Best Waterproof Camera Reviews -2017 Buyers Guide

Recently we reviewed over a dozen of waterproof cameras to better understand:

How to choose the best one that suit your needs and what are the best choices?

Specefically:

We looked and compared all the specs that matters:

Like water depth, video resolution, optical zoom, display screen, design, performance and more.

We learned a lot about waterproof cameras, and I’m sure you will too!

Here is a list of the best 10 waterproof cameras that you can buy in 2017.

Before we get right into our topic, let’s first learn a few basics:

Specs to look at when making your choice:

There are a few important specs that should be taken into consideration before purchasing an underwater camera.

Water depth is important to look at as it shows up until what depth the camera can be used. To go deeper, a more expensive camera is needed.

Video resolution is important as you may be shooting outside the water too. Hence the need for high video resolution. You want a more well rounded camera in this aspect.

If image quality is important to you then a good optical zoom is vital.

Underwater photography calls for a bright and large display screen for easy visibility and that is easy to use without being too fiddly.

Best waterproof camera review 2017

ProductWaterproofMax ResolutionOptical Zoom 
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-450 feet16.0 MP4x
Cannon PowerShot D3082 feet12.0 MP5x
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-87050 feet12.0 MP5x
Panasonic Lumix TS543 feet16.0 MP4.6x
Nikon 1 AW149 feet14.0 MP2.5x
Fujifilm FinePix XP8050feet16.4 MP5x
Fujifilm FinePix XP9050 feet16.4 MP5x
GoPro Hero 5 Black33 feet12.0 MP/
Nikon Coolpix AW130100 feet16.0 MP5x
Nikon Coolpix W10033 feet13.2 MP3x

1. Best Overall Waterproof camera— Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4

Rugged and compact, and able to reach a depth of 50 feet, the best overall waterproof camera is awarded to the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4.

The camera is the newest and most improved member of the iconic TG series. Rugged and pocket friendly, it’s ideal for adventurers. TG-4 is protected against freezing, dust, accidentally dropping and crushing. It has many features that far surpass its competitors, and therefore it is the go to purchase when looking for a new waterproof camera.

Design and features

Don’t change something that works well. Olympus took note of this and that is why the Olympus Tough TG-4 design differs only slightly from its predecessors. The camera weighs only 8.7 ounces and measures 2.6 x 4.4 x 1.2 inches. It is available in red or black.

Waterproof cameras require an internal zoom as to keep the size of the camera manageable. The TG-4 still houses the 100mm f/2-4.9 zoom found in the original TG-1. The lens is not as wide when used underwater, and hence the photographer will need to get as close to the subject as possible. Alternatively a fisheye lens can be added.

The camera is simple to use with its standard controls and interface. The camera has Program and Aperture modes but does not have a Shutter or Manual mode. There are automatic (iAuto), macro (Microscope) and underwater settings on the dial. Select settings are also customisable. There is built in GPS and Wi-fi and images and videos can be shared via the Olympus Image Share app. App is available for iOs and Android.

You’ll need to pair via a QR code or a password as the TG-4 does not have NFC. In addition the app supports remote control, meaning that a live feed can be streamed to a smartphone and adjustments to the shooting mode can be made. There is a 3-inch rear display in a fixed design that has 460k-dot resolution. It is bright, but not the sharpest.

Performance and image quality

As fast and efficient as you would hope, speed is a focal point in this camera. It is able to start, focus and take a picture in approximately a second. It’s so fast that it can even fire full resolution JPG images at five frames per second.

In addition there are two high-speed capture modes. Namely Hi1 (15fps) and Hi2(50fps). But the resolution is a maximum of 3 megapixels when using these modes. Image quality is outstanding. At 25mm f/2 the TG-4 scores 2,125 lines per picture height. The optimal being 1800 lines per picture height.

Pros
  • Wide aperture f/2 lens
  • Waterproof to 50 feet
  • Rugged
  • Speedy autofocus
  • Built in GPS and Wi-fi
Cons
  • Not great JPG output
  • Short zoom range
  • Doesn’t include external battery charger

2. Cannon PowerShot D30

The Powershot D30 is Canon’s third waterproof camera. Many improvements have been made and this third camera sports a better design as well as an increase in water depth. It has many other features, is compact and easy to use and is an excellent waterproof underwater camera. It is ready to rough and tumble outdoors, despite looking like other Canon cameras. Slick, stylish, thin and portable, this camera is a dream to operate.

