Updated on February 6, 2020

Diving into the depths of deep water, you’ll find yourself surrounded by amazing landscapes and sea creatures. To capture the unreal scenery, you need the best camera for underwater photography. The right camera will be able to handle the challenging shooting conditions you encounter when underwater, so the images you take will turn out stunning and not murky. Here at The Adventure Junkies, we will help you pick the best camera for underwater photography from a sea of choices.

For more of our top underwater photography gear recommendations, check out the Best Lenses for Underwater Photography.

 

Quick Answer - The Best Cameras for Underwater Photography

  1. Canon G7 X Mark II
  2. Sony A7III
  3. Olympus Tough TG-6
  4. Nikon D500
  5. Panasonic Lumix LX100 II
  6. Sony RX100 III
  7. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
  8. Sony Alpha A6000
  9. GoPro Hero7 Black

 

Comparison Table - Best Cameras for Underwater Photography

PictureNameTypeLensPriceRating
Canon G7 X Mark IICompact4.2x Optical Zoom$4.4
Sony A7IIIMirrorlessNot Included/Interchangeable$$$4.6
Olympus Tough TG-6Compact4x Optical Zoom$4.3
Nikon D500DSLRNot Included/Interchangeable$$4.8
Panasonic Lumix LX100 IIMirrorless3x Optical Zoom$$4.0
Sony RX100 IIICompact2.9x Optical Zoom$$4.4
Canon EOS 5D Mark IVDSLRNot Included/Interchangeable$$$4.7
Sony Alpha A6000MirrorlessNot Included/Interchangeable$4.5
Nikon Z7MirrorlessNot Included/Interchangeable$$$4.6
GoPro Hero7 BlackActionFixed Wide Angle$4.1
PictureNameTypeLensPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Underwater Photography Cameras

Canon G7 X Mark II

Specs
  • Lens: 4.2x Optical Zoom
  • Type: Compact
Features
  • Easy to Operate Camera Controls Underwater
  • Achieve Smooth, In Focus Panning with Special Image Stabilization Mode
  • In-Camera Image Editing of Color, Contrast, and Sharpness

BEST FOR: COMPACT PERFORMANCE

The Canon G7 X Mark II packs a lot of features into a compact camera, making it an affordable and portable choice for underwater photography. First of all, the controls are easy to operate, which is essential when you’re already dealing with the challenge of shooting underwater. The G7 X Mark II offers excellent image stabilization with a variety of settings you can change based on the conditions. The panning image stabilization mode is especially handy for following fish swimming while keeping them in focus.

Another unique feature of the Canon G7 X Mark II is the ability to edit your photos in the camera if you want to share them immediately. You can quickly adjust color, contrast, and sharpness without transferring your photos to a computer.

Sony A7III

Specs
  • Lens: Not Included/Interchangeable
  • Type: Mirrorless
Features
  • Fast Autofocus to Ensure Sharp Images
  • Dual Memory Card Slots
  • Capable of Shooting 4K Video

BEST FOR: PROFESSIONAL FEATURES

If you’re looking for a camera to provide professional features, but want something smaller than a DSLR, the mirrorless Sony A7III is an excellent option for underwater photography. The advanced autofocus system quickly sets the focus on the subject you choose and tracks it as you shoot, so your photos will be extremely sharp. The A7III shoots quickly in continuous mode at 10 frames per second, so you’ll never miss the shot.

Dual memory card slots mean that you won’t run out of storage space no matter how many photos you take, and you also have room to shoot high resolution 4K video.

Olympus Tough TG-6

Specs
  • Lens: 4x Optical Zoom
  • Type: Compact
Features
  • Waterproof, Dustproof, Shockproof, Crushproof, and Freezeproof
  • Macro Lens Lets You Clearly Shoot Subjects Up Close
  • Can Record 4K Video

BEST FOR: DESIGNED FOR ADVENTURE

You can tell that the Olympus Tough TG-6 is made for adventuring since it’s right there in the name. This tough compact camera is designed to take a beating, and it’s waterproof on its own in depths of up to 50 feet. If you want to dive deeper into your underwater photography, Olympus offers an underwater housing that makes it easy to operate the TG-6 in any water conditions.

The camera comes with an integrated lens that provides up to 4x optical zoom, so you can get closer to subjects that are far away. The lens also lets you shoot in macro mode and can focus on subjects that are incredibly close, as little as 1cm away from the lens.

Nikon D500

Specs
  • Lens: Not Included/Interchangeable
  • Type: DSLR
Features
  • Handles Low Light Conditions Well
  • Durable Construction for Adverse Conditions
  • WiFi & Bluetooth Connectivity to Share Photos Instantly

BEST FOR: PROFESSIONAL VALUE

The Nikon D500 is a high-performance DSLR camera at a low price point for a professional model, although adding a lens (which is not included) will obviously increase the price. Regardless of the lens you choose, the sensor of the D500 doesn’t lose detail and produces exceptional images in low light situations, which is key for underwater photography.

When you’re ready to share you’re incredible underwater photos, the Nikon D500 makes the process super simple thanks to its proprietary SnapBridge technology. This function lets you transfer photos via Bluetooth or WiFi to compatible devices without worrying about cables.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 II

Specs
  • Lens: 3x Optical Zoom
  • Type: Mirrorless
Features
  • Can Change Image Focus After Shooting
  • Choose From Multiple Aspect Ratios
  • Large Electronic Viewfinder

BEST FOR: FOCUS ADJUSTMENTS

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 II lets you play with focus in a unique way. You can actually choose the area of focus after you shoot the picture, so if you missed the subject originally, you are able to correct it. You can even change the depth of field, blurring the background and sharpening the subject, thanks to the Focus Stacking feature.

The large electronic viewfinder of the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II makes it easy to follow the underwater action. The camera is also capable of shooting high resolution 4K video, and can also create a composite action photo of 4K images.

Sony RX100 III

Specs
  • Lens: 2.9x Optical Zoom
  • Type: Compact
Features
  • Built-In Neutral Density Filter Allows You to Capture Beautiful Shots in Bright Light
  • Various Auto-Focus Options to Prevent Blurry Images
  • High-Quality Electronic Viewfinder

BEST FOR: PORTABILITY

The Sony RX100 II puts a lot of features into a small, portable package, making it a perfect option for underwater photography when you want to capture great images without carrying a giant camera. The built-lens has a nearly 3x optical zoom, so you can shoot underwater animals from a distance without disturbing them. The lens also has an included neutral density filter, which helps capture detail in bright, sunny light conditions.

The Sony RX100 II can be used in manual focus mode for more control, or you can use one of the many autofocus options to ensure your subject stays sharp. The zoom lens also allows you to adjust depth of field when you’re focusing.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Specs
  • Lens: Not Included/Interchangeable
  • Type: DSLR
Features
  • Sensor Works Extremely Well in Low Light
  • Built-In GPS Allows for Geotagging Location of Photos
  • Captures 4K Video

BEST FOR: PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE

If you’re looking for a professional-level camera for your underwater photography, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is an investment that will capture impressive images. The camera thrives in extremely low light conditions, so you can take it deep underwater and still take stunning photos. A lens is not included, but you can purchase interchangeable options to get the shot you want, whether that’s a macro closeup or a telephoto zoom.

If you travel a lot, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV has a built-in GPS so you can geotag the location of your underwater adventures. The camera is also capable of shooting beautiful 4K video wherever you are.

Sony Alpha A6000

Specs
  • Lens: Not Included/Interchangeable
  • Type: Mirrorless
Features
  • Produces Great Images in Low Light Conditions
  • Full Customizable Control of Camera Settings
  • Variety of Autofocus Settings Provide Clear Images

BEST FOR: CUSTOMIZABLE CONTROL

The Sony Alpha A6000 allows precise control over the camera settings, so you can dial in the perfect shot. A wheel on the rear of the camera and two dials on top let you easily change settings, and seven customizable buttons can be assigned the functions that you use most. The superfast autofocus ensures you always capture a sharp shot while you are concentrating on other controls.

The Alpha A6000 does not include a lens, which gives you control over that choice as well, and the camera itself is offered at an affordable price, so you can spend more of your budget on a nice lens. You can even customize your choice of camera color, as the A6000 comes in black, white, or silver.

