One of the most exciting and literally breathtaking activities you can do when you’re on vacation is to go snorkeling.
The crystal-clear waters, the fascinating array of plants and vibrant, colorful marine life.
It’s serene, relaxing, educational and uplifting. It can make the difference between a good holiday and a great one.
Unless you run into a great white.
But what could make this experience even more memorable?
That’s right – being able to snap brilliant photographs while you’re exploring the alien world under the waves.
Underwater camera technology has never been better, but while the scuba diving camera equipment can be exorbitantly expensive, it’s much more manageable for the snorkeler.
I present then, the best underwater cameras for snorkeling, with a buyer’s guide and FAQ section to follow.
Because down where it’s wetter it is much better under the sea.
- TOP 18 Best Underwater Cameras for Snorkeling 2020
- Kodak Weekend Underwater Disposable Camera
- Davola Action Camera
- Suntak Underwater Digital Camera
- Pellor Waterproof Digital Camera
- Fujifilm FinePix XP80 Waterproof Digital Camera
- Nikon Coolpix W150 Waterproof Camera
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS30 Digital Camera
- Kodak Pixpro SP1 Action Camera
- Ricoh WG-60 Red Waterproof Camera
- Fujifilm FinePix XP140 Digital Camera
- Nikon Coolpix W300 Waterproof Digital Camera
- GoPro HERO7 Black Camera
- DJI OSMO Action Camera
- Sony 1.0-Type Sensor Ultra-Compact Camera
- Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera
- SeaLife DC1400 Reef Edition Underwater Camera
- Canon PowerShot Digital Camera
- Waterproof Camera Float
- How to Choose the Best Camera for Snorkeling – a Buyer’s Guide
TOP 18 Best Underwater Cameras for Snorkeling 2020
Kodak Weekend Underwater Disposable Camera
Review: We’ll start off at the very budget-friendly (and low quality) end of the scale, but with something that will still offer some cheap, harmless fun at a fraction of the cost of other cameras.
The disposable camera still exists in this day and age, offering 27 exposures on 35mm film and is suitable for use up to 12 feet below the water – which is perfect for your snorkeling needs.
Kodak needs little introduction as a camera and photographic company, so it’s no surprise that this is a decent throwaway that is useful for most water-based activities.
It weighs just 6.4 ounces and comes with a convenient carry strap so you don’t drop the thing on the seafloor.
It might not be the best cheap underwater camera for snorkeling, but it certainly is the cheapest! Then again, it does have significant limitations.
- Great price.
- Uses film.
- Can’t view your pictures.
- Taking a risk that shots won’t come out.
- Environmental concerns with plastic waste.
- Nowhere near the quality of more expensive cameras.
Davola Action Camera
Review: You have to admit that at this price, you might as well try this action camera out before spending about ten times as much on the market leaders.
Housed in its casing (which is included in the package), this is waterproof to 100 feet, and offers 1080FHD recording with 12 megapixel still photography.
It features a 170 degree wide-angle lens for more accurate motion capture, with a two-inch LCD display so you can see what you’re shooting.
It comes with a whole host of attachments and accessories, and even has WiFi capabilities for getting your footage and photographs on social media faster.
It charges in three hours with a standard USB charger (sold separately) and will last about 90 minutes per battery, with two included.
- Outstanding price for what you get.
- Packed with features.
- Wifi capabilities.
- Wide angle lens.
- Loads of accessories.
- I’m not going to fault it. Even if I could find one I wouldn’t write it here.
Suntak Underwater Digital Camera
Review: This Suntak budget waterproof camera has the nice touch of having a digital screen front and back – which is a real plus point for snapping the best possible pictures or motion capture with the obligatory selfie in mind.
It offers an excellent 24 megapixel camera for stills, and 1080P for video recording.
There are plenty of functions, with continuous shooting, flash, anti-shake, face detection and smile capture. Modes include portrait, scenery and beach – which you’ll most likely be needing.
There’s an optical zoom of 8x magnification, and a rechargeable Li-ion battery included along with the USB cable charger.
The camera is easy to use and could be a very good option for the kids or any technophobes out there.
- Excellent price.
- Plenty of features.
- Dual screens.
- Not as sturdy or well made as more expensive versions.
Pellor Waterproof Digital Camera
Review: Suitable for use up to five meters underwater, this Pellor waterproof camera offers a 1080P video with an eight-megapixel still shot. There’s an 8x digital zoom, all the usual modes and features and it comes with its own 16GB memory card – which is a handy bonus when it comes to these cameras as you normally have to buy one separately.
It’s super-easy to operate, with a rechargeable battery included that simply slides into the unit and locks closed.
