The 10 best waterproof cameras and underwater cameras in 2019

Best waterproof camera

The best waterproof cameras let you take pictures where others won't. There's a whole range of waterproof cameras designed specifically for splashing about in the sea with the kids, and surprisingly affordable underwater cameras for much more grown up underwater adventures.

So how much do you want to spend? Maybe you're just looking for the best cheap camera? Do you want to shoot photos or video? Do you need a rugged camera that can survive all kinds of tough environments, not just watery ones? Do you need a cheap, cheerful and expendable option, or are you looking to make some serious photographic statements?

That's where we can help. We can show you some of the most popular waterproof, underwater or generally tough compact cameras on the market, but we've also got some other ideas you might like to consider – like ditching a regular compact camera for a GoPro instead. It's as easy now to shoot video as it is stills with the best action cameras, and arguably a lot more engaging for your audience. 

Or, if you want to keep your family beach holiday costs (and risks!) to a minimum, why not just get a disposable film camera? It'll cost little more than a couple of Cornettos and if it does end up being carried out to sea by some kind of giant multi-tentacled monster (only joking, kids), it won't be the end of the world.

We'll keep dedicated dive cases for cameras for another buying guide, since these are for serious dive experts only, but we can show you ten other ways to start your adventures in underwater photography. And we can help with the cost, too – there are lots of cheap camera deals right now, and you'll see today's lowest prices below.

Best waterproof camera: Olympus Tough TG-5

1. Olympus Tough TG-5

It's as hard as nails but a lot less likely to go rusty

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 12MP | Lens: 25-100mm (equiv.) f/2.0-4.9 | LCD: 3in, 460k dots | Waterproof: 15m/50ft | Shockproof: 2.1m/7ft | Freezeproof: -10ºC/14°F | Max video resolution: 4K

4K video recording
Raw shooting
15m waterproofing bettered elsewhere
460k-dot LCD screen

The Olympus TG series has a sterling reputation among the tough camera market, not only for being sufficiently specced to handle tough conditions, but also equipped with impressive imaging and video tech. The Raw-shooting-enabled TG-5, which arrived on the scene nearly two years after the TG-4, brings significant improvements, most notably 4K video at 30fps and the option to shoot Full HD video at 120fps for super slow-motion output. A chunky handgrip allows for a secure hold on the camera, while the internal zoom mechanism means the lens never protrudes from the body, protecting it from knocks and bumps. Straightforward but sophisticated, the TG-5 is a winning digital waterproof camera for photographers of all levels.

Best waterproof camera: GoPro HERO7 Black

2. GoPro HERO7 Black

The latest flagship HERO delivers the most advanced image and video quality yet

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 12MP | Lens: 14-28mm (equiv.) f/2.8 | LCD: 2in | Waterproof: 10m/33ft | Shockproof: Not rated | Freezeproof: Not rated | Max video resolution: 4K

4K video to 60fps
Video stabilisation
No claimed shockproofing
Not freeze-proof like other options

In 2017, following a few financial bumps in the road, GoPro needed a hit. And that's exactly what it got with the HERO6 Black, an update that wasn’t about headline-grabbing stunts, just about improving on what had come before in the most efficient way possible. Now, though, there's the Hero7 Black, with new HyperSmooth image stabilisation, and the ability to capture 4K video at 60fps (like the previous Hero6 Black), for a smooth 2x slow motion effect during playback. You can also livestream your adventures while simultaneously capturing them to the internal memory card. The GoPro Hero7 Black is  waterproof without a housing down to 10m, and can make use of GoPro’s QuikStories feature, which allows for quick cutting together and sharing of short clips. It won't be for everyone, but the tiny form factor and mountability mean it can go where other models can't. 