Nikon Z7

Specs
  • Lens: Not Included/Interchangeable
  • Type: Mirrorless
Features
  • Lens Mount Works With a Wide Range of Lenses
  • Tracking Autofocus Keeps Your Subject Sharp
  • Easy to Check & Change Camera Settings on LCD Screen

BEST FOR: LENS OPTIONS

The Nikon Z7 is your camera choice for underwater photography if you want the option of using a variety of high-quality lenses. The Z7 features a special larger lens mount that is compatible with a range of Nikkor Z lenses which are designed to let in more light and stay sharp at a larger aperture range. The tracking autofocus of the Nikon Z7 keeps your subject in focus, even in low light conditions.

Though the Nikon Z7 is not cheap, especially once you add in a lens or two (which are not included), but the quality of images is worth the large investment.

GoPro Hero7 Black

Specs
  • Lens: Fixed Wide Angle
  • Type: Action
Features
  • SuperPhoto Mode Automatically Enhances Images
  • Shoot Smooth Action Video with Image Stabilization
  • Waterproof Down to 33 Feet

BEST FOR: UNDERWATER ACTION

The GoPro HERO 7 Black can easily capture underwater action in both photo and video form. The GoPro is waterproof down to 33 feet, so you can use it as is for snorkeling, and it has waterproof housing available to take it deeper for scuba diving. GoPro’s Hypersmooth image stabilization noticeably reduces camera shakiness while underwater, and the SuperPhoto mode automatically enhances your pictures to provide the best color and contrast.

However, the GoPro HERO 7 Black is a specialized action camera and lacks a lot of functions you will find in other cameras, such as a zoom lens and manual controls.

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A CAMERA FOR UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY

Underwater photography can be a challenge, and so can choosing the right camera. If you just want to capture your underwater adventures for posterity and share the cool creatures you encounter with friends and family, a compact camera or a GoPro could be good choices. However, if underwater photography is your main focus, it is probably worthwhile to pay more for a professional mirrorless or DSLR camera. Adorama offers some good tips for choosing your first camera for underwater photography.

 

UNDERWATER HOUSING

The most important thing when choosing an underwater camera is that you have a way to keep it dry, and that requires an underwater housing. Most cameras that are waterproof still aren’t going to survive being fully submerged underwater to the depths you’ll be diving. So before you commit to a camera, it’s crucial to do some research to make sure that the model you choose has compatible underwater housing available.

 

LENS OPTIONS

While you won’t be changing lenses while you’re underwater, if you want the option of interchangeable lenses, you should choose a mirrorless or DSLR camera. These cameras generally don’t come with a lens included, but that gives you the flexibility to choose the lens or lenses that are right for your needs – for instance, you might want both a zoom lens and a wide angle lens (or even a fish eye lens to capture the full scope of, well, fish).

Most compact cameras come with a lens, but you can’t change it out. Usually it is a zoom lens, but the optical zoom is generally not as long as a lens you could purchase for a mirrorless or DSLR camera.

A GoPro is designed to capture all the action, so it only has wide angle lens, meaning you won’t be able to get good images of objects that are far away. However, if you want a camera to capture sports action underwater as opposed to scenery, a GoPro is a great choice.

 

VIDEO CAPABILITY

Do you also want to be able to shoot video with your underwater camera? Most mirrorless and DSLR cameras have this option, as do some compact cameras. But you’ll want to find out what quality of video a camera is capable of; currently, 4K video is the highest standard for professional quality, while other types of video might be fine for your home video needs.

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

AUTOFOCUS

A system where a sensor in the camera automatically adjusts the focus based on the distance the subject is from the camera.

OPTICAL ZOOM

The length you can zoom in physically with the lens. This provides a clear photo, unlike digital zoom, which reduces image quality.

APERTURE

Adjusts the amount of light entering the lens.

MACRO

Extreme close up photography.

DSLR

Digital single lens reflex camera, which directs light from the lens through a mirror to the viewfinder.

MIRRORLESS

Does not include a mirror, so light passes directly from the lens to the sensor. The lack of mirror means these cameras can be constructed to be smaller than DSLRs.

READ MORE

For more of our top underwater photography gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

About The Author

Kate is a climber, creator, and community builder. After falling head over heel hooks for climbing in a gym in Boston, she moved to Golden, Colorado because “the mountains were calling.” Now Kate spends as much time as possible exploring the crags of the Front Range and beyond, usually with her camera in hand. She’ll climb just about anything, from leading fun sport to projecting boulders to following multi-pitch trad (as long as it’s not slab).

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