Olympus Tough Tg 6 Over Water HeroSource: Olympus

Best waterproof cameras iMore 2021

The best digital camera is the one that fits your shooting style. If you favor underwater or action photography that takes place anywhere, but on dry land, you're going to need a waterproof camera. The best waterproof camera out there today is the Olympus Tough TG-6. It's built tough, is waterproof and shockproof, and takes 4K video. Whether you're looking for a budget model, an action camera, or a basic waterproof shooter, check out some of our favorite models this year.

Best overall: Olympus Tough TG-6

Olympus Tg 6 LifestyleSource: Olympus

The Olympus Tough TG-6 makes our list of the best Olympus cameras every year. This tiny camera is small enough to tuck in a pocket or backpack while remaining big on specs. It's built to be durable, and it's perfect for adventure and action photography. The shockproof, dust-proof Olympus Tough TG-6 is waterproof down to 50 feet, so it's at home on the beach, the surfboard, or underwater.

The TG-6 has five underwater shooting modes, including a microscope and white balance. Pictures taken below the waves are crisp and bright, and they're the same on land, even when lighting isn't ideal. You can capture video in 4k and grab up to 120fps in full HD. All the action is viewable on the three-inch LCD on the back of the camera.

I have two minor quibbles with the TG-6. First, there's no neckstrap included. You'll get a wrist strap, which is ideal for shooting underwater but no so good when paddling a boat or riding a bike. Second, video stabilization could be better. Things work as expected in the water, but the footage is a bit jumpy on dry land. Overall, if you want one of the best waterproof cameras on the market, you want the Olympus TG-6.

Pros:

  • Waterproof to 50 feet
  • Rugged
  • 5 underwater shooting modes
  • 12MP
  • 4K Ultra HD/120fps

Cons:

  • No neckstrap
  • Video stabilization could be better

Best overall

Olympus Tough Tg 6 Render Cropped

Olympus Tough TG-6 - Base style - Red

A tiny powerhouse

The TG-6 is small enough to tuck in a pocket, waterproof down to 50 feet, and takes stunning stills and video.

Best value: Panasonic LUMIX waterproof digital underwater camera

Panasonic Lumix Ts30 LifestyleSource: Panasonic

The Panasonic LUMIX TS30 proves that you needn't spend a fortune to get a high-quality waterproof camera. This affordable model comes with a big LCD on the back and waterproof housing that holds its own down to 26 feet. The TS30 is also shockproof, dust, and freezeproof.

The menu system is easy to learn on the Panasonic, and all controls are located on the back panel next to the LCD. Stills are sharp, and video underwater and onshore offers some of the best stabilization we've ever seen from a small point-and-shoot camera.

This isn't the model for you if you're looking for 4K. The Lumix only shoots in MP4. It also struggles in low light, both in finding focus and capturing grain-free images. However, if you're like most, and you want a camera to take on vacation, surfing, or for a day of beach fun, the Panasonic LUMIX TS30 will fit your needs and your budget.

Pros:

  • Waterproof to 26 feet
  • Excellent image stabilization
  • Inexpensive
  • Compact

Cons:

  • Only offers MP4 video
  • Poor low light images

Best value

Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Camera

Panasonic LUMIX waterproof digital underwater camera

Stabilization on a budget

The built-in image stabilization on the Panasonic impresses! It also takes great daytime photos, and it's affordable.

Best for action: GoPro HERO9 Black

Gopro 9 LifestyleSource: GoPro

GoPros consistently makes it on our best action cameras list. They're small, mighty, fun to shoot, and have scads of available accessories. Whether you're a budding videographer, adventurer, or you want to step up your skills; we know you'll be happy with the newest release from GoPro, the HERO9 Black.

This miniaturized video and stills camera comes with an LCD on the front for live streaming and selfies, and a large touchscreen LCD on the back. HyperSmooth is built-in, which gives you super-smooth video stabilization in even the choppiest of waters. And this impressive little number is waterproof down to 33 feet.

Videos shoot in 5K, and photo output is 20-megapixels. Pics and videos are crisp and properly lit during daylight and nighttime hours. You can now use your GoPro HERO 9 or GoPro HERO8 as a webcam, too. And yes, it's expensive. If you can afford it, we think that dollar for dollar, the GoPro HERO9 Black is the best action camera on the market today.

