We decided to put a disposable 35 mm film camera on the list for fun, and haven't delved into the world of testing accessory housings. Now in its sixth iteration, Olympus's top-end rugged camera, the Tough TG-6, has owned our Editors' Choice recommendation since it introduced the series in 2012.
While many of these cameras still require an external case to be waterproof, the GoPro Hero8 Black can go down to 33 feet without one, and offers class-leading video stabilization, making it our top pick It manages smartphone-quality results in bright light, is able to survive modest drops, and is waterproof to 33 feet.
Everyone sees those underwater scenes in movies and thinks, “Man, I’d love to do that!” Well, that’s why they made waterproof cameras. Swim in the white sandy waters and get some of the more unique shots you’ll ever experience with your best underwater camera.
In terms of video, the shooting happens in Ultra HD 4k which makes for the most realistic and life-like images altogether. That’s not all, it equally happens to be crush and freeze proof and as such makes for a great companion on all sorts of adventures.
You want an underwater still image, but you also don’t want your camera to look kiddish with odd colors and funky chassis shapes. This further ensures that a lot of light is let in and the result is the stellar shutter speed that no one can seem to stop talking about.
Say goodbye to those moments where a stellar picture was missed and hello to the era of getting all those shots in with as little effort as possible. This allows users to automatically (or at will) transfer images to all sorts of smart devices through the simple process of pairing registration.
Even better is the fact that it’s even more functional as the same technology goes on to sync information pertaining to time and location and further attaches the time/ date stamp to your images. Last, but not least, it would be a crime to leave out the fact that this device is waterproof for up to 24 meters and is equally shock, freeze and dustproof to an extent.
Now, every single feature on here is designed to ensure that the images and videos reproduced are of the topmost quality. This ensures that regardless of the operation being carried out, and no matter the environmental conditions, this camera is up to the task.
In addition to all that, the Nikon W300 waterproof underwater camera is equipped with a 16 MP low-light sensor as well as a speedy f/2.8 Nikki zoom lens. These two contribute greatly to its ability to get right in there and capture every detail vividly and perfectly even when the light is waning.
Even better is the highly functional autofocus as well as the continuous shooting speed seeing as these enable users to land those near-impossible shots. Take it up a notch by activating Macro mode, this reveals all those tiny details that even the naked eye could never dream of beholding on its own.
You don’t have to fiddle with a standard camera in awkward angles, no more risking dropping it or being off-balance in whatever trick you’re trying. They’ve brought their eccentric brand style to the underwater camera scene for waterspouts wipe outs and diving.
Your lens adjusts to the water ever so slightly to allow for a great photograph, and this one takes the cake on transition. You don’t want that when you’re looking to snap the perfect photograph of an underwater sea turtle or a passing school of fish.
You get to connect to your tablet or smartphone directly through the camera ’s Wi-Fi capabilities, so even if you were to drop your camera underwater and watch it sink down to the murky depths below, your photos would stream to your smartphone above water on the boat (the range on this depends on the different water levels). You get an increased photograph quality of 16.4 megapixels, and the Wi-Fi capabilities to stream photos to your smartphone or tablet immediately after taking them.
Snap 13 megapixel photographs confidently, and utilize the rapid fire mode to capture amazing photos one after another, all with a single click. This model also comes with everything you’ll need to affix your new camera to your gear, such as a snorkel or the side of your boat if you’re taking diving videos.
With waterproof USB contact areas, every individual component of this camera comes ready to fight against every drop of water, allowing you to maintain your fun, and take excellent photographs to cherish for decades to come. For peace of mind, high internal capacity, and sharp photos, you’ve got Sealift.
SouthStarDigital revamped what an inexpensive 4K camera could be, adding in the ability to flip, rotate, and spin your angles to your liking. This super compact camera can easily be stored in your shirt or jacket pocket, and looks professional when you go to snap a quick photograph at lunch or at a once in a lifetime event.
The biggest issue with inexpensive underwater cameras is the design; they look childish when they come in crazy colors. The Absence Underwater Camera comes with a 2.7K 48MP video resolution and a Full HD shooting quality.
Combine that with a 16X digital zoom, and you’ll find that there’s just about nothing you won’t be able to snap while taking a dip. The camera is able to stay waterproof for up to 10 feet, thus making it a great option for swimming, waterspouts, snorkeling, and other aquatic activities.
