When researching how to choose waterproof cameras, it is not enough to simply choose the first model you find with “waterproof” listed among its features. Although doing so would be tempting considering how draining shopping for a waterproof camera can be, it is ill-advised and would be remarkably shortsighted.
We say this because there is no universal waterproof rating, which means each waterproof camera has its own unique depth limit that, once exceeded, renders it ineffective and may even damage it beyond repair. So how can you ensure you end up with a waterproof camera which is both suited to your needs and guaranteed to perform to a high standard? Read on to find out.
How to Choose Waterproof Cameras
Waterproof Cameras versus Underwater Housing
Before we proceed with tips for how to choose waterproof cameras for your next journey beneath the waves, let’s take a moment to tackle the issue of waterproof cameras versus underwater housing, as some novice photographers may be a little confused about the differences between the two.
As is made obvious by its name, a waterproof camera is a camera intended to be used in rainfall and underwater. The vast majority of waterproof cameras are also suitable for use in more traditional settings, although some special models may give their best performances under the sea.
Unlike a waterproof camera, underwater housing lacks the ability to record images or videos, which is why you may have found underwater housing available online for significantly less than the underwater cameras you’ve been looking at.
Underwater housing is basically a waterproof case in which a traditional camera can be stored, which allows for underwater filming even if the camera itself is not waterproof. Underwater housing is also generally resistant to sand, snow, and dust, so it is a popular choice among photographers who work in extreme weather conditions.
It is important to note, however, a camera which was not designed to take pictures underwater may not return clear images even when paired with quality underwater housing, which is why most hobbyists are advised to purchase a purpose-built waterproof camera.
The Issue of Depth
When learning how to choose waterproof cameras, your primary concern should be the waterproof depth of each potential purchase. As mentioned in the introduction to this article, the depths to which a waterproof camera will remain effective vary from model to model, so it is important to give some thought as to how deep you are intending or willing to go in search of a perfect shot.
If you are planning a family vacation to a holiday resort and are searching for a waterproof camera you can use to document your child’s adventures in the hotel pool or at the nearby water park you should be just fine going with a model which has a maximum waterproof depth of 5 meters or so (this matches the average depth of the deep end of a swimming pool).
However, if you have grander aspirations and are searching for a waterproof camera which you can take you with you on a snorkeling session, you will have to resign yourself to spending a little extra to get a waterproof camera with a greater maximum depth.
For $100 or so, you should be able to find a quality waterproof camera with a maximum depth of 15 meters. Scuba divers will have to spend even more if they want to document their deep sea travels, as the average scuba diver is permitted to descend to a depth of 39 meters.
Fresh or Salted?
When shopping for a waterproof camera, it is important to remember not all models are cut out for use in the ocean. Thankfully, the vast majority of them are, so you won’t have to dedicate too much time to the issue, but if you purchase an inexpensive waterproof camera, there is a chance it was intended to be used only in swimming pools and freshwater.
Saltwater can erode both the external and internal components of cheaper waterproof cameras, so if you purchased an inexpensive model with the intention of taking snaps in the chlorinated water of your resort’s swimming pool, we advise sticking to those plans so as not to risk destroying your camera in the ocean.
We would also like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of washing your camera in freshwater after a stint in the sea, even if your camera was intended to be used in saltwater.
When not properly washed away, saltwater can soak into a camera, leaving blemishes on the lens which are almost impossible to get rid of.
While the quality and depth of the waterproofing is, obviously, the most important feature of any waterproof camera, it is important you give some thought to the other features of each waterproof camera you consider purchasing. For example, many of the more modern waterproof cameras boast Wi-Fi connectivity, so you should ask yourself if it’s something that matters to you.
While it is certainly a convenient feature to have and will make it easier for you to upload your pictures to Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites, you will likely have to spend extra to get it.
You should also consider if you can make do with a camera which takes pictures exclusively or if you would prefer a model with video recording capabilities as well and, if so, how many frames do you want to shoot per second? The battery life of each potential purchase should also play a role in your final decision.
If your underwater photography is not going to extend beyond the swimming pool of your hotel, where a power outlet will always be nearby, there is no need to spend extra to get a camera with a long battery life. If, however, you intend to spend long hours on the beach and diving in the ocean, the battery life of your chosen camera should be given almost as much regard as its maximum depth.
Recommended Waterproof Cameras
Four outstanding options travelers may wish to consider in the "Waterproof Cameras" category are: GoPro HERO6, Fujifilm FinePix XP130 Waterproof Digital Camera and Nikon AW130 Shock & Waterproof GPS Digital Camera. Each of these models boasts features ideal for digital photo enthusiasts who need water, freeze and shockproof durable cameras with loads of other convenient options.
