Top five best waterproof cameras for 2021
You may choose to leave your camera at home when travelling for fear of it becoming damaged by water or worse - with a waterproof model you don't have to worry.
The best waterproof cameras can withstand being dunked in water and dropped from heights of two metres, plus they can still shoot great quality photos and video.
It's also worth knowing which waterproof cameras to give a wide berth. We've put every camera through rigorous lab testing in order to discover the best and the worst.
Some of the models we've selected aren't recent launches, but they're still some of the highest performing cameras out there. You can check our camera reviews page for new reviews bimonthly. Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct at March 2021.
And here are four waterproof cameras to avoid
The waterproof cameras that fared worst in 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.
Table last updated March 2021.
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.