Table of Contents_
- Top 7 Waterproof Cameras Compared
- #1 GoPro Hero 7 – Top Pick
- #2 Kodak Pixpro SP1 – Honorable Mention
- #3 AKASO V50 Elite – Deepest Diving
- #4 AKASO V50 Pro – Best for External Microphone
- #5 Panasonic Lumix Waterproof – Best Point & Shoot
- #6 AKASO Brave 4K – Best Accessories
- How We Decided
- Waterproof Camera Buying Guide
- The Most Important Features to Consider
To compile a list of the best waterproof camera you can buy online we’ve looked at the specs of the top models from Kodak, Panasonic and more, focusing on submersible depth, video resolution, image quality and battery life. While the go-pro like mountable action camera design is often very convenient for scuba diving, skiing and hiking, or even for use with a selfie-stick, we’ve also included some more traditional waterproof camcorder style and waterproof point-and-shoot cameras for those who prefer a more involved, creative picture taking or filming process.
Our top pick, the best waterproof camera, is the GoPro Hero 7. It shoots 4K ultra HD video at 30 or 60 frames per second, is waterproof down to 10m even without a housing, and includes a unique “hyper smooth” video stabilization as well as two digital “virtual lens” modes that crop its normally 170-degree wide angle field of view and give you a “linear” view without the fish-eye effect common to most action cameras. This variance in shooting modes propels this camera to the top of our list. It is perfect for those looking for the best underwater camera.
Top 7 Waterproof Cameras Compared
#1 GoPro Hero 7 – Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: A meaningful update to the tried-and-tested rugged GoPro design, the Hero 7 is waterproof even without a housing down to 10m, has a touch screen and delivers crisp 4k video with stabilization. It’s great for people who do a lot of outdoor activities, extreme sports or motorsports and want to conveniently share good quality video and photos of their adventures. It reminds me of One Tough Ass Camera: Olympus u1030SW.
- 4K 60 fps ultra HD video
- Offers in camera live streaming via Facebook Live
- Unique virtual lens offers reduced fisheye distortion compared to other wide-angle action cams
- Battery life only around 50 minutes of video, compared to 3 hours with the Kodak Pixpro
- More expensive than the similar resolution AKASO V50 Elite
- Live streaming only in 1080p, not 4K
The GoPro Hero 7 Black is the go-to action camera for adventurers and outdoor sports enthusiasts looking to record quality video from a platform that’s tiny and portable enough to be mounted anywhere and rugged enough to go along for the ride when dirt-biking, mountaineering, and surfing. Like past GoPro models and like our honorable mention, the Kodak Pixpro, this GoPro action camera is rated waterproof down to 10m or about 33 ft, making it great for pool parties, while divers may find a submersible housing is required for going deeper. This is the best camera on our list for a reason.
Stand out features on the Hero 7 Black waterproof camera include built-in live streaming via Facebook Live, intelligent photo mode for still capture and selfies, and the Go Pro “hyper smooth” electronic image stabilization, which promises “gimbal-like” footage without a gimbal. This model is at the top of our list for a reason. But if you’re able to spend a bit more, take a look at the GoPro Hero 8 or Hero 8 Black. This upgraded model will take the features you already love, but with a distinct bump in quality. If you’re looking for the best GoPro, this may be your pick.
#2 Kodak Pixpro SP1 – Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: A freeze-proof and dust-proof as well as waterproof camera with some useful features like image stabilization, slow-motion and time-lapse and remote control via the PIXPRO app. It’s great for someone looking for a convenient, easy to control camera with long (3hr) battery life for a ski trip or outdoor adventures. Speaking of honorable mentions, our Nikon 1 AW1 Review is a great read.
- 3+ hours of battery life
- Freezeproof to 14F (-10C) as well as shockproof and dust proof
- 14 MP still photos, higher resolution than the GoPro Hero 7
- No 4K video(only 1080p – lower than most rivals)
- Can only take up to a 32 GB SD card, limiting video length
- Mounting hardware not always compatible with hardware for Go-Pro style cameras
This Kodak action camera is rated for 10m of diving and has the added benefit of IPX8 dust-proof and
2m shook-proof ratings as well as being freeze-proof down to -10C. With this durability it makes a great action camera for skiing and other winter sports. It also offers good still image quality, and with 14 MP, does so at a higher resolution than our top pick, the Go Pro hero 7. A major plus for excursions further from civilization is the fact that the Kodak Pixpro SP1 has a longer lasting battery than most action cameras, with a full charge typically lasting for 3 hours of video recording as opposed to the 1 hour to 1.5 hrs the GoPro Hero 7 provides. This could be compared to the Olympus Tough TG-6, which is similar to the Hero 7 in it’s resistance to the elements. It also boasts an additional 1.2/3 inch 12MP BSI CMOS sensor. If 4K video is important to you, consider the Tough. If you’re looking for another great Olympus product, take a look at Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R Zoom Lens, for Micro Four Thirds Cameras.
The Pixpro SP1 Waterproof camera comes with built-in WiFi for sharing, a 1.5” screen for reviewing footage, and while the file format may confuse some phones, pairing and WiFi set up is easy with the included Pixpro app. Downsides to this rugged camera are that it only records 1080p video, so no 4K ultra HD, and its atypical shape means that it doesn’t work with all “universal” action camera mounting hardware.
#3 AKASO V50 Elite – Deepest Diving
WHY WE LIKE IT: This action camera from Akaso matches the 4k60 video resolution of the GoPro Hero 7 Black while coming in at a much lower price point. It also comes, unlike the Go Pro, with an included housing that lets you dive to 40m with it. It’s great for travelers, surfers or anyone looking for a relatively inexpensive way to grab quality footage of boating, sailing, rafting or fishing trips. Compare it against the Canon PowerShot D30 Waterproof Camera Review.
- Waterproof to 40m
- 20MP photo resolution
- 2-inch touch screen rear display
- External (though included) case has to be assembled before it’s waterproof
- No in-camera live-streaming
- Battery life drops below 1 hr when using rear screen or WiFi
At around half the price of the GoPro Hero 7 Black, the AKASO V50 Elite nonetheless comes with many of the same features and offers higher still resolution (20MP vs 12MP) than the GoPro or our #2 pick, the Kodak Pixpro S1 (14MP.) The V50 Elite waterproof camera also features a clear, bright 2” rear screen for composing, and it ships with more accessories, too. You get helmet and handlebar mounts, tethers, the waterproof housing and two 1050mAh batteries good for 1-2+ hours of recording.
The extra battery is a plus, since the battery life is one of the V50 Elite’s drawbacks. Your mileage may vary but a full charge lasts anywhere from 30 minutes when shooting full 4K to 90 minutes in 1080p mode. If you just need a great digital camera for your next photoshoot, try out the Fujifilm FinePix.
#4 AKASO V50 Pro – Best for External Microphone
WHY WE LIKE IT: Similar to the V50 Elite, this Akaso waterproof camera offers 4K video (limited to 30 fps) and deep diving capability. The V50 pro also supports external microphones, a big plus as the audio quality from action cameras may not match their video quality. This camera is great for vloggers looking to capture some 4K adventure footage and retain the flexibility to use an external mic.
- External mic support & HDMI out
- Adjustable angle of view from 170-degrees to 90 degrees to reduce fisheye effect
- 6-axis electronic image stabilization
- As with the V50 Elite, using the app/ WiFI drains battery
- 10m less dive depth than the V50 Elite
- Shorter battery life than the Kodak Pixpro S1
The AKASO V50 Pro is similar to the V50 Elite, our #3 pick, in that both offer high end features for less than half the price of a Go Pro Hero 7 Black; they share 20MP still resolution, adjustable viewing angles, and a clear, 2” rear screen for easy composing. They also both include a variety of mounts and hardware pieces, including tethers for diving and surfing. Still, both these cameras are great for taking action footage of activities like snorkeling or canoeing or snowboarding.
