While there are countless cameras to keep up with your land-based adventures, the pool suddenly shrinks when those adventures involve water. We typically keep our electronics a safe distance from water and for good reason – it threatens to damage them beyond repair. What is there to do when you want to take your photographer’s eye into new territory?
The best underwater cameras can open up a world of possibilities. Whether you’re sitting in theme park’s splash zone or exploring the ocean’s depths, there are cameras built to accompany you into the water safely and capture the world below.
There are underwater cameras for every level of photographer, from beginner to pro. Some are light and compact options perfect for your next holiday, while others are rugged and expedition-ready. If you’re looking for something light and fun, consider one of our picks for Best Cheap Waterproof Cameras. If you’re in the market for something a little more serious, check out this roundup of the best underwater cameras on the market.
1. Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Overall Winner)
The Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 comes with top-notch specs and can dive deeper than any other camera on this list. Although the Lumix DMC-TS30 is waterproof to 8m (26ft) and capable of keeping up on a typical beach holiday, the DC-TS7 is a big step up. It is waterproof down to 31m (102ft) and pressure-resistant to 100kgf (220lbf) for scuba diving. It is also shockproof to 2m (6.6ft) for kayaking, dustproof for mountaineering, and freezeproof down to -10°C (14°F) for winter sports.
The DC-TS7 has equally impressive specs. It comes equipped with a high-sensitivity 20.4 megapixel MOS sensor, 4.6x optical zoom lens, and three-inch monitor. It captures JPEG and RAW files as well as 4K videos and photos.
For better images on-the-go, the DC-TS7 offers a library of exposure modes, shooting programs, and special effects. It also boasts a built-in optical image stabilizer and wireless connection. This Panasonic camera comes in two colors, orange or blue, and weighs 319g (0.7lb) including battery and memory card. All in all, the DC-TS7 is built for capturing quality images at the deepest depths.
The Olympus Tough line of underwater cameras offers the best set of specs among its peers. The latest TG-6 model is waterproof to 15m (49ft). It is rated shockproof for drops up to 2.1m and freezeproof up to -10ºC (14°F). With premium features such as RAW shooting, 4K video, and GPS capabilities, this camera comes equipped for a raft of land and sea adventures.
The Olympus Tough TG-6 is outfitted with a 25-100mm, f/2.0-4.9 lens. The design features a 1/2.3-inch, 12-megapixel sensor, and a three-inch viewing monitor. Besides the fact that the Olympus Tough TG-6 can’t be submerged as deep the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7, it’s a nifty alternative in all other areas.
What’s in a name? When it comes to the SeaLife DC2000, it tells you all you need to know about this underwater camera. The DC2000 inner camera is waterproof up to 60ft, while the underwater housing protects it down to 200ft. It also features a Sony 20-megapixel one-inch image sensor designed to be submerged at darker depths.
The D2000 operates with manual and automatic controls. It has four underwater scene modes, three underwater color filters, and 25 land scene modes. The camera is also compatible with SeaLife’s underwater accessories such as LED lights and flashes. Though this camera lacks a zoom lens, its top specs make it ideal for serious underwater use.
The Nikon COOLPIX C300 is a handy compact camera rated to depths of 30m (or 100ft). The 16-megapixel camera features competitive specs including a 1/2.3-inch sensor and a 24-100mm lens with an aperture range of f/2.8-4.9. The C300 also comes with an electronic compass and barometer to track altitude and depth.
While the C300 does not produce RAW images, it can shoot 4K videos and has a 2.4m shockproof rating. It also has Bluetooth functionality that works well in tandem with Nikon’s SnapBridge file transfer technology. Overall, this camera is ideal for photographers looking to shoot great JPEG images deep underwater.
5. Nikon 1 AW1
Underwater cameras and changeable lenses haven’t meshed historically, making the Nikon 1 AW1 a unique option. The AW1 positions itself as the first waterproof camera with an interchangeable lens. Indeed, the AW1 is waterproof to 15m (49ft), shockproof to 2m (6.6ft), and freezeproof to -10°C (14°F). The mirrorless body is compatible with all Nikon 1 lenses including two waterproof and shockproof options.
The AW1 comes with an 11-27.5mm lens and an f/3.5-5.6 aperture range. It also features a 14.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, Full HD (1080p) video recording, and 15fps high-speed continuous shooting with autofocus. The camera was designed with a sleek white and silver body and weighs 200g.
6. RICOH WG-60
RICOH’s WG-60 is a rugged companion built for serious underwater exploration. Six built-in LED macro lights surrounding the lens barrel set it apart from its peers, while all other specs remain competitive. The WG-60 is waterproof to 14m (45.9ft), shockproof to 1.6m (5.2ft), freezeproof to -10°C (14°F), and dustproof.
The WG-60 features a 5x optical zoom 28-140mm focal lens ranging from with apertures ranging from f/3.5-5.5. The camera comes equipped with a 1/2.3-inch, 16-megapixel sensor and a 2.7-inch monitor. Aside from 50 features like microscope mode to capture subjects as close as 1mm, the WG-60 is fairly similar to the WG-50 that came before it.
It’s also worth noting that the RICOH WG-60 shoots JPEG images and Full HD (1080p) video, making it ideal for underwater photographers who value sturdiness and subject lighting over file format and size.
The GoPro HERO8 Black is a rugged and portable camera ideal for videographers and photographers with an adventurous streak. The camera is durable and waterproof to 10m (33ft). It captures 12-megapixel images with optional features like live burst, Improved HDR, and SuperPhoto auto-processing. Though the camera lacks zoom capabilities, it can shoot RAW files in Wide, Linear, Narrow, and SuperView modes.
The video-centric GoPro shoots 4K60 video footage with optional horizon leveling, HyperSmooth 2.0 video stabilization, and 1080p live streaming. Other modes include slo-mo and night lapse video. Features that set the GoPro apart from other cameras on this list include voice control, a touch screen, and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
The GoPro App makes it easy to control settings from a distance using your phone. There are also many compatible housing systems, mounts, and gimbals that make it easy to take the GoPro on any adventure.
8. Fujifilm FinePix XP140 (Budget Winner)
Fujifilm’s XP series is a reliable line of compact underwater point-and-shoot cameras and their latest model is no exception. The FinePix XP140 is waterproof to 25m (82ft) thanks to its rugged and compact housing. The 16-megapixel model is outfitted with a 1/2.3-inch image sensor and primary color filter. The 5x optical zoom lens is a 28-140mm equivalent while aperture ranges from f/3.9-4.9.
Weighing only 207g, the XP140 comes packed with many other features that make it a great adventure companion. The camera offers a wide range of shooting modes including Beach and Underwater. Like its competitors, the XP140 is shockproof to 1.8m, freezeproof to -10°C (14°F), and dustproof. It also has Bluetooth and 4K video capability. If Full HD (1080p) video recording suffices, consider earlier models of the XP series like the XP130 or XP80 and save even more.
Choosing the Best Underwater Camera
Whether you’re a seasoned underwater photographer or just getting your feet wet, there’s a reliable waterproof camera to suit your needs. But with so many factors to consider when searching for the one that’s just right, the process can feel overwhelming.
As you make your selection, consider the depth rating you actually need. Ask yourself whether you’ll be diving, snorkeling, or simply splashing around. Also bear in mind that first-level Open Water certifications by organizations like PADI only permit divers to reach a depth of 18m (60ft). Next, prioritize your needs and filter options accordingly. Other features that can effectively narrow choices are file format and size, sensor and lens specs, and compatibility with accessories like housing, cages, gimbals, and LED lighting.
Underwater cameras not only offer peace of mind, but the confidence to capture photos of remarkable places and thrilling adventures. So go ahead and make a splash with the best underwater cameras. Just be sure to cinch the wrist strap tightly!