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Waterproof Camera Options

GoPro HERO4 Black
GoPro HERO4 Black

Whether you're thinking about snorkeling in Maui or just relaxing poolside in your backyard, having a great waterproof camera can help to capture those precious moments. Several cameras offer varying degrees of waterproof protection to suit nearly any budget, preference or skill level.

Waterproof Cameras Under $400

For people who don't want to spend a lot of money but still want to capture some amazing photos and video, budget waterproof cameras can offer a tremendous amount of value at a relatively low cost.

  • Canon PowerShot D30: One of the most compact waterproof cameras with the most impressive depth rating, the Canon PowerShot D30 is a straightforward 12-megapixel camera with 5x optical zoom. Highly applauded for its underwater image quality, the D30 can be used to shoot in water up to 82 feet deep. Photography Blog gave it four stars out of five, citing the unsurpassed depth rating, well laid out user interface, and "punchy" colors of photos. Other features include a great Smart AUTO mode, temperature resistance from 14 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and a glare-reducing sunlight LCD mode for the screen on the back. The Canon D30 retails for just over $300.
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    Sony Xperia M4 Aqua: For a growing number of users, smartphones have come to replace the traditional point-and-shoot camera. This makes just as much sense with waterproof cameras too and Sony continues to be among the leaders in this space. A very affordable option is the Xperia M4 Aqua. It features a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a 5-megapixel camera on the front. The Xperia M4 Aqua is waterproof in fresh water, but it may not be fully protected when completely submerged or exposed to sea water. Trusted Reviews gives the M4 Aqua a score of 8/10, applauding its attractive build and competent camera offering images that "look sufficiently detailed" with accurate color. The Xperia M4 Aqua is available as an unlocked GSM smartphone for about $300.
  • Ricoh WG-4 GPS: Ricoh may not be a household name for the typical camera shopper, but the WG-4 GPS is an affordable option to consider. It offers a wide-aperture lens that's great for low light and fast action performance, as well as a tough and robust build to withstand substantial abuse. Rated four stars out of five by Tech Radar, the WG-4 GPS features a 16-megapixel sensor and 4x optical zoom lens and the ability to survive submersion in water up to depths of 14 meters. You can pick up this camera for under $400.
    Olympus Stylus TG-4 Tough: Rated a perfect five stars by DigitalVersus, the TG-4 continues the tradition of the Tough series by Olympus, offering a design that is waterproof to depths up to 15 meters, dustproof, shockproof, freezeproof and crushproof. Unlike most other point and shoots, let alone waterproof cameras, the TG-4 is also capable of shooting in RAW for users who desire the extra data. It has a great macro mode and offers terrific micro-contrast at lower ISO ratings. Other highlights include its 16-megapixel sensor, mechanical stabilization, and a special underwater shooting mode. The TG-4 can be found online for less than $400.

More Expensive Waterproof Cameras

Consumers who are willing to spend a little more money may discover better image quality, more advanced features, and a greater range of form factors among these waterproof camera options.

  • GoPro HERO4 Black: While not the first action camera on the market, the GoPro series has certainly popularized the format and remains a leader in the space. The ultra compact HERO4 Black continues this tradition, adding 4K video capture with slow motion at up to 240 frames per second. Gizmodo says the Hero 4 cameras are "still the best action cameras" available today, providing better video than the competition with sharper details and better dynamic range. This highest performing model in the GoPro lineup can survive depths of up to 40 meters with the included Standard Housing, extending to 60 meters with the optional Dive Housing. The HERO4 Black sells for about $500, though the similar Silver edition can be had for less.
  • Nikon 1 AW1
    Nikon 1 AW1
    Nikon 1 AW1: The mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (ILC) category features entries from companies like Sony and Panasonic, but these are not waterproof. The Nikon 1 AW1, which extends the company's existing "1" series, is waterproof to a depth of up to 49 feet for up to an hour at a time. You won't be able to change lenses underwater, but you will be able to shoot 14-megapixel stills and 1080p HD video while swimming as long as you use the compatible all-weather lenses. Digital Camera Review gives it four stars out of five, calling it a "waterproof trailblazer" that is "great for the adventure enthusiast." Images offer balanced contrast and excellent sharpness, especially outdoors in good light. The retail price for the Nikon 1 AW1 is around $700.
  • Pentax K-3: Earning an Editors' Choice award from PC Mag, the 24-megapixel Pentax K-3 provides exceptional high ISO image quality to capture fast action or pictures in low light, dual SD card slots, fast autofocus, an impressive 8.1 fps burst rate, and very robust weather sealing to protect it against splashes. This camera is not meant to be submerged, but it will survive even the harshest of weather conditions thanks to every button and port being protected. A weather sealed lens is also required. The K-3 is usually listed at under $900.

Take It, Shoot It and Toss It?

Investing in a new digital camera can be quite a major decision, especially considering that there are hundreds of dollars at stake. Another option to consider would be to purchase a disposable waterproof camera instead. These are generally more affordable and you won't be nearly as heartbroken should you lose it.

Waterproof Camera Options