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.
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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 AW130 Shock & Waterproof GPS Digital Camera Review
Nikon AW130 Shock & Waterproof GPS Digital Camera - The Nikon AW130 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
- This waterproof camera has the advantage of being like a normal camera, but the ability to go underwater 10FT for about one hour. It can do good job at snorkeling, surfing, and tumbling through the waves and it is suitable for driving, in the pool, lakes, and family gatherings. This camera is a nice and perfect gift for family and friends who love outdoor water activities. It is an entry level and good general use camera/camcorder.
- The camera is awesome for kids. Also the menu is very comprehensive. It needs a micro SD card and it supports up to 32GB （Excluded）. Please format your micro sd card before fist use. The dual screens are easy and nice to use and this selfie screen is a fun little addition. It's great to use to line up faces and make sure everyone is in the picture and video.
- It's lightweight and compact camera/video recorder. This underwater camera has a pretty color and it has macro mode to take close up picture. You can adjust the focus with the knob on the left between mountain mode (There is a mountain symbol to appear on the screen) and flower mode (There is a flower symbol to appear on the screen), and once you had it where you needed it you didn't need to re-adjust it often at all. There is automatic time/date stamp on photos and it can be set to be off.
- It can also be mounted to a tripod (exclude in standard package) . It uses rechargeable battery. Battery lasting hour is good. The battery compartment is water tight as it's sealed very well to keep it from water leaking into. This camera comes with a little pouch so you can use to store the camera in when it is not in use. It's a nice pouch and it is well made in silver color.
- One-year warranty is provided by YISENCE. Customer service will be provided within 24 hours in working day. You can set color, sepia, and black & white, and it has the ability to adjust the exposure (from +3 to -3) according to your requirement. There is instructional video for how to open the battery compartment when necessary. One hand presses cover lock, another hand(or use a tool) pushes out battery cover meanwhile to open battery door! Take out battery to keep it dry while not using.
- 16.4 MP BSI CMOS Sensor
- Waterproof to 65ft/20M, freeze proof to 14 Degree/-10 Degree, Shockproof to 5.8ft/1.75M, and dustproof
- Fujinon 5x (28-140mm) wide angle optical zoom
- Bluetooth capability - the newly installed Bluetooth low energy technology allows automatic and instant image transfer to smartphones and tablet devices by easy pairing registration.
- Geo Tagging Capability - Choose whether location data downloaded from your smartphone is embedded in pictures as they are taken on your XP130
- FUNCTIONS & MODES. This waterproof camcorder supports functions of continuous shooting, flash light, anti-shake, face detection, smile capture, self-timer. Modes: auto/ night portrait/ night scenery/ portrait/ scenery/ beach/ high sensitivity.
- 2.7 INCH TFT-LCD DUAL SCREEN. This dual screen underwater camera is equipped with 2.7 inch rear screen and 1.8 inch front screen. It's extremely easy to use and you won't be out of frame when taking selfie photos. It can also be mounted to a tripod (exclude in standard package) and comes with a wrist strap and drawstring bag.
- 3 METER UNDERWATER CAMERA. This waterproof camera shoots 24.0 megapixels photos and 1080p full hd videos under water up to 3 meters (10 feet), it's a nice digital camera for snorkeling, camping, swimming, diving and beaching while holiday trips.
- HOW TO OPEN THE BATTERY COMPARTMENT? There is absolutely no water will gets inside this camera and it stays completely dry because the battery compartment is well sealed. Once you have made sure it is well locked and it can safely stay underwater for one hour each time within the distance of 3 meters. You can open the battery compartment with one hand pressing the cover lock and another hand (or use a screwdriver) pushing out battery cover meanwhile.
- WARRANTY & CUSTOMER SERVICE. Gongpon provides one-year warranty. Any after-sale questions will be replied within 24 hours in working days. This underwater digital camera supports a micro SD card up to 32GB which need to be purchased separately.
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