The 8 Best Waterproof Cameras

Updated December 10, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

8 Best Waterproof Cameras
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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. If your photographic exploits have you fording streams and diving into oceans, you'll need one of these waterproof cameras. They can let you take awesome selfies (and fishies!) underwater and share them with family and friends via built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. Even if the watery deep isn't your primary destination, many of these are great insurance against accident-prone children. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best waterproof camera on Amazon.

8. Nikon Coolpix W100

The Nikon Coolpix W100 has a number of build features that make it suitable for underwater photography, including a set of buttons that are large enough to manipulate even through thick diving gloves. Its menus may seem a little rudimentary to many, however.
  • safe under 33 feet of water
  • good option for children
  • lens cover scratches easily
Brand Nikon
Model 26516
Weight 1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. SeaLife DC2000

Buying the SeaLife DC2000 is almost like getting two devices for the price of one. In reality, you're getting a competent underwater unit that can shoot at depths of 60 feet, as well as a housing for that unit that allows you to take deeper dives.
  • aperture and shutter priority modes
  • sony-produced 1-inch sensor
  • large easy-to-push buttons
Brand SeaLife
Model SL740
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Sony Ultra-Compact DSC-RX0

While the company doesn't call it an action cam, that's the first thing most people see when they look at the Sony Ultra-Compact DSC-RX0. For underwater work in low light, the best thing about it is its large, 1-inch sensor.
  • extremely portable
  • 24 mm zeiss lens
  • more for video than stills
Brand Sony
Model DSCRX0
Weight 10.6 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Fujifilm FinePix XP-120

The Fujifilm FinePix XP-120 has a 16.4 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor that does a bang-up job of taking quality images, even in low light situations where many other models struggle. It comes in a highly visible yellow color and fits comfortably in the hand.
  • interval shooting mode
  • one-touch movie button
  • overexposes some shots
Brand Fujifilm
Model XP120 - Yellow
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Leica X-U

If you want to drop top dollar on an underwater option, but you don't want the hassle of complicated housings, the Leica X-U will offer you the best deep sea image quality money can buy in a self-contained unit. Though it is significantly more expensive than many others.
  • large aps-c sensor
  • 35 mm equivalent lens
  • waterproof to 15 meters
Brand Leica
Model X-U
Weight 4.6 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Olympus TG-5 Tough

You'll get superior performance with the Olympus TG-5 Tough. It features a 4x wide-angle optical zoom with a fast ƒ/2.0 lens and underwater HD modes for exceptional clarity even when viewing the images on large screens. Plus, it can shoot in RAW for later editing.
  • built-in wifi and gps
  • freeze-proof to 14 degrees
  • 12 megapixel sensor
Brand Olympus
Model V104190RU000
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Ricoh WG-50

The Ricoh WG-50 features a ring of six LED lights around the lens, which comes in especially handy underwater where sunlight fades as you go deeper. It also makes for an attractive highlight in the eyes of anyone you photograph up close.
  • shockproof to five feet
  • backlit 16 megapixel sensor
  • microscope mode for extreme macro
Brand Ricoh
Model WG-50 black
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Nikon W300

The Nikon W300 resists water for up to 30 meters, making it ideal for diving and snorkeling. Its 4K video capabilities will drastically increase the resolution of your aquatic movies, and its bright yellow color is easy to see beneath the waves.
  • five times optical zoom
  • built-in gps locator
  • depth gauge for safe use
Brand Nikon
Model 26525
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Sealed To Perfection

A lot of good photography is only possible underwater. The obvious images that come to mind are of fish and sharks patrolling reefs of explosive color and variety of life. Less obvious to you, but perhaps equally fascinating, are images of a child learning how to swim, or of a raucous pool party taken from within the pool.

Imagine you're on a ship at sea, a boat no bigger than The Orca, which you might remember was the fishing boat used to hunt the shark in Jaws. If the sea gets a little rough, the fishermen keep working, but you'd have to put your regular camera away for fear of getting it splashed as swells can bank up against the hull and crash buckets of water over your head.

Whatever your need for a waterproof camera, it's reassuring to know that they all function in ways that will be familiar to anyone who's operated a digital point-and-shoot camera, with the added benefit of seals against water.

The majority of those seals, the rubberized linings that prevent water from seeping into the camera, are put in place by the manufacturer along the camera's housing, and they require no maintenance for their performance. There are one or two seals, however, that do require some attention, and these you will find along the door to the battery compartment, as well as the door to the memory card slot. Most manufacturers have combined these two locations to cut down on moisture variables, but a few still separate the ports.

It is imperative that these seals remain clean and dry when you close their hatches. Any little bit of dust or moisture can render the seal ineffective, and as soon as the pressure is great enough, water will get in. I've even seen the integrity of a seal compromised by a single human hair. Luckily, most of these cameras come with a little brush to help you maintain cleanliness along the line of the seals.

One other vulnerable point on these cameras would be the lens, but if you look closely, you'll notice that the lenses on these waterproof cameras actually live behind an added element of clear plexiglass. Not only are the edges of this plexiglass sealed inside the camera body, the material itself is far more durable than the glass of the lens, meaning an angry fish won't break through your lens the way the shark in Jaws 3 inexplicably rammed his way through a thick glass window.

Slippery When Wet

One of the more fascinating properties of water is that it can act as an adhesive or it can cause you to slip and fall on your rear. While water's adhesive qualities are tied in with its ability to erode materials, we're more concerned with the other end of the spectrum today. Sure, your camera's plastic would eventually erode from constant exposure to flowing water, but that would take a few thousand years. It only takes a second for a wet hand to drop a camera.

I bring this up because the some of the makers of waterproof cameras also decided to incorporate a certain degree of shock-proofing into their designs. You can let these cameras go from up to five feet off of the ground and their warranties will cover against any damage incurred from the drop. If you're a little on the clumsier side, or if you're looking at this as a summertime investment for your kids to get to know photography, shock-proofing is practically a mandate.

Beyond that little feature, the usual camera buying conundrums present themselves. How many megapixels do you need? How high a quality of video do you want to be able to shoot? Answer these questions, and your model will readily present itself from those on our list.

It's also worth noting that all but one of the cameras on this list are modeled after standard digital point-and-shoots. The GoPro is the only standout, and its waterproofing isn't built in like it is with the rest. Instead, it comes with a waterproof housing that fits around the entirety of the camera. It also has the widest field of view of any of the cameras, making for a more fisheye view of the world, which may or may not suit your interests.

Almost Sixty Years Submerged

Nikon produced the first amphibious camera marketed to the public back in 1963. Called the Calypso or the Nikonos, the camera was the first of its kind to operate independently of any additional housing. It shot using standard 35mm film, but its film and battery compartments carried with them rubberized seals not too dissimilar from what manufacturers use today.

The obvious problem with this design was the same problem you find any time you compare film and digital photography. Once the roll of film ran its course, you had to change it. That's not the easiest or the safest thing to do underwater.

Digital photography changed the field dramatically, though the first underwater photography achieved digitally was done so with the use of housings, which still maintain a dominance among photographers willing to spend the extra money to bring their high-end equipment underwater.

As digital camera technology continues both to shrink and improve, the thought of bring $5,000 worth of camera gear on a snorkeling trip becomes increasingly silly.



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Last updated on December 10, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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