The Best Underwater Camera for Snorkeling|2023 Ratings & Reviews

If you’re on the hunt for the best underwater camera for snorkeling, then you have come to the right place, as this guide takes you through everything you need to think about when purchasing a good underwater camera for snorkeling.

When it comes to the best waterproof camera for snorkeling, you want one that’s easy to use and can take great videos as well as great photos too. I also recommended getting a snorkeling camera that is just as good above water as it is underwater. But above all, it must be 100% waterproof! You don’t want to get out of the water only to see that your brand new camera as let you down and water has leaked into it. Believe me, this has happened to me in the past when I’ve used a cheap underwater camera for snorkeling, and I was less than impressed.

If you’re really not sure what makes a good waterproof camera for snorkeling, this best camera for snorkeling reviews guide will help you as it takes you through everything you need to know to purchase one of the top waterproof cameras. First up, I’ll take you through the various features you need to consider and then take a closer look at some of the top-rated waterproof camera options currently on the market.

Ask any avid snorkeler and they will tell you that the Olympus TG6 is the best underwater camera. I own both the Olympus TG 6 and the Go Pro Hero 11, and I think that the Olympus TG6 is best for still shots and the GoPro Hero 11 is best for video. So, to me it’s a tie for best depending on what types of shots you want to get. I use them both nearly every time I snorkel.

The Olympus TG6 has more options and capabilities than the GoPro Hero 11, but you will need to learn how to use them and practice. The GoPro Hero 11 is easier to learn, but with a few less options for more advanced photography than the Olympus TG6.

Underwater Camera Comparison chart with 4 identical photos taken with each the Olympus TG-6 and Go Pro 10 Black

No matter what type of camera you’re after, this waterproof camera for snorkeling reviews guide is going to give you some great pointers. Whether you’re after the top of the line best underwater digital camera, the best cheap underwater camera for snorkeling, or something in between, you’ll no doubt find just what you’re looking for in this guide.

My Pick for the Best Underwater Camera for Snorkeling:

Best for Video: GoPro Hero 11 Black

Don’t have time to read my entire best waterproof camera reviews and just want my recommendations for a good camera for snorkeling? Well I just love the GoPro HERO11 Black – you seriously can’t beat this camera for an excellent all-round digital camera for snorkeling.

I’ve used a few different underwater cameras in the past, and I’ve just found nothing as reliable as the GoPro. Plus the quality of the video and images both above and below the water are phenomenal. It’s also super tiny so great if you’re after the best waterproof compact camera.

Check prices and availability here.

Best for Photos: Olympus Tough TG-6

For an ultra durable high quality point and shoot camera, you just can’t beat the Olympus Tough TG-6.

Check Prices and Availability Here.

The Best Waterproof Digital Camera for Snorkeling 2020 Comparison Table

Check out the table below for a quick and easy comparison of all the cameras reviewed in this guide. For further information, keep reading the underwater camera reviews below.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Factors to Consider when Purchasing the Best Waterproof Camera for Snorkeling

There is no one best camera to use underwater for everyone, as we all have different ideas of what we plan on using it for. So to ensure you get the perfect camera for you, I recommend you consider the factors below.

1. Different Types of Cameras

First up, it’s important to note that there are different types of cameras that you can use for snorkeling. You can use an action camera, compact camera, DSLR or mirrorless camera. For the purpose of these underwater digital camera reviews, we’re going to focus on action and compact cameras as these are the most simple and easy to use cameras for snorkeling.

If you’re wanting super professional quality images and video, then you might want to consider using a DSLR or mirrorless camera and purchasing some top-quality housing for it so you can use it underwater. These waterproof digital camera reviews aren’t going to cover this type of equipment.

So given this guide is just focusing on action and compact cameras (also called point and shoot cameras)– what is the difference?

Action Cameras

Action cameras (like a GoPro) are more optimized for video, but they can still take great pictures. They don’t have a mechanical zoom, so you will need to be close to your subject for a closeup. The best action camera for snorkeling is super tiny so easy to transport and you can even get snorkel masks with an attachment, so you can video your entire snorkel adventure.

Here’s a brief overview of the pros and cons of action cameras:

  • Easy to use making them perfect for beginners
  • Super compact and lightweight
  • Optimized for excellent video quality
  • No mechanical zoom so you will need to be close to your subject
  • Poor battery life
  • Comes with loads of cool attachments to make capturing images and video easy
  • Not ideal for those who take their underwater photography seriously as the features are limiting

Compact Waterproof Camera

A compact camera on the other hand, is a standard everyday camera that has a fully sealed body so you can use it underwater. These types of cameras come with a range of features including an optical zoom which is the main benefit over an action camera.

Here’s a brief overview of the pros and cons of compact waterproof cameras:

  • Optimized for great image quality
  • Packed with features making them perfect for those that want control over their underwater images
  • Can be more complicated to learn how to use all the features
  • Optical zoom so you can take great photos even if your subject is in the distance
  • Good battery life
  • Not as compact as an action camera

2. Waterproof

Well it goes without saying that the best underwater digital camera for snorkeling is one that’s waterproof. This is where it pays to get a good quality waterproof camera because if water leaks into your camera – your money is wasted, and you won’t have any images either.

When it comes to waterproofing, not all cameras are created equal. All the top underwater cameras come with various depth limits such as 10 ft, 50ft or 100ft. If you plan on just using your camera for snorkeling, pretty much any of these depths are going to be okay, however consider whether you might want to use the camera for scuba diving too and if so what depths you will be diving.

3.  Image Quality

There is a range of built-in features as well as settings that help produce great images.  Below is a brief overview of some of these features to consider when purchasing an underwater digital camera for snorkeling.

  • Sensor Size: A camera’s sensor determines how much light is used to create an image, and generally the bigger the sensor the better the image quality.  This is why DSLR cameras are big and bulky. Common sensor sizes are (from smallest to largest) Type 1, Mirco Four Thirds, APS-C (crop sensor) and full-frame.
  • Mega Pixels: Image resolution is measured by megapixels.  So if you’re comparing two cameras with the same sensor size, the camera with the most megapixels will produce better images.  
  • Shutter Speed: Shutter speed is measured as frames per second (fps) with a fast shutter speed creating sharp and clear images.  Most cameras these days perform well in this area, but at a minimum, ensure your cameras can take at least 5 frames per second.
  • Optical Zoom: Not to be confused with digital zoom, optical zoom is the lens acting as a telescope. It can magnify the image with the lens. Digital zoom just zooms in a part of a picture, the result is a picture of diminished quality.  Optical zoom is only available on compact cameras and not action cameras.
  • Image Stabilization: Look for cameras with built-in image stabilization to help prevent blurry images.  This is also important for taking videos.
  • Manual Mode:   If you want complete control over your images, ensure the camera comes with a manual mode.
  • Raw: When it comes to editing photos, you really want to be editing “raw” pictures for the best outcome.  Some cameras will only capture photos in JPEG format (like action cameras).

4.  Video Capabilities

For many snorkelers, taking video is just, if not more important, than taking photos.  If this is the case for you here a few things to look for:

  • HD Video Resolution:  Look for cameras with at least 1080p (full resolution) or even better 4k resolution.  4K is basically four-times the resolution of 1080p which provides life like quality video.  Cheaper cameras often come with just standard HD resolution which is identified as 720p.
  • Frame Rate: For smooth playback, look for cameras with a high framerate – 24 to 30 fps is a good start, but for better playback, look for cameras with 60 fps.  This number is usually listed next to the video resolution.

Nearly all of our underwater video on our YouTube channel is shot with a GoPro. You can check those out here.

When it comes to video, this is where action cameras really do shine.  Not only is the quality of video pristine on some of the better quality action cameras, but you can add some really cool features to your footage during editing too.

5.  Budget

Like anything you buy these days, you really do get what you pay for.  However, having said that, you can still get a decent camera without spending a fortune.  

I suggest you make a list of your must-haves compared to your nice to haves in a camera, set a budget and then find a camera that fits both your budget as well as your must-have criteria.

6.  Other Features to Consider

A few other things to consider when it comes to buying a camera includes:

  • Battery life: Action cams are known for having poor battery life – so ensure you have a backup on hand or consider a compact if this is going to be an issue.
  • Wi-Fi: For wireless transfer to your phone – makes uploading quickly to social media easy.  Some cameras even have apps you can download to your smartphone where you can set timers etc all from your phone.
  • GPS: For marking where the photo was taken.