The V50 pro is rated to work in temperatures ranging down to -5C, so it’s technically snow friendly but not as “freeze proof” as our #3 pick, the Kodak Pixpro S1. The AKASO V50 Pro, however, once you assemble the included case, is rated for 30 m of diving depth, compared to only 10m for the Go Pro and the Kodak. Lastly, it doesn’t record in 60 fps much like our #3 pick. For the best underwater 4k Ultra video, compare this model to the Nikon Coolpix W300. While the Nikon Coolpix is on the pricier side (at upwards of $200 more than the AKASO), this cameras capability for high def underwater video and 5x optical zoom may make the price spike worth it. If you’re looking to upgrade your Nikon Lens, you might also want to look at the Nikon Nikkor 55mm F/1.2 F Mount 35 mm camera lens too. If the Coolpix is out of your price range, you’ll still be getting a great camera with the AKASO.
#5 Panasonic Lumix Waterproof – Best Point & Shoot
WHY WE LIKE IT: An affordable, rugged point and shoot digital camera, not an action camera but a handheld digicam that offers a built-in torch light and easier still photo composition than you can’t get with a GoPro type camera. It’s great for someone looking to take pictures of fishing, boating, and motorsports adventures, as well as documenting beach trips and ski trips.
- Optical image stabilization
- Built-in flash for low light recording
- Freeze-proof to -10C, IPX8 certified dust-proof
- Only 1280x720p video resolution, no 4K or even 1080p offered
- Battery lasts up to a month on stand-by but drains in under an hour when recording video
- Only waterproof down to 8m
An affordable, easy-to-use point and shoot, this Panasonic Lumix waterproof digital camera doesn’t compete directly with the action cameras like the Go Pro Hero 7 (our top pick) which are designed to be mounted somewhere or placed on a selfie stick and record basically continuous video, but is designed more for still photos and occasional video clips. To that end, it lacks the ultra wide angle lens found on the AKASO V50 and Go Pro, but this means it also doesn’t produce the fisheye distortion you see in those cameras. This camera will be easy to use on your next family vacation.
The Panasonic Lumix also features a built-in light for low light photos, and a larger screen than any action camera, making it easier to compose shots. Another plus, the Panasonic is the only camera on our list to feature 220MB of built-in memory, so if your card runs out you can still take about 34 more photos. If you want your photo quality to stay great on land too, consider the Nikon F2 for your next shoot.
#6 AKASO Brave 4K – Best Accessories
WHY WE LIKE IT: Waterproof to 100 feet with included case, the 4K-capable AKASO brave is a bargain at less than half the price of the Go Pro Hero 7. It’s great for anyone looking for an affordable action camera to take on vacation or out surfing, that still delivers quality photo and 4k video.
- 20MP Sony sensor
- Adjustable field of view: 70, 110, 140 and 170 degrees
- Comes with 19 accessories including wrist band and remote control
- Battery life limited to an hour recording 4k
- Only waterproof when the case is on
- 4K only at 24fps, so no 4k slow motion
The least expensive of the AKASO 20MP action cameras on our list, this versatile waterproof camera is good for dives down to 100 feet when using the included waterproof case. It. Also comes with 19 accessories, most of which are cross compatible with other Go-Pro sized action cameras. Like the Go Pro Hero 7, our top pick, it offers different field-of-view options, ranging from 70 degrees to full-wide angle 170 degrees. These features will have you getting quality photo and video in no time.
The AKASO brave also has a clear and bright 2-inch rear screen, though it’s not a touch screen as on the AKASO Elite, our #3 pick. It does, however, include a built-in smart gyroscope for image stabilization, helping you get smooth, crisp video. Plus there is WiFi which connects to your smartphone up to 10m away.
