Best Underwater Cameras for Snorkeling

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When it comes to selecting the best underwater camera for snorkeling, you have a couple different options. These options range from very simple and inexpensive to a professional level setup. Of course, there is not a “one setup fits all” solution. You have to select the option that works best for you personally.

Best Underwater Camera for Snorkeling

Option 1: Disposable Waterproof Camera

This is the simplest and least expensive solution. You can spend a few dollars on a disposable point and shoot film camera. Then, you are ready to go with minimal investment in terms of money and time.

Over the last decade, Fujifilm has offered the most popular disposable waterproof camera (Fujifilm Quick Snap Waterproof 27). This is a safe option for anyone going on a tropical beach vacation.

There are some negatives, however. First, the disposable waterproof camera does not have a flash. It is only good for beach photography and, possibly, for snorkeling in shallow waters in bright sunlight. You also have to get the film developed into prints.

Option 2: Waterproof Housing

If you own an advanced compact or point-and-shoot camera, you can couple it with waterproof housing designed for your specific camera model. This option allows you to take advantage of the high-end sensor and lenses as well as use any manual shooting modes while snorkeling.  

The only disadvantage of this option is the high cost. The compact camera and waterproof camera will set you back over $1,000.

In my case, I use the Sony RX100III as my backup camera while traveling. This is a tiny camera with an amazing Sony sensor and a fast zoom lens from Zeiss. Plus, it offers all the advanced settings of the high-end DSLR. I paired it with the Sony Waterproof Housing (MPK-URX100A) designed for the RX100 line of cameras. The total cost of this setup is around $1,050.

Sony RX100 III 20.1 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera w/1-inch sensor and 24-70mm F1.8-2.8 ZEISS zoom lens (DSCRX100M3/B)

Sony RX100 Underwater Housing for RX100-series Cameras Underwater Camera Housing, Clear (MPK-URX100A)


Option 3: Dedicated Waterproof Point-and-Shoot Digital Cameras

Camera manufacturers understand the need for an affordable solution for underwater photography that can produce better results than disposable underwater cameras. As a result, almost every single camera manufacturer offers a dedicated digital waterproof camera that is suitable for underwater photography, snorkeling, and simple family fun on the beach.

This option is suitable for most people who want to bring a reliable waterproof camera to their beach vacation without investing too much money or time.

Today, I am featuring 5 of the top waterproof cameras you can purchase today. These cameras range between $150 and $400. I will also reveal my top picks.

Quick Answer: Top 5 Best Waterproof Snorkeling Cameras in 2019

  1. Olympus Tough TG-5 Waterproof Camera
  2. Fujifilm XP130 Waterproof Camera
  3. Nikon Coolpix W300 Waterproof Camera
  4. Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 Waterproof Camera
  5. Ricoh WG-50 Waterproof Camera

BEST ALL AROUND WATERPROOF CAMERA FOR SNORKELING

Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Red

1. Olympus Tough TG-5

Megapixels: 12MP
Lens: 25-100mm (35mm Equivalent)
Weight: 250g (8.8oz)
Size: 113 x 66 x 32mm (4.4 x 2.6 x 1.3″)
Price: Check the latest price here

The Olympus Tough TG-5 is one of the few compact cameras that is made to last. It is the successor of the popular TG-4 which was launched back in 2015 and is packed with new features including 4K video and a new 12MP image sensor. In some cases, when brands reduce the resolution (in our case from 16MP in TG-4 to 12MP in TG-5), is because they want to increase image quality in low light conditions.

Besides increasing the image quality in low light, Olympus has added an extremely useful dial on the top right of the camera that controls the exposure compensation. This dial gives you the ability to adjust the exposure whenever you want in a matter of seconds. In addition, the ability to change lenses for different types of shooting makes the TG-5 unique. You have the option to choose between a fisheye lens and a telephoto lens.

Last but not least, the Olympus Tough TG-5 is waterproof, shockproof, crushproof and dustproof, perfect for an action camera. The lens has a f/2.0 aperture and goes down to f/4.9 when it’s fully zoomed in. It has a built-in GPS, compass, WiFi and Bluetooth, records 4K video at 30p and Full HD at 120p which is great for slow motion. The camera weighs less than 250 grams and you can charge it via USB.

What we like:

  • Low light sensitivity 100-12.800
  • RAW files
  • 4K video
  • Accessories and lenses

What we don’t like:

  • Limited zoom range
  • Pricey for a compact camera

Check Latest Price & Reviews


BEST BUDGET WATERPROOF CAMERA FOR SNORKELING

Fujifilm FinePix XP130 Waterproof Digital Camera w/16GB SD Card - Sky Blue

2. Fujifilm XP130

Megapixels: 16MP
Lens: 28-140mm (35mm Equivalent)
Weight: 164g (5.8oz)
Size: 104 x 66 x 25mm (4.1 x 2.6 x 1.0″)
Price: Check the latest price here

The Fujifilm XP130 is a waterproof, shockproof, freezproof and dustproof camera perfect for the mountain, the beach or action sports! The size is perfect for a point-and-shoot camera and it comes in various colors. It features a 16 Megapixel CMOS sensor with image stabilization and 5x optical zoom which is okay if you just want to bring your subject a little bit closer without losing detail.

Underwater, the new BSI-CMOS sensor by Fujifilm, is designed to reproduce the colors matching what the human eye can see. The special underwater modes are designed to capture stills and video with great colors and clarity. Similarly, the XP130 can take up to 10 images per second in burst mode at maximum resolution. This ensures you get exactly the image you want using ultra-high-speed technology.