It is capable of recording up to two hours of continuous video when fully charged, with an anti-fog lens and anti-shake technology to ensure your pictures are bright, crisp and clear.
- Easy to operate.
- SD card included.
- Long battery life.
- Choice of colors.
- Picture quality won’t be as good as higher-end models.
Fujifilm FinePix XP80 Waterproof Digital Camera
Review: Moving into the well-known brands now and first up with this Fujifilm FinePix waterproof camera.
It’s waterproof down to 50 feet – more than enough for your snorkeling needs, is freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and shockproof from a height of 5.8 feet. Oh, and dustproof, too.
It’s a solid little camera that offers a 16.2 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor that delivers high-quality images in low light.
The continuous shooting mode is capable of capturing ten frames per second, and it has the ability to record full HD movies with the touch of a button – ensuring that it is super easy to use.
You can even link it up to your electronic device for wireless image and footage transfers. A 5x optical zoom with Intelligent digital zoom doubles the zoom range (10x) with excellent image stabilization.
- Attractive, sporty design.
- Excellent price for the quality.
- Name to trust.
- Choice of colors available.
- Impressive zoom capability.
- Four-way proof design.
- Colors will bleed blue in deeper water.
Nikon Coolpix W150 Waterproof Camera
Review: Arguably the world’s finest camera company, Nikon are certainly up there with their quality equipment and gear. This is a nice little underwater camera that can reach depths of up to 32 feet, is shockproof from around six feet, and freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
It comes compatible with Nikon’s SnapBridge app for new features and functions in conjunction with your smartphone or other devices, with Wifi and Bluetooth capabilities.
The camera itself is 13.2 megapixel, with a 3x optical zoom glass lens and 6x dynamic fine zoom. 1080P video capture is available, with a generous seven-inch display screen so you can really see what you’re shooting.
The camera weighs 6.3 ounces including the battery and memory card – which is sold separately.
- Name to trust in photography.
- Tough and durable.
- Large LCD screen.
- Easy to use.
- Choice of colors.
- Reports of the app being glitchy.
- Shorter battery life than other models.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS30 Digital Camera
Review: The Lumix series from Panasonic has been an extremely successful and popular line from the tech giants, and this is their underwater version.
It’s what comes with it that is the real winner here though, as it’s an outstanding package of practical accessories.
Along with the camera (waterproof down to 24 feet, 16 megapixels and 3x optical zoom), the kit includes a desktop tripod, 64 GB memory card, camera case, floating strap, memory card case, card reader, screen protectors, cleaning kit, and photo recovery software.
The camera offers a host of features, including time-lapse shot and creative panorama, attractive filter effects, and 720P video capture resolution. For the price and what you get – you really can’t go wrong.
- Outstanding package.
- Easy-to-use camera.
- Large memory card.
- Choice of two colors.
- Picture quality not as good as more expensive models – as you might expect.
Kodak Pixpro SP1 Action Camera
Review: Something a little different now with this Kodak sports camera with a funky, unique design that appears to be geared towards video capture.
Still, it offers 14 megapixel images with an advanced CMOS sensor, while the unit is waterproof down to 32 feet, shockproof to 6.5 feet, freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit and dustproof.
You can capture all the high-speed action with 1080p full-HD video or full-res images in 10fps with a push of a button.
Switch the setting to high speed movie in 120 fps for time-lapse videos in slo-mo with some excellent detail.
It features electronic image stabilization to reduce any blurry shots or video. Wireless connectivity is also built in to share your memories in double-quick time.
- Tough and durable unit.
- Wireless ability
- 160 degree lens.
- Loads of mounting accessories included.
- No zoom ability.
- On the heavy side for an action cam.
- Side LCD screen won’t be for everybody.
Ricoh WG-60 Red Waterproof Camera
Review: A world-class photographic equipment company from Japan, Ricoh enter the fray here with this stylish and rugged underwater camera that looks like it’s built like a tank.
It comes with a high-performance image-processing engine and a back-illuminated CMOS sensor which boasts high optical efficiency for effective 16 megapixel point-and-shoot stills.
It’s just about bomb-proof and can be submerged up to an excellent 45 feet, shooting continuously for two hours on a full charge.
It has an underwater mode, which adds red tones to compensate for the washed-out blues you often get with cheaper cameras, and a host of other features that should keep most users happy.
- As tough as they come.
- Quality build, make and construction.
- Underwater mode.
- Good maximum depth.
- Macro photo option.
- It might be a bit chunky looking for some.
Fujifilm FinePix XP140 Digital Camera
Review: I’m including Fujifilm’s XP140 underwater camera as a step up from the XP80, and because it gives you another option over the Panasonic Lumix for the sheer amount of accessories that are included in the package.