Best Camera for Snorkeling Reviews 2020

Below I’ve reviewed the top 10 underwater cameras for snorkeling cameras currently on the market.

The Best GoPro Underwater Camera for Snorkeling: GoPro Hero11 Black

For an awesome quality and easy to use camera, you can’t beat the GoPro.  The GoPro is not only the best waterproof digital camera but also the best underwater video camera for snorkeling.  With this little beauty you will capture awesome images and footage from your snorkel adventures!

The best GoPro underwater camera, currently on the market, is the Hero8 Black and this little beauty is jam-packed with features.  Being waterproof to a depth of 33 feet, you’ll be able to capture all the marine life on camera, plus with 12MP image resolution and the ability to record at 4k video at 60fps, you’ll capture pristine video and super sharp images.  The camera also has built-in stabilization to allow for those shaky images.

No need to be a professional either – the GoPro has an easy to use touch screen, and standard functions can be done by voice activation.  It’s also easy to download your images and footage to your smartphone via their App.  From the App, you can make use of loads of cool editing functions as well as quickly upload your images to social media.

While GoPro’s are mainly focused on video – I recommend keeping it in video mode when snorkeling and later using the App to grab stills from your footage.  This is so much easier than trying to snap the perfect picture as a fish whizzes by.While the GoPro might be a big investment upfront – it’s well worth it. This is a super tiny camera, which is easy to use and will produce amazing photos and videos – making it the perfect choice for any snorkelers after the best waterproof travel camera.

Click here to check the current price and to read more reviews.

The Best Olympus Waterproof Camera for Snorkeling: Olympus Tough TG-6

For those that prefer a traditional point and shoot, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is a great option for the best waterproof point and shoot camera.  Not only is this camera waterproof up to 50 feet, but it’s also dustproof, shockproof, freezeproof and crushproof making it a perfect camera for the adventure seekers.

For awesome high-quality underwater images, this is the best Olympus waterproof camera.  This camera comes with 5 advanced underwater modes including snapshot, wide, macro, microscope and HDR.  The underwater macro mode is perfect for taking those super close shots of tiny fish, while the underwater microscope is excellent for extreme close-ups for subjects from 1 cm away.  For marine life further away, you’ll appreciate the 4x optical zoom.  It also has a 12MP high-speed sensor for consistently bright and sharp images.

If you’re also after the best waterproof video camera for snorkeling, this compact camera is great for video too.  The Olympus Tough captures footage in 4k cinema quality with the option of recording video in full HD at 120 fps for super smooth playback.  

Other great features of this best waterproof point and shoot include generous 25-100mm optical zoom lens which is the perfect range for snorkeling, fast focusing speeds which is excellent for stopping fish motion, a built-in action track sensors which among other things records the water depth, built-in Wi-Fi to quickly transfer photos to your smart device, long battery life, ability to shoot in RAW mode and a built-in image stabilization.

So if your adventures take you not only underwater, but to the mountains, beach or snow – this tough, compact camera by Olympus is a perfect option to consider.

Click here to check the current price and to read more reviews.

The Best Nikon Waterproof Camera for Snorkeling: Nikon Coolpix W300

If you like the look of the Olympus Tough TG-6 but are looking for the best point and shoot underwater camera for both snorkeling and diving – the Nikon W300 is the one to consider.

With the ability to be waterproof up to 100 feet, the W300 is the best Nikon waterproof camera currently on the market.  Also, like the Tough camera, the Coolpix is also shockproof, dustproof, and freezeproof so it is perfect for a range of outdoor adventures.

When it comes to image and video quality, the Nikon W300 has many of the same or similar features as the Olympus Tough.  The Coolpix features a 16MP low light sensor and a fast f/2.8 lens for consistently clear and sharp images.  Apart from the increased waterproof depth – the Coolpix features a 5x optical zoom, whereas the Olympus Tough only has a 4x optical zoom.  The Coolpix also captures great video up to 4k for lifelike resolution or the option of 1080p Full HD.

Other great features of this best waterproof compact camera include wide-angle lens at 24mm, good battery life, fast focusing speeds which is great for stopping fish motion, a built-in action track sensors which among other things records the water depth, built-in Wi-Fi to quickly transfer photos to your smart device and built-in image stabilization.

