Best Waterproof Cameras of 2018

Anna Burleson ·
Updated
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After two days of hands-on underwater testing and three days of testing on dry land, the Nikon Coolpix AW130 is by far the best waterproof camera we reviewed. It can withstand greater underwater depths than any of the others and its sturdy build means it should survive any adventure. Images come out clear and colorful and it also has 1080p video capability, which means it goes beyond just taking amazing pictures. The AW130’s extra features like image stabilization, long battery life, Wi-Fi capability and 473MB of internal storage make it the best underwater camera available.    

Best Overall

Nikon COOLPIX AW130

The Nikon COOLPIX AW130 is our best overall pick for its clear picture quality both in and out of the water alongside its durable build.
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Best Budget

Fujifilm FinePix XP80

With mid-range picture quality and an affordable price, the Fujifilm FinePix XP80 is our best value pick because it is incredibly durable and easy to use.
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Best Battery Life

Olympus TG-4

If you’re going on a long adventure, the Olympus TG-4 has a battery that lets you take up to 380 pictures on a single charge, the most of any camera we tested.
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Product
Price
$359.00Amazon
$399.00Amazon
$598.92Amazon
$199.00Amazon
$946.95Amazon
$137.00Amazon
Overall Rating
9.8
9.6
8.9
8.8
8.7
8.4
Durability
10
9.5
9.3
8.8
8.3
8.1
Image Quality
9.8
9.8
8.8
8.3
9.6
8.6
Features
10
10
8.9
10
9.3
7.7
Design
10
9.4
8.2
8.3
6.8
9.4
Help & Support
7.5
7.5
7.5
7.5
7.5
10
Live Chat
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Warranty
1 year
1 year
1 year
1 year
1 year
1 year
Telephone Support
Email Support
Expandable Storage
SD Card
SD Card
SD Card
SD Card
SD Card
SD Card
Weight (ounces)
7.8
8.7
7.69
6.3
11.1
4.4
Battery Type
Li-ion
Li-Ion
Li-ion
Li-ion
Li-ion
Li-ion
Display Size (inches)
3
3
2.7
2.7
3
2.7
Dimensions (W x H x D)
4.4 x 2.6 x 1.1
4.4 x 2.6 x 1.2
4.3 x 2.7 x 1.1
4 x 2.6 x 1
4.5 x 2.9 x 1.5
4.1 x 2.3 x 0.8
Battery Life (number of photos)
370
380
300
210
220
250
Internal Storage
473 MB
55 MB
Not Specified
96 MB
No Memory
220 MB
Picture Effects
Focus Lock
Wi-Fi Functions
N/A
N/A
N/A
Panorama
Face Detection
Self-Timer
Image Stabilizer
Video Resolution
1080p
1080p
1080p
1080p
1080p
720p
Audio Recordings
GPS
N/A
Resolution (megapixel)
16
16
12.1
16.4
14.2
16.1
Maximum ISO Setting
6400
6400
3200
6400
6400
6400
Underwater Images
A-
A
B+
B-
A-
C+
Digital Zoom
4x
4x
4x
2x
Not Specified
4x
Dry-land Images
A-
B+
B+
C
A
C
Red Eye Reduction
Focal Length (mm)
4.3 - 21.5
4.5 - 18.00
5.0 - 25
5.0 - 25.0
Varies Based On Lens
4.5 - 18.00
Optical Zoom
5x
4x
5x
5x
Not Specified
4x
Minimum ISO Setting
125
100
100
100
160
100
Shutter Speed (seconds)
1-1/4000
1/2-1/2000
1-1/1600
1/4-1/2000
1-1/1600
8-1/1300
Shockproof (feet)
7
7
6.5
5.8
6.6
4.9
Waterproof (feet)
100
50
82
50
49
26
Freezeproof (degrees)(Fahrenheit)
14
14
14
14
14
14
Dustproof
N/A
N/A
Best Overall

Nikon COOLPIX AW130

You can beat up the Nikon COOLPIX AW130 and even use it underwater, but this camera still takes fantastic images. It is rated to survive underwater depths of 98 feet for up to an hour, deeper than any camera we looked at.
If you happen to be in a particularly wintery part of the world, this camera is also freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The AW130 can also be dropped from 7 feet without getting damaged. Durability isn’t all this camera does well. It has an adjustable shutter speed that goes all the way up to 1/4000 of a second so you can take photos of really fast-moving objects. The ISO is adjustable from 125-6400 to accommodate almost any lighting you're going to encounter. For our underwater tests, we put the camera on a tripod and placed it in a pool to take photos of an image underwater. Then, we compared the resulting photos. While the COOLPIX AW130’s underwater photos came out with some slight color deterioration in our tests, they were still on the better end of the cameras we reviewed. This camera also comes with a bunch of editing options like red eye reduction, retouching, cropping and image stabilization through its vibration reduction feature. It also comes with 473MB of internal storage in case your own SD card gets full. With Wi-Fi and GPS capability, the AW130 really does offer everything you need from a durable camera.
Pros
  • It can function in up to 100 feet of water.
  • The battery life is impressive.
  • It comes with the most internal storage of any camera we tested.
Cons
  • The AW130 is rather expensive.
  • Other cameras take brighter underwater photos.
  • Live chat troubleshooting isn't available on the Nikon website.
$336.95Amazon
Best Budget

Fujifilm FinePix XP80

Its shiny, sleek design doesn't feel very durable, but the Fujifilm FinePix XP80 is rated for up to 50 feet underwater and can survive drops of nearly 6 feet. The 2.7-inch display is easy to use as well.
The XP80 has a maximum image resolution of 16 megapixels and the ISO ranges from 100-6400, so you can use it in all kinds of light. The shutter speed of up to 1/2000 of a second is standard and the number of pictures it can take on a single charge – 210 – is enough for most activities. Like most of the cameras we reviewed, the XP80 has several additional features including a self-timer, Wi-Fi compatibility, image stabilization and video recording in 1080p. This camera's image quality is average. Underwater colors weren't very vibrant, and blues showed up a little purple in our dry tests. We also experienced some graininess with zoomed-in photos. That being said, this camera is substantially less expensive than others we reviewed. If you're looking for a device that takes pretty good photos without costing a fortune, this is a good option.
Pros
  • It is an inexpensive option.
  • The 16.4 megapixel resolution is the highest of any camera in our lineup.
  • It comes with 96 MB of internal storage.
Cons
  • Other cameras took better quality photos.
  • Using zoom causes further image distortion.
  • It's lacking in battery life.
$169.95Amazon
Best Battery Life

Olympus TG-4

If you're going on an adventure and you're unsure when you'll have access to electricity, the Olympus TG-4 is ideal because of its long battery life.
This camera can take up to 380 photos on a single charge, the most of any camera we reviewed. You can submerge this camera in up to 50 feet of water and drop it from up to 7 feet without worrying about damaging it. Along with its impressive battery life and ability to withstand the elements, this camera takes crisp, bright images. While some underwater cameras produce discolored underwater photos, the TG-4 shot vibrant photos in our tests. Photos taken out of the water turned out well though not quite as clear as some other models. This underwater digital camera also includes all the extra features we looked for, like video capture, image stabilization, face detection, Wi-Fi and GPS. The lengthy battery life and impressive feature set make this an ideal camera for capturing your adventures off the grid.
Pros
  • It has long battery life.
  • This device takes the best underwater photos of any camera we reviewed.
  • It can withstand a drop from 7 feet.
Cons
  • Other cameras take better pictures on dry land.
  • The optical zoom only goes 4x.
  • It's rather expensive.
$399.00Amazon

How We Tested 

After first researching waterproof cameras online, we ordered the top devices and tested them ourselves. We performed image quality testing above water for three days and under water for two days.

For our dry-land image testing, we set up a controlled environment so each camera had the exact same lighting and positioning. We took pictures of our test scene at every ISO available on the camera. Then we compared the images and evaluated them based on accurate color replication, color saturation, sharpness and clarity. The cameras that produced the most accurate and best quality images were given the highest grades.

The underwater image testing was conducted in an indoor pool to eliminate lighting variables. We placed each camera on a tripod and, using the underwater mode, captured images of the same underwater scene located at the bottom of the pool. If the camera did not feature an underwater mode, we used the auto settings. We compared the images closely to determine the best ones. The cameras that produced the best underwater images received the highest scores.

What Key Features to Look for When Buying a Waterproof Camera 

Like most modern digital cameras, waterproof cameras have a wide range of available options and features. You can adjust image quality through exposure and shutter speed or even add special effects. However, the most important additional feature is the ability to shoot video. Most of the cameras on our lineup shoot in true HD 1080p, while some capture lower pixel ratios of 720p and standard definition. In addition, some of the cameras also feature Wi-Fi connectivity and GPS tagging.

Storage & Battery Life 
Most of the cameras we reviewed include a rechargeable Li-ion battery. Typically, these will allow for over 300 shots on a full charge, depending on usage and shooting environment. The ability to take over 300 shots before a recharge or replacement is optimal. 

Size & Weight

For those packing for a hiking trip, every ounce matters. Fortunately, these cameras are very light, most weighing under half a pound. There are a few bulkier cameras at close to 5 inches wide, but when we used them in the pool, they were easier to hold securely. For outdoor adventures, we recommend small and light cameras, but for underwater photography we lean toward large and heavy.

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