The camera itself is the standard four-way proof model, and can shoot up to depths of an excellent 65 feet, with a 16.4 megapixel sensor.
It offers wireless transfer and loads of other useful features, but like the Lumix, it’s the additional gear it comes with that catches the eye. A 48 GB SD card, case, floating strap, cleaning wipes, tripod, and more are all included in this excellent bundle, while with the camera itself there is an increase in quality from previous entries.
You can also use high-speed video to create a 4x slow-motion effect, or create action-packed time-lapse recordings. Great camera, even better package.
- Awesome accessories included.
- Excellent max depth.
- Sporty design.
- Choice of colors.
- If you find one, let me know.
Nikon Coolpix W300 Waterproof Digital Camera
Review: Time for a more serious underwater effort from Nikon here, with this 16 megapixel camera that is waterproof to a superb 100 feet, shockproof at eight feet, dustproof and freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
It can capture 4K Ultra HD video, and includes built-in GPS, eCompass, altimeter, Wifi and Bluetooth.
Image stabilization and a 5x optical zoom are also factored in, with long battery life from a unit that weighs just 8.2 ounces.
There are 20 scene modes to choose from, as well as a useful LED light that could come in handy when darkness falls.
As with other Nikons, it’s compatible with the SnapBridge app, and for an extra ten bucks or so, you can get this model with the same accessories as the Fujifilm and Lumix. Check that out here if you’re after all the bells and whistles.
- Name to trust.
- Quality construction.
- Packed with useful electronic features.
- Choice of colors.
- Again, the associated software might have some issues.
GoPro HERO7 Black Camera
Review: In the fast-paced world of action cameras and the people who use them, GoPro need little introduction.
They’ve been the market leaders in this game for some time now (2002), and the HERO7 is one of their flagship models.
Action cameras are smaller and more portable than your average point and shoots, with super-smooth video and 12 megapixel stills. They’re known worldwide for capturing outstanding video footage, while this model is waterproof to 33 feet without the need for the usual housing.
It’s packed with a load of other tech-speak features and modes it would take me pages to include here – suffice to say these devices are up there with the best in the business.
- Market leading tech.
- Name to trust.
- Proven track record.
- Super compact device.
- Software can have issues unless you have the right specifications.
- Really needs all the attachments to get the most out of it.
DJI OSMO Action Camera
Review: GoPro’s closest rival offers the advantage of the dual screens, which is definitely a huge draw for the selfie-obsessed Instagram generation.
Their RockSteady feature is excellent for reducing shake – and is one of the significant plus-points for this unit which garners a lot of praise.
It’s waterproof without housing down to 36 feet, with a hydrophobic coating on the rear touchscreen – which in itself is also a really practical addition.
It boasts custom exposure settings of up to 120 seconds, so you can even capture the night sky with this camera, as well as an excellent 8x slow motion with 1080p resolution and 240fps.
GoPro might be the household name, but these guys are gunning for the title.
- Excellent features throughout.
- Dual screens.
- RockSteady feature a major plus point.
- Everything you need is included.
- It’s more expensive than the GoPro – but that’s a minor issue when it offers dual screens.
Sony 1.0-Type Sensor Ultra-Compact Camera
Review: Not to be outdone, Sony enter the action camera game with this RX0 that is full of their trademark quality and expertise (although it’s not marketed as such – it’s more targeted at videographers).
Its matchbox size is a big plus point for those who like their tech to be super-lightweight and portable, while it has a maximum depth without housing to 33 feet, as well as being dust, shock and freeze-proof.
It’s the specs that always impress with a Sony, and the 24mm1 F4 ZEISS Tessar T* lens delivers high-resolution images that can rival DSLRs.
There’s obviously a wireless control option so you can operate the camera with the use of a smartphone, and it captures footage as if it were a movie.
- Outstanding quality.
- Name to trust.
- Zeiss lens.
- Tiny and lightweight.
- Not specifically marketed as an action camera.
- No image stabilization.
Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera
Review: Olympus get in on the act with their TG-6 underwater camera, a return to the point-and-shoot models. It’s waterproof to 50 feet, shockproof to seven feet, freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and anti-fog.
It boasts a high-resolution F2. 0 lens, maximum 8x zoom, true pic VIII, and back-illuminated CMOS image sensor for super-sharp pictures.
A solid macro feature is also available, which comprises of four different macro shooting modes, with magnified shooting from as little as one centimeter away from the end of the lens.
