Special moments require special gear. Snorkeling is one of those moments. There are very few things in the world more exhilarating. What's even more fun and memorable than the moment itself, are the people you share them with. Snorkeling is one of those fun things we tend to do on a special day with our loved ones around us.
What happens, though, when you try to capture one of these moments and find that the camera you have with you crumbles underwater or just isn't up to the task? Massive disappointment, that's what happens!
You’ll be glad to know that it is extremely easy and highly affordable to avoid this disappointment. All you have to do is know how to identify which particular cameras are the most fitting for the job.
To help make your decision easier, we have compiled below an intensive list of the best cameras for snorkeling available on the market today.
These cameras have been carefully vetted to ensure that they possess all the attributes you would need for a solid camera to capture your snorkeling experience. These include ruggedness and solid performance, water resistance, freeze resistance, and even shock resistance.
We have also ensured that the majority of the entries on the list are cameras that are very easy to use. We understand that most folks going on snorkeling trips aren't professional photographers—just regular people looking to get the perfect shots on their journey. This is why some of these devices are so simple that even kids can use them fairly easily.
Now that we've established the premise, we present to you: the best cameras for snorkeling.
8 Best Cameras for Snorkeling
1. Olympus TG-6
The very first entry on our list is the ever-solid Olympus Tough TG-6. This camera is so tough, it literally has the word in its name. It is the latest in a line of rugged cameras known as the "Olympus Tough" Series.
Alongside its toughness, it has a host of impressive features, including high performance and durability. Not only is it waterproof (up to 15m), dustproof, and freeze-proof (up to -10° Celsius), it is also shockproof and can handle being crushed under a weight of 100 kg or less. Now that is a rugged camera.
Even if you happen to be diving in the mountains, you most likely won't be needing a lot more than these features on a snorkeling trip.
Moving on to its more detailed features and performance, the TG-6 also doesn't disappoint in this regard. Underneath its rugged exterior, it sports a cool 12 megapixel sensor with a solid focal range of 25 to 100mm for efficient coverage.
You also get state-of-the-art technology in its optical stabilization, a feature which helps the camera achieve a high level of smoothness in its photos and even videos. Then there's its automatic modes that make taking great shots a lot easier for both professionals and newbies.
In terms of ISO capabilities, the TG-6 offers an ISO range of 100-12800, and an aperture range of f/2 to f/4.9. It has a wireless option for connectivity, along with a GPS, thermometer, and a compass.
Other pretty impressive features of the TG-6 are its 4k video resolution, 20.0 frames-per-second continuous shooting, sensor-shift image stabilization, time-lapse recording, and face detection focus.
2. Nikon Coolpix W300
For those only familiar with the super high-tech Nikon DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, this simple rugged camera may seem like an anomaly, but it isn't at all. It is a device specially made for braving rugged terrains and, of course, taking amazing pictures on snorkeling trips.
A few of the attractive features offered by the Coolpix are a 16 megapixel resolution, 4K video capability, and 5x optical zoom. These alone are enough to put it ahead of a number of competitors.
And then, of course, we have the immense ruggedness that makes it so perfect for snorkeling. Just like the Olympus TG6, the Coolpix W300 is also dustproof, waterproof at 100 feet, freeze-proof, and even shockproof up to 7.9 feet.
It also has a maximum ISO of 6400, and a quite impressive low light capability, especially for its class and price range. Its focal range is 24-120 mm, with an aperture range of f/2.8 and f/4.9.
It might also interest you to know that the Coolpix W300 includes an impressive autofocus, built-in flash, 7 frames-per-second continuous shooting, and of course durability.
Finally, the W3000 also gives you the ability to enjoy impressive automated functions. Don't get us wrong, you still get a good deal of control if you want it. But if what you want is for a camera to take things into its own hands and make the decisions for you, the W3000 Nikon Coolpix does a pretty great job of that, too.
3. GoPro Hero8 Black
Very few cameras are as popular on adventurous trips as the GoPros. These devices have revolutionised the way we preserve memories on our trips, and the Hero8 Black is just the latest iteration in this line.
The Hero8, as is customary of GoPro devices, helps you get the best angles, offers amazing stabilization, and gives you shooting options that you don't get with other devices.
And then it adds its own improved features and specifications to the mix. Among these are its highly responsive interface and more shooting options.
There's a built-in mounting attachment for more stability, and, obviously, 4K resolution shooting.
And if all these are not appealing enough for you, perhaps the highly portable, streamlined design, its stabilized time-lapse videos, and a more solid battery life than its predecessors would be enough.
They certainly are for us.
Another aspect worth highlighting in the Hero8 Black is its image stabilization. We've mentioned this before, but given the fact that the Hero7 was actually okay in this sense, and the Hero8 Black is a lot better, we can all agree this is worth reiterating.
At any rate, on your snorkeling trips, you'll most likely be shooting with lots of vibrations and movements, and will find this feature, and the device, to be very handy.
Other notable features of the Hero8 Black include built-in flash, microphones, and USB-C cable. The device comes with two GoPro rechargeable batteries.
4. AKASO EK7000 4K
Ridiculously affordable and pleasantly attractive, the Akaso EK7000 is the cheapest camera on our list and is capable of producing some of the best final outputs. How does it manage this? By having a laser focus target, of course. Literally and figuratively.
It manages to focus all its attention on one thing: impressive performance in extreme environments. It may not look as rugged as some of the other cameras on the list, but it would be a really big mistake to underestimate this camera.
It is waterproof up to 100 feet, and sports a solid shiny case capable of taking a beating. It also offers 4K Ultra HD shooting at 25 frames per second and a 12 megapixel native resolution that shoots up to 30 frames per second.
Combining both properties—ruggedness and impressive resolution—along with its ridiculously cheap price, you get a camera that is a legitimate steal by any metric you choose to look at.
Other impressive features of this device are its durable battery life, significantly longer than any of its previous models; a wireless wrist remote control for framing, taking photos, and recording videos; built-in Wi-Fi and HDMI capabilities; and a portable design convenient to move around freely with.
The device comes with two rechargeable 1050 mAh batteries, each capable of lasting up to ninety minutes. It also has a 170° wide-angle lens for capturing a wider range of subjects, and handy accessories, such as a bicycle stand, mount and clip, bandages, tethers, and a protective backdoor.
5. DJI Osmo Action
Jumping right into the Osmo Action's exciting features, we have the presence of a dual screen—one in the front that makes framing easier, and another in the back that ensures you get a clear responsive display.
Another feature is the handful of "advanced technological innovations" the company is quite proud of, such as the RockSteady tech that makes use of complex algorithms for stabilization, even in environments with lots of movement and vibration.
Then there's the 1/2.3" CMOS sensor with 12 megapixel native resolution and 145° wide angle for even more coverage. And of course, keeping with the uniformity of all the cameras on our list, the DJI Osmo Action shoots 4K.
You also have an 8x slow motion feature for even more dramatic clarity and detail. This feature, by the way, shoots 240 frames per second. Then there's the time-lapse videos that are getting more and more popular lately.
In terms of ruggedness, which of course is the most important feature of a camera that's going to be used on snorkeling trips, the Osmo Action offers what a lot of previous DJI Osmos don't—11m waterproof capability, temperature resistant at up to -10° Celsius, and a hydrophobic protection on the rear touchscreen.
As if all these features aren't impressive enough, it also features solid batteries that are made to adapt to extreme cold environments.
The Osmo Action comes with a handful of accessories, which include a camera frame, locking screw, flat adhesive mount, and curved adhesive mount.
6. Sony RX0 II
The Sony RXO II is a portable, stacked, back-illuminated camera belonging to the same class as the GoPro and Osmo Action, especially because they are all rugged cameras with great stabilization meant to be your go-to device for family trips and vacations—including snorkeling.
The RXI II is capable of capturing high-quality images and videos underwater for a sustained amount of time (its battery life is 120 minutes and can get 240 shots in that time).
It shoots 4K, has a 50cm focus range, a native resolution of 15.3 megapixels at 16 frames per second, and, as mentioned earlier, has some really impressive image stabilization capability.
In terms of performance and ruggedness, the Sony RXO II holds its own among the other entries on our list thanks to its water resistant exterior. It is also shock and crush resistant to an impressive degree.
As a special feature, the RXO II has a built-in BIONZ X image processing technology, which enables its light conversion mechanism to render shots and frames with even more detail and realism.
Its face focusing and autofocus speed are other things worth mentioning about the device. Both are faster, more accurate, and generally more impressive than previous models and some contemporary competitors.
7. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS30R
Next on our list of best underwater cameras is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS30R. This Lumix functions as both an underwater camera and a camcorder. It has an impressive built-in image stabilizer, and 220 megabytes of native memory for storage.
Having more storage, of course, is always a convenient perk to have on any trip, and ten times more so when your destination is underwater.
The DMC-TS30R is also as tough as they come. It is without a doubt one of the best on the list in terms of ruggedness and durability. It is waterproof to 8m, shockproof to 1.5m, and freeze-proof up to -10 degree Celsius. The cold waters have no chance.
Technically, it also has enough features and specifications to set it apart from similar devices. As we mentioned earlier, its image stabilization compares to the best of the best, and is capable of correcting blurs that may occur from the slightest hand misplacement.
The device is also one of those with a clear, targeted mission in mind: to be a great underwater camera. There is even an Advanced Underwater Mode, where the camera is able to compensate for the different quirks of underwater photography and videography. An example of this is its ability to compensate for underwater red tone losses.
The DMC-TS30R also has a torch light mode for foggy environments—either underwater or above ground—and a time lapse shooting mode.
8. Fujifilm Finepix XP140
Last on our list is the FinePix XP140 from Fujifilm. A colorful, easy-to-use camera, it is made specifically for vacations and simple underwater photography.
Of course, it also has its own fair share of other unique features, which can be found in its fast shutter speed and impressive low light ISO. Both of these, at the very least, are enough to make it more than just a rugged camera.
But make no mistake—in terms of ruggedness, it still holds its own among the best. It is waterproof up to 82 feet, shockproof to 5.9 feet, dustproof, and even freeze-proof to 14° Fahrenheit.
It also sports a high resolution sensor of 16.4 megapixels, one of the highest on our list, a 28-140mm focal length, a smile detection function, 15 frames-per-second continuous shooting, and 5x optical zoom.
As for video capabilities, the device also manages to score a high percentage in this aspect. You get to shoot incredible 4k videos at 30 frames per second. File transfer is also quite smooth thanks to its bluetooth connectivity.
All in all, this is a camera that, with enough ruggedness and extra features, will give you high, impressive overall performance, huge dependability, and reliability over a long period of time. And, to top it all off, it is as affordable as they come. The Fujifilm FinePix XP140 is powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery pack.
What to Consider Before Buying
Finding the best camera for snorkeling almost always involves finding the best waterproof camera, but is this the only thing you have to consider when making your decision? Of course not. There are still a few other factors that are just as important. We talk more about some of these features below.
If you're going to be taking photos underwater, you need a camera rugged enough to handle the peculiar underwater conditions. Not just a bulky camera, but one with the appropriate features and specifications.
Among some of the criteria to judge camera ruggedness is the presence of a waterproof exterior. This may come ingrained in the body, or through an external case.
Another is freeze-proof capability. Most rugged cameras are freeze-proof up to -10° Celsius. Not that you'd like to be near that temperature underwater, but it's a handy feature to have for safety.
Finally there's the crush-proof capability that makes it withstand immense pressure, as well as dustproof features.
Types of Camera
One of the things you should consider before buying a camera for snorkeling is the exact kind of camera you'd like to have for the purpose. Generally, you have a DSLR, mirrorless, or compact camera. The winner by a mile when it comes to snorkeling photography is the compact camera.
Why is this, you ask? Well, first of all, compact cameras are, well, more compact. You're not a marine photographer, and have no business lugging heavy cameras underwater, at least not when you have the option of a simple, compact camera that is just as rugged as a DSLR and quite capable of producing spectacular shots.
Compact cameras are also a lot cheaper, drag less, and offer wide angle and macro all in one package.
Getting the best camera for snorkeling involves a bit more than getting the best photographic camera. Because let's face it, once you're underwater surrounded by the immense beauty, you will want to be doing a little bit more than just taking still photos.
This is why we have ensured that all the cameras on our list, apart from being great photographic cameras, have high-quality video capabilities with most of them capable of shooting in 4K.
Now, of course you don't necessarily have to shoot in 4K, but your minimum standard should be set to no lower than 720p.
All entries on our list shoot 1280p or higher.
Stabilization comes in handy in conditions where you have to deal with vibrations in constant unforeseen movements. Snorkeling is one of these conditions. As such, you should always be on the lookout for cameras with built-in stabilization, which you can find on all the entries on our list.
Not the most important criteria by any means, the native resolution of your camera nonetheless comes a long way when it comes to making a buying decision.
Generally, you have no business going lower than a 12 megapixel camera on your snorkeling trip, and it is no coincidence that none of the entries on our list falls below this margin.
Other qualities to look out for in getting a waterproof camera for snorkeling include easy connectivity, wireless and Bluetooth capabilities, and quality zoom.
Having all of these in mind should ensure that you're able to make a well-informed decision and end up with a camera you can trust for a long time to come.
That is all on our list of the best waterproof cameras to help you make the most of your snorkeling journey. We've made sure that all entries on our list perform strongly on a comprehensive list of features and specifications, with special emphasis on their performance underwater.
Now, if your sight is set strictly on ruggedness, you'll find almost all the entries on our list completely satisfying. The Olympus TG6, at the very top of our list, is as rugged and comprehensive as they come.
If you're going to be scuba diving, you may want to have the Nikon Coolpix W300 or the Fujifilm Finepix XP140 handy. They are both waterproof up to 100 feet and 89 feet respectively, and offer great stabilization and a whole lot of other impressive qualities.
In case all of these are a bit vague to you, you can also feel free to make use of our detailed buying guide above to help you make a more informed buying decision.