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Best Waterproof Cameras

Updated August 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 16 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 122 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best waterproof cameras

    Last Updated August 2018

    Life is full of special moments that deserve to be preserved in photo. If you’re going to the beach, you’ll need a waterproof camera to avoiding missing anything.

    There are so many waterproof cameras on the market that finding the right one can feel like mission impossible. What size should you get? Which features matter most? How much should you pay?

    At BestReviews, our goal is to make your shopping process as stress-free as possible. We buy all our own products, so our recommendations are completely unbiased. Our experts took a deep dive into the world of waterproof cameras to get the lowdown on which products are best.

    If you’re in the market for a waterproof camera, please visit the chart above to see our top recommendations. To find out more about waterproof cameras and what to look for, read on.

    A waterproof camera is an ideal tool for capturing snorkeling memories and deep sea-fishing trips, but it works equally well for water park visits where you may get splashed.

    What makes a camera waterproof?

    Waterproof cameras are made with special parts that can withstand moisture.

    • Airtight housing: The housing on a waterproof camera is airtight to keep water from getting inside and damaging the electronics. You could buy a waterproof housing for an existing digital camera, but the housing for a factory-made waterproof camera is usually much more effective at keeping out water.

    • Rubber seals: Rubber seals reinforce the airtight housing around any parts that open, such as the battery compartment and memory card slot. This helps keep water out. However, you must carefully dry these areas before you open them to prevent moisture from seeping inside.

    • Thick lens: Waterproof cameras that can be used underwater have thicker lenses than regular cameras because they must be able to withstand pressure at different depths without breaking. If you buy a waterproof camera, check the depth to which it can be used before jumping in the water with it.

    • Settings: Underwater cameras have settings that allow them to capture clear, vivid photos while submerged. The settings are designed to account for the way that light travels through water and provide options for common underwater subjects like fish.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you’re using a waterproof camera underwater, try to get as close to your subject as possible. Wide-angle shots typically turn out better than zoomed-in shots underwater.


    Waterproof camera features

    Size and weight

    The size and weight of your camera matter if you’re using it in or near the water. In most cases, you’ll want the smallest, lightest camera you can find. Look for a waterproof camera that weighs five ounces or less.

    In terms of size, choose a waterproof camera that’s no more than two-and-a-half inches in length, two inches in width, and one-and-a-half inches in height so it’s easy to carry around.

    Depth

    Waterproof cameras can be used at a variety of underwater depths. The lens must be a certain thickness in order to work at a specific depth without breaking. Consider the activities you’ll be using a camera to shoot when selecting the appropriate depth.

    We recommend that you purchase a waterproof camera that can withstand a depth of 10 feet at minimum. For a more versatile option, look for a camera that can withstand a depth of 30 feet.

    The maximum water depth for waterproof cameras is usually 50 feet.

    Viewing screen

    As with any camera, you want to choose a waterproof camera with a viewing screen that allows you to see the photos you’re lining up or have just taken. The screen should be clear enough to see underwater or in direct sunlight.

    For clear viewing in any situation, we recommend a waterproof camera with a high-resolution LCD viewing screen.

    Resolution

    Camera resolution, measured in megapixels, impacts photo clarity. To ensure good image quality in underwater shots, pay attention to the resolution of any camera you’re considering. It might seem like a good idea to shoot at the highest resolution possible, but high-res photos take up more space on your memory card. For this reason, we suggest choosing a waterproof camera that allows you to shoot at different resolution levels.

    Camera resolution is typically measured in megapixels. Look for a waterproof camera with a minimum resolution of 12MP.

    Frames per second (FPS)

    A camera’s FPS rate is the speed at which it captures images. A speedy camera allows you to take photos in rapid succession so you don’t miss anything. Look for a waterproof camera that offers 25 to 30 FPS.

    Video capabilities

    Still photographs can help you remember special events, but you may also want to take some video footage from time to time. Some waterproof cameras have video capabilities that allow you to record videos in or near the water.

    Video quality is measured in the number of thousands of pixels the footage offers. High-definition recordings are fairly detailed and crisp, but for the most vivid recordings, look for a camera that offers 4K video – that means the footage features 4,000 pixels for the most detailed video possible.

    Use a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe down the rubber seals on your waterproof camera after each use. This will help remove debris could otherwise affect the airtight seal.

    Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity

    Some waterproof cameras feature built-in Bluetooth and WiFi technology. This allows you to easily transfer photos from the camera to your computer, smartphone, tablet, or other connected device.

    Voice commands

    Some waterproof cameras have a voice control feature. If you plan to take photos while the camera is mounted and you don’t have a free hand to take a shot, voice control can prove quite handy.

    A waterproof camera with a large number of megapixels can provide high-quality images, but a camera with a good lens is also invaluable in terms of aesthetics.

    Mount

    A waterproof camera may come with one or more mounts that allow you to stabilize it for hands-free photos.

    Computer compatibility

    In order to transfer photos from a waterproof camera to your computer, it’s important to verify first that the model you’re considering is compatible with your computer system. Most waterproof cameras work with Macs and PCs, but double-check that the camera is approved to work with your computer.

    EXPERT TIP

    Avoid leaving a waterproof camera in direct sunlight or in sand at the beach. These elements could raise the camera’s operating temperature and cause damage.


    Waterproof camera prices

    Waterproof cameras vary in price based on size, resolution, FPS, and other features. Expect to spend between $30 and $600 for a waterproof camera.

    • Small, basic waterproof cameras typically cost between $30 and $120.

    • Mid-range waterproof camera with a few extra features tend to run between $120 and $300.

    • High-end waterproof cameras with multiple extra features may cost between $300 and $600.

    Water absorbs warm colors like orange and red. That means your underwater photos will turn out blue if you don’t use the flash on a waterproof camera.

    FAQ

    Q. Are waterproof cameras meant only for use in water?
    A.
    Waterproof cameras are used primarily for underwater photography and other photography near the water, but you can use them for taking any type of photos you like. Before you buy, check that the camera you’re considering has an appropriate zoom range to provide enough versatility for your photos.

    Q. How long does the battery usually last in a waterproof camera?
    A.
    The battery life for a waterproof camera depends on the model and how you use it. In general, you can expect to get one to two hours of continuous use from the battery. Using the camera at a lower resolution helps preserve battery life.

    Q. Does a waterproof camera have a flash?
    A.
    A waterproof camera has a regular flash. In fact, the flash can be very important if you’re photographing in deep water where there might not be much light.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Chris
      Chris
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Kyle
      Kyle
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor