The 9 Best Underwater Cameras of 2021

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Nikon Coolpix W300 at Amazon

"It's waterproof down to 100 feet and can handle the most rugged environments."

Best Value: FujiFilm FinePix XP 130 at Amazon

"This camera delivers a lot of features for its modest price point."

Best for Hiking: Olympus Tough TG-6 at Amazon

"Its anti-fog technology shields against sudden shifts in temperatures."

Best for Snorkeling: Ricoh WG-60 at Amazon

"It's protected underwater down to 42 feet, which should stand up to most snorkeler's needs."

Best for Diving: SeaLife Micro 2.0 at Amazon

"This permanently sealed camera is waterproof down to 200 feet."

Best for Beginners: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TS30K at Amazon

"Shutter speed and aperture set automatically to deliver the optimal image."

Best Disposable: FujiFilm QuickSnap Marine at Amazon

"A safety strap wraps around your wrist so you won’t send the camera to the pool floor."

Best for Videos: GoPro Hero8 Black at Amazon

"The newest GoPro captures stellar HD footage with its improved HDR algorithm."

Best Compact: Sony RXO II at Amazon

"This palm-sized model is great for snorkeling or shooting in the middle of a downpour."

Our Top Picks

01 of 09

Best Overall: Nikon Coolpix W300

Nikon Coolpix

Courtesy of B&H

When it comes to making a do-almost-anything waterproof camera, Nikon’s Coolpix W300 continues to set the bar. This compact camera is waterproof down to 100 feet, which is typically deeper than most recreational scuba dives. The camera is also freezeproof down to 14 degrees, shockproof against drops of up to 7.9 feet, and dustproof and sand proof. Simply put, the Coolpix W300 can handle the most rugged and demanding environments.

It's also a breeze to use. It can capture high-resolution still images with a 16MP low-light sensor and has 4K UHD video capabilities. A 5x optical zoom lets you get in on the action, with hybrid vibration reduction to avoid blurry images. It additionally comes with 20 scene option settings, fast continuous shooting, and a long-lasting rechargeable battery. The ISO setting goes to 6400, and you have control over white balance, but the camera doesn’t allow for full manual settings on things like shutter speed or aperture setting. But for travelers who want an easy and reliable camera, that’s likely a minor oversight.

And travelers are certain to love additional features like a built-in world map, Wi-Fi connectivity, eCompass, altimeter, depth gauge, built-in LED light, and a GPS system that ascribes location data to each photo. Control access and framing are on a three-inch LCD screen, which makes it easy to swap modes and frame shots, even when wearing a diving mask or heavy gloves.

02 of 09

Best Value: FujiFilm FinePix XP130

Waterproof down to 65 feet—as well as freezeproof to 14 degrees and shockproof against falls up to 5.8 feet—FujiFilm’s FinePix XP130 delivers a lot of features for its modest price point. A high-res 16.4MP sensor partners with a 28mm lens to deliver optimal images, with a 5x optical zoom that’s reinforced by FujiFilm’s 10x Intelligent Digital Zoom and a 6400 ISO setting.

You can capture images exactly as you see them in real life using the camera’s Scene Recognition Auto setting, which automatically adjusts each shot to ensure the correct settings are being used. The camera also shoots full-HD video, which can easily be switched on using a dedicated "movie" button, along with interval and burst shooting options. It also has a Cinemagraph mode that produces still images with moving elements of up to five seconds—basically a go-to GIF creator. Bluetooth integration lets you connect the camera to your smart devices, and also allows for remote control via a dedicated smart app.

In addition to a host of shooting modes, you can also control the exposure and white balance, but the camera does not deliver full manual oversight.

03 of 09

Best for Hiking: Olympus Tough TG-6

Ready for the most rugged of trails, the Tough TG-6 from Olympus continues the brand’s years-long dedication to making the best outdoor cameras. Waterproof down to 50 feet, it’ll endure any spontaneous water encounters. It will survive all your other adventures too, since this camera has been built to be shockproof, dustproof, crushproof, and freezeproof, with anti-fog technology to handle sudden shifts in temperatures and an added lens barrier to protect the optics from scratches and dirt.

Capture detailed images in even the toughest of conditions with the camera's high-speed F2.0 wide-angle lens. It shoots up to 20 frames per second (fps) when it's in still mode, which allows you to get pictures of fast-moving subjects, and includes a 4x optical zoom as well as a 2x digital teleconverter. This camera is also great for shooting small subjects with its four macro modes that capture extreme closeups, and their proprietary Pro Capture feature that guarantees razor-sharp images. Olympus also layers in the tech, including action track sensors that capture field data (location, temperature, and altitude) that you can view with your photos for a more immersive storytelling experience.

Snorkelers will also love the underwater-specific shooting modes as well as the ability to control the white balance. Automatic ISO ceilings out at 1600, but you can also set that manually, or customize the upper limit up to 12800.

04 of 09

Best for Snorkeling: Ricoh WG-60

With maximum water protection down to 42 feet for up to two hours, the WG-60 from Ricoh should stand up to even the most ambitious snorkeler’s needs. But the camera’s waterproofness only tells part of the story. The WG-60 is also crushproof up to 220 pounds, shockproof up to 4.8-foot falls, and freezeproof down to 14 degrees, making it a reliably durable camera for all elements of the open road.

It comes with a 5x optical zoom and a high-end image processor that generates clear 16 megapixel images. This camera also features 25 shooting modes including underwater, underwater movie, sport, surf & snow, and auto picture. It also shoots video in full HD, with an HDMI outlet integrated into the camera so you can stream movies from the camera to a TV or computer, while the FlashAir feature lets you transfer images to your smart device when you use a wireless-enabled SD card.

First-time underwater photographers will also appreciate the Flash Off/Flash On setting, which shoots two exposures (one firing the flash, one without) with a single press of the shutter. When you’re done shooting you can also apply a handful of digital filters to adjust the colors or apply style treatments.

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Best for Diving: SeaLife Micro 2.0

Waterproof down to 200 feet, the SeaLife Micro 2.0 can handle depths far lower than most recreational divers will ever go. But unlike other SeaLife cameras in their product line, the Micro 2.0 was built with simplicity in mind, a comfort for divers who are still getting used to the sport or underwater photography. Available in 32GB and 64GB storage models, the permanently sealed camera cannot leak; just charge the battery and go. It shoots both stills and video, and transfers images wirelessly to Android and IOS devices via the SeaLife Micro Cam app or by USB.

Powered by a 16MP Sony image sensor, it captures 1080p videos at either 30 or 60 frames per second as well as high-resolution stills. A 130-degree fisheye lens puts everything in frame and comes with four shooting modes for land and sea, along with three built-in underwater color correction filters to address white balance distortion. And when you’re ready to up your shooting skills, the camera’s compatible with SeaLife’s accessories like external lights, trays, grips, and arms.

06 of 09

Best for Beginners: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TS30K

Panasonic’s LUMIX DMC-TS30K offers point-and-shoot simplicity and a host of other user-friendly features that won’t overwhelm the first time water-bound photographer. The camera is waterproof down to 26 feet, works in temperatures down to 14 degrees, and handles drops of up to 4.9 feet—able ruggedness for the road (and river) less traveled.

The camera's features make shooting pictures more accessible. Shutter speed and aperture set automatically to deliver the optimal image, and its Advanced Underwater Mode compensates for the red tones lost in underwater shooting (which is easier than fussing with the white balance setting). Additional action settings include sports, snow, beach, and snorkeling. An 8x "intelligent" zoom hones in on your subjects, and a MEGA OIS image stabilizer fixes blurriness that is caused by shaky hands.

It also lets you add layers of creativity via special effects like retro, high and low key, and sepia that can be applied to both still and video images, along with a Creative Panorama function that overlays horizontal and vertical images, features that make the camera simply fun to use.

07 of 09

Best Disposable: FujiFilm QuickSnap Marine

You can't beat the playful simplicity of the FujiFilm QuickSnap Marine, which makes it a convenient disposable camera to take with you into the water. Waterproof down to just less than 35 feet, the camera boasts a fixed 32-mm lens with 1/125-second shutter speed. It also has exposure settings for sunny and overcast conditions. Inside, FujiFilm’s Superia X-TRA 800 film assures that each of the 27 exposures will be color rich and crisp.

A safety strap that you wrap around your wrist assures you won’t send the camera to the pool—or ocean—floor if you drop the device, and an oversized shutter button makes it easy to capture the perfect action shot.

08 of 09

Best for Videos: GoPro Hero8 Black

When profiling the leading adventure video camera on the market, it might be easier to say what the new GoPro Hero8 Black doesn’t do. This latest iteration comes with SuperPhoto technology and an improved HDR algorithm along with multiple levels of image stabilization (including in-app horizon leveling) to capture stellar HD footage. Everything from time warp distortions to nighttime lapses can all be captured on high-fidelity audio thanks to three integrated mics. The 12MP lens also allows for 8x slow-motion shooting, 1080p live streaming, and image files stored as RAW or JPEG. It also recognizes 14 voice commands, a useful feature when your hands are otherwise occupied.

And when it comes to shooting stills, the LiveBurst mode captures photos 1.5 seconds before and after you hit the shutter, so you can scroll through to find the perfect image, or just swap the still into a three-second 4K video clip.

As you’d expect from a camera that’s been strapped to the helmets of skiers and motocross racers, it’s plenty durable and waterproof down to 33 feet, deep enough for anything save scuba diving. GoPro has a variety of accessories for all types of mount options as well as protective housing that amps the waterproofing to depths of up to 196 feet.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Best Compact: Sony RXO II

The palm-sized rectangular Sony RXO II adds a new level of creative expression not possible in larger, more traditionally designed cameras. Waterproof down to 33 feet, it’s great for snorkeling or shooting in the middle of a downpour, and also shrugs off sand and dust. It handles drops of up to 6.5 feet and can withstand impacts of up to 440 pounds.

This lightweight camera uses a 1.0-type Exmor CMOS sensor that partners with an advanced image processing engine to deliver images with a wide, dynamic range while also dropping noise and increasing tonal gradations for natural-looking details. The wide-angle ZEISS Tessar T lens captures clean, pure stills and 4K videos (regular and slow motion, as well as interval recording). It includes other features like a soft skin effect and Eye AF, which automatically focuses portrait shots on the subject’s eyes, to assure the optimal image with every press of the shutter.

A Movie Edit add-on for your smart device helps stabilize shaky images and automatically keeps your subject in the frame. The ambitious travel photographer will also love that you can wirelessly control multiple ROX IIs with the Imaging Edge mobile app.

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Nathan Borchelt has been an avid scuba diver, adventure traveler, and photographer for more than 15 years, diving and snorkeling in such locales as the Caribbean, Australia, and the Galapagos. He’s also worked as a freelance photographer for years, both above and below the surface of the ocean.

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