The Absence Underwater Camera also comes with some premium functionality, including six continuous shooting, exposure, a self-timer, and white balance. There’s even a humanized operation interface that ensures convenient parameter settings with support for several languages.
The presence of a compact structure design also ensures that you can make effective adjustments when the playback sound is a little low. The camera supports a maximum of 128 GB, although you’ll need to get an SD Card separately as well.
You also get a flash, thus allowing you to take pictures and capture videos in areas where the light quality is pretty low. The waterproof rating lasts for just 10 feet, so you might want to be cautious and not take the camera too low into a lake if you don’t want to be calling the manufacturers for a new one soon.
It also comes with a sealed battery door that keeps the most important internal components safe while you have fun in the water. Like the previous call, you get six continuous shooting and 16x digital zoom, as well as an anti-shake function that ensures stability and improves picture quality.
Like the previous camera, this option also supports memory cards up to just 128 GB. Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.
If you’re heading on a beach vacation, you’ll want a waterproof camera to capture all the action as you snorkel, swim, or jump into the pool. With the right underwater camera, you can take gorgeous, clear photos and videos even from deep depths.
It’s also a good choice for anyone looking to film or take photos during extreme sports, like biking, as you can capture all the action in 4K Ultra HD video. From a user perspective, comfortable grips and intuitive button placement make it easy to shoot underwater or on the go.
A built-in GPS, compass, and altimeter add to this camera's more adventurous features, and the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities let you upload photos to another device. The Panasonic Lu mix DMC-TS30 is affordable, making it a great camera for your beach vacation or to let the kids use.
While you shouldn’t expect the same photo resolution as you’d find in a more premium product, you do still have an impressive 16MP sensor, along with image stabilization, panorama mode, time-lapse shooting, and a 220 MB built-in memory for in case your SD card fills up. The DMC-TS30 also includes fun filters in Creative Control mode, letting you alter the color and look of your photos.
For any entry-level camera or anyone wanting to take decent underwater photos on a budget, there’s plenty to like about the DMC-TS30, available in black, red, or blue. However, the Nikon 1 AW1 has changed the game, claiming to be the first waterproof, shockproof, interchangeable lens camera.
The AW1 is compatible with all Nikon 1 lenses, although only two in the line are waterproof and shockproof (an 11-27.5 mm lens is included in your kit). The camera also includes a 1-inch 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, high-speed continuous shooting at 15fps, and full 1080p HD video recording.
While Nikon’s waterproof entry has plenty to offer, especially for pros or those looking to improve their craft, note that it’s not cheap. The Nikon Cool pix AW130 is a colorful, compact underwater camera, giving you all the design features you’d want when shooting in the water.
The interior has a lot to offer as well, including a 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch sensor behind a 5x zoom 4.3-21.5 mm (24-120 mm full-frame equivalent) f/2.8-4.9 lens. The smaller sensor means more noise than most interchangeable lens cameras will produce, but most adventure-seekers won’t find it to be a deal-breaker.
Plus, the addition of Bluetooth lets you instantly transfer images to your phone and it also attaches both the time and your location. If your idea of fun is scuba diving through shipwrecks, parasailing off cliffs, or zip lining down a mountain, then you need the GoPro HERO7 Black.
GoPro is one of the top brands in adventure photography, and the HERO7 Black delivers, thanks to incredible image quality, 4K video, and voice control, which lets you record and film hands-free. It’s a small, compact camera, offering 12MP photos, that will fit just about anywhere, and can be paired with plenty of accessories and housing, depending on your needs.
Users also have plenty of creative choices, with the GoPro offering time-lapse video, slo-mo, live-streaming, and the Superhero feature, which gives you automatic enhancement on your images. However, if you’re planning on using it all day, you’ll want to purchase multiple batteries, as the HERO7 chews through them quickly.
Final Verdict Olympus Tough TG-6 is ideal not only for underwater shooting but for any outdoor photography, thanks to its dust and freeze-proof casing. If you’re after a slightly more affordable camera, Panasonic Lu mix DMC-TS30 is budget-friendly but still takes beautiful underwater shots.
While we haven't had a chance to perform any first-hand tests on our top picks for waterproof cameras, our experts are looking forward to putting them through their paces. In addition to checking if the camera can handle its share of bumps and bruises, they'll also be testing the advertised depth and duration of water resistance to make sure it doesn't go belly up when it gets a little wet.
Katie Sundas is a freelance tech and travel writer with years of photography experience. Gabe Carey is an experienced tech journalist with more than seven years of experience covering the industry.