Pros:

  • Waterproof down to 33 feet
  • 5K video
  • 20MP photos
  • Can live stream
  • Touchscreen

Cons:

  • Expensive

Best for action

Gopro Hero9black Render Cropped

GoPro HERO9 Black - Waterproof Action Camera

Capture every second

The GoPro HERO9 Black has a 20MP sensor, shoots in 5K, is waterproof to 33 feet, and is the best action cam around.

Best for deep water: Nikon W300

Nikon Waterproof Camera LifestyleSource: Nikon

Nikon was founded in the early 1900s, and they've been putting out some of the best waterproof cameras ever since. Their top-shelf model is the Nikon W300. If you're a scuba diver or you like to swim far beneath the surface, this is the camera for you. Nikon goes deeper than any other model on our list, remaining waterproof down to an impressive 100 feet.

Nikon has included a ton of fun shooting modes, including super-lapse, night portrait, exposure lighten, and close-up. And unlike the other waterproof cameras we favor, the Nikon includes both an LCD and an eyepiece to help you frame every shot.

The W300 has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, eCompass, an altimeter, a depth gauge, and image stabilization. It's seriously packed with features! My only gripe here is that this is a bigger and bulkier camera than most. It's durable, shockproof, waterproof, and freezeproof, but it's also harder to pocket. If this doesn't bother you, the W300 is a robust underwater camera that won't disappoint.

Pros:

  • Waterproof to 100 feet
  • 4K Ultra HD
  • Durable
  • 5x zoom
  • GPS

Cons:

  • It's big

Best for deep water

Nikon W300 Render Cropped

Nikon W300 - Black

Dive deep

The Nikon W300 lets you deep dive to 100 feet, takes 4K Ultra HD video, and has a 5x zoom to capture it all.

Best film camera: Kodak MAX Water & Sport disposable

Kodak Max Disposable LifestyleSource: Kodak

There's just something about film that brings photos to life. If you're looking for a retro-cool waterproof camera for yourself or an inexpensive model for the kids that won't wear out your wallet, you need the Kodak MAX Water & Sport disposable camera.

This is a 35mm disposable camera encased in plastic. It does an excellent job of keeping the film and the camera internals dry. The lens is scratch and sunscreen resistant, so you never have to worry about using it on the beach, in the water, or on a bumpy boat ride.

There are 27 exposures on the Kodak MAX Water & Sport, giving you just enough film to cover a weekend of adventure. This one-time-use camera is rugged, shockproof, and waterproof down to 50 feet. If you don't want to spend a lot but still want crisp pics on land or sea, toss the Kodak MAX in your cart now.

Pros:

  • Waterproof to 50 feet
  • 27 exposures
  • Crisp photos
  • Inexpensive
  • Rugged

Cons:

  • One-time-use

Best film camera

Kodak Max Render Cropped

Kodak MAX Water & Sport disposable

You can't beat the look of film

You'll get 27 exposures on the Kodak MAX, a rugged, waterproof disposable camera perfect for the whole fam.

And the best waterproof camera is

Choosing the best waterproof camera from this list is difficult because they all excel at capturing action above the waves and below. If I have to pick just one, it's the Olympus Tough TG-6. This is a miniaturized camera that fits in your pocket, yet it comes with big specs that will blow you away.

Stills from the TG-6 are out of this world. The Olympus has a 12-megapixel sensor that captures tack-sharp images day or night. I love the underwater shooting modes and the 4K output, though I think video stabilization could be better on land. There's no neckstrap with this model, but you will get a hand strap to slide over your wrist for underwater filming or basic vacation shots.

If you're tired of stuffing your iPhone into a waterproof bag and hoping for the best, you're going to love the tough-as-nails Olympus TG-6. It's waterproof down to 50 feet, and it's also freeze-proof, dustproof, shockproof, and crushproof. For action photography, stills, and underwater shooting, this little powerhouse is tough to beat.

Credits β€” The team that worked on this guide

Author: jodi-owan-writer

Jodi Owan works behind a keyboard and a camera. Find her on Instagram and her website.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.