4K movie and Full HD 120 fps high-speed movies can be recorded, while the 12 megapixel camera will snap some crystal-clear stills with excellent performance in low light conditions. There’s a 4x optical zoom and the whole unit weighs just 2.12 ounces.
- Very tough and durable.
- Name to trust.
- Five underwater shooting modes.
- Excellent macro capabilities.
- Image stabilization isn’t the best.
SeaLife DC1400 Reef Edition Underwater Camera
Review: We’re upping the ante here and venturing into the realms of professional underwater photography, with an underwater camera that can survive at a depth of an astonishing 200 feet.
I doubt you’ll make it down that far snorkeling, but if you’re adding scuba diving to your vacation then this might just be for you.
It offers six underwater modes for shooting in any conditions under the waves, a wide-angle fish-eye lens to capture mesmerizing pictures and footage of the marine world with a 14 megapixel lens and super macro features.
For a true underwater camera, it’s also one of the simplest to operate, with a user-friendly interface, that even a noob can get to grips with.
There’s also a sneaky “spy mode,” where the camera automatically shoots continuous pictures at set time intervals. Perfect for spying on cheating turtles.
- Incredible max depth.
- Solid build.
- Quality lens and shooting options.
- Easy to use.
- Overkill for snorkeling.
Canon PowerShot Digital Camera
Review: Alright, so I know I’m cheating here a bit as this isn’t actually an underwater camera – so don’t even try it as one.
However, this Canon PowerShot is one of the best ever point-and-shoot cameras, with a large 1.0 inch, 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor that helps capture high-quality images and videos with a wide dynamic range – even in low light.
I’ve included it here because you can use it with its own underwater housing (follow the link) which can take it down to an excellent depth of 130 feet.
The camera has a whole host of other world-class features – including wireless connectivity – but simply the fact that you can take this level of quality underwater is enough of a selling point. If you’ve got the cash, that is.
- One of the best ever cameras in its class.
- Versatile for any situation.
- Underwater housing sold separately.
- More fragile than sports models.
Waterproof Camera Float
Review: Yes, it isn’t a camera, but if you’re taking your device swimming or snorkeling then I would highly recommend this floatation device to keep your electronics from sinking.
It’s made to be compatible with cameras or smartphones weighing up to seven ounces – so it won’t be useful on heavier kit, but for the most part, it will look after almost every underwater camera in this review.
The bright colors ensure it’s easy to locate if it does come away from you, and it can also be used to protect your other belongings such as keys, sunglasses, etc.
If you’re taking the best waterproof camera for snorkeling to the beach, don’t leave home without this.
- Protects your kit.
- Choice of colors.
- Great price.
- Doesn’t take photos…
How to Choose the Best Camera for Snorkeling – a Buyer’s Guide
Cameras can be complicated devices – particularly the underwater kind and especially if you’re not familiar with them.
But fear not, for this buyer’s guide will assist you in choosing the best camera for snorkeling to suit you and your budget.
Here’s what to look out for.
Now, this might be a very good idea. An underwater camera should really be waterproof.
The question to ask is – to what depth can you take the device?
Different cameras have different maximum depth levels – if you take your camera below this, you’re seriously risking completely destroying it.
Choose a camera based on your needs – if you’re spending a day at the beach, kayaking or enjoying a pool party, all you’ll need is something that can handle around 12 to 24 feet.
For snorkeling, look for a camera that can survive up to 50 feet just to be on the safe side.
If your planning on diving deeper, or you just want peace of mind that you can push it to the limits if necessary, look for a camera that can survive over 65 + feet.
And for the scuba divers among you, you’ll need more than something that’s simply waterproof.
Shock, Freeze, and Dustproof
As well as being waterproof, most of the best cameras for snorkeling will also be shockproof, freezeproof and dustproof.
This is generally because such cameras are marketed for rugged use outdoors in a variety of conditions and climates.
It’s no good having a waterproof camera at the beach if it’s going to clog up with sand.
Likewise, if you’re shooting in colder temperatures – either below the waves or not – you want to know your device can handle it.
Or, if the camera is generally being used by butterfingered children, then it doesn’t smash into a million pieces when inevitably dropped.
And like the maximum waterproof depth, they all have their limitations, so make sure you check these figures before making your purchase and throwing your camera into the dirt from a height of three feet at 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
As with most cameras, you hear a lot about megapixels and how many megapixels a camera can offer.
But what exactly are megapixels – and how many should I be snorkeling with?
And if a camera has more megapixels – is it automatically a better camera?
Rather than write an entire article on this complex consideration, I would instead direct your attention to the excellent video below – particularly if you’re a megapixel noob.
For snorkeling, however, it’s been suggested that 16 megapixels is your optimum choice. I seriously doubt you really need any more than that.
