Whether you like to surf, dive, ski or mountain bike, today’s waterproof cameras are the perfect companion for your next excursion. These rugged cameras are designed to tolerate more than just water. With the ability to withstand freezing temperatures, these shockproof, crushproof and dustproof devices can keep up with the most zealous outdoor enthusiasts.
Although these cameras have outstanding durability features, there is a tradeoff in endurance for photo quality. You won’t get the same quality that you will get with an SLR camera. What you will get, however, is the ability to take these cameras places you wouldn’t otherwise take a camera. Our top three picks for the best waterproof cameras are the Ricoh WG-4 GPS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 and Nikon Coolpix AW110. To learn more you can read our articles on waterproof cameras.
When comparing the best waterproof cameras, image quality is key. You want your pictures to look as good as possible. However, you’ll also want to consider things like battery life, design and other features. Look for features that you will use. For example, don’t purchase a camera with a GPS if you do not need it. Each feature adds to the cost of a camera, so you can cut expenses by paying attention to the details. In order to choose the best cameras, we explored a wide range of qualities. Here is a breakdown of some of the elements that are important to consider in your search for the waterproof camera.
Many factors contribute to the quality of your photos, including the camera’s resolution, its optical zoom and the lighting conditions where you’re shooting. The best waterproof cameras have an image resolution of 16 megapixels or more. In general, the more megapixels you have, the clearer your image is going to be. With 16 megapixels you can expect quality photos for computer viewing and sharing.
Optical and digital zoom are key factors to consider. Look for cameras with a minimum of 4X optical zoom. Optical zoom allows you to bring your subject closer by extending the lens. Digital zoom works differently because it magnifies the image electronically. Optical zoom is the most important element to consider because it actually magnifies the subject. Digital zoom just enlarges the digital image, so you will get distortion and blurring.
Lighting is critical for capturing good images. There is an ongoing debate as to whether CMOS or CCD image sensors regulate light better. Since CCD sensors have been around longer, the technology they use is more advanced. CCD sensors tend to create a higher quality image that is not as grainy. The advantage of a CMOS sensor it that is uses less power than a CCD, which means a longer battery life. Keep in mind with cameras in this class, the difference between the two will be small. Regardless, if you plan on taking low-light shots, always purchase a camera with a built-in flash.
When choosing the best underwater camera, you should take into consideration the depth in which the camera can operate. If you are a diver, you will want a camera that can go deeper than 30 feet. The best cameras will operate to depths of at least that. For diving at depths below 30 feet, you will want a crushproof camera that resists the pressure of the weight of the water.
The best waterproof cameras are equipped with built-in video recorders. Look for video with audio components like microphones, so that you can record sound, as well. Additionally, we like cameras that are equipped with a built-in GPS to help you find your way. The best ones automatically record the time and location onto your images.
If you want artistic control, look for cameras that have settings that provide you with picture effects and modes for creating artistic touches. You can find settings like portrait, black and white, and panorama. Many of the waterproof cameras you find will have high-powered macro modes for capturing microscopic shots. Also look for time-lapse capabilities and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Battery Life and Storage
Most waterproof cameras are equipped with rechargeable batteries. Look for cameras that will give you a minimum of 200 images per charge. Keep in mind that most waterproof cameras have little or no internal storage, so you can expect to purchase an SD, SDHC or SDXC memory card separately.
Many of the cameras we reviewed include impressive design features. Look for cameras that are built out of rubber or that have coarse surfaces that will be easy to grip when wet. We like cameras with a 3-inch display screen for viewing images. Be aware that most waterproof cameras do not float. You will need to take precautions when using them. Something as simple as keeping it strapped to your wrist will prevent it from sinking to the bottom of a lake.
Help & Support
Having access to support is important to consider before choosing the right waterproof camera. Look for manufacturers who offer a one-year warranty. It is always helpful if the company’s website offers online manuals and a FAQs page. We found that most of the companies we contacted have knowledgeable customer service representatives.
Waterproof cameras go places you can’t take a regular camera. Because they are compact and lightweight, you can carry them in your pocket, backpack or purse. Every camera offers a different combination of features, and our reviews will help you find the best fit for your needs. Once you find it, recording your next underwater adventure will be a snap.