Last Updated on October 16, 2021
Top Pick: Olympus Tough TG-6
If you are in search of the best waterproof tough camera but do not have the time to research how good the camera actually is? This is the best one you can buy.
Its immense quality and features will give you the best underwater camera experience.
Photographers and videographers can reach new levels of creativity using waterproof cameras. No matter whether you want to use your camera underwater, on white water rafts, or in a torrential downpour, waterproof cameras will get the job done.
There are a variety of waterproof cameras to choose from at a variety of price points, so no matter what your budget, you’ll be able to find the right waterproof camera.
You can capture unique underwater images with waterproof cameras because they are tough and well-protected. Several of these water-resistant cameras will also be shockproof, crushproof, and freezeproof, giving you unlimited opportunities to shoot.
So, how can you find the perfect waterproof camera? The answer to these questions depends on whether you are looking for a cheap camera, or not, What kind of video or photos do you want to shoot? Does capturing moving subjects require a fast burst mode? And is image quality important to you? What is your budget?
Who this is for
Over the past few years, action cameras such as the GoPro Hero series have eaten the lunch of tough cameras due to their ease of use, numerous mounting options, and minuscule size. Even though their lenses produce noticeable distortion in still images, their wide-angle lenses are immersive when it comes to shooting videos.
The main purpose of a tough camera is to capture still photographs, since it offers real optical zoom and superior optics that action cameras can’t compete with, and it has a larger screen that you can use to preview your pictures on the spot.
Such a camera would be ideal for people who want to capture images in extreme conditions, such as rock climbing, swimming underwater, or going into freezing cold temperatures. For snorkelers and free divers, these cameras work great, even though they were not actually designed for serious diving (they’re rated 60 to 100 feet deep, depending on the model). (Research more specialized equipment if you plan to take deep-sea photos with one of these cameras).
Cameras that are rugged or waterproof aren’t just for swimming. They can also withstand falls, usually from 30 to 40 feet, which is conveniently close to the height you’re likely to fall from if you drop the camera while you’re holding it.
As a result of the waterproofing, the camera is also dustproof so you can take it with you on dusty hiking trails or on sandy beaches. When you change lenses with an interchangeable lens camera, sand or dust can damage them, but if you drop one of these rugged cameras into the dirt, it won’t damage it.
The cameras are designed to operate in freezing temperatures, so skiers and other snow lovers won’t have to worry too much if the cameras fall out of their pockets on their way down the mountain. You might want to keep your pocket zippered, though, since if your camera falls deep into the snow, you might have difficulty retrieving it. Furthermore, any of these cameras would be best paired with a buoyant strap because the camera couldn’t float on its own if dropped into the water.
Even though the camera’s controls are easy to operate when in action if you’re out skiing or doing another outdoor activity with thick gloves, you might need to remove one when operating it. In your outfit, we recommend wearing a glove liner so you can use the camera while keeping your hands warm before putting the camera away again.
Having resilient cameras reduces their likelihood of being damaged by children, which is a welcome benefit. It may be a good idea to choose a rugged camera if you plan to hand your camera to a small child.
However, these models may be a bit expensive to buy just for this purpose. Also, be aware that all rugged cameras sacrifice image quality for toughness, so if you’re looking for a camera for everyday use, opt for a regular compact, mirrorless, or DSLR camera instead.
The selection process
In considering all the rugged cameras that exist today, we narrowed the field down based on spec specifics that would prove to be beneficial under the challenges you’re likely to encounter in the field.
- Large-aperture lens: Because light decreases dramatically at depth (the murky depths are actually not so murky after all), a lens that lets in as much light as possible is ideal. If you are a camera nerd, you will be interested to know that our maximum aperture is set at f/3.5 or larger. The field was greatly narrowed as a result.
