Everything you witness beneath the surface of the water is worth documenting, period. However, unless you want to waste $600+, you can’t just submerge your expensive DSLR camera into the water.
Luckily, there are many waterproof cameras out there that can take stunning underwater photos and videos. In this guide, we’ve reviewed some of the best underwater cameras you can find on the market today.
|Model||Sensor Size||Max Video Resolution||Waterproof Rating||Battery Life|
|Olympus Tough TG-6||12mpx||4K||Down to 50 feet||Up to 340 photos|
|Nikon Coolpix W300||16mpx||4K||Down to 100 feet||Up to 280 photos|
|GoPro HERO9 Black||20mpx||5K||Down to 196 feet||84 mins video footage|
3 Best Underwater Cameras in 2020
Stick around as we go over each of these cameras in detail and see what makes them unique.
1. Olympus Tough TG-6 – Best Overall
Just as its name implies, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is quite durable. It’s dustproof, shockproof, freezeproof, and crushproof. You can easily tell that this underwater camera is built to last. What’s even better is that it’s not that heavy for a rugged underwater camera, weighing only 0.56 lbs.
The Tough TG-6 is waterproof down to 50 feet, which should be enough for taking photos and videos under the water for most people. You can even dive with it as long as you don’t exceed the 50-feet mark.
It flaunts a 12mpx camera sensor that’s capable of shooting crisp and vibrant underwater photos. Additionally, the camera is capable of shooting 4K and 1080p videos at up to 120 fps, making your underwater action videos come to life. Oh, and you also get 4x optical zoom, allowing you to zoom in without degrading image quality.
We also like that this camera has special underwater shooting modes, including an underwater microscope mode and 3 white balance modes, making it easier for amateur photographers to take brilliant photos. You also get 4 macro shooting modes, in case you want to capture that beautiful marine creature before it swims away.
On the other hand, if you prefer manual photography and photo editing, the Olympus Tough TG-6 allows you to shoot in RAW, so you can create some magical retouched photos without sacrificing details.
As for battery life, the Olympus Tough TG-6 can take up to 340 photos before the battery dies, which is pretty decent.
- Rugged build
- Underwater and macro shooting modes
- 4K video recording
- RAW photo shooting
- 4x optical zoom
- Decent battery life
- Image quality could be better
If you want a rugged, compact, and lightweight underwater camera that can shoot 4K videos, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is the way to go.
2. Nikon Coolpix W300 – Runner-up
Comes next on our list is the Nikon Coolpix W300 with its 100-feet waterproof depth rating, which is more than what many other underwater cameras have to offer. This makes it the perfect choice for deep divers.
It boasts a 16mpx Backside Illuminated CMOS sensor, delivering outstanding low-light performance and sharp details. Further, the Nikon Coolpix W300 is capable of shooting smooth 4K videos flawlessly.
Not to mention, you can create some pretty cool time-lapse videos to make your footage stand out. It even lets you create short compilation videos with special effects and background music to tell your adventurous story in a fun way.
Moreover, the 5x optical zoom NIKKOR lens allows you to get closer to the action without compromising image quality. And just like the Olympus Tough TG-6, the Coolpix W300 is dustproof, shockproof, and freezeproof, allowing it to tolerate some pretty harsh conditions gracefully.
As far as battery life is concerned, the Nikon Coolpix W300 can take up to 280 photos before the battery needs recharging, which is nothing mind-blowing but should be enough for most users.
- Durable construction
- Excellent low-light performance with 16mpx CMOS sensor
- 4K video shooting with stereo sound and time-lapse
- Waterproof down to 100ft
- 5x optical zoom
- Can’t shoot in RAW
The Nikon Coolpix W300 is an excellent waterproof camera for deep divers with its 100-feet waterproof rating and stellar low-light performance.
3. GoPro HERO9 Black – Best for Action Videos
We simply couldn’t create an underwater camera guide without mentioning at least one GoPro, and we’ve picked the HERO9 Black since it’s one of the company’s latest offerings that has all the bells and whistles.
What makes the GoPro HERO9 stand out from the crowd is that it can be attached to helmets while surfing, diving, or even biking, making it easier for you to take hands-free videos. It also has voice commands, so you don’t even have to press a button to start recording.
It flaunts large 20mpx sensors that can take some quite stunning photos beneath and above the surface of the water. Oh, and did we mention that it’s waterproof down to a whopping 196-foot depth?
What’s even more interesting is that the GoPro HERO9 is capable of shooting 5K Ultra HD videos. Pretty impressive, right? Well, it doesn’t just end there. The video recording is supported by Hypersmooth 3.0, which is one of the most advanced video stabilization technologies on the market. Creating shake-free action videos can’t get any better than what the HERO9 is capable of.
Additionally, the GoPro HERO9 supports live streaming so that you can immerse your followers on social media into the action. It also has TimeWarp 3.0, which is GoPro’s iteration of time-lapse video shooting.
Last but not least, the HERO9’s battery can last up to 84 mins of continuous video shooting on a single charge, which is above average for action cameras in this class.
- Stunning 5K video recording
- Excellent video stabilization system
- Supports live streaming
- Waterproof down to 196 feet
- No 4K@120fps mode
When it comes to mountable action underwater cameras, nothing even comes close to what the GoPro HERO9 has up its sleeve.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Underwater Camera
Here are a few factors that you need to take into consideration when shopping for an underwater camera.
Using a camera beneath the surface of the water isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Actually, there’s a high chance that you could accidentally drop the camera or bump it into coral reefs or rocks.
Your best bet is to pick a rugged underwater camera if you really want it to last. Many waterproof cameras are shockproof and freezeproof, so make sure that the one you’re going to buy has these extra layers of protection.
Not all underwater cameras have the same level of waterproofness. If you’ll be using it for photo and video shooting at a shallow water depth, any level of waterproofness would be fine.
However, if you plan to dive with the camera, pick one that has a minimum depth rating of 100 feet.
Photo and Video Quality
Taking high-quality videos and photos under the water can be quite challenging, which is why you need to invest in a camera that makes the job a bit easier.
It would help if you ensured that the camera’s sensor could take decent low light images, considering it’s darker under the water. CMOS sensors are perfect for that. They can capture much more light than traditional sensors.
Moreover, your underwater camera video resolution should never be less than 1080p if you want your videos to be clear enough. A decent level of video stabilization for action videos would be highly appreciated too.
If you want to take your underwater photo and video shooting, consider getting an underwater camera that supports optical zoom.
Optical zoom lets you get close to your subject without actually moving your hands, which can be quite useful when shooting marine creatures underwater.
Choosing the best underwater camera is really dependent on the purpose for which you’re buying it and just how rugged you need it to be.
The Olympus Tough TG-6 is probably the underwater camera that most people should get. Thanks to its rugged construction, diverse shooting modes, 4x optical zoom lens, and 4K video shooting capabilities, nothing even comes close at this price range.
Alternatively, if you want a mountable action camera for taking hands-free photos and videos near water, then you should definitely consider getting the GoPro HERO9 Black.