Size and Weight
For snorkeling, you’re going to want something that is relatively lightweight and as compact as possible.
You don’t want to be restricted in your movements while you’re out in the water – and certainly larger and heavier cameras will do that.
Luckily, most snorkeling cameras are built with this in mind, easily fitting into the palm of your hand or attaching to your wrist or other appendages with the right mounts or straps.
And that brings me nicely onto the next consideration:
Point-and-Shoot vs Action Camera – Which is Better for Snorkeling?
You’ll no doubt have noticed there are two distinctly different styles of camera for use in a “sports” environment.
The standard point-and-shoot camera has been around for years, with these particular versions adapted for use in various conditions, built to be tough, durable and suitable for the outdoors.
Action cameras have been around since the early 2000s, and have taken the market by storm – targeted specifically at adventurous types who like doing stuff like throwing themselves off cliffs.
But which is better for snorkeling?
Again, I could write an entire article dedicated to this exact topic (note to self – maybe I will) but for now, here’s the TLDR version:
Point-and-shoot cameras are much better for still shots. They don’t require protective housing, they’re more versatile for everyday use, generally have more features, have a larger LCD display and offer digital and optical zoom.
Action cameras are much smaller and more compact (many the size of a matchbox) and they can be mounted in multiple ways for a more hands-free experience while snorkeling. Video capture is far superior – which is a major advantage if you’re only shooting footage.
Typically, action cameras tend to be more expensive than most “sport” point-and-shoots – although there’s no hard and fast rule to this at all.
That’s it in a nutshell, and for more information, see the video below – but it really is up to you to decide what is going to best meet your needs.
Now, you need to do your research carefully when it comes to this, as sometimes it’s not as simple as just taking a good camera in a protective housing underwater.
Good underwater cameras or cameras for snorkeling, will offer several shooting modes to compensate for the blue wash-out you will often see in pictures taken beneath the waves.
They’ll likely add more reds into the spectrum so you can get more vibrant, discernible colors.
I’m not exactly an expert in the technical jargon or how image sensors work, but it’s just to give you heads to keep an eye out for these features when choosing your particular model.
Why do I Need a Camera for Snorkeling?
You don’t really, you’re perfectly free to enjoy the beauty under the waves without one.
But I remember scuba diving and snorkeling in some of the world’s great dive spots – and I never had a camera to capture these memories.
Or to post a cool new Facebook profile picture.
You don’t have to have a good camera for snorkeling – but you might regret it if you don’t.
And you should certainly take a look at these awesome water shoes for rocky beaches – which I would say you really need for any water based activities in the great outdoors.
You never know when you’re going to step on a sea urchin.
What is the Best Camera for Snorkeling?
That, my friend, is generally a matter of opinion. What’s right for one snorkeler might not be right for another.
To keep it succinct, I would say at the very least you need a camera that has a decent maximum depth capability, is protected from other elements, has an underwater correction, is compact with a good LCD screen and decent megapixel limit.
For that reason, if I was pushed, I’m leaning towards the Nikon Coolpix W300 as my point-and-shoot choice.
And the DJI OSMO Action is my pick for the action camera variety – those dual screens are a winner.
Is GoPro a Good Underwater Camera?
A reminder that GoPro is the brand name, so from here out I’ll refer to them as action cameras.
Action cameras are good as underwater cameras, but they do have their limitations (see above).
They’re certainly excellent as travel cameras, so if that’s what you’re looking for you should check out the best cameras for travel videos article for more choice in this department.
To sum it up, however, I’d say that if you’re looking to capture video, then an action camera is your best bet.
For stills, use a point-and-shoot.
But really, it’ll all come down to personal preference and budget.
How do You Take Pictures Underwater?
Like you take them above water!
But, all joking aside, there’s plenty to consider when you’re shooting stills or capturing video under the waves, so check out the awesome videos below for some top tips to seriously improve your underwater photography skills.
Can I Use My Smartphone for Snorkeling Photography?
By all means – so long as you have a good underwater housing for the device, there’s no reason why your smartphone won’t be able to take underwater shots and video.
Except, it’s just never going to be as good as a dedicated underwater camera – and even if you do have a decent case, you are still risking damaging or losing your phone in an environment they’re just not designed for.
It’s up to you if you want to take that gamble, but I would rather have a proven underwater camera I know I can trust and that will net me brilliant shots every time.
Capturing underwater photography is a sure-fire way to take your snorkeling experience to the next level.
And you can certainly do that with any of the devices in this review – it’s going to be a tricky decision.
Let me know in the comments section what you think is the best underwater camera for snorkeling and why.