Top 5 underwater cameras

Here are five of the better underwater cameras for you to consider. But first a word about underwater cameras. A few years ago you might be forgiven for asking- why?? Underwater photography was considered a specialist thing, only for Jacques Clouseau or Mike Nelson (if anyone remembers that series!)

But waterproof cameras are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. Instead of the usual “beachy” shots of you in the surf taken from the shore, or jumping off the diving board into the pool from the side, get in and down and dirty with the action… and get underwater. These compact cameras are airtight, so they can function above or below water. And that gives your pictures a whole new edge. They even work in salt water (but you will need to wash them off in clean water after you come out).

While underwater images are great, even if the novelty wears off or you are miles from a beach, there’s no rushing to shield these cameras if you get hit with a rainstorm or even a snowstorm. They can all take it.

Image quality needs to be good both in and out of the water, unless you are going to take two cameras away on holiday with you! As with any camera look for acceptable (but not over the top) megapixel resolution, decent optical zoom settings, and more importantly a camera that can operate in low lighting. Even on the brightest Caribbean day, if you are 30 feet underwater the light will be diffused and weaker.

All the cameras here are robust and good to hold, on terra firma and sub aqua. That’s good. Even with a strap you don’t want your new camera to slip down to the Marianas Trench do you?

All these cameras have good battery life and good picture internal memory. But underwater (and other) camera can and do go wrong. That’s why you shouldn’t buy electrical and technical equipment off of e-bay. New cameras from reputable dealers online will come with their own and/or the manufacturer’s guarantee.

In no particular order, here are ones you should investigate. There are others nearly as good, and for a discounted price it may be worth looking beyond this list. Notice that the Olympus is nearly half the price of the Panasonic and the Sony, and is less than half the price of the Pentax. It comes down to this: How often are you planning to buy a waterproof underwater camera? If the answer is just one- to last me for at least 10 years, then go for one of these more expensive ones. If you are planning to trade up after just a holiday or two you might want to explore cheaper options.


Name Depth Underwater (feet) Price ($)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 40 265
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX10 16 300
Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS 33 335
Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 33 164
Nikon CoolPix AW100 30 300

To finish off here are some comments about the picture quality of these cameras;

Panasonic: Excellent picture quality- the bees’ knees (or should it be the Carps’ dorsal fins?)

Sony: 16-megapixel photos and many other image settings such as the 10-photos-per-second continuous shooting mode and the sweep panorama mode. Nice.

Nikon: Great image quality… and GPS tracking!

Pentax: Great grip, great looks, but not that good in low light underwater.

Olympus: The underwater photographs aren’t as high quality as above-the-surface photos. But look at how cheap the thing is!

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