This ultimate best underwater cameras 2021 guide will help you to find the model that will suit your needs the most! Find your waterproof camera for snorkeling or diving through our useful how-to-choose tips and recommendations in all price categories from professional to budget options!
Table of Contents
- Underwater camera types
- How to choose underwater camera?
- Best underwater cameras in 2021
- Best cheap waterproof cameras in 2021
Underwater camera types
Buying the right underwater camera might seem a bit difficult at first, but just because of the extremely wide selection. Let’s clarify what type of models you can choose from and what are the differences between them.
Here belong the such-called rugged, weatherproof point-and-shoot cameras that have a fully-sealed body, therefore can withstand dirt and water. Waterproof cameras come with various depth limits.
Generally, budget models are perfect for snorkeling and shallow water diving, submersible up to 26-32ft/8-10 m, while professional underwater cameras are safe-to-use even up to 49-100ft/15-30m. You can find this information on the camera’s body and/or in the manual.
Camera with underwater housing
Normal land cameras that are not waterproof but can be taken underwater in a fitting underwater housing. The advantage of a camera-housing combination is that they deliver the best image quality. Moreover, complete underwater photography systems can be put together using various accessories. Commercial underwater camera housings are usable up to 130 ft/40 m.
As a drawback, a camera-case combination is more expensive than those models that are waterproof without extra housing too. A quality case can be as expensive as the camera itself, therefore these systems are recommended for those who wish to take high-quality images and/or are professinal photographers.
Related: Read our snorkeling photography tips and learn some easy tips on how to take better underwater photos!
How to choose underwater camera?
To make your decision-making easier and help you to find the best underwater camera that will suit you the most, read through and answer the following questions to specify your needs:
- How often will you use the underwater camera?
- What image/video quality do you expect?
- How deep you will take it (do you want to use it while diving too or only snorkeling)?
- What extra options do you need (GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi etc…)?
- What is your budget?
Generally, we suggest spending a bit more on a good model from trusted camera manufacturers that offer long warranty and have a professional repair-service background. But besides the more expensive professional models, there are really good waterproof cameras available under 200 USD too. Therefore, below you will find not only the best underwater camera recommendations, but we included also some budget waterproof snorkeling cameras in the list. If you are looking for the simplest models that children can use too, check out or kids underwater camera recommendations.
Best underwater cameras – Our top picks in 2021
We recommend not leaving your camera purchase for the last minute before you leave for a holiday, arrange it in time! Although the best underwater cameras in 2021 are all user-friendly and feature easy operation thanks to pre-set modes, always take your time to learn how to use the device, study the settings and instructions.
Tip: To preserve the waterproof feature for the longest time possible, read our underwater camera maintenance guide!
Best underwater cameras in 2021
If you want to take the highest quality photos in the sea using pre-set UW modes or are seriously interested in underwater photography, we recommend choosing a high-end compact underwater camera! Our picks in 2021 are the Olympus TG-6, the Canon G7X Mark II (with housing), Nikon W300, Fujifilm XP140 and RICOH WG-60!
Rugged. Durable. Tough. And smart too – this is the new Olympus TG-6, one of the best underwater cameras in 2021 that even professional underwater photographers use and recommend!
The camera features advanced modes that are specially designed for underwater photography. The TG-6 comes with new UW white balance pre-sets and 5 underwater modes (Snapshot, wide, macro, microscope and HDR) that make this model a great choice for snorkeling and diving.
- top-rated professional underwater camera
- waterproof up to 50ft (15m) without an additional case
- 12 MP image sensor with advanced low-light functions
- 4K UHD video quality
- microscope function for super macros
12MP Hi-Speed Sensor ensures that your images are always bright and blur-free even of fast-moving subjects and the videos are detail-rich. Your photos will come out with little noise thanks to the top image sensor and advanced dual quad-core TruePic VIII Processor. Great for shooting at dusk, dawn, around campfire, capturing coral reefs in stunning clarity. Taking close-up macro photos was never so easy! A microscope function lets you get as close as 1 cm to your subject. The modes are fully customizable and you get instant access to your favorite settings via Mode Dial.
TG-6 is one of the few point-and-shoot compact cameras that supports RAW format up to a blazing 20 fps and records videos in 4K (lifelike resolution). Moreover, Full HD 120 fps high-speed video for slow-motion playback, as well as 4K Time Lapse also available!
To support your outdoor adventures on the highest level, the camera has Built-in Action Track Sensors to follow your movement and environmental data. GPS, compass, a temperature sensor, manometer for altitude and water depth. The Data Log is able to record tracking data for extended time periods. With the Built-in Wi-Fi and free Olympus app, you can easily transfer photos/videos to your smart device.
The TG-6 is a perfect choice as a snorkeling camera and for those too who wish to set up a professional system for underwater photography. In our detailed post on the camera we explain what Olympus TG-6 accessories are available for the best underwater footage.
Olympus Tough TG-6 key features
- 12MP Hi-Speed Sensor for improved low light performance and noise reduction
- F2.0-4.9 high-speed Lens
- AUTO ISO: 100 ‐ 1600 with customizable upper limit from 100 to 12800
- Manual ISO: 100 – 12800
- 4x optical, 2X digital zoom
- Ultra HD 4K30fps video quality
- TruePic VIII Image Processor
- Wi-Fi, GPS, Manometer, Compass, and temperature sensors
- RAW shooting
- Waterproof to 50 feet (15 m)
- Crushproof to 220 lbf (100 kgf)
- Shockproof from 7 feet (2 m)
- Freezeproof to 14 F (-10 C)
- 1.04 million dots 3 inch LCD
- Anti-Fog lens
Nikon Coolpix W300
Be part of the action with Nikon W300 though waterproof, freezeproof, shockproof, dustproof camera no matter the conditions! Take it snorkeling, surfing, skiing, scuba diving, biking or climbing, there is no limit! Our snorkeling camera was the previous model of the series, the AW120 for ages and were always very satisfied with the results! Most of the photos in our gallery are taken with that camera.
- Nikon best waterproof compact camera
- waterproof up to 100ft (30m) perfect for diving too
- 16MP low-light sensor, 4K UHD videos
- Vibration reduction for sharp images
- advanced outdoor use functions like GPS & eCompass
Useful and smart functions make the Nikon Coolpix W300 one of the best underwater cameras which is waterproof up to 100 ft (30m)! Therefore, this smart device is a good choice not only for snorkeling but also for scuba diving! Do you prefer winter adventures? No problem, the W300 is freezeproof up to 14 F (-10 C). It can handle rough conditions, including drops from 7.9 ft (2.4 m). Moreover, it is dust- and sandproof too!
16 MP low-light sensor and fast f/2.8 NIKKOR lens guarantees clear, sharp photos. You can freely zoom out with the flexibility to get the whole scene into the frame or in for a tight view with the high-quality 5x optical zoom lens. Hybrid VR (Vibration Reduction) keeps your photos and videos steady. Choose between 4K Ultra HD or 1080p Full HD video recording with stereo sound. The Short Movie Show creates 30 second clips with background music and effects that are ready to share! Time-lapse and Super lapse also available. You can even shoot stills while recording video.
Extra-large grip and smart button placement make for stable one-handed shooting. While wearing heavy gloves, you can change modes simply by moving the camera. A dedicated tool button provides the user with Quick access to GPS and eCompass. With a compatible smartphone/tablet, you can transfer, review and share your photos, add text or take pictures remotely. Nikon SnapBridge app can automatically back-up your photos to Nikon Image Space as you shoot them.
Nikon Coolpix W300 main features
- 16-MP Backside Illuminated CMOS Sensor
- NIKKOR Lens with Vibration Reduction
- 4K Ultra HD or 1080p Full HD videos with stereo sound
- 3.0-inch LCD has an anti-reflective coating
- Waterproof up to 100 ft (30 m)
- Freezeproof up to 14 F (-10 C)
- Shockproof from up to 7.9 ft (2.4 m) high
- GPS, eCompass, altimeter, depth gauge
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Built-in Bright LED Light
- 20 scene modes
Canon Powershot G7X Mark II
No matter we talk about land or underwater photography, the Canon G7X Mark II is definitely one of the best professional compact cameras you can get nowadays. However, it is a more expensive model than a typical all-rounder camera and for shooting in the ocean you have to add an underwater housing too, but the image quality the camera delivers is definitely worth the extra bucks.