- Shockproof, freezeproof, and waterproof: Considering their rugged nature was the very reason they were developed, we took their specifications into consideration. As a snorkeler, you are unlikely to dive below 10 feet, but if you drop your camera underwater, your camera’s depth limit should allow extra time to recover. At least 40 feet of depth was regarded as a minimum (50 feet and more is preferred). In addition, you’ll need a drop resistance of at least 5 feet — chest height for most people. In fact, most modern tough cameras operate down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit at subfreezing temperatures.
- Macro and close-up modes: Taking an underwater photograph is usually done very close to the subject since light does not travel well through water. Thus, macros are imperative. There is no limitation to the distance from the lens to the front of all of these cameras.
Tests and hands-on reports about the cameras, if they were available, were also examined to see what other camera reviewers thought about them and to see sample shots.
Check out these top waterproof cameras
Defining what “waterproof camera” means is crucial, so let’s take a moment to clarify our meaning. A waterproof camera can be either a compact or an action camera.
The main difference between waterproof compacts and ordinary compact cameras is that they’re waterproof.
They are known for their bright colors (useful if you drop them underwater), and the main advantage they have over action cameras is that they may come with an optical zoom lens, allowing you to get closer to your subject without sacrificing quality.
One disadvantage is that the sensors are different from many action cameras – similar to GoPros which are much smaller and lighter than waterproof compacts. Furthermore, these cameras typically have higher video specifications with 4K footage in high frame rates. Many waterproof compacts lack this feature as well.
Our best underwater disposable film cameras are great for when you want a retro-style image when you’re not interested in thinking digitally, and we’ve also included the best underwater digital cameras.
1. Olympus Tough TG-6
Abrasion-resistant and rust-free
The camera is compact, with a 1/2.3in sensor, a 12MP CMOS sensor, 25-100mm (Equiv.) lens, and a 3in LCD. The device is also water and shockproof and has a maximum video resolution of 4K.
- Video recording in 4K
- Zoom lens with a large aperture
- Waterproofing of 15m is better elsewhere
- The newer the vehicle, the higher the price
Olympus’ TG series of tough cameras has a sterling reputation not only for its great image quality and video technology but also for being sufficiently specced to withstand harsh conditions.
Raw-shooting and 4k capable, the TG-6 is a relatively minor upgrade on the TG-5 but offers some new features like a better LCD and Underwater Microscope modes for getting close to your subject.
It comes equipped with a 4K video recording range of 30fps and a Full HD recording range of 120fps, plus a generous 25-100mm optical zoom lens to bring you closer to the action.
The chunky grip provides a comfortable, secure grip on this camera, while the internal zoom mechanism ensures the lens is hidden within the body, preventing it from being damaged by knocks or bumps. With its straightforward design and sophisticated features, the TG-6 is the best waterproof camera on the market today.
2. Nikon Coolpix W300
Waterproof to 30m, this underwater camera is great for deeper diving
A compact digital camera with 1/2.3in sensor and 16 megapixels, 24-120mm (Equiv.) f/2.8-4.9 lens, 3in LCD, 921k dots, and water and shockproof to 30m/100ft. It’s freezeproof down to -10°C/14°F and can handle 4K video at its maximum resolution too.
- Zoom range that is decent
- Waterproofing did to perfection
- A choice of four colors
- Quite expensive
- There will be no raw footage
It is the best waterproof digital camera if you’re a deep-sea explorer. The Nikon W300 is water-resistant up to 30 meters, making it one of the most powerful underwater cameras on the market, and it comes with an electronic compass and a barometer that provide useful data like altitude and depth underwater.
It is also equipped with Bluetooth, which can be paired with Nikon’s SnapBridge technology to transfer images quickly. Those who enjoy shooting video will also appreciate the addition of 4K video to the W300’s feature set, and thanks to the generous shockproof rating of 2.4m, the camera will be protected against bumps.
It’s a pity there’s no Raw support, but if you’re fine with JPEGs, you’ll find that this tool is an excellent all-rounder for those who love to dive.