The only negative with the Nikon W300 is the inability to take photos in RAW – but this is only a deal-breaker if you prefer to edit RAW images – otherwise for the price and considering it has a huge waterproof depth of 100ft this is an excellent camera and well-deserving of being on this list of the top 10 waterproof cameras.

Click here to check the current price and to read more reviews.

The Best Canon Waterproof Camera for Snorkeling: Canon PowerShot D30

Canon has an excellent reputation for making top quality cameras, so when it comes to the best underwater point and shoot, which is the best Canon waterproof camera?  Well currently, the Canon PowerShot D30 is the most popular Canon underwater camera on the market.

The Canon PowerShot D30 is somewhat similar to the Nikon CoolPix and the Olympus Tough but lacks in a few areas which accounts for its much cheaper price tag.  This camera is waterproof at a great depth of 25m – which is in fact even more than the Tough, so you’ll also be able to go diving with this camera.

The PowerShot D30 has a 12.1 MP, 1/2.3” High Sensitivity sensor, which combines to produce high-resolution images.  It also has a 5x optical zoom to capture subjects far away, while the 35mm equivalent focal length range of 28-140mm is perfect for those wide-angle telephoto shots.

This top rated underwater camera also records in Full HD 1080p video at 24 fps or 720p HD video at 30 fps.  If you like to share your videos on social media – you’ll love the Apple iFrame format, which speeds up importing and editing videos making it quick and easy for sharing on social networking sites.

Other great features of this camera include the built-in image stabilization, built-in GPS, Freezeproof up to 14 F and Shockproof from up to 6.5 ft.  Unfortunately, like the Nikon Coolpix, the Canon PowerShot does not support RAW images nor does it support Wi-Fi connectivity for easy downloading of images.

If you’re after the best underwater compact camera but can’t justify the hefty price tag of the Nikon CoolPix or the Olympus Tough, the Canon PowerShot is a good one to consider.  It doesn’t have all the fancy features, but with an excellent waterproof depth – whether you take it snorkeling or diving, you’ll be able to capture some great photos and video of your experiences.

Click here to check the current price and to read more reviews.

RICOH WG-60 Waterproof Camera

If you’re still looking for something cheaper than the Canon PowerShot, the RICOH WG-60 is a great option in terms of the best budget underwater camera.  While certainly not “cheap,” it doesn’t come with the same hefty price tag as the Nikon Coolpix or the Olympus Tough, yet it still comes with all the features you need for great underwater images.

The first thing to note about this best rated underwater camera is that it’s waterproof up to 45 feet (14m) so you’ll even be able to go shallow water diving with this camera.  While your snorkeling or diving, you’ll be able to capture all you see whether close or far away as the camera features a 5x optical lens with a focal-length coverage from 5mm to 25mm.  With the macro function, you’ll even be able to photograph subjects as close as 1cm.

This good underwater digital camera can also record full HD video at 30 fps as well as a high-speed movie mode for recording slow-motion video and even a dedicated underwater movie mode.  Also during the movie recording mode, it offers a Movie Shake Reduction function to compensate for any misalignment.

As well as being a waterproof camera, this point and shoot is also shockproof, freezeproof, and crushproof, so it’s a good all-round outdoor adventure camera.  Other features of the RICOH WG-60 include 25 shooting modes including a microscope mode to capture images not seen by the naked eye and an underwater mode, movie editing features within the camera, ability to take a single picture with both the flash on and off and more.  Note that the camera only records in JPEG format and a cable is required to download for your media.Certainly not a top of the line camera, but for those wanting the best affordable underwater camera, the RICOH WG-60 is undoubtedly a strong contender.  This best waterproof / shockproof camera comes with everything you need to take flawless, high-resolution images and video of everything you encounter while under the water.

Click here to check the current price and to read more reviews.

Fujifilm FinePix XP80 Waterproof Digital Camera

Moving onto even cheaper compact cameras now, the Fujifilm FinePix XP80 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the best buy waterproof camera.  This camera is so reasonably priced yet comes with all the features you need to capture those wonderful moments while snorkeling as well as during shallow dives.