- excellent speed and performance thanks to the high-performance 1.0-inch 20.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor and bright f/1.8–2.8 lens
- auto focus tracking, enhanced IS and superb image clarity
- ideal for travel, events and anywhere on the go
The top-range 1-inch 20.01 MP sensor, f/1.8-2.8 lens and superior DIGIC7 image processing are able to create DSLR-like photos and crisp Full HD 60p videos. To shoot amazing images even in low light, the Auto Lighting optimizer and in-camera diffraction corrections (that is similar to the EOS camera line) and ISO up to 12800 come into action. With the tilt-style touch LCD screen, the Canon G7X MarkII provides the user with excellent flexibility and easy-operating.
We recommend this camera for those who are seriously thinking about getting into the world of UW photography, but still want to fit the whole photo equipment into a backpack and not carrying big and heavy cameras. Custom white balance modes make possible creating naturally-looking images without using color correction filter even at depth up to 60 ft/18m. The built-in macro mode allows taking superb close-up footage.
Canon offers an original WP-DC55 waterproof case to the G7X Mark II, but we suggest getting the Fantasea FG7XII housing because it provides you with the possibility of adding lenses as well as filters easily. It is also a good idea to purchase the Fantasea Big-eye lens if you want to play around with wide-angle photos. This lens widens the view of your camera and also brightens up your images by collecting more light. Expect to pay over 1200 USD for the whole setup, but take it granted that you will get one of the best underwater cameras these days.
Canon G7x specification
- 20.1 MP 1.0 CMOS sensor
- 4.2X optical zoom
- 1080P videos
- 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens
- 125-12800 ISO
- 8.8 – 36.8 mm focal length
- 1/2000-15 sec shutter
- Face detection
- Superfast AF
- RAW shooting
- Intelligent Image stabilization
Tip: If you thinking about buying a waterproof action camera, read what is the best GoPro for snorkeling!
FujiFilm FINEPIX XP140
The FujiFilm XP140 is the latest model in the XP series rugged point-and-shoot camera category. Fuji introduced XP140 in 2020 that replaced the previous Fuji XP130 version. The new XP140 enjoys some new features such as 4K video capability, smart Scene Recognition, new filters, moreover it can be taken even deeper! It is waterproof up to 82 ft/25m (the XP130 depth limit was 20 m only) therefore this is a great budget underwater camera for snorkeling and also for diving.
- rugged camera from FinePix series
- waterproof up to 82ft (25m)
- 16.4MP photos, 4K videos
- easy data transfer through Bluetooth, geotagging available
- advanced underwater modes with macro function
On the top of four rugged features, FINEPIX XP140 comes with new functions including Bluetooth, geo-tagging, double exposure and many more. The 16.4 MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor was designed to ensure that your underwater photos will enjoy great quality no matter the low light. For sharp pictures, the optical image stabilization system controls camera shake.
The advanced SR auto mode detects the subjects and automatically sets the scene which is handy for land photography. 3-inch LCD screen with anti-reflective coating automatically adjusts brightness in response to the lighting conditions. Electronic Level function helps when capturing horizontal subjects such as a beautiful landscape or solid architecture.
In the ocean, the advanced Underwater Mode takes care of the natural-looking underwater photos. Fujifilm’s long years of experience in the waterproof camera segment ensures that the colors are reproduced exactly as they are seen by the human eye. Moreover, there is an “Underwater macro” mode to capture small details under the sea.
FujiFilm FINEPIX XP140 features
- 16.4 MP
- Back-illuminated sensor
- Sharp Optical Image Stabilization
- Fujinon 5x optical zoom plus Intelligent Digital Zoom
- 4K videos
- Continuous shooting mode
- Waterproof to 82ft (25M)
- Freezeproof to 14 F (-10 C)
- Shockproof to 5.9ft (1.8M)
- 3-inch 920K-dot LCD screen
- Electronic Level & Eye Detection
- Smart Auto scene mode
- Bluetooth capability for instant file transfer to smartphones and tablet devices
- Geo-Tagging function with Auto adjustment to local time zone
- Remote Camera Operation with FUJIFILM Camera Remote app
- 17 special filters
The RICOH WG series offers waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and crushproof tough compact point-and-shoot cameras that can be used in all conditions no matter it’s outdoor activity or working in harsh environment. RICOH WG-60 is the latest addition to the range with features that make the model perfect for still-image shooting and movie recording in all conditions.
