Top five best waterproof cameras for 2019
By Ryan Shaw
We pick the best waterproof cameras tested at Which?. Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof - our expert testing pushes these cameras to their limits.
If you're spending your holidays snorkelling around an exotic reef or hiking through picturesque mountains, you may choose to leave your camera at home for fear of it becoming damaged by water or worse.
With a waterproof compact camera, you needn't worry. The best can withstand being dunked in water and dropped from heights of two metres, plus they can still shoot great-quality photos and video. As well as surviving water and drops, these cameras are often dust and freeze-proof, so they're particularly useful for taking on skiing, beach or other adventurous holidays. They're also a great idea if you're very clumsy, too.
These top-performing waterproof compact cameras are the best we've tested at Which? and are much more robust than a typical point-and-shoot model. We've put these cameras through their paces to identify if they're up to the task, plus we have some buying advice on features and specifications to consider before you buy. It's also worth knowing which waterproof cameras to give a wide berth so we've highlighted some models that aren't worth your money.
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Best waterproof cameras
Boasting one of the deepest water ratings, this waterproof camera brings some new improvements, such as 4K video and an updated grip. But what is it like to use and how does the image quality compare with other waterproof cameras? Our in-depth testing delivers the verdict.
An update to a popular model, this camera promises improved image quality in a compact and rugged form. It has fast shutter speed, and a bright f/2.0 lens, plus it includes a raft of useful features, such as built-in GPS and wi-fi. But how easy is it to use, and have the controls been upgraded? Our testing uncovers all.
The latest robust camera is waterproof down to 20 metres, and records video in Full HD. The image stabilisation is pretty good at steadying shots underwater, but what is the image quality like overall? We conducted stringent tests on this camera to find out. Read our full review for more.
A rugged camera, with a waterproof, freezeproof, shockproof construction that's ideal for shooting in dusty, cold or wet conditions. It's still a very pocketable camera, but lacks the wi-fi and video features of some rivals. Is this enough for your active lifestyle photos? We put it to the test.
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct at May 2018.
Not found the product for you? Browse all of our compact camera reviews.
And here are two waterproof cameras to avoid
The worst waterproof cameras from our testing capture very poor-quality images and video, plus they're not as simple to use as you would expect. We've seen some models with poor build quality that capture photos that are fuzzy and with inaccurate colours, and feature treacle-like shutter speeds. Make sure you're not stuck with an inferior model.
Worst waterproof cameras
A waterproof and rugged camera, this budget model has a 13Mp sensor and 3x optical zoom. Pitched as your ideal holiday camera, we found it very easy to operate, with simple controls for shooting photos and videos. However, we were disappointed with its photo and video results.
Available in orange or blue, this waterproof camera aims to make sure you never miss a treasured holiday moment ever again. The manufacturer claims its menus are easy-to-use and it's simple to set-up, but our experience with this camera didn't match its claims — read our full review to find out why it performed so poorly.
How to choose the best waterproof camera
When selecting a waterproof camera, you have to be mindful of what you want to do with it before making your choice. The more you want from your photos or video, the more options you will need from your camera. Also, waterproof models can be more expensive than other compact cameras so only choose the features you need to stick within your budget. Below are some key criteria worth bearing in mind before your next purchase:
- Size and weight - Choose a camera that is small and light, and easy to shoot with one hand. Check that the camera controls are well defined and easy to use, as you'll be using it underwater.
- Waterproof depth - Unlike action cameras, this camera type doesn't require an external housing; you can use them in the water as is, straight out of the box. One positive aspect to note: these cameras typically have a broad water-depth rating, which can be deeper than for some action cameras.
- Drop resistance - The best cameras feature a drop distance of around two metres, meaning you can drop them from a certain height without the camera breaking. It's great for piece of mind, especially if you're clumsy.
- Photo resolution - The resolution of the camera's still photos will be determined by the sensor size and the number of megapixels it offers. The rule of thumb is that the higher the megapixel number, the sharper your photos will look.
- Video resolution - Video resolution can go as high as 4K Ultra HD (which is four times the resolution of 1080p), but very few waterproof compact cameras support this. It's more likely that you will find waterproof models with either 720p HD or 1080p Full-HD video quality.
- Wireless - A good waterproof camera will have some form of wireless capability, whether that is via wi-fi or a Bluetooth connection. Wireless connectivity makes it a cinch to transfer photos and video from your camera to a laptop or smartphone.