#7 Campark X20 – Best Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: The least expensive touch-screen equipped waterproof camera on our list, this one offers 20MP stills, 4K video and more accessories than the Go Pro Hero 7 at about a third of the Go Pro’s price. It’s great for those looking to document a trip to the beach, make surfing or snorkeling videos, or for use on boating trips.
- Low price and excellent 4K 24fps video quality
- 2” LCD touch screen
- Built in WiFi and free app for quick phone sharing
- Shorter battery life than the Kodak Pixpro S1
- No flash or low light modes
- Doesn’t come with tethers or wrist bands like the AKASO Brave
This Campark action camera delivers crisp 4K video and takes 20MP stills that rival the quality of more costly waterproof cameras like the AKASO Elite and Kodak Pixpro S1. It even has a touch screen, which you can use to select functions like zoom, up to 4x, or viewing angle. Like the Go Pro Hero 7 Black, our top pick, this action camera offers selectable field of view options. Go full wide at 170 degrees to make sure you don’t miss any of the action, or narrow down to 110 degrees to reduce fish-eye distortion. Plus, with quality this good, your white balance will never be off.
It’s waterproof down to 30m or about 98 feet with the included case, but as with the AKASO action cameras, the case is required in order for it to be waterproof. A bonus with this Campark camera is that it includes a 2.4Ghz remote control that’s water resistant (though not submersible), so if you want to set it up and trigger it remotely you don’t need to use your phone.
How We Decided
We looked for waterproof cameras that offered full submersion capability and were flexible enough to use for video or still shots. To that end, we selected models rated for at least 10m of depth. Some of the best waterproof cameras go as far as 40m, such as the AKASO V50 Elite, our #3 pick.
We also limited our search to cameras that provided at least 8 MP of resolution for still photos– this is big enough to print out vacation snaps on a postcard, for example. For video resolution, we looked for at least full HD 1080p, but many of the best waterproof cameras offer 4K video at 24 or 30 frames per second.
In addition to resolution and dive depth, we narrowed it down to those which provided at least an hour of battery life on a full charge while recording video.
Waterproof Camera Buying Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
- Waterproofing standard
For this list of the best waterproof cameras you can buy for surfing, boating, skiing or rafting, we focused on cameras boasting at least IPX8 waterproofing or good for submersion in water up to at least 8 meters deep for at least an hour. Some of our top picks go as deep as 40m.
- Video Resolution
All the waterproof cameras on our list can shoot at least HD video as well as taking stills with at least 10MP of resolution. Whether or not you need more depends on what you want to do with the video. The larger it’s going to be viewed, the more resolution is generally desired. 720p is great for a typical small Instagram video or snap. 1080p is the standard for most Youtube videos and looks good on a phone or laptop screen. If you’re trying to display at full screen width or view on a big 4k capable television, then 4k is the way to go.
- Battery life
Battery life is especially important on these outdoor-use action cameras, since you might naturally take them someplace far from any outlets. The Kodak Pixpro S1, our #3 pick, stands out with its 3-hour recording time, whereas the Go Pro and similar action cameras range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes of recording depending on feature use, such as WiFi.
- WiFi or Connectivity
All the cameras on our list of the best waterproof cameras feature some kind of connectivity that allows you to quickly upload pictures and video to your phone for sharing. This is a key benefit to modern action cameras, since when you’re out in the world of nature or hanging around the pool, you may not want to fiddle with cables and need to use your computer to upload photos. The Go Pro Hero 7 Black, our top pick, stands out here with its in-camera live streaming ability.
- Are these good in the snow?
The best waterproof cameras are all technically good for snow and slush, though the freeze-resistance ratings on these do vary somewhat. For instance, the Kodak Pixpro (our #3 pick) and the Panasonic Lumix, our #5 pick, advertise as being freeze proof down to at least -5C.
- Will they record audio?
All the cameras on the list do have an audio recording feature, but for best quality some of them, like the AKASO V50 Pro, our #4 pick, offer external mic support as well.