Planning a deep-sea adventure and don’t want to miss out on any picture opportunities? If you answered yes, you’ll need to get your hands on an underwater camera.
The best underwater cameras will be compact in size, offer full manual controls, and be able to accept macro wet lenses, not to mention a whole host of other features!
Whether you’re on the hunt for a camera for snorkeling or scuba diving in the deep blue, we’re confident we can help you find the perfect option for you.
Below, you’ll find a review of the top 5 cameras suitable for taking into the water, as well as a helpful buying guide and F.A.Q towards the end.
In a hurry? Dive deep with our top pick:
The Campark ACT74A underwater action camera is a fantastic alternative to the GoPro. It can be taken underwater up to 40m when in the casing (130ft) and can be used for surfing, diving, or even snorkeling. If you don’t have time to read our full review below, here’s a breakdown of why it takes first place:
- It can be used for more than underwater activities and has been designed to be suitable for use for all sports activities.
- It will allow you to dive up to 40m (130ft) in-depth, which is the highest most cameras will allow
- Features built-in Advanced Electronic Image Stabilization and Anti Shake functions that will deliver steady and clear images and footage
- Comes with a wireless wrist remote that will make using it underwater easy as can be
- It is one of the most affordable options you will be able to find that can genuinely work underwater when diving
Now, let's take a look at the whole list
- Comes with a waterproof case that is suitable for diving down to 40m
- The wristband will allow you to operate the camera underwater with ease
- Affordable price point
If you’re on the hunt for a compact camera that you’ll be able to take underwater photos and videos with, the Campark 4K 20MP Action Underwater Camera is worthy of your consideration.
Offering premium quality at an affordable price point, this underwater water camera from Campark is a favorite in the diving community. An upgrade to Campark’s original underwater camera, the Action Underwater Camera is able to record videos in 4k and takes photos at a crystal clear 20MP.
Ensuring that your underwater memories aren’t blurry, this camera features an EIS Anti-Shaking Function that will be able to deliver stable and clear underwater footage that won’t look shaky, even if you happen to spot a school of fish and move the camera quickly to capture the moment.
Offering plenty of versatility, this ACT74 Action Camera comes with a waterproof case that will be able to accompany you while snorkeling through the reef, or deep-sea diving up to 40m.
It even comes with a wireless remote that can be strapped to your wrist. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to operate the camera with ease, even while wearing your scuba diving outfit.
Plus, this camera hasn’t been designed solely for underwater use! With this camera, you’ll be able to capture all types of sports activities and even features a 170-degree wide-angle lens that will allow you to capture memorable moments without compromising on detail.
If you’re looking for a camera that can be used for diving or going deep underwater, a great choice is the Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera.
The W300 comes packed with a host of features. For starters, the W300 can be used for both shooting videos and taking pictures. There's 4K video, an impressive and reliable GPS system, as well as an interactive world map, and Wi-Fi connectivity, so it’s handy if you plan on going off the grid.
To top it off, it even features an altimeter and underwater depth gauge, as well as high resolution and 921k dot OLED monitor. However, most impressive out of all of these features is the fact that the W300 will remain waterproof down to a depth of 30 meters, making it suitable for scuba diving.
Besides swimming, this camera also doubles up as a pretty great adventure camera.
And besides being waterproof, the W300 is also freezeproof, shockproof, and dustproof, and can be operated in temperatures ranging from 10 to 40 degrees celsius on land, and between 0 to 40 degrees celsius while used for underwater purposes.
On the search for an underwater camera that will allow you to take close up pictures in detail? Look no further than the Ricoh WG-60 Waterproof Digital Camera.
If you’re a Ricoh fan, you might have noticed a similarity between the WG-60 and the (somewhat) older WG-50. However, despite looking pretty similar, the WG-60 comes loaded with all-new features.
With the WG-60, you’ll get a rear-illuminated CMOS sensor with 16 megapixels to shoot with, making it a great choice for recreational divers or vacationers that want to take some detailed underwater pictures.
It offers ISO settings up to 6400 and comes with a 2.7in screen across the back and a 5-25mm 5x zoom lens that will allow you to capture up-close pictures in tremendous detail. The front-mounted six LED ring flashlights will come in handy and will help to provide good lighting for all underwater images.
Plus, delivering a step up to older models, the WG-60 is a lot more waterproof than the older model, and is able to withstand depths of 14 meters (45 feet) and can withstand this depth level for up to two hours. While this isn't super deep, it should work very well for most recreational divers. However, if you are a more advanced diver that can descend deeper, just make sure you are aware of when you have this camera on you or not.
This camera also offers 25 shooting modes for you to select from. There’s an ‘Auto Picture’ model that will be able to automatically identify the subject type and choose the appropriate mode, which will make this camera a little easier to operate while underwater.
Best GoPro for Underwater Pictures
GoPro is a brand known for its high-quality videography cams, and the Hero 8 Black is no exception.
It’s waterproof to 10m on its own, although you can purchase additional optional dive housing that will make it able to withstand a depth of a whopping 60m.
The GoPro Hero 8 is packed with versatility. Switch to shooting video and the GoPro Hero 8’s talents really begin to shine through. It’s powerful enough to shoot 60fps in 4K, or 120fps in 2.7K. If you don’t need the extra resolution, dropping to 1080p will let you shoot 240fps.
Ideal for any adventurous videographer, the compact shape of the Hero 8 is pocketable, while the ‘folding fingers’ function at the base will allow you to swap out mounts quickly. Its side door also makes changing batteries even faster, which is handy considering its small battery life.
