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
- Best Value: Panasonic LUMIX Waterproof Digital Underwater Camera
- Best for Action: GoPro HERO9 Black - Waterproof Action Camera
- Best for Deep Water: Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera
- Best Remote: Fujifilm FinePix XP130 Waterproof Digital Camera
Best Overall: Olympus Tough TG-6
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 on dry land, the footage is a bit jumpy. Overall, if you want one of the best waterproof cameras on the market, you want the Olympus TG-6.
- Waterproof to 50 feet
- 5 underwater shooting modes
- 4K Ultra HD/120fps
- No neckstrap
- Video stabilization could be better
Best Value: Panasonic LUMIX Waterproof Digital Underwater Camera
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.
- Waterproof to 26 feet
- Excellent image stabilization
- Only offers MP4 video
- Poor low light images
Best for Action: GoPro HERO9 Black
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.
- Waterproof down to 33 feet
- 5K video
- 20MP photos
- Can live stream
Best for Deep Water: Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera
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.
- Waterproof to 100 feet
- 4K Ultra HD
- 5x zoom
- It's big
Best Remote: Fujifilm FinePix XP130
When you want a do-everything camera, you want the Fujifilm FinePix XP130. It has a 16.4-megapixel sensor and a 5x zoom, both of which work in tandem to capture stunning photos above or below sea level.
The XP130 is waterproof to 65 feet. And thanks to Bluetooth, you can instantly transfer your images from the camera to your smartphone for quick viewing or sharing to social media. There's also geotagging built-in, which allows you to tag the location of your photos.
Best of all, you can sync your phone with the XP130 and use it as a remote shutter to snap photos. That means you can put the camera at the end of a pier and stand away from the waves to capture images or do the same with a tripod on land. My one complaint is the battery. It'll last about three hours underwater doing stills and a little less when shooting HD video. Since the battery isn't user-replaceable, this means you need to hop out of the water and hook the camera up to a charger, and juice up before you can start filming again.
- Waterproof to 65 feet
- Full HD
- Use your phone as a remote
- So-so battery life
And the best waterproof camera is
It's difficult to choose the best waterproof camera from this list 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 — The team that worked on this guide
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