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.
The GoPro HERO boasts superior image stabilization, vivid colors, included waterproof casing, improved controls, a fast internal processor and a higher frame rate enabling you to shoot 4K videos at 60 frames per second.
Full Review: GoPro HERO Review
- HyperSmooth 2.0: HERO8 Black has three levels of stabilization – On, High and Boost. Get the widest views, or boost to the smoothest video ever offered in a HERO camera. Works with all resolutions and frame rates, and features in-app horizon leveling
- Streamlined Design: The re-imagined shape is more pocketable, and folding fingers at the base let you swap mounts quickly. A new side door makes changing batteries even faster, and the lens is now 2x more impact-resistant compared to previous models
- Expandable Mods: Vloggers, pro filmmakers and aspiring creators can do more than ever imagined with our HERO8 Black mods (sold separately). Media Mod gives you shotgun-mic performance and lets you attach Light Mod and Display Mod to up your capture game
- Live Streaming in 1080p: Share while you’re there. Live stream in 1080p on social media, get HyperSmooth stabilization as you broadcast via the GoPro app and save footage to your SD card to check out later
- TimeWarp 2.0: Capture super-stabilized time lapse videos while moving through an activity. Automatically adjust speed based on motion, scene detection and lighting. Slow the effect to real time – savoring special moments – and then tap to speed it back up
Nikon W300 Shock & Waterproof GPS Digital Camera Review
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.
- Waterproof, freeze proof, shockproof and dustproof adventure camera with extra capabilities
- Stunning high resolution photos, 4K Ultra HD videos, Time-lapse videos, Super lapse videos and music montages
- 5x optical zoom NIKKOR lens with telephoto power and Hybrid VR image stabilization
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, eCompass, altimeter, depth gauge and more
- Operating environment: Temperature: -10 to +40°C (14 to 104°F ) for land use, Temperature: 0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F) for underwater use
Fujifilm FinePix XP140 Waterproof Digital Camera Review
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.
- ISO 100-12800, allowing for lots of light and extremely fast shutter speed
- Waterproof to 82 ft., shockproof up to 5.9 ft, freeze proof to 14º F and dustproof
- Smile Shutter - The new feature automatically takes the photo. When you select “Smile Shutter” you will no longer miss the perfect photo.
- 4K/15P Video – Capture the world around you in ultra-high definition with the 4K movie capability at 15 frames per second
- Bluetooth Capability - The newly installed Bluetooth low energy technology allows automatic and instant image transfer to smartphones and tablet devices by easy pairing registration. The technology also syncs the time and location information from your device and attaches it to your images.
Nikon Coolpix Rugged Digital Camera Review
Countless hobbyist photographers have proclaimed the Nikon Coolpix 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 Rugged Digital Camera Review
- BUNDLE INCLUDES: Nikon Coolpix W150 Digital Camera (White), Accessory Bundle for Large Point and Shoot Digital Cameras, EN-EL19 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Replacement Battery for Nikon Coolpix, 32GB 80MB/s SD Card, and Foam Floating Camera Strap (Color May Vary)
- IMAGING: The camera offers an effective pixel count of 13.2 million pixels and is equipped with a 3x optical zoom NIKKOR lens. It has Dynamic Fine Zoom*, which can be used to achieve approximately 6x zoom
- RUGGED DESIGN: The Nikon Coolpix W150 is tough and reliable for use by children and adults in a variety of leisure and travel situations. The camera is waterproof to a depth of 33-feet/10m, shockproof to withstand falls from as high as 5.9-feet/1.8m, dustproof and cold-resistant down to 14 degree Fahrenheit/-10 degree Celsius
- ZOOM: Dynamic Fine Zoom can be used to achieve approximately 6x zoom while ensuring that resolution remains high throughout the digital zoom range
- NIKON AUTHORIZED DEALER: Includes USA Manufacturer Warranty
Learn More: How to Choose Waterproof Cameras
Waterproof Cameras - Amazon Best Sellers
- 4K Ultra HD action camera. Professional 4K 25Fps & 2.7K 30Fps video with 12MP photos at up to 30 frames per second for incredible photos, which is 4 times the resolution of traditional HD cameras.
- Wireless wrist remote control sports camera. With a wrist 2.4G remote, you can capture the world in an all-new way. Controlling the camera, framing shots or recording video is convenient.
- Longer battery life. AKASO EK7000 action camera comes with 2 rechargeable 1050mAh batteries. Each battery can record up to 90 minutes. No more worry about the recording time for this Action camera.
- Built-in Wi-Fi & HDMI, edit & share YOUR action in minutes. Just download App(smart DV) on your phone or tablet and connect with this action camera. Wi-Fi signal ranges up to 10 meters.
- 100 Feet waterproof camera. AKASO EK7000 is designed to withstand extreme environments, together with durable waterproof case. With the accessories, transform it for indoor and outdoor activities.
- 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 1 centimeter 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. Battery life - Approx. 340 Images (using Toshiba SDHC UHS-I Card Exceria with IS ON, based on CIPA test standards). Approx. 50 minutes (under standard JEITA testing). Approx. 110 minutes (when zoom and other operational functions are not used). When repeatedly recording at the maximum time of 29 minutes
- Super 4K Action Camera: Campark 4K sports action camera records video footage in 4K/30fps and takes photo at 16M, help you capture and share your world in a fantastic resolution.
- 170 Degree Optional Wide Angle Lens: This gopro type camera features 2 inch HD screen and 170 adjustable angle lens, giving you a different visual experience. You won't miss out on any background details.
- Wi-fi Remote Control: The sports camera allows you control camera via the phone in real time, instantly share pics and videos on social media.(Compatible with iOS and Android System)
- Waterproof up to 30M(100FT) Depth: With the included waterproof case, this underwater camera allows you to dive up to 30M (100ft) in depth. Ideal for water sports like swimming, drifting, surfing etc.
- Accessories Kits with Two Batteries: Comes with dual rechargeable batteries and multifunctional accessories (most are compatible with gopro cameras), enable you to mount your camera to helmet, bicycles, wrist, etc.
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