Best Waterproof Cameras for 2019

 Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4Canon PowerShot D30Nikon 1 AW1 14.2 MP HD Waterproof, Shockproof Digital Camera
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4Canon PowerShot D30Nikon 1 AW1
Ranking#1 - Editor's Choice/Best Small Waterproof Camera#2 - Best Budget Waterproof Camera#3 - Best Waterproof Action Camera
Amazon Rating4stars-new4stars-new3stars-2105
Resolution16 MP12.1 MP14.2 MP
Optical Zoom Lens4X5XUses interchangeable
lenses, Nikon 1
Image Sensor1/2.3-inch1/2.3-inchCX (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
Display Screen Size3.0 inches3.0 inches3.0 inches
Maximum Water Depth50 feet82 feet49 feet
1080 Videogreen-check-markgreen-check-markgreen-check-mark
Drop Proof Distancegreen-check-markgreen-check-markgreen-check-mark
Built-in GPSgreen-check-markgreen-check-markgreen-check-mark
Buy NowBuy NowBuy Now

The best waterproof camera for 2019 needs to be able to produce good results in low light and tough shooting conditions, as the amount of light that can penetrate the water while you’re on a dive is limited. Tiny point and shoot cameras have been popular in the waterproof camera segment for a little over a decade, but they simply cannot match the image quality you’ll find with intermediate-level models that offer waterproof features.

Alternatively, manufacturers offer cases for select advanced cameras, which can convert a typical camera into what is potentially a top underwater camera, provided the case fits perfectly. But if you’re looking for solid image quality (be sure to check out our guide on how to buy a top rated digital camera) along with waterproof capabilities built directly into the camera without the need for a waterproof case, you’ll want to take a closer look at our list of underwater cameras.

#1 PICK Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4 – Editor’s Choice/Best Small Waterproof Camera

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4 - Best Tough Waterproof
The Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4 is both waterproof and ultra rugged.

Retail Price: $349.00 | Read Full Review: Olympus TG4 ReviewOptical Zoom: 4X | Resolution: 16 MP

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Built-in GPS in a versatile, feature rich waterproof camera.

The TG-4 has a strong shock proof measurement, allowing it to survive a fall from up to 7 feet or a crushing force of up to 220 pounds.

Read: Top Compact Camera

With a wide aperture lens and 16 megapixels of resolution, the Olympus TG-4 has very nice image quality. You’ll also appreciate that Olympus upgraded the TG-4’s built-in GPS unit from previous models in the Tough family, making it work more accurately.  To that end, it’s simple to use, and is compact, making it the best waterproof camera(aka our number 1 pick)  in our boat.

View on Amazon – $349.00 

#2 PICK  Canon PowerShot D30 – Best Budget Waterproof Camera

Canon PowerShot D30 - Best Point and Shoot Waterproof
The Canon PowerShot D30 is easy to use and provides solid image quality.

Retail Price: $299.00 | Read Full Review: Canon D30 Review Optical Zoom: 5X | Resolution: 12.1 MP

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Compact, easy to to use, the D30 is an excellent deep waterproof camera.

The Canon D30 works in up to 82 feet of water depth, which is an outstanding measurement for a point and shoot waterproof camera.

This model is also very easy to use with a limited number of buttons and dials, which is helpful for those photographers who are new to underwater photography.

View on Amazon – $299.00 

#3 PICK  Nikon 1 AW1 – Best Waterproof Action Camera

 Nikon 1 AW1 - Best Mirrorless Waterproof
The Nikon 1 AW1 is not only waterproof but offers exceptional versatility and image quality.

Retail Price: $796.95  | Optical Zoom: N/A | Resolution: 14.2 MP

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Large image sensor for excellent images, rarely offered in waterproof camera.

While the Nikon 1 AW1 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera is an expensive model, it also ranks as one of the best waterproof camera currently on the market.

Its versatility and set of advanced features will help you achieve better underwater image quality than what you may find with the less expensive point and shoot models on the market.

Read: Best DSLR Camera 2019

The CX-format image sensor found with the Nikon 1 AW1 is physically larger than image sensors found in basic cameras, and the larger sensor typically allows a digital camera to perform better in low light conditions, as you’ll encounter underwater.

Its popup flash unit is waterproof too. Just make sure you’re using waterproof AW1 lenses when shooting underwater. The Nikon 1 AW1 can use Nikon 1 lenses as well, but they are not waterproof.

View on Amazon – $796.95 

Key Indicators of a Solid Underwater Camera

The best underwater cameras contain a few key features.

  1. Waterproofing Seals: Keep in mind that even the best waterproof camera loses its ability to keep water out of the case if any of the seals are compromised. You can press buttons on the camera while it’s underwater, and you may be able to open a popup flash unit, but if the battery compartment door isn’t sealed properly or if you try to change lenses while diving with a waterproof camera, water will leak inside the camera, destroying it.
  2. Water Depth: Additionally, all underwater camera makers include in the user guide a series of limitations on the maximum water depth in which the camera will work or the amount of time the waterproof camera can be submerged continuously. Don’t exceed these limits, or you’ll potentially ruin your underwater camera.
  3. Add-on Options: When you’re becoming serious about underwater photography, you will want to be sure your camera has the ability to work with additional components, such as external lights. The deeper you are trying to photograph underwater, the more artificial light you’ll need to bring with you.

Most Important Waterproof Camera Features

  1. Image Sensor
    • As discussed in our list of the Best Digital Cameras list, image sensor size plays a key role in image quality.
    • Even though you may be tempted to focus only on the waterproof capabilities of these cameras, don’t forget about image quality.
  2. Resolution 
    • Resolution also plays a role in image quality, so look closely at this specification, keeping in mind that you’ll probably shoot some photos outside the water with your underwater camera.
  3. Optical Zoom Lens
    • The optical zoom lens measurement indicates the ability of the camera to magnify the scene without sacrificing image quality.  
  4. Movie Recording
    • When shooting underwater scenes, you’ll probably end up shooting more video than you might in traditional scenes outside the water, so keep an eye on the maximum movie recording resolution available.
  5. Display Screen
    • When using a camera underwater, a large and bright display screen is a must, so it’s easy to see in the murky conditions.
  6. Water Depth
    • Each waterproof camera can be used safely up to a particular water depth.
    • To gain more depth, you probably need to look at more expensive underwater cameras or add a waterproof case.
  7. Drop Proof
    • Most waterproof cameras also are rated to survive a fall of a certain distance, which can be a helpful measurement to know, because using a camera around water can potentially lead to it slipping out of your hands.
  8. Built-in GPS
    • Some underwater photographers like having a GPS unit built into the camera, as they can automatically tag their photos with the location at which they were shot.
  9. Other Extra Features
    • Some waterproof cameras contain features like depth gauges, electronic levels, and electronic compasses to help with underwater photography.

Which Waterproof Camera Is Right For You?

Underwater photography is an aspect of the hobby that has grown in popularity in the past decade, thanks in part to the introduction of basic waterproof cameras. Such tiny point and shoot models work well for simple underwater photos and for those just starting with underwater photography. Then, when you’re ready to take the next step forward, an advanced model will be worth considering. Just don’t forget about the importance of image quality and the optical zoom lens measurement when trying to select the best  waterproof camera, as you’re almost certainly going to sometimes want to use your waterproof camera outside the water too.

Kyle Schurman

Kyle has been a freelance writer for 20 years, focusing mainly on technology related topics. He's written product reviews, product overviews, how-to articles, product best of lists, and other types of articles.

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