Updated on September 2, 2020

These days, more freedivers and snorkelers than ever are hoping to capture their most exciting moments underwater. But, choosing the right camera for the job can be tough! The best underwater camera for snorkeling should be lightweight, easy to use, and take high-quality photos worth sharing with friends and family. So which model is best for you?

No matter where in the world you snorkel or dive, you’re sure to encounter cameras in the water. And, as underwater photography gains in popularity, more and more cameras are hitting the market. If you’re new to the sport or feeling overwhelmed by options, this article is for you! Keep reading for The Adventure Junkies’ top tips for camera shopping and a rundown of our favorite models from around the web.

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

 

Quick Answer - The Best Underwater Camera for Snorkeling

  1. Fujifilm XP135
  2. Panasonic Lumix
  3. Nikon W300
  4. GoPro Hero 7
  5. Olympus TG-6
  6. Canon G7X Mark 2
  7. Panasonic LX10
  8. SeaLife DC2000
  9. Sea & Sea DX-6G

 

Comparison Table - Best Underwater Camera for Snorkeling

PictureNameSizeStyleHousingPriceRating
Fujifilm XP135MediumCompact Point and ShootNo$4.6
Panasonic LumixMediumCompact Point and ShootNo$4.2
Nikon W300MediumCompact Point and ShootNo$4.4
GoPro Hero 7SmallActionOptional$$4.6
Olympus TG-6MediumPoint and ShootOptional$$4.8
Canon G7X Mark 2LargePoint and ShootYes$$4.7
Panasonic LX10LargePoint and ShootYes$$$4.4
SeaLife DC2000MediumCompact Point and ShootNo$$$4.2
Sea & Sea DX-6GMediumPoint and ShootOptional$$$4.6
PictureNameSizeStyleHousingPriceRating
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 Cameras for Underwater Snorkeling

Fujifilm XP135

Specs
  • Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.5 x 2.1 Inches
  • Weight: 15.2 Ounces
  • Resolution: 16.4 Megapixel Photo, 1080p Video
  • Size: Medium
  • Style: Compact Point and Shoot
  • Display: 3 Inch Color LCD
  • Housing: No
Features
  • Water-Resistant Up To 65 Feet
  • Built-In WiFi For File Transfer And Sharing
  • 5x Optical Zoom
  • Self Adjusting Screen Brightness

BEST FOR: BUDGET

If you’re new to the underwater world, buying a camera might not be your highest priority. But, we promise there is plenty of room in your budget for this model. The XP 135 is ideal for snorkeling thanks to its self-adjusting screen brightness. With this feature, you’ll never struggle to see what you’re shooting, even in direct sunlight on the water’s surface.  The Fujifilm XP135 is an excellent entry-level option that even the newest of newbies will find easy to operate. It’s water-resistant up to 65 feet without using an external housing, so it’s lightweight and compact. Plus, this is one of the most affordable options around, so you won’t feel guilty if you’re a little hard on it.

Panasonic Lumix

Specs
  • Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.1 x 2.3 Inches
  • Weight: 5.1 Ounces
  • Resolution: 16.4 Megapixel Photo, 720p Video
  • Size: Medium
  • Style: Compact Point and Shoot
  • Display: 0.8 x 4.1 x 2.3 Inches
  • Housing: No
Features
  • Water-Resistant Up To 26 Feet
  • Specialized Underwater Mode For Snorkeling
  • Optical Image Stabilizer Prevents Blurry Shots Due To Motion
  • Creative Retouch Allows Photo Editing In Playback Mode

BEST FOR: USE ON THE SURFACE 

Some underwater cameras work just as well at depth as they do on the surface. But, if you’re planning to stay topside, you’ll want a camera packed with features specifically for snorkeling. The Panasonic Lumix offers a snorkel mode that compensates for light reflection and refraction in the shallows. Its built-in image stabilizer prevents blurry shots due to motion, which is especially helpful in rough and wavy conditions. This model is only water-resistant up to 26 feet, but if you’re staying on the surface, you won’t need extra protection. Best of all, the Lumix offers creative retouching in playback mode, so you can edit your favorite shots without using a computer.

Nikon W300

Specs
  • Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.2 x 2.6 Inches
  • Weight: 8.16 Ounces
  • Resolution: 16 Megapixel Photo, 2160p Video
  • Size: Medium
  • Style: Compact Point and Shoot
  • Display: 3 Inch Color LCD
  • Housing: No
Features
  • Water-Resistant Up To 100 Feet
  • Multi-Sport Functions Including Bluetooth, GPS, Compass, Altimeter, And Depth Gauge
  • 5x Optical Zoom
  • Built-In LED Flashlight

BEST FOR: BEGINNERS

The Nikon W300 is a classic choice for new snorkelers and freedivers. It’s compact and lightweight, so it’s easy to carry on the surface and travel friendly. Plus, it comes equipped with functions for multiple sports like hiking and climbing, so you won’t need more than one camera to use outdoors. Its 5x optical zoom makes it easy to capture the perfect image, even if you’re several feet away from your subject. And, its built-in LED flashlight is ideal for night snorkeling, illuminating shots in low visibility. The W300 is water-resistant up to 100 feet, so it can also be used for SCUBA diving and advanced freediving.