Design and build

The camera is thin with a colourful body and could easily be mistaken for a regular point and shoot camera. Its design is simple and does not comprise of many buttons. It must not be confused with the Cannon D30 DSLR as they are completely different cameras.There is a small 5x optical zoom which is suitable for underwater shooting, but does limit the shooting quality when used out of the water. There is a GPS function which allows the location data to be added to an image. This is ideal as you do not have obvious landmarks when shooting underwater.

Waterproof features,image quality, low light performance

The D30 is able to operate at a depth of 82 feet. This is rare for a thin waterproof camera of its size. In addition the D30 will be able to endure even if being dropped from a height of 2 meters. It is still able to function in a temperature as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

The image quality of the Canon Powershot D30 is where it seems to struggle in comparison to its competitors. The image sensor used in this camera is a 1/2.3 inch image sensor. This is the smallest sensor used in digital cameras. The manual control features are limited. Despite having a small image sensor, the D30 works well in low light.

Battery

Under normal conditions you can expect 250 to 300 shots per single charge. If using the GPS this will use a great deal of battery and hence you could expect an average of 150 to 200 shots. Glare from the sunlight will increase the brightness of the display screen and this will decrease the level of the battery life.
Pros
  • Easy to hold
  • Thin and compact
  • LCD screen is a sharp display
  • Extremely easy to use
Cons
  • Small image sensors
  • Limited 12.1 megapixels of resolution
  • LCD screen suffered from sunlight glare problems
  • Limited to 5x zoom lens

3. Olympus Stylus Tough TG-870

This camera is not called tough for nothing. Whilst Olympus TG-870being virtually indestructible the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-870 is versatile and able to survive the elements. Rain, snow, mud or wind, it can handle it all with ease. You need not be shy to drop this camera and put it to the test because it is capable of handling it all. It is ideal for an avid explorer or for a novice who just wishes to take a few photos on their vacation in the pool or at the sea. This camera has been slightly improved from the Tg-860.

Design and features

The TG-870 comes in an array of colours such as Gunmetal Metallic, Metallic Green or pure white . It measures 4.4x 2.5 x 11 inches and weighs approximately 8 ounces. Hence it is compact and travels well. The camera has a 3 inch tilt LCD screen and a “face” button that allows you to take selfies. It offers a 5x zoom with a range of 35mm. There isn’t a very good lens and it has an aperture of f/3.5(wide) to f/5.7 (tele). Hence an outdoor light would be needed and a flash for indoor shooting. Using natural light will produce a better image. The LCD screen has a 920K-dot resolution and flips up at 180 degrees.

Buttons are kept to a minimum as thee camera is compact. The camera offers a mode dial with Intelligent auto, Programe Ae, Super Macro , 19 scene options and art filters as well as a Sportcam. Additionally there is a playback feature as well as Wi-fi capabilities. Olympus ensures that the battery and SD card are secure and kept dry in its dual locking compartment on the right of the camera.

Performance and use

The TG 870 has a 1/2.3 inch 16 megapixel backside illuminated CMOS chip and the TruPic VII image processor. As the camera has a small sensor and a maximum aperture of f/3.5, a large amount of light is required. This is best achieved by using the flash or natural light. The camera is easy to use , but at times when there is a great deal of natural light the LCD screen can be difficult to see. This makes for quickly capturing an image in exposed light very difficult.
Pros
  • Rugged features
  • Excellent still images
  • Good lens focal range
  • Wi-fi pairing with phones and tablets
  • Action camera mode
Cons
  • Does not perform well in low light
  • Struggles with video focussing
  • GPS drains battery quickly

4. Panasonic Lumix TS5

This camera is Panasonic’s best underwater Panasonic Lumix TS5rugged camera. It has a 16-megapixel camera and can go to depths of 43 feet underwater. As with other rugged waterproof cameras, this camera has been put to the test and is able to handle a great deal, even if it is dropped from a height of 6.6 feet. Pleasing to look at and with many a feature, the Panasonic Lumix TS5 is a great camera for adventures.

Design and features :

The camera is similar to other rugged cameras on the market as it has a colourful exterior accompanied by tough metal. The TS5 is available in orange, silver, black and blue.

The TS5 differs from its competitors as its internal zoom is housed behind a glass port in the corner of the body of the camera. It is usually found in the centre of most cameras. The camera weighs 6.6 ounces and measures 2.7 x 4.3 x 1.1 inches. The lens is a 4.6x zoom that covers a 35mm range of 28-128mm f/3.3-5.9. The camera struggles with macro focussing and it is advised to get as close to the subject when shooting, especially if the water is not clear.

The controls on the TS5 are to be commended as they give tactile feedback. Thus letting the user know when the button has been clicked. There is a simple Q.Menu button that also doubles as the delete button. Pressing this button during photo review will bring up a menu. The LCD is 3 inches and is located in the rear. It features 460k-dot resolution.

The camera is capable of going to depths of 43 feet underwater. By no means the deepest of all the rugged waterproof cameras, but still sufficient. The camera is compatible with Wi-Fi and images can be transferred to devices run by Android or iOS. There is a Lumix Link app available that can be pared with devices and it also offers a Live View feed.

Performance :

The TS5 is able to start and take an image in 1.7 seconds. It has a shutter lag of 0.05 seconds. There are many burst shooting modes that can be used. Full resolution speed at 8.2 frames per second. This particular mode is limited to 7 shots before it begins to slow down, but there are other modes that can be used. The TS5 is not good at controlling noise and it is only capable of keeping it under 1.5 percent through ISO 200.
Pros
  • Rugged design
  • Sharp lens
  • GPS
  • Multiple shooting functions
Cons
  • Not very large wide angle as competitors
  • Not capable of going to extensive depths

5. Nikon 1 AW1

The Nikon 1AW1 is one of the toughest and best Nikon 1 AW1waterproof cameras on the market. It provides superior image quality to its competitors and can be used in rugged terrain and underwater to depths of 49 feet. It is a basic camera that may not meet the needs of professional or advanced photographers. Aesthetically pleasing to look at, it is capable of being used in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

Design and build:

The 1AW1 is very similar looking to other Nikon cameras. It is visually appealing and stylish. It tends to feel flimsy as it is so light and thin. But do not let the lightness of this camera deceive you, it is still as tough as nails. It can be dropped from up to 6.6 feet and still work perfectly. Unfortunately it has a small right-hand grip that does not prove to be very useful. Hence the camera can be difficult to handle at times, especially when hands are wet.

Waterproof features, image quality, low light performance :

This camera sets itself apart from the other fixed lens waterproof cameras. The 1AW1 is the only camera on the market that offers interchangeable lenses. It can be used underwater without a protective case. This means that no regular Nikon lens can be used. Specific waterproof lenses have to be used. This does in some instances make it more difficult for the user, as additional specific lenses will have to be purchased.

The camera has exceptional image quality and it has a much larger sensor in comparison to many of the other underwater cameras. It’s image sensor is equivalent to that of a mirrorless camera. It has a CX sized image sensor. The image sensor has 14.2 megapixels of resolution. The Nikon 1AW1 has the best low light performance for waterproof cameras. This is due to the large size of the image sensor.

Battery :

The battery life is where the Nikon 1AW1 falls short. You can expect to shoot 175 to 200 shots per battery charge. This is less than ideal as a battery can not be changed underwater. Hence causing the user to change the battery on dry land .
Pros
  • Waterproof up to 49 feet
  • Better image quality than most of its competitors
  • Better low light performance than competitors
  • Pleasing mirrorless design
Cons
  • No mode dial included
  • Much purchase specific waterproof lens
  • No viewfinder included

6. Fujifilm FinePix XP80

The Fujifilm FinePix XP80 is ideal for outdoor Fujifilm FinePix XP80use hiking, swimming, camping and diving. It even has an action camera mode which allows you to attach the camera to your body and shoot in a first person view. If considering this camera for only occasional outdoor use then it is likely not the camera for you. Ideal for one aspect normally means that something will be compromised. Yet the camera is affordable and durable and you receive the quality, capabilities and features you pay for.

Image quality:

The XP80 has poor image quality in comparison to other waterproof cameras in its price range. Images are sharp, but the colour accuracy is slightly off. The camera does not shoot well in low light. There are a number of special effect modes included with this camera . This aspect makes it more interactive and enjoyable for beginners. Images captured would be suitable for use on social media but not as prints.

Performance:

The Fujifilm FinePix XP80 is a fully automated camera. The only thing that can be adjusted manually is the white balance or EV setting. The camera has an action camera mode . Not quite a GoPro but it will suffice. This allows you to attach the camera to your body and shoot in a wide-angle setting. There are many shooting modes available.