3. Canon G7x Mark II
Digital Camera Bundle
The dimensions are 8.4 x 6.6 x 6.3 and the weight is 2.75 pounds. It has a 4.2X optical lens, a three-inch touch display, records 1080p video, and has a SanDisk memory card of 64GB.
- An additional 64-GB SanDisk memory card can be inserted into the card slot to expand the memory
- With the G7X Mark II, you won’t have to worry about it being damaged by harsh weather
- There is everything you need to be included in this bundle
- Videos and pictures in high definition
- Capable of shooting at a much higher level than many other compacts
- The charging cable supplied with the device is not compatible with USA sockets
- An external microphone cannot be connected to the camera since it doesn’t come with a headphone jack
- If you’re upgrading from the G7X housing, you’ll need new housing for the Mark II because its dimensions are slightly larger.
Since Canon has been a trusted brand in the camera industry for years, it is well-established. It is, therefore, no surprise that the G7x Mark II camera takes vibrant, high-quality images.
The smart point-and-shoot camera has a 20.1-megapixel lens and comes with a range of point-and-shoot features to help you take high-quality pictures.
The Canon G7x Bundle comes with a wealth of accessories including an extra battery pack, lens pen, memory card wallet, HDMI cable, microfiber cloths, screen protectors, cleaning solution, and cotton swabs.
In addition to the flexible tripod, you also get a 12-inch spider for mounting your camera wherever you want. The new digital imaging processor from Canon works well underwater and is faster in autofocus and RAW capturing than its predecessor, DIGIX 7. Also, the one-touch system for customizing white balance is impressive.
3. Ricoh WG-70
Offering some nifty extra features at an affordable price, this is one of the toughest available
This compact digital camera has a sensor of 1/2.3in, sixteen megapixels, f/3.5-5.6 lens (28-140mm), and a three-inch, 230,000 dot LCD. It’s also freezeproof at -10oC/14oF and has a max video resolution of full HD. It also comes in orange or black.
- Zoom range that is decent
- Ring lights built into the device are useful
- 4K video isn’t available
- The WG-60 is very similar
In terms of toughness, Ricoh WG cameras have a reputation for being Swiss Army knives. The camera is equipped with ring lights around its lens, which can be used as a torch as well as a macro light, allowing you to see your subject underwater while illuminating your surroundings.
There are some nice features in it that make it worthwhile to consider. WG-70 microscopes can focus at distances as small as 1mm, with higher resolution than the WG-60. The microscope mode lets you focus at distances as close as 1mm. Handheld Night Snap and the Handheld Night Snap Pro capture and blend several photos of a low-light scene quickly and without blurring.
All of this is contained within a body with serious protection, able to stay submerged for up to 2 hours in water at 14m.
4. Panasonic FT30
The waterproof Panasonic FT30 is best used for still photography and video later
It has a 1/2.3-inch sensor, 16.1 MP, 25-100 mm (Equiv) lenses, f/3.9-5.7 aperture, 2.7-inch LCD, and is 8m/26ft water-resistant and 1.5m/5ft shockproof. It is also freezeproof down to -10f/14c. The video resolution is 720p (HD) and it comes in blue, black, orange, or red colors.
- The price is very reasonable
- An intelligent design
- Four options for color
- With many specifications, it shows its age
- The maximum aperture of the lens is relatively narrow
Although the Panasonic Lumix FT30 may not be the newest waterproof camera here, and it may not quite deliver any best-in-class specs, what it does offer is well worth its relatively low asking price.
In addition to being slim, it can also fit snugly into a jeans pocket or similar, although this does come at the expense of a secure grip. You can buy a wrist strap for FT30 to ensure it does not fall out of your hand.
As long as you keep it in your possession, the FT30 is a solid, versatile, and waterproof camera, which should prove well-suited to capturing your aquatic adventures – in the still form at least. With its lower video resolution of 720p, there are probably better waterproof digital cameras to choose from if you’re a video freak.