This camera will also allow you to opt for Protune, which will allow more experienced filmmakers or professional videographers/photographers to shoot a flatter image that can be graded later.
You’ll also be able to choose specific white balances or ISO sensitivities, as well as three levels of stabilization for smooth images and videos.
With the 12MP photos and improved HDR, you’ll be able to enjoy a reduced blur and serious detail even in low-light underwater spots.
Plus, thanks to the built-in TimeWarp 2.0 function, you’ll even be able to capture super stabilized time-lapse videos that will adjust speed based on motion, scene detection, and lighting.
If you wanted, you could even slow down the effect to real-time, and then quickly switch it back on to speed it back up.
The Hero 8 is undeniably at the expensive end of the underwater cam market, but with the premium quality and vast range of features, we think we can make an exception.
If you’re solely a photographer and don’t plan on shooting videos, this might not be for you, but videographers that often find themselves working underwater won’t be disappointed with this choice.
If you really feel like treating yourself, why not splash out and gift yourself the Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera Adventure Bundle?
Ideal for all kinds of sports or activities (including swimming) this camera offers a waterproof and sleek point-and-shoot that will be capable of handling a wide variety of adventures and capturing memories along the way.
The camera features a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor and TruePic VIII image processor, which ensures that the TG-6 will be able to offer notable image clarity and low-light performance to ISO 12800.
Not just that, but the TG-6 can also provide fast 20-fps continuous shooting, 4K video recording, as well as high-speed Full HD 1080p shooting at 120 fps.
Plus, complimenting the shooting capabilities is a versatile optical zoom lens, which spans a 25-100mm equivalent range. It also has an f/2 maximum aperture that will allow you to use it in different types of light conditions.
Besides the camera, this bundle comes with an array of accessories that will allow you to get the most out of your adventure.
With this bundle, you’ll get a Corel Photo Video Art Suite Software Kit that will allow you to edit your shots, a padded deluxe carrying case, a flexible tripod, as well as additional accessories including wrist straps.
Though this camera can be taken underwater, it is not equipped for deep diving, making it more suited for those looking for a vacation camera that can handle being in the splash zone.
Best Underwater Cameras Buying Guide
Whether you’re buying your first underwater camera or you’re upgrading your existing one for something new, the process of purchasing an underwater camera will require you to think about a variety of deciding factors.
To help you out, just follow our guide below:
How big do you want your underwater camera to be?
Unlike standard cameras used for everyday purposes, it’s likely that your underwater camera is going to need to be smaller, as well as more lightweight.
The bigger your camera is, the harder it will be to use and swim with, especially if you’re going to be swimming in open waters or scuba diving.
If you’re only looking for a camera that will be able to capture memorable family moments on your next vacation, it won’t matter too much how big it is, or how much it weighs.
However, if your underwater pursuits lead you a little farther outdoors, you’ll want to keep an eye out for cameras that are compact, lightweight, and feature a wrist strap.
You might never need to purchase optional housing, but it’s still worth thinking about.
If you want a camera that is going to be able to withstand water depths of 15 meters or so upwards, you might need to invest in additional housing that will allow you to do so.
Not all cameras are made to be compatible with waterproof cases and other types of housing so, if this is something you’re interested in, you’ll need to double-check that your camera has been built to be compatible with them.
Whether you’re a recreational diver, planning your next vacation or you’re a videographer/photographer by trade, the level of photography features your camera offers is super important.
Look for cameras that give you the opportunity to shoot in RAW, as this will allow you to edit images afterward in Photoshop. You’ll also want a camera that has built-in stabilizers and high resolution, as well as a good battery life.
In addition, the best underwater cameras will have very good autofocusing systems. As visibility will be somewhat limited while underwater, an autofocusing system will be able to step in and make the image as clear as possible.
Seeing as you are going to be going underwater, it’s a good idea to think about whether or not you’d like to purchase a camera that has integrated light features, like LED strobes.
You’ll be able to switch them on while you take pictures so that even in low lighting conditions, you’ll still get that perfect shot.
Additionally, the deeper you dive, the less light there is and the colors will start to disappear and everything will just look blue. Your camera either needs a specific underwater function to offset the color balance underwater, or you should think about purchasing a red light filter to make sure you bring the color back to life.
Ease of Use
In addition to the other features, how easy a camera is to use is just as important to keep in mind before making a purchase.
If possible, you’ll want to make sure that the controls are easy to read and operate while submerged underwater so that you don’t miss out on any shots or footage.
If you plan on using housing, you’ll also need to consider whether or not any buttons will be covered as like we mentioned earlier, not all cameras are made to be compatible with additional housing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the types of waterproof cameras?
There are actually two different types of main waterproof cameras on the market, which are known as ‘waterproof compact cameras’ and ‘action cameras’.
Waterproof compact cameras often tend to resemble ordinary compact cameras, with the only difference being that they’re waterproof and suitable to be submerged in water.
They often have bright colors so that you can easily spot it at the bottom of a pool or the seabed if you drop it, and often have an optical zoom lens. This will allow you to get close to your subjects without getting too close and disturbing them.
In contrast, action cameras (like a GoPro) are often much smaller and designed to be small and compact, and are often a lot smaller than waterproof compact cameras.
They’re designed to be mounted to a harness, helmet or attached to a wrist strap, so they’re often very lightweight, too.
Action cameras also tend to offer much better video specifications and can film in 4K, which is something that not all waterproof compact cameras yet offer.