Staff, Courtesy of Nikon

As it’s beginning to look like we may actually be able to take vacations this summer, you may already be planning an ocean-side getaway or a day trip to the beach. You’ll no doubt want to share all the fun you’ll be having via social media, but even though many smartphones are able to survive an accidental dip in the pool, they don’t particularly like saltwater and aren’t engineered for taking photos underwater. So if your plans include some snorkeling or hitting the high seas—or you simply want to unplug and leave your phone behind—a waterproof camera is the way to go. Best of all, most will be durable enough to withstand a few bumps and bruises along the way as well.

What to Consider

Waterproof Rating

If you’re buying a waterproof camera it stands to reason that the most important thing to consider is how waterproof it actually is. A camera’s waterproof capabilities are measured by how far underwater it can go. If you plan to take it with you scuba diving, look for something that can go at least 60 feet underwater. Otherwise, consider the depth of the water where you’ll be going, and buy accordingly.

Video Capabilities

Of course, these days we expect our cameras to do more than simply take still photographs, and waterproof cameras take video as well. Most waterproof cameras are capable of at least 1080p video, but if you want to film yourself swimming with the dolphins in ultra high-def, make sure it can shoot in 4K.


Naturally, you will want to post the pics of your underwater adventures to Instagram, and it’s so much easier when you can send photos straight to your phone instead of first downloading them to your laptop. As such, look for a camera that is equipped with Wi-Fi.

How We Selected

We surveyed a range of reputable sources—from Wirecutter to CNET to PCMag—for their recommendations for the best waterproof cameras, cross-checked those with user ratings on Amazon, and keeping specs and price in mind, came up with a selection of cameras for a variety of users and budgets.

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Best Overall

Olympus Tough TG-6



Waterproof: 50 feet
hockproof: 7 feet
Freezeproof: 14 degrees
Max Video Resolution
: 4k
ISO Rating: 12800

Olympus’ Tough TG-6 is considered across the board to be one of the best waterproof cameras around. Not only is it waterproof up to 50 feet, but—living up to its name—it is shockproof for falls up to 7 feet, can withstand up to 220 pounds of pressure, and is freezeproof for temperatures as low as 14 degrees. Even better, sporting a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor, it takes great photos—even in low light (it has an f/2 lens and a max ISO of 12800). 

Plus, it captures 4K video at 30 fps and has Wi-Fi, GPS, a compass, and a temperature sensor. And if that’s not enough, there is a bunch of accessories you can get it for it too.

  • Underwater Macro mode
  • 25-100mm zoom


Best for SCUBA Diving

Nikon CoolPix W300

Waterproof: 100 feet
Shockproof: 8 feet
Freezeproof: 14 degrees
Max Video Resolution: 4k
ISO Rating: 6400

The Nikon CoolPix W300 is a close runner-up to the TG-6, but though it has equal or better specs in some categories, its picture quality isn’t as good. Like the Olympus, it’s tough, with shockproofing for falls up 8 feet and freezeproofing for temperatures down to 14 degrees. 

However, its waterproof rating will be its selling point for SCUBA divers, as it can go with you down to 100 feet (twice that of the TG-6), where its built-in LED light will come in handy. Its 16MP BSI CMOS sensor is paired with an f/2.8 5x optical zoom lens, but with a max ISO of 6400, it’s not as adept in low-light situations. It records 4K video at 30 fps and is equipped with Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. 

The W300 is a great all-around camera, especially for those needing a little more depth.

  • One of the highest waterproof ratings
  • Records sound in stereo


Best Premium

SeaLife Micro 3.0



Waterproof: 200 feet
Max Video Resolution: 4k
ISO Rating: 3200

As you might have guessed from the brand name, SeaLife specializes in underwater photography. So for those with the budget, the SeaLife Micro 3.0 is a top-notch choice for capturing everything under the sea. 

The Micro can handle depths of up to 200 feet and has three built-in underwater color correction filters. It has a Sony 16MP CMOS sensor and 100-degree wide-angle lens for capturing everything in your field of view. It can record 4K video at 30fps or 1080p at 120fps, and has Wi-Fi for transferring your photos and videos to your phone. 

Its ISO maxes out at 3200, though, so if you plan on heading to the darkness of the deep sea, you might want to purchase it as a kit with one or two of SeaLife’s Sea Dragon lights.

  • Three-hour battery life
  • Sealed construction
  • Will output RAW images


Best GoPro

GoPro Hero9 Black

Waterproof: 33 feet
Max Video Resolution
: 5k

GoPro has become synonymous with action cameras. These small cameras can be mounted just about anywhere to capture everything you do on land and sea. 

The Hero9 is the top-of-the-line GoPro, but its cost isn’t significantly more than the Hero8 so you might as well go for it. It has a 23.6MP sensor for capturing 20MP photos, but video is where it shines; it can record in 5K at 30fps, 4K at 60fps, 2.7K at 120fps, and 1080p at 240fps. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can stream live to the web. 

Plus, not only does it have a 2.3-inch rear touchscreen, but it also has a 1.4-inch front display that shows a live preview. The Hero9 will only go down to 33 feet as is, but you can purchase a protective housing for extending that to 196 feet.

  • Able to change lenses
  • Lots of available accessories
  • 5K video


Best for Kids

Polaroid Underwater Camera

Waterproof: 10 feet
Max Video Resolution: 4k

Once your kids see you taking photos underwater, they are no doubt going to want to get in on the action. But as you probably won’t be too jazzed about what could potentially befall your nice camera, this one from Polaroid is a good option to give them instead. For starters, it’s available for only $60, so you won’t sweat it if the worst happens. But while it’s brightly colored, your kids won’t feel like you’ve given them a toy. 

With an 18MP CMOS sensor, it’s a capable camera and will even shoot video in 4K. And it’s equipped with Wi-Fi so they can post to Instagram, too. They can even go in the deep end of the pool with it, as it has a waterproof rating of 10 feet.

  • Inexpensive
  • Shoots 4K video
  • Built-in Flash


Best Budget

Nikon CoolPix W150

Waterproof: 33 feet
Shockproof: 5.9 feet
Max Video Resolution: 1080p

With a 13.2MP CMOS sensor, the Nikon CoolPix W150 doesn’t have the photo quality of its more sophisticated counterpart, the W300, and it’s slightly less rugged as well, with a shockproof rating of 5.9 feet. But for less than half the price of the W300, you get a camera that you can still take with you underwater up to 33 feet. And while this point-and-shoot won’t take 4K video, you still get 1080p video at 30 fps and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for transferring photos to your phone. It’s also super easy to use, with a dedicated setting to “Shoot Under Water.”

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight


Best to Use With Your Phone

SeaLife SportDiver Underwater Housing for iPhone



Waterproof: 130 feet

Although you can’t just take your iPhone with you in the ocean, you can if you house it in this case from SeaLife. This housing will let you go up to 130 feet underwater with your iPhone, while SeaLife’s SportDiver app will allow you to use your iPhone’s camera features. The housing fits all iPhones from iPhone 7 and up (including Max sizes), and has an easy-to-use shutter button and other controls. 

While the case features an O-ring seal and locking mechanism, to ensure that your phone is never damaged, it also has two internal alarms, one for moisture and one for vacuum pressure, to alert you should the seal be broken.

  • Allows you to access your iPhone’s camera features
  • Dual leak alarms
  • Costs as much as a camera

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By Harmony