Best waterproof camera: Nikon Coolpix W300

3. Nikon Coolpix W300

With 30m waterproofing, the W300 is one of the best waterproof cameras for the deeper divers

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 16MP | Lens: 24-120mm (equiv.) f/2.8-4.9 | LCD: 3in, 921k dots | Waterproof: 30m/100ft | Shockproof: 2.4m/8ft | Freezeproof: -10ºC/14ºF | Max video resolution: 4K

Decent zoom range
Excellent waterproofing
Somewhat pricey
No Raw shooting

If you’re a deep-water explorer, this is your pick of the best waterproof digital cameras. The Nikon W300 is rated to depths of 30m, outstripping most waterproof cameras, and it comes with a barometer that provides useful underwater data like altitude and depth, as well as an electronic compass. Bluetooth functionality is also on board, and this pairs well with Nikon’s SnapBridge technology for fast image transfer. Video shooters will also welcome the addition of 4K video to the W300’s toolkit, and the generous shockproof rating of 2.4m means it’s extra protected against bumps and knocks. While the lack of Raw support is a pity, if you're happy to stick with JPEGs you'll find it to be a superb all-rounder for fearless underwater adventures.

Best waterproof camera: Ricoh WG-50

4. Ricoh WG-50

One of the toughest available, with nifty extra features and a price to match

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 16MP | Lens: 28-140mm (equiv) f/3.5-5.5 | LCD: 3in, 230k dots | Waterproof: 14m/45ft | Shockproof: 1.6m/5.2ft | Freezeproof: -10ºC/14ºF | Max video resolution: Full HD

Decent zoom range
Useful built-in ring lights
Very similar to WG-30
Low-resolution screen

It’s safe to say that the WG-50 is not just another tough camera. Not only is it crushproof up to a hefty 100kg, but it also has a few additional features that make it an extra-compelling photographic prospect. Chief among these is a built-in macro ring-light on the front of its lens, which provides handy extra illumination in a pinch. A 5x optical zoom has a decent reach, while the option to capture slow-motion video at 120fps is also a very welcome addition. It’ll cost a little more than some of the options on this list, and the slightly garish styling may turn off some, but the WG-50 is a well-specced camera that’s definitely worth consideration.

Best waterproof camera: Panasonic FT30

5. Panasonic FT30

Sleek but well-powered, Panasonic’s waterproof offering is ideal for stills photography, if a little lacking in video

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 16.1MP | Lens: 25-100mm (equiv) f/3.9-5.7 | LCD: 2.7in, 230k dots | Waterproof: 8m/26ft | Shockproof: 1.5m/5ft | Freezeproof: -10ºC/14ºF | Max video resolution: 720p (HD)

Very affordable
Smart design and four colour options
Showing its age with many specs 
Lens has relatively narrow max aperture

The FT30 isn't the newest waterproof digital camera here, and doesn't quite offer any best-in-class specs, but what it does offer is commensurate with its very reasonable asking price. It’s also pleasingly slim enough to fit in a snug jeans pocket or similar, although this does come at the cost of a secure grip; you might want to invest in a wrist strap to ensure the FT30 doesn’t get away from you. Provided you keep hold of it, the FT30 is a solid and versatile waterproof camera that should prove well-suited to recording your aquatic adventures – in stills form, anyway. The lower video resolution of 720p means that if you’re a video aficionado, you’re probably better off with one of the other waterproof digital cameras on this list. 

Best waterproof camera: Fujifilm XP130

6. Fujifilm XP130

Get creative with Fujifilm’s latest underwater camera

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 16.4MP | Lens: 28-140mm (equiv) f/3.9-4.9 | LCD: 3in, 920k dots | Waterproof: 20m/65ft | Shockproof: 1.75m/5.8ft | Freezeproof: -10ºC/14ºF | Max video resolution: Full HD

Healthy level of protection
920k-dot LCD screen
No 4K video recording
Not a huge jump over the XP120

The impressive imaging spec of the Fujifilm XP130 is bolstered by sensor-shift image stabilisation, which allows sharper images to be taken hand-held, even in poor lighting conditions. A relatively minor upgrade on the XP120, the XP130 adds a few useful extra features like Bluetooth connectivity in addition to the existing Wi-Fi option, as well as an electronic level function to help you ensure your horizons are dead straight. Like the rest of the XP series, the XP130 is comprehensively toughened, able to withstand some severe punishment, and there's also a choice of creative art filters available for those who like to add a little creative flair to their images.

Read more: Fujifilm announces the XP140

Best waterproof camera: Sony RX0

7. Sony RX0

A large sensor, 4K video and tiny body. What's not to like?

