capture bright still images even from a significant distance.
With no viewfinder, the W300 features a standard but bright 3″ 921K TFT screen on the rear. Having access to a bright screen is critical when diving to deeper locations.
The menu system is a little slow and cumbersome making for some frustration when initially setting it up. However, after time and patience, this becomes less of an issue.
The Coolpix W300 does feature video recording with 4K @ 30p which is good to see given that this camera is on the higher side of the price range.
Overall the camera delivers what it promises and is one of the best waterproof cameras for all purposes.
👍🏼: Compact Design | Rugged | 4K Video | All-purpose
👎🏼: Image Quality in Low Light | Autofocus
4. Fujifilm XP140
Fujifilm has been developing a range of waterproof cameras for some time and the latest model is the Fujifilm FinePix XP140.
This compact little camera is best placed around the entry-level point of the waterproof digital camera market. That in no way is an indication of its capabilities as it impresses in every way.
This is a great all-purpose camera that would do well on a family vacation where you wanted to capture activities and experiences while out and about in nature. The camera boasts some pretty tough abilities when it comes to its durability.
For days at the beach or the local pool, it will survive depths of 85ft (25m) and has a great level of dust proofing. Given that depth, this would be an ideal camera for snorkelling around rock pools or shallow reefs.
If the snow and cold are your destinations, then the XP140 will endure temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C).
This compact camera houses a 28mm wide lens and an optical zoom function with up to 5x the range. Add to this a digital zoom that expands the total to 10x and you have a decent amount of reach. Fantastic for holiday adventures where you want to capture the kids engaged in activities.
The image sensor is a 16.4Mp back-illuminated CMOS sensor that assists in producing great images thanks to its ability to manage low light situations. It also features an Optical Image Stabilization system that works to control the amount of camera shake and create sharp images.
Image quality in low light is also greatly aided by the ISO range of 100-28,000 where the light sensitivity can be easily controlled.
From a technology standpoint, the Fujifilm FinePix XP140 has a great range of features including connectivity to smartphones for geo-tagging and image transferring. It features eye-detection autofocus and also a smile recognition shutter release – great features for photographing the kids.
It does shoot video in 4K however only at 15fps making this recording mode somewhat limited. However, a great feature is that this camera can shoot a burst mode with up to 15 frames per second. This is great if you are shooting fast-paced action or adventuring.
The XP140 features a broad range of shooting modes and playful filters accessed via a fairly standard Fujifilm menu that is easy to navigate.
As far as value for money goes, as mentioned earlier, this is an entry-level model when considering your next adventure camera.
However, what you get for your money is almost on par with some of the more expensive models. Granted the 4K video is limited however the camera can produce HD 1080p at 60 frames per second.
The Fujifilm FinePix XP140 is one of the best holiday cameras that will survive most conditions and still produce great images and video.
👍🏼: Rugged | Value For Money | All-purpose | Perfect Holiday Camera
👎🏼: Limited 4K Video | Limited Aperture Range
5. GoPro Hero8 Black
GoPro is considered to be the best of the action cameras market. They continue to develop and release well-made cameras fit for purpose.
These are cameras that are put through the worst of conditions in many cases and yet still deliver exceptional outcomes.
One of the most recent action cameras released is the GoPro Hero8 Black and it has, without a doubt, one of the sleekest designs amongst all underwater cameras. This is a pure action camera that has the ability to submerge to 33 Ft (10m) and is built to take a knock.
(Yes, there’s the newer Hero 9 action camera, but the 8 is still a high-quality tough camera for underwater shooting, and available at the best prices since it’s no longer the newest.)
From a design perspective, the camera only features two external buttons that include the mode button and the shutter release.
It has a small front screen that features essential information such as camera settings and battery life. The rear touch screen allows for greater menu and function controls.
Additional functionality is obtained by pairing the camera with a dedicated GoPro app. There are also tons of useful accessories available for it.
The Hero8 has an astounding amount of modes for both still photography and video. It utilises a 12mp sensor and can capture full HD 1080p at a staggering 240 frames per second or 4K video at a respectable 60 frames per second.
This rugged camera can capture a considerable amount of video details compared to other cameras in this field.
Further to this, the camera utilises the GoPro HyperSmooth 2.0 that provides video stabilization. With the addition of a boost mode that is controlled by the dedicated app, you can activate additional stabilization. Image stabilization in a camera of this nature is an essential feature for a waterproof camera, particularly in choppy seas!
In addition, the GoPro Hero8 Black features an 8x slow-motion video capture as well as Time Warp that speeds up the face of your video capture in accordance with how fast you are actually travelling.
In still photography, it can deliver great image quality through a variety of camera modes. The lens is digital and the focal distance and field of view can be altered through a menu function on the touch screen. The four modes are Narrow, Wide, Linear and SuperView.
The Hero8 features a live burst mode that captures 1.5 seconds of footage before and after you press the shutter button. This, in turn, provides you with up to 90 frames to choose your ultimate image from. The camera shoots in RAW and allows for various modes to match conditions including various night modes.
There is no doubt that GoPro cameras are incredibly popular action and waterproof cameras. The cameras are ultra-compact, incredibly well-engineered and meet the needs of the action-adventure and travel market.
My only small niggle is the ultra-wide-angle lens, which isn’t suited for taking a flattering portrait (it’ll distort your face)… but then again, who needs to do that with an action/waterproof camera?!
👍🏼: Rugged | Value For Money | Great for Action | Small & Light
👎🏼: Super-wide-angle distorts | Limited Aperture Range
Best Waterproof Camera | Final Words
So how do you choose the best waterproof camera to suit your specific needs?
Naturally, you’ll want to consider the kind of situations you’re going to be taking the camera into, and the kind of results you want to get.
Think about things like zoom range, lens type, and the quality of the sensor.
If you’re looking to shoot video as well as stills, video resolution is another point of interest. And you might also look at battery life – given you’re probably not going to be in a position to charge your camera mid-shoot!
We’ve taken all these things into account with our above picks of the best waterproof cameras – so hopefully this provides a handy starting point in your aqueous photography journey. Happy shooting!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.