5. Fujifilm XP140
Create eye-popping designs with the XP140
It has a 1/2.3in sensor, 16MP, 28-140mm (equiv) f/3.9-4.9 lens, a 3in screen, and is shockproof and waterproof for 20m/65 feet. It is also freezeproof to -10oC/14oF; it provides a maximum video resolution of 4K; and it comes in yellow, white, gray, blue, or green colors.
- The protective level that is healthy
- LCD screen with 920k dots
- There is only a 4K video in 15p
- Manual control is not available
Despite its kid-friendly design, the Fujifilm FinePix XP140 is not a skimpy camera when it comes to imaging technology.
The camera is still a capable little device in and of itself, capable of recording 4K video (albeit at a disappointing price of 15p) and boasting an impressive 5x optical zoom lens equivalent to 28-140mm, for a very affordable price of under $250.
This camera boasts a new scene recognition mode that helps it determine what to photograph (to compensate for the lack of manual controls), and the controls are well-designed and easy to use, no matter the lighting conditions. It’s a great deal for the price.
6. SeaLife DC2000
A diving camera that has various lighting options
The camera has a 1in sensor with a 20MP CMOS imaging sensor, a lens of 11.6mm f/1.8 (31mm equivalent), an LCD of 3in, 920k dots, is waterproof and shockproof, rated at -20oC/-29oF +1080p resolution with a red hue and white color.
- A water-resistant barrier for a depth of 60 meters
- Sensor with a resolution of 20 megapixels
- Buttons of great size
- Whether or not lighting is available
- There is no 4K
- There is no zoom
With SeaLife cameras, you won’t have to buy separate housings or optical ports for a mirrorless camera or DSLR for serious underwater photography. Its ability to withstand temperatures of minus 29°C and go down to 60m depths makes it a macho machine.
In addition to its photographic capabilities, this camera features a one-inch sensor and can shoot RAW files. In the sea, you’ll see a whole red camera housing. The red outside can be removed when the camera is used on land to expose the (still waterproof) internal camera.
Although you can buy the camera on its own, if you plan to use it for deep dives, take a look at the various sets, which come with one or two lights for illuminating your subject, as well as carrying handles.
7. GoPro HERO9 Black
With a larger screen and a bigger GoPro, there’s even more to love.
158 grams | 10-meter waterproofing | Full HD video at 30 frames per second | 1080 at 240 frames per second | 23.6-megapixel stills | Battery life of 1-1.5 hours continuous shooting (0.96-0.94) | Color options: Black
- A handy display on the front
- Stabilization is excellent
- Excellent app synergy
- In comparison to previous years, it has been heavier
- Lags on some touchscreens
For its ninth Hero camera, GoPro needed to come up with something exceptional to compete with DJI (more on that shortly). The company hit back by including an LCD screen in the front of the device just like its competitors.
This is extremely useful for vlogging, and GoPro upped the ante in other ways, too, increasing the video resolution to 5K, improving the stabilization, and allowing you to recognize all the important moments in the video.
All of this tech makes the HERO9 Black a little heavier and bulkier compared to previous models, and the brand new status means it is the most expensive GoPro ever. However, if you have the money for it, it’s one of the best underwater action cameras available.
8. DJI Osmo Action
A rival to GoPro that is exceptionally well-specced
It is a compact camera with a 1/2.3inch sensor, 12MP, 145° field of view, and f/2.8 lens, a 2.2-inch LCD, and is water and shockproof up to 11 meters/36 feet. It is also freezeproof to -10°C/14°F, with a 4K video resolution, and it has grey colors as the default.
- The stabilization of images is fantastic
- An easy-to-use front screen
- The app has a tendency to be temperamental
- Several lags when using the maximum resolution
DJI’s Osmo Action takes aim at the best GoPro cameras from the get-go with its feature-set and price point. Is it successful? It’s complicated, like everything else.
