Digital cameras: Choosing and buying the best digital camera Buying the best waterproof camera
If you want to take pictures anywhere wet, whether at the beach, by a waterfall or just out in the British countryside on a rainy day, a compact waterproof camera is worth considering. As well as being waterproof, they’re also shockproof against accidental bumps and scrapes.
Most importantly, they can actually be used underwater, usually down to depths of 10 metres or more - that’s twice the depth of an Olympic diving pool. We fully test waterproof cameras in our test lab to see how they measure up for image quality, speed and ease of use. When buying a waterproof camera, there are five key features you should look out for.
Read our waterproof camera reviews for full test results for all of the rugged cameras we've tested.
Waterproof cameras - five key features
1) Expect to pay £150 or more - while you can pick up a good digital camera for around £100, the same standard of performance in waterproof cameras costs an extra £50. For this extra money, wi-fi and GPS come as standard so you can easily share photos and record where you took them.
2) Aim for 10m waterproofing - the best waterproof cameras will work at up to 15m depth, but 10m is just fine. It’s or more than two Routemaster double decker buses – if you put one on top of the other and submerged them.
3) 1.5m shockproofing is good too - rugged cameras are designed to experience the best of the great outdoors. This means you can drop them from a significant height, and they’ll still work alright.
4) Limited zoom isn’t ideal – because the lens in a rugged camera is behind a sealed casing, its zoom won’t extend very far. Expect no more than 5x optical zoom from a compact waterproof camera.
5) They’ll withstand harsh weather conditions - most rugged cameras can operate in temperatures as low as -10°C and are sealed so as to operate in humid, sandy environments. Essentially, you can take them skiing and to the beach.
How to take the best waterproof camera photos
Want to make the most of your waterproof camera? Then you’ll need to get it wet, and that means taking a slightly different tack to photography.
- Select the right shooting mode - waterproof cameras have a dedicated underwater mode that's optimised to take the best underwater photos or movies. Make sure you switch to it from the standard auto shooting mode.
- Keep a lens cloth handy – if you’re using the a camera outside where it’s constantly going from wet to dry, water drying on the glass can leave deposits which may show up on subsequent shots if you don’t wipe them away.
- Get close to your subjects - with such a small optical zoom on waterproof cameras, you need to really engage with how you take your photos. Don’t hang back and miss out any important details and pigmentation.