The 6 Best Waterproof Cameras to Buy in 2018

Find the best cameras to bring on your underwater adventures

Canon PowerShot D30
Photo from Amazon

Waterproof cameras are more than just cameras you can take underwater. Their tough, durable constructions allow for use in a variety of environmental conditions, whether it’s the frozen peaks of the Rocky Mountains or the depths of some coastal reef. If you constantly find yourself wishing you had a camera for some condition that a smartphone camera just can't handle, take a look at this guide to the best waterproof cameras.

Best Overall: Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Red (V104190RU000)

This freshly minted waterproof camera claims to be waterproof to 15m/50ft, shockproof from 2.1m/7ft, crushproof to 100kgf/220lbf and dust proof. (If you’re looking to plunge down to depths of 45m, check out the PT-058 underwater housing sold separately.) 

The TG-5 packs a new 1/2.3-inch 12MP BSI CMOS sensor, which is a change from the 1/2.3-inch 16MP BSI CMOS chip used in the previous model. While it drops from 16MP to 12MP, Olympus says this move helps to improve low-light capture. The lens is similar to that of the TG-4: it’s a 4x zoom lens (equivalent to 25-100mm) that features a variable f/2-4.9 aperture, but now also features anti-fog dual-pane glass that prevents the lens from getting foggy when it undergoes climate changes. Videographers will also be pleased to know that it supports 4K recording at 30p and Full HD high-speed footage at 120fps. While the camera doesn’t come cheap, it’s truly the best rugged choice on the market.

Best Mid-Range: Canon PowerShot D30

What sets the Canon PowerShot D30 apart from other waterproof cameras is its durability. It’s waterproof to depths of 82 feet, shockproof up to 6.5 feet and can withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees and as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit. On sunny days, the Sunlight LCD mode reduces glare, making it easier to shoot and review your shots. Its 12.1-megapixel high-sensitivity CMOS sensor is not as powerful as others on this list, but when coupled with the DIGIC 4 Image Processor, provides excellent low-light performance.

If it’s video you’re after, you’ll find the D30’s dedicated movie button useful. It shoots Full HD 1080p video at 24 frames per second and 720p HD video at 30 frames per second, plus super slow motion video at 640 x 480. With GPS technology, you can geotag both your still shots and videos, and even map your route from one photo to the next. (Note that GPS doesn’t work underwater.) As with other underwater cameras, if you’re using the D30 in salt water, you’ll want to rinse it off with fresh water shortly after to avoid crusty buttons, but if you take proper precautions, this point-and-shoot will outshine all other mid-range cameras.


Best Budget: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS30

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have a solid all-weather camera that captures impressive, high-quality images. And let’s face it, do you really need a camera that’s waterproof down to 50 feet? Might 20 feet do the trick? Enter: the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS30. This sturdy little guy cis waterproof down to 26 feet, freeze-proof down to 14°F, and shockproof up to 4.9 feet. It’s even dust-proof. It captures bright, vivid still images through the 16.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and smooth HD (720p), whether underwater or on land. It has a number of built-in effects and shooting modes, and comes in three colors—red, blue and black. There’s an optical image stabilizer, time lapse shooting, and a torch light to bring to light those dark underwater vestiges you find on vacation.

Best Interchangeable Lens: Nikon 1 AW1

Interchangeable lens cameras haven’t traditionally meshed with waterproof designs. In fact, there aren’t many of these on the market, but if this is the type of camera you’re looking, check out the Nikon 1 AW1. It claims to be the first waterproof, shockproof, interchangeable lens camera. It’s water resistant down to 49 feet, freeze-proof to 14°F, and shockproof up to 6.6 feet. It’s compatible with all Nikon 1 lenses and two proprietary waterproof and shockproof lenses. The camera itself features a 1-inch 14.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, high-speed continuous shooting at 15 fps and full 1080p HD video recording. This is one sturdy, robust, multi-purpose camera. However, if you’re tempted to pull the trigger, you should be sure you have the need for an interchangeable lens waterproof camera. Most people do not, and this one isn't actually cheap (however, it does include a 11-27.5mm lens).

Best Design: Nikon Coolpix AW130

Let’s face it: If you’re in the market for a waterproof camera to accompany you on your next adventure, you’re probably not too swayed by design. After all, a sleek body will serve little purpose as it’s sinking to the sea floor. But the Nikon Coolpix AW130 has all the features to survive your journey; the fact that it will look good while doing so is just a bonus. The AW130 is freezeproof up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof for drops up to seven feet and waterproof up to an astounding 100 feet — that’s a good 20 feet more than almost any other in its class. It also has a handy rubber grip complete with an NFC tag, so you can pair it with your smartphone via onboard WiFi and start sharing your photos while you’re still afloat. For those exploring uncharted territory, its onboard GPS has a points-of-interest feature that gives you a bird's-eye-view of the surrounding area.

It rocks a 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch sensor behind a 5x zoom 4.3-21.5mm (24-120mm full-frame equivalent) f/2.8-4.9 lens. The smaller sensor means more noise than most interchangeable lens cameras will produce, but most adventure-seekers won’t find it to be a deal-breaker. Some Amazon reviewers get frustrated by the dimness of the 921k-dot OLED, but others don’t seem bothered by it. So if it’s design you’re after, but don’t want to skimp on specs, the AW130 is your best bet.

Best Budget All-Weather: Fujifilm FinePix XP80

No discussion of waterproof, all-weather cameras is complete without mention of Fujifilm. Perhaps best known for its line of impressive mirrorless cameras, Fujifilm also makes one of the most popular lines of waterproof compact point-and-shoots. The Fujifilm FinePix XP80, in particular, is credited as a competitor of the Olympus TG-3 and TG-870, but is can be found at a significantly lower cost. For that more-than-fair asking price, you get a study little all-weather camera that’s waterproof down to 50 feet, freeze-proof down to 14°F, shock-proof up to 5.8 feet and dust-proof. It’s got a 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor that works well in low-light underwater conditions, continuous shooting at up to 10 fps, Full HD (1080p) video recording, wireless image transfers and remote shooting. And it comes in a slim, sturdy package in one of three colors: graphite black, blue and yellow.


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