- tough camera designed for outdoor use
- 16MP photo and Full HD video quality
- advanced image processing
- anti-shake protection to avoid blurry images
- intelligent zoom up to 36x
The intelligent sensor delivers top sensitivity of ISO 6400 and capable to capture high-resolution photos with 16.0 MP. Advanced image processing guarantees sharp and clear pictures. For shooting in low-light conditions, the Night Snap scene offers several image capturing of the night scene from which produces a single, blur-free image. 5-times optical zoom lens with a focal-length coverage from 5mm to 25mm accommodates a wide range of scenes and subjects.
The macro function captures dramatic close-ups from up to 0.4 inch/1 cm. Intelligent Zoom extends range to 36 times without compromising quality. During movie recording, the Movie Shake Reduction function compensates the misalignment of the images caused by camera shake. The result will be a stable, blur-free movie clip. The brightness of the LCD is customizable in order to see the dark areas of the display better in sunlight, or to reduce glare.
The RICOH WG-60 is also great as a snorkeling camera, and can be used even for shallow-water diving thanks to the 46ft/14m waterproof capability. Choose the UW mode with white balance optimizing that makes the colors more natural by adding reds. In Underwater mode, the Flash Off and Flash On option allows the user to capture two pictures with a single shutter release: one without flash and one with flash.
RICOH WG-60 specifications
- 16 MP BSI-CMOS sensor
- 5X internal optical zoom lens (28-140mm equivalent)
- ISO 125-6400
- 1080P HD at 30 fps
- Digital shake reduction
- 2.7 inch LCD screen
- Auto Picture mode with 16 different scene options
- Face Detection
- Smile Capture, Blink Detection
- Pet detection
- 12 digital filters
- Waterproof to 46 feet (14 m)
- Shockproof from drops up to 5.2 ft (1.6 m)
- Freezeproof to 14 F (-10 C)
- Digital microscope mode with 6 macro LEDs
Best cheap waterproof cameras in 2021
For those who are looking for a cheap waterproof camera that is weather-proof and submersible too, here are our best snorkeling camera picks! The Nikon Coolpix W150, Panasonic TS-30 and FujiFilm Finepix XP80 fit also for lower budget and all can be taken underwater without any additional housing system! Which one will you choose?
Nikon Coolpix W150
Nikon is a trusted name if it comes to cameras no matter you are looking for a DSLR or a compact point-and-shoot model. As mentioned above, for underwater photographers the W300 is recommended that is excellent for diving too thanks to its advanced waterproof features. But the company thought about users who search for a cheap waterproof camera. The Coolpix W series always feature budget models too that are perfect as a snorkeling camera!
- tough budget waterproof camera
- 13.2 MP high-quality images, Full HD videos
- various scene modes and functions to create unique images
- compact, user-friendly design
This model, the W150 is the new version of the Coolpix W100 which was also a very popular cheap waterproof camera. The Coolpix W150 will be your reliable partner in any weather condition thanks to IP6X dustproof and IP8X waterproof rating. You can take it everywhere from the beach to the ski slopes!
Thanks to its easy operation, the camera can be used by all members of the family. Smart setups and modes guarantee that your images will be sharp and clear in all conditions! For shooting in bright light, the 2-stop ND filter corrects your pictures, while the built-in flash illuminates subjects in dim lighting conditions. Use the new picture-in-picture scene-mode and cool editing effects to create unique shots!