The battery performance for the XP80 is poor as you can only shoot approximately 150 photos per battery charge. Battery performance will further reduce if shooting in cold water. Although the camera does have Wi-Fi, it is difficult to use due to the poor performance of the Li-lon battery.

Design:

One of the XP80’s best features is that it can be used up to depths of 50 feet. Hence this has impacted the design of the camera. Not much is left exposed so the camera’s vital parts are not penetrated by water. There is a 5x zoom. It is so small because it must be housed inside the body of the camera. The camera is lightweight, it weighs 6.3 ounces and it is 4.0 x 2.6 x 1.0 inches.
Pros
  • Reasonably good image quality
  • Works up to depths of 50 feet underwater
  • Various movie recording options
  • Durable
Cons
  • Only 5x optical zoom
  • Poor low light image quality
  • Small 2.7 inch LCD screen
  • Small control buttons

7. Fujifilm FinePix XP90

Stylish, durable and able to handle what motherFujifilm FinePix XP90 nature throws its way, the FujifilmFinePix XP90 is superb. It is “4-way proof” meaning that it is waterproof to 50 feet, freeze proof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shock proof and can withstand falls from heights of up to 5.8 feet and it is dust proof. The are many improvements on its predecessor the XP80 and therefore its features will appeal to a vast majority of adventurers seeking a rugged and reliable waterproof camera.

Image quality :

The XP90 has a wide lens that has 5x optical zoom as well as a 10x intelligent digital zoom. The latter allowing the user to capture high quality photographs. The zoom lens is a FUJINON zoom lens and it scales from 28 to 140 mm. Thus allowing to capture images from a distance away. The high resolution photos that the camera produce are due to the 16 million BS-CMOS Sensor. It even takes good quality photos in low light. Clear photos are able to be captured when the zoom is extended all the way. This is due to the Optical Image Stabilisation.

Screen:

The XP90 has a large 3 inch 920k-dot LCD monitor. It is an aspect that draws one to the camera. The screen is large and hence takes up a great deal of the rear of he camera. Where this camera surpasses its competitors is on the screen. The screen is covered by anti-reflective material so that the screen can clearly be viewed even on the brightest of days. The advanced screen even automatically adjusts the brightness so that it matches the environment. This in turn saves the battery.

Speed up time feature:

The speed up time feature allows photos to be taken at intervals to record a time-lapse. This could be of a sunset, sunrise or bird flying. The speed up function was created by Fujifilm as they know that many beautiful photographs are taken in landscape. It can take still photos at different intervals and these can be used in a HD movie at frame rates of 10,30 and 60.

Transferring photos:

Transferring photos is hassle free with the XP90. There is a free Fujifilm Camera Remote app that can be connected to a smart device. Photos can then easily be transferred.

Remote shooting:

The Fujifilm Remote app allows your smartphone to be used as a remote control device. This means you can take control of your XP90 with your smartphone. Photos can be remotely shot while it is still able to zoom or simply switch to a movie recording instead of using a still shot. This is ideal for wildlife photography.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Excellent photo and video quality
  • Easy to use
  • Various amazing features
  • “4-way” proof
  • Speed up time function
Cons
  • Not as slick looking as some of the competitors

8. GoPro Hero 5 Black

GoPro has always set the bar high when it GoPro HERO5 Blackcomes to action cameras. GoPro has always been ahead of the pack and they continue to dominate with each new addition to their range of products. The GoPro Hero 5 Black has all that users have ever wanted in a camera, and it has not disappointed.

Design and features:

The Hero 5 is small, compact, slick but nothing much to look at. The camera is waterproof up to 10 meters and both the battery and SD card slots are well protected with waterproof sealants. The camera is rugged and made of hardy plastic and rubber. It is small and compact but is able to withstand it all. If you would like to mount the camera to anything it still needs to be placed in the plastic framework.

The features are new and improved and one of the best new features is the 2 inch touchscreen display on the back of the camera. This touchscreen does not need a waterproof case. It is easy to use and as simple as touching and scrolling on the screen. The menu allows the user to instantly view and edit footage on the camera. The camera doesn’t have the best battery life and you can expect 1.5 hours per charge. But if using 4k and GPS then the battery will last for less time. If you are unable to reach the camera then you are able to talk to it, like Siri and Apple. Images can easily be transferred to a smartphone via the free to download GoPro app.

Video quality:

The video quality on the GoPro Hero5 Black is perhaps its best attribute. Its absolutely amazing and it shoots 4k footage at 30 frames per second. The footage is life-like and produces vivid shots through the wide angle lens. You are also able to shoot below 4K.

Image quality:

as with the video quality, the image quality is just as superb. It captures 12 megapixel stills and you can shoot RAW images too. There are three ways in which images can be captured with the Hero5. Single image mode, burst mode and time-lapse modes are available.
Pros
  • Waterproof to 10 m without waterproof housing
  • 2-inch display screen
  • Voice activated camera controls
  • Easy to use editing apps
  • Captures stunning 4k footage
Cons
  • Average battery life
  • No image stabilization on 4K
  • Doesn’t feel as sturdy as previous models
  • Touchscreen fiddly to use in water

9. Nikon Coolpix AW130

Rugged, very affordable and offering 100 feetNikon Coolpix AW130 water resistance and 7 feet of shock resistance, the Nikon Coolpix AW130 is well priced, durable and ideal for adrenalin junkies. It is packed with many features such as dedicated Wi-fi and GPS buttons. This camera is ideal for those who would like to geotag their images whilst adventuring. Therefore it is ready to be used with ease and is very capable of roughing it outdoors. While some aspects may not be able to compete with its competitors, this portable waterproof camera is handy to have when outdoors.

Design:

Black, slick and appealing to look at.The camera has a tough turn-dial latch with assures you that latches have been properly closed and they are water tight. It is handy to have but can be fiddly to use. A small bulge is on the right of the camera, but it is very difficult to grip.There is a 5x optical zoom and the camera weighs 7.8 ounces. It measures 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.1 inches.

Features:

The Nikon Coolpix AW130 is shock resistant and can withstand being dropped from a distance of 7 feet. In addition it is water resistant up to 100 feet. The camera is compatible with Wi-Fi and has its own buttons dedicated to Wi-fi, NFC as well as GPS. The AW130 does not offer RAW file support.

Image Quality :

The camera is able to capture good quality images in low-light as well as in bright light. Images appear slightly more vivid in the bright light, but that just adds more richness to the image. The camera also fairs well underwater. It is able to capture intricate details , but the images can appear underexposed. In addition the white balance can appear more on the green side.
Pros
  • Solid image quality
  • Dedicated GPS and Wi-fi butttons
  • Affordable
  • Functional to 100 feet underwater
Cons
  • Hard to navigate menus
  • Fiddly door latches

10. Nikon Coolpix W100

The Nikon Coolpix W100 is slick, stylish and a great GPS

waterproof camera.

The advanced GPS can be used even if the camera is turned off. It will search for your position every 30 minutes for up to 6 hours.

Picture quality:

The camera is able to take good quality images , but is far better at shooting on land than it is at shooting whilst diving underwater. The photo quality is good if there is a lot of light, but images need to be sharpened after they are shot. The camera is capable of capturing good quality images in shallow water if there is an adequate amount of sunlight.

Shooting performance:

The shooting options are very similar to the other Nikon Coolpix cameras. There are many automated options. There are two auto modes, namely, Easy auto mode and auto mode. Easy auto mode which is able to adjust settings based on six common scene types or when lowered underwater ,the underwater mode is used. The other mode is the auto mode which is similar to point and shoot modes known as Program. ISO, white balance and exposure can be changed. Most notable modes include the special effects mode, pet portrait mode and an easy panorama mode. The camera has a burst mode shot limit of three shots.

Design and features:

Notable features include the GPS. It is easy to turn on and off and can even be used when the camera is off. Other features include the array of editing features available . These include quick retouch, small portrait mode as well as special effects mode. The camera can easily shoot at night as well. The camera has a 16 megapixel camera, weighs 6.3 ounces and measures 4.4 x 2.6 x 0.0 inches. On a fully charged battery you can expect to capture 250 shots. If GPS is being used then fewer shots would be able to be captured. There is a 5x zoom.
Pros
  • Easy to turn GPS on and off
  • Rugged and hardy
  • Affordable
  • Captures decent images on land
Cons
  • Does not capture high-quality images in deep water
  • GPS drains battery
  • Buttons on the camera are too small and fiddly

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