With the Fujifilm mobile app you can transfer your images and control the camera remotely from your smartphone device. Along with the WiFi connection, the Bluetooth allows you to easily pair your device and also add location to your images with GEO tagging. The XP130 can take top quality photos and videos. Even if there’s no 4K feature available, the camera can capture Full HD video at 60p and produce excellent image quality.

What I like:

  • Beautiful designed rugged body
  • Image quality
  • 10fps burst mode
  • Underwater special modes

What I don’t like:

  • No 4K video
  • White balance tends to be too cool

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Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera with TFT LCD, 3', Orange

3. Nikon Coolpix W300

Megapixels: 16MP
Lens: 24-120mm (35mm Equivalent)
Weight: 231g (8.15oz)
Size: 111.5 x 66 x 29mm (4.4 x 2.6 x 1.1″)
Price: Check the latest price here

If you are an adventurous person and you love sports or you have a big family with lots of kids; Nikon has designed a camera that might be ideal for your type of shooting. The Coolpix W300 is a waterproof point-and-shoot camera with increased capabilities packed in a rugged body. It goes down to 30 meters in the water, endures in low and high temperatures and can survive a 2.5 meter fall.

The 16MP sensor produces high-quality images with pleasing colors. Nikon has also placed a very capable f/2.8 NIKKOR Zoom lens with 5x optical zoom and image stabilization for best performance. The autofocus is fast and accurate in almost every occasion. The Coolpix W300 captures 4K video at 30p, making it ideal recording the underwater world providing rich vivid colors and saturation.

Families with lots of kids will love using this camera. You can take it with you everywhere you go without the worry of damaging it. The friendly interface, easy-to-use menu and navigation make it fun to use even for a novice user. Among the great features we should mention the built-in GPS, altimeter, WiFi connectivity and fast USB charging. Despite the high cost, the Nikon Coolpix W300 is a great waterproof camera packed with great features.

What I like:

  • High quality body structure
  • It is waterproof, shockproof, freezproof and dustproof
  • Built-in World Map
  • Great 4K Video

What I don’t like: 

  • The camera is expensive
  • Average low light performance

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Panasonic DC-TS7A Lumix TS7 Waterproof Tough Camera, 20.4 Megapixels, 4.6X Zoom Lens, USA, with 3' LCD, Blue

4. Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7

Megapixels: 45.7
Sensor Size: Full Frame
Weight: 915g (2lb)
Size: 146 x 124 x 78.5mm (5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1″)
Price: Check the latest price here

The brand new Lumix TS-7 is Panasonic’s latest rugged compact camera with a 20.4 Megapixel sensor, an Electronic View Finder and 4.6x optical zoom. The camera is waterproof to 31 meters (the deepest for a compact camera) and it won’t break if it falls from your hands accidentally. You can take it with you in winter vacations and take photos in freezing weather of -10 degrees Celsius. The camera can also withstand up to 100kg of force.

On a sunny day, the EVF can be very useful. You can accurately frame and focus on your subject without using the LCD screen when the sun is bright. The image quality is pretty good and the 20.4MP are plenty for landscapes and cityscapes. One of the downsides is the lack of Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes, two common features most brands include in all their cameras, compact or interchangeable.

The Lumix TS-7 can shoot 4K video with perfect video quality at 24p and 30p. You can create awesome underwater videos with great image quality. When you’re hiking in the mountains you can use the built-in altimeter and compass for navigation. The battery life is decent for a compact camera and if you need extra power you can always use a USB charger. You can also transfer your photos wirelessly to your phone with the proper mobile app.

What I like:

  • Waterproof up to 31 meters
  • 20.4MP image sensor
  • EVF is very useful
  • Beautiful colors on stills and video

What I don’t like:

  • Lack of Aperture Mode and Shutter Mode
  • Lack of RAW support

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Ricoh WG-50 16MP Waterproof Still/Video Camera Digital with 2.7' LCD, (Orange)

5 Ricoh WG-50

Megapixels: 16MP
Lens: 28-140mm (35mm Equivalent)
Weight: 193g (6.8oz )
Size: 122 x 61 x 23mm (4.8 x 2.4 x 1.2″)
Price: Check the latest price here

The Ricoh WG-50 is a low budget waterproof compact camera. It features a 16 Megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor and a fixed lens with focal length equivalent to 28-140mm. Similarly to other rugged cameras, the WG-50 can resist to water, dust, shock, extreme heat and freezing conditions. Despite being cheaper than its rivals, the Ricoh WG-50 can take good images and capture Full HD video at 30p.

The camera is capable of taking great macro shots at 1cm away. Moreover it is useful for everyday shots, family, kids, fun moments and action. With a maximum shutter speed of 4 seconds the camera is not good in low light conditions and I wouldn’t recommend it for long exposure shots. However, the image detail and sharpness is pretty acceptable and would please anyone who want to have a rugged action camera without paying a fortune.

In conclusion, there are mixed feelings for this camera. It is not considered the best camera in the market and definitely can’t compete with its rivals but it has much more to give for those who don’t want to spend too much money. It is a good camera for everyday use or a backup if you already own a DSLR or a more expensive system that doesn’t support weather-sealing.

What I like:

  • Easy to use with friendly interface
  • 16MP BSI-CMOS sensor
  • Rugged weather-sealed body
  • Affordable

What I don’t like:

  • Poor image quality
  • No 4K video or GPS

Check Latest Price & Reviews


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