Nikon Coolpix W150 key features
- 13.2MP 1/3.1” CMOS sensor
- 14.17 million total pixels
- Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 fps
- Electronic vibration reduction for crisp imagery
- ISO 125-1600
- NIKKOR 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 30-90mm)
- Dynamic Fine Zoom 6x
- 2.7 inch/6.7 cm 230k-dot rear LCD
- Waterproof up to 33 ft (10 m)
- Cold-resistant up to 14°F (-10 C)
- Shockproof from up to 5.9 ft (1.8 m)
- SnapBridge photo-sharing service with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for instant image transfer and geotagging
- 18 scene modes and cool editing effects
- Contrast-detect AF system
The Panasonic DMC-TS30 is a cheap waterproof camera for adventurers who wish to capture some of their best outdoor moments. For this budget deal, you can enjoy good photo and video quality, but of course not as good that you get when using professional category models. The weather-sealed body offers protection against major threats that can occur while outdoor activities.
- waterproof, shockproof and dustproof cheap outdoor camera
- optical image stabilization for blur-free images
- red color reproduction for the best underwater footage
- creative effects for extraordinary pictures
To strengthen the TS30 position as a snorkeling camera, this device features advanced underwater mode with red color reproduction. Moreover, another extra is the built-in torch/light. This function helps to brighten up underwater images in low light conditions, but also very useful at night as a torch. Boost up your photos using Creative filters and enjoy extraordinary results!
The model names vary geologically: Panasonic TS30 or LUMIX FT30.
Panasonic TS30 key features
- 16.1 MP sensor, max image resolution 4608 x 3456
- Optical image stabilization reduce blurring caused by camera shake
- 720/30p video recording
- 25-100 mm zoom
- Creative panorama combines horizontal and vertical pano shots
- Time-lapse shooting
- Additional 220 MB built-in storage for 34 images
- 2.7” screen
- Waterproof up to 26 ft (8m)
- Shockproof up to 5 ft (1.5m)
- Freeze proof up to 14 F (-10C)
FujiFilm FinePix XP80
Fuji XP80 comes with all rugged features that you expect from a sturdy snorkeling camera. It is waterproof, freezeproof, shockproof, as well as sand/dustproof. The FinePix XP80 is a highly recommended cheap waterproof camera thanks to its low price and special underwater modes. Fuji’s color reproduction technology will ensure that colors are reproduced exactly as they are seen by the human eye. Thanks to this feature and the low price, this camera is definitely one of the best cheap waterproof cameras you can choose for snorkeling!
- easy-to-use rugged camera for out- and indoor use
- high-speed 16.2 MP sensor to create crisp images
- FujiFilm color reproduction to correct underwater photos
- Motion Panorama and Scene Recognition for easy shooting
The bright and clear LCD monitor with anti-reflective coating automatically adjusts brightness for excellent visibility. Interval shooting mode takes pictures at pre-set intervals, every 15,30,60 sec, 5 or 10 mins. This function is great for time-lapse photography. Capture stunning sunsets, opening flowers or other transitions in nature! 11 special photo filters let you create cool photo effects. 4 of these 11 filters can also be used on videos too.
The optical image stabilization reduces the blur that may occur when the camera is zoomed in. Continuous shooting is available at up to 10 frames/sec. (max. 10 frames) or ultra-high-speed bursts at a maximum 60 frames/sec. (max. 70 frames*6). A “Burst mode button” makes it easy to switch between shooting modes. It is easy to take panorama shots using the 360 Motion Panorama. For additional safety, the battery lid has a double-locking system to avoid accidentally opening.
With the FUJIFILM Camera Remote App you can enjoy the advantages of wireless image transfer. The App will let you remotely shoot pictures from your smartphone/tablet allowing you to adjust zoom settings or switch to video mode.
Fujifilm FinePix XP80 key features
- 16.2 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
- 2.7 inch LCD screen with anti-reflective coating
- Full HD movies 1080p/60 fps with one-touch movie button
- Interval shooting with interval time 15,30,60 sec and 5,10 min
- Waterproof up to 50 ft / 15m
- Freezeproof to temperatures as low as 14F / -10C
- Shockproof from up to 5.8 ft / 1.75m
- Dustproof and sandproof
- Wireless image transfer and remote shooting FUJIFILM Camera Remote app
- Continuous shooting mode
- SR Auto mode: intelligent scene and settings selection
- Motion Panorama 360
- 11 filter effects for photos, 4 for videos
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