Despite being one of the best budget waterproof camera options, the FinePix XP80 is a rugged camera, and as well as being waterproof to a depth of 50ft it is also freezeproof, shockproof, and sand/dustproof.

With the 16.2MP low light camera sensor, you’ll be able to capture great images while your snorkeling, and with the 5x optical zoom, you’ll even be able to capture marine life in the distance.

Other great features of this good cheap underwater camera include an LCD screen with an anti-reflective coating, built-in image stabilization, 11 filter effects for photos and 4 for videos, Fujifilm’s color reproduction to ensure that the color in images captured underwater are reproduced just as you saw it yourself, plus heaps more.

Given its low price and fantastic features, it’s clear to see why I recommend the Fujifilm FinePix XP80 as an excellent choice for the best cheap waterproof camera.

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Panasonic LUMIX Waterproof Digital Camera – DMC TS30

Cheaper even still than the above Fujifilm FinePix XP80, is the Panasonic LUMIX DMC TS30.  This camera does the job for those snorkelers that just want a good cheap waterproof camera to capture some of the moments from their time underwater.

Despite its price, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC TS30 takes just as good images as any of the other cameras listed in these reviews.  It has a 4x optical zoom with a focal length range of 25-100mm to get you nice and close to your subject as well as an additional 4x digital zoom.  Its built-in image stabilization will also assist with the prevention of blurry images created from the motion of marine life.

When it comes to video footage, this camera only provides 720 HD videos with 30fps.  Apart from the kid’s camera, this is the only camera out of all the cameras in these reviews to record video at this resolution, so do keep that in mind if you’re also wanting to capture video.  720 HD is still reasonably good quality, but for just a little bit extra, you can get a camera with much better video capability.

Other great features of this best inexpensive waterproof camera include image stabilization for blur-free photos, built-in 220 MB storage for up to around 34 images, built in torch for brightening up underwater photos in low light conditions, creative filters for photo editing, a range of modes including underwater mode which helps to create more natural-looking underwater images and more.

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AKASO V50 Pro Native Action Camera

If you’re keen on an action camera, but just can’t justify the price of a GoPro, give some consideration to AKASO V50 – currently one of the best rated waterproof camera options in terms of an action camera.

With the ability to capture images up to 100 feet under the water, this is a great little camera for both snorkeling and diving.  The only other camera in these reviews with a waterproof equal to that depth is the high-quality Nikon.   If you’re into diving, turn on the diving mode to add a red filter to produce more natural-looking images.

With this camera, you can record ultra-sharp and clear video footage thanks to the ability to record 4k video.  However with its ability to only record 30fps as opposed to GoPro’s 60fps, the playback is nowhere near as smooth, although pretty good.

Other features of this best inexpensive underwater camera include an adjustable field of view up to 170 degrees, built-in image stabilization to aid with capturing images of moving subjects, Wi-Fi connectivity for easy downloading, and sharing your media and the ability to capture still images in both JPEG and RAW formats.

In terms of its specifications, the AKASO stacks up pretty well next to GoPro, and it’s only about a third of the price. However just keep in mind many users of both cameras have made note that the AKASO isn’t as true to the colors or the detail as the GoPro, nor is its housing as robust.  However if you’re happy to live with these differences and save some cash in the process, then the AKASO may well be the best small waterproof camera for you.

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Vtech Kidizoom Action Cam 180

If you’ve got kids that are mad snorkelers, why not get them their own camera to record the underwater world from their perspective?  With the Vtech Kidizoom Action Cam 180, kids as young as 5 can get out and record their own underwater adventures.

Of course for little ones, you want a super durable camera, which the Vtech is.  This camera will handle drops and tumbles so you can be confident that they’re not going to break it on the first go.  It’s also waterproof to 6 feet so perfect for snorkeling or even for mucking around in the swimming pool.

For the older kids, it’s got plenty of cool functions such as time-lapse, stop motion, fun effects, frames, and photo filters to really bring out their creativity.  They can also download their images and video and share them with friends and family with the included USB cable.

The camera also comes with two different mounts, so as well as taking the camera underwater, they can attach it to their bike, skateboard and more.

While this kid’s camera won’t take high-quality images and videos like the other cameras listed in this guide, for a kid’s first camera for snorkeling, it’s a great one to start with.

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About the author
Kristin Young