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1in | Megapixels: 15.3MP | Lens: 24mm (equiv) f/4 | LCD: 1.5in touchscreen, 230k dots | Waterproof: 10m/33ft | Shockproof: 2m/6.5ft | Freezeproof: No | Max video resolution: 4K (external recorder required)

Tiny size but 1in sensor
4K video (with external recorder)
Small LCD screen

Thanks to its 1in sensor, the relatively new Sony RX0 stands head-and-shoulders above most waterproof digital cameras here, being able to produce significantly cleaner, richer images than its counterparts, with reduced noise. Designed for the high-end user, it features a touchscreen LCD, high-frame-rate, slow-motion video in Full HD, and even 4K recording if you hook it up to an external recorder (though this will of course reduce the extent of daredevil stunts you can perform with it). Sounds great – so what’s the bad news? Well, as you might suspect, all this tech doesn’t come cheap, and with an RRP of £800/$699.99/AU$1049, the Sony RX0 is considerably more expensive than the majority of other options in this list. If this doesn’t put you off, however, you’re in for a treat: this is one of the best waterproof cameras you can get. 

Stop press: Sony RX0 II announced The new version comes with a selfie screen, and we'll bring you a review just as soon as it's available

Read more: 10 tips on getting the best from your Sony camera

Best waterproof camera: GoPro HERO5 Black

8. GoPro HERO5 Black

Previous generation’s GoPro HERO model still holds up

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 12MP | Lens: 14-28mm (equiv.) f/2.8 | LCD: 2in touchscreen | Waterproof: 10m/33ft | Shockproof: Not rated | Freezeproof: Not rated | Max video resolution: 4K

4K video with effective stabilisation
Voice Control is useful
Many cheaper competitors
Touchscreen can be fiddly

Belonging to a previous generation of GoPro, the HERO5 Black is still a hugely impressive camera, one that can now be picked up for a reduced price with the advent of the HERO7. Like that model it shoots 4K video, albeit at a lower frame rate than the HERO6 or HERO7, and still has the useful 2in touchscreen on its rear. Full HD video can be shot at 120fps for super-slow-motion output, and it’s possible to shoot stills in Raw format, which gives you greater flexibility to tweak them in post-production. This was also the point at which GoPro HERO cameras received dual microphones, improving audio capture. If the HERO7 Black is too dear for you, this waterproof digital camera should more than satisfy your needs.

Best waterproof camera: Fujifilm FinePix XP120

9. Fujifilm FinePix XP120

An older waterproof camera that's missing a few features, but its price makes it tempting nonetheless

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 16.4MP | Lens: 28-140mm (equiv) f/3.9-4.9 | LCD: 3in, 920k dots | Waterproof: 20m/65ft | Shockproof: 1.75m/5.8ft | Freezeproof: -10ºC/14ºF | Max video resolution: Full HD

20m waterproofing
Very affordable
Relatively narrow maximum aperture
No Bluetooth or NFC

While it's recently been superseded by the XP130, the Fujifilm XP120 is still a perfectly capable compact camera, and well worth looking into if you’re working on a tight budget. If you can live without Bluetooth and the other extra features, this is a well-specced waterproof camera that will serve you well in tough environments. Generous resolution, speedy autofocus, a bright (but sadly not touch-sensitive) rear screen and Full HD video all mean you’ll be equipped to take on whatever your adventures throw at you, while the bright colour options are an additional nice touch.

Best waterproof camera: Fujifilm Quicksnap Marine 35mm (24 Exposures)

10. Fujifilm Quicksnap Marine 35mm (24 Exposures)

This disposable film camera is perfect for families on the beach

Type: Single-use | Film format: 35mm | Exposures: 24 | Lens: 32mm f/10 | Viewfinder: Direct vision | Modes: Auto | User level: Beginner

Waterproof and disposable
Easy enough for anyone
Uncertain results
No control over anything

Yes, it does cost a few pounds more than your usual disposable camera, but you're getting a waterproof camera, for heaven's sake! Fujifilm says its plastic case is water-resistant to a depth of 10m, so it's likely you're going to be in trouble long before the camera is. The Fujifilm Quicksnap Marine comes loaded with 24 exposures of Fujifilm ISO 800 Superia colour negative film which you should be able to get developed at any regular high street chemist or online photo lab. Control is limited, obviously, in that there isn't any. The exposure is fixed at 1/125sec at f/10 so really you're going to need good outdoor light to get decent results, but that's true of any single-use camera.

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