GoPro HERO6 Review
Nikon W300 Shock & Waterproof GPS Digital Camera Review
Nikon W300 Shock & Waterproof GPS Digital Camera - The Nikon W300 Shock & Waterproof GPS Digital Camera is a great option for travelers. With built-in GPS, as well as built-in Wi-Fi, and NFC, digital nomads can transfer their travel photos and videos directly to a compatible smartphone. This durable and portable underwater digital camera is designed to withstand even the harshest conditions experienced during travel, making it a great fit for globetrotting adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers.
Fujifilm FinePix XP130 Waterproof Digital Camera Review
Fujifilm FinePix XP130 Waterproof Digital Camera - This Fujifilm FinePix is a durable option in the rugged camera category offering face detection focusing, fast continuous shooting, remote control usage with a smartphone, image stabilization, built-in wireless and bluetooth technology.
Nikon Coolpix W100 Rugged Digital Camera Review
Nikon Coolpix W100 Rugged Digital Camera - Countless hobbyist photographers have proclaimed the Nikon Coolpix W100 Rugged Digital Camera to be one of the best travel cameras on the market.
- Comprehensive LCD display, Waterproof and Shockproof body, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and SnapBridge app
- Nikon offers it as part of a bundle which includes memory card, travel charger and tripod
- Top rated for video recording
Full Review: Nikon Coolpix W100 Rugged Digital Camera Review
Learn More: How to Choose Waterproof Cameras
Waterproof Cameras - Amazon Best Sellers
- HD Waterproof Camera: With 48 million pixels, our underwater camera can take high-quality images with rich details. 2.7K video resolution can record smooth video for you capturing your meaningful time. And our camera supports Micro SD card up to 128GB, you have no need to worry the storage. (SD card should be purchased separately)
- 10 FT Underwater Camera: Designed to work in all conditions, our underwater camera can be submerged in 10-feet of water without casing for one hour per time. And this camera is portable and perfect for all your activities such as: snorkeling, camping, swimming, diving, beaching and even on your holiday trips. With our waterproof camera, you can capture your life in anytime and anywhere.
- Dual-Screen Design: Features a rear-facing 2.7" full-color LCD display and a secondary front-facing 1.8" selfie screen. With built-in 2/5/10-second self-timer for getting yourself along with the whole guys, never miss a moment of action at all in the family gatherings. With flashlight, you also can shoot vivid pictures in dark or dim environment.
- Continuous Shooting & Recording While Charging: In continuous shooting mode, you can take multiple photos once press photo button, never miss every interesting pictures and provide more life materials for you. The waterproof camera for snorkeling supports the function recording while charging. Even though you need to use the camera for a long time, you have no need to worry about no power.
- The camera is underwater camera, so the design of the battery card slot is more compact, it is more difficult to open than other cameras, the opening requires some skills, need help please contact customer service.
- 2.7K 48MP Waterproof Camera - Full HD 2.7K underwater digital camera features rich video resolution options, including 2.7K(20fps) and FHD 1080P(30fps) for your preference. 48MP photo resolution makes photos much clearer than those taken by 24MP underwater cameras. 16X Digital zoom brings you all vivid and incredible pictures.
- 10FT Underwater Camera & Dual screens - This underwater camera is equipped with the waterproof designed for underwater world, you can dive up to 10 feet. It is ideal for water sports, including swimming, drifting, surfing, snorkeling, etc. With the front 2.7 inches screen and rear 1.8 inches screen, you can record every memorable moment and take a selfie easily.
- Versatile and Easy to Operate - This waterproof digital camera features multiple functions including 6 continuous shooting, self-timer, exposure and white balance, humanized operation interface with convenient parameter setting with multiple languages. These features enriched this waterproof camera the ability to meet a wide range of applications. Turning on the flash light in low light places helps you take sharper and brighter photos.
- Built-in Electronic Image Stabilization - Built-in anti-shake function delivers steady and smooth videos. This underwater camera supports Max.128 GB micro SD card, need purchase it separately. By the way, in order to achieve good waterproof performance, our camera adopts a compact structure design, so the sound when playback is a little small, you can adjust the volume of the video on computer.
- Friendly Customer Service -The compact camera comes with a rechargeable 650 mAh battery, and it supports recording while charging, no more worry about power running out during the happy times with your family and friends in a short time. By the way, the battery door is made tight to be waterproof. Just enjoy every precious moments with this nice camera!
- Waterproof (50 feet / 15 meter ), dust proof, shockproof (7 feet / 2; 1 meter), crush proof (100kgf), freeze proof (14 degree Fahrenheit / 10 degree Celsius ), anti fog
- High resolution F2.0 lens, maximum 8x zoom, true pic VIII, back illuminated CMOS Image Sensor
- Variable macro system comprised of 4 macro shooting modes, magnified shooting up to 1centimeter from the end of the lens
- 5 underwater shooting modes including underwater microscope, 3 underwater white balance modes
- 4K movie and full HD 120 fps high speed movies can be recorded
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