The front-facing screen is a real bonus, and the stabilization is just as silky smooth as the HERO’s. It’s also quite affordable, so you can buy it right now. The HERO isn’t perfect; there can be a little lag on the HERO at high resolutions and the app can be less than reliable. Videos from the HERO are flatter than you might expect, but these things count in the professional sphere.
However, the Osmo Action is an excellent alternative to the HERO7 Black at an affordable price point.
9. GoPro HERO8 Black
It’s as good as ever, but now it’s cheaper
Essentially, this is an ultra-compact camera with a 1/2.3″ sensor, a 10MP camera with a lens of 14 to 28mm (Equiv. ), a 2″ LCD, and a 10m water- and shock-resistant rating. 126 grams | Waterproof up to 10m | Video: up to 60 frames per second | 1080: up to 240 frames per second | 720: up to 240 frames per second | Stills resolution: 12MP | Battery life: 1-3 hours estimate | Color options: Black
- Stabilized images of excellent quality
- This video is excellent in 4K
- There is a great deal of flexibility in frame rates
- The rear screen is small
- Front screen not present
There are many features in the 2019 flagship GoPro camera, which makes it a great purchase. The Hero8 Black has fold-out feet with a built-in camera mount, as well as a modular design that allows for customization. The Display Mode is a favorite because it adds a second monitor, which is perfect for vloggers.
In addition, there are plenty of other Mods, such as the Media Mod for improving video quality, and the Light Mod for LED lights. The Hero8 Black combines its additional capabilities with its already waterproof capability down to 10 meters without a case, making it a top underwater action cam.
DISPOSABLE UNDERWATER CAMERAS
10. Fujifilm Quicksnap Marine
It’s perfect for families on the beach to use this disposable film camera
The camera is a single-use type and is formatted for 35mm film with exposures of 24 exposures, a lens of 32mm f/10, a viewfinder, and auto-modes.
- Disposable and waterproof
- It’s easy enough for anyone
- Uncertain outcomes
- There are no controls over anything
At this price, this waterproof camera is a great deal! There is an additional charge of a few pounds for this waterproof camera, but it lets you take pictures underwater. There’s no way Fujifilm’s plastic case can withstand water for more than 10 meters, so it’s likely you’ll be in trouble much longer before the camera.
There is no reason why your Fujifilm Quicksnap Marine wouldn’t be able to develop Fujifilm Superia color negative film at a regular chemist or online lab. There are 24 exposures of Fujifilm ISO 800 Superia color negative film included in the box. Evidently, there is little control because none exists.
In order to get decent results from this camera, you are going to need good outdoor bright light, but you are bound to have that problem with any camera designed for one use.
11. Kodak Sports Underwater Camera
With this ‘hands-free’ contender, you can dive deeper than most waterproof cameras.
The camera is single-use, 35mm film format, color film, ISO800 speed, 27 exposures, no lens, direct vision viewfinder, modes: automatic.
- Waterproof to a depth of 15m/50ft
- Straps are provided for hands-free operation
- Inbuilt flash is not available
It is also waterproof, so you can take it diving with you. It is an alternative to Fujifilm Quicksnap Marine. Even scuba divers will find this one interesting as it can be dived down to 50 feet (15m).
You have to wait (and pay) until you see your pictures since the camera comes preloaded with Kodak’s ISO800 color print film.
Waterproof cameras have shrunk in recent years, and some models have become more standardized. Similarly, the Canon PowerShot D30 hasn’t been updated for over two years and is the only waterproof compact camera that the company offers.
Due to this and other issues, we previously discounted the Canon model as being underwhelming in low light conditions.
Unlike Canon, Panasonic has not announced a new version of its Lumix DMC-TS30 since it was introduced in 2015. However, because we don’t see the point of having an electronic viewfinder on this type of camera, we didn’t test the company’s high-end waterproof model, the Lumix DC-TS7.
As a result, Fujifilm’s fine-pix XP120, XP130, and XP140 lenses are non-compliant with our criteria.