GoPro Hero 7

Specs
  • Dimensions: 1.75 x 2.44 x 1.26 Inches
  • Weight: 4.2 Ounces
  • Resolution: 12 Megapixel Photo, 1440p Video
  • Size: Small
  • Style: Action
  • Display: 1 Inch Touch LCD
  • Housing: Optional
Features
  • Water-Resistant Up To 33 Feet
  • Voice Control For Hands-Free Action
  • Optical Image Stabilizer Prevents Blurry Shots Due To Motion
  • Built-In WiFi For File Transfer And Sharing

BEST FOR: MULTI-SPORT

If you’re an Adventure Junkie, you’ve probably used a GoPro before. The new Hero 7 model packs all the same features as cameras four times its size, and it won’t break the bank. Plus, just like other GoPro products, it’s compatible with a variety of accessories that make it easy to carry. Options include a camera tray, selfie stick, or even clipped to your snorkeling mask. This versatility paired with voice-controlled activation makes the Hero 7 one of the few “hands-free” models on the market. A GoPro is ideal for all kinds of sports and outdoor activities, and its ultra-small design makes it a breeze to pack, too!

Olympus TG-6

Specs
  • Dimensions: 2.6 x 4.4 x 1.3 Inches
  • Weight: 2.12 Ounces
  • Resolution: 12 Megapixel Photo, 2160p Video
  • Size: Medium
  • Style: Point and Shoot
  • Display: 3 Inch LCD
  • Housing: Optional
Features
  • Water-Resistant Up To 50 Feet
  • Multiple Underwater Shooting Modes
  • 4x Optical Zoom
  • Optional Waterproof Housing For Extra Protection

BEST FOR: PRO PICK 

The Olympus TG-6 is a top pick among professional snorkelers and freedivers. Its rugged design, easy to use features, and extra protection against the elements are ideal for everyday use. Multiple underwater modes like HD, action, and macro, make it easy to get the shot, no matter what subject you’ve got in the viewfinder. This model works well for snorkeling and is easy to upgrade with an optional housing for use during SCUBA diving. Plus, the TG-6 is easy to enhance with extra lenses, strobes, and video lights. This model also includes WiFi and Bluetooth capability, making it easy to share your favorite photos without the use of a computer.

Canon G7X Mark 2

Specs
  • Dimensions: 1.65 x 2.4 x 4.15 Inches
  • Weight: 22.4 Ounces
  • Resolution: 20.1 Megapixel Photo, 1080p Video
  • Size: Large
  • Style: Point and Shoot
  • Display: 3 Inch Flexible LCD
  • Housing: Yes
Features
  • Continuous Shooting At Up To 8 Frames Per Second (FPS)
  • Captures Images In Both Raw And JPEG
  • Optical Image Stabilizer Prevents Blurry Shots Due To Motion
  • 4x Optical Zoom

BEST FOR: HIGH QUALITY IMAGES

If you’re hoping to capture the highest quality images possible, the Canon G7X Mark 2 won’t disappoint. This camera was not designed for use in the water, and it requires an additional water-resistant housing for snorkeling. But, the extra investment is worth every penny. The G7X can shoot up to 8 frames per second, so you’ll never miss the perfect shot. Your editing potential is nearly limitless with the option to shoot in RAW or JPEG. Plus, advanced image stabilizing will help you avoid blurry and unfocused frames. This model is also a favorite among macro enthusiasts thanks to its optical zoom capabilities and crystal clear high-resolution images.

Panasonic LX10

Specs
  • Dimensions: 1.6 x 4.2 x 2.4 Inches
  • Weight: 10.9 Ounces
  • Resolution: 20.1 Megapixel Photo, 2160p Video
  • Size: Large
  • Style: Point and Shoot
  • Display: 3 Inch Flexible LCD
  • Housing: Yes
Features
  • Continuous Shooting At Up To 10 Frames Per Second (FPS)
  • Focus Stacking Allows For Real-Time Editing And Image Correction
  • Optical Image Stabilizer Prevents Blurry Shots Due To Motion
  • Built-In WiFi For File Transfer And Sharing

BEST FOR: OVERALL VALUE 

The Panasonic LX10 is an excellent value, capable of capturing professional quality images with the ease of a point and shoot. You’ll need to buy a water-resistant housing if you want to take this model snorkeling, but the higher cost is well worth it. The LX10 takes higher resolution photos and videos than competing models. It’s compatible with a variety of lenses, lights, and strobes to improve image quality. Plus, this camera captures up to ten frames per second, which can be layered using a unique focus stacking tool. When combined with image stabilization, this allows for instantaneous correction and selective focus in each frame.

SeaLife DC2000

Specs
  • Dimensions: 5.87 x 3.19 x 4.02 Inches
  • Weight: 21.12 Ounces
  • Resolution: 20 Megapixel Photo, 1080p Video
  • Size: Medium
  • Style: Compact Point and Shoot
  • Display: 3 Inch Color LCD
  • Housing: No
Features
  • Water-Resistant Up To 60 Feet
  • Captures Images In Both Raw And JPEG
  • Multiple Underwater Shooting Modes
  • 4x Optical Zoom

BEST FOR:  EVERYDAY USE

Are you tough on your equipment? Some cameras designed for snorkeling are fragile and prone to flooding, but the Sea Life DC2000 is a hard-wearing piece of gear sure to stand the test of time. Its sturdy and rugged rubber exterior is shock and impact proof as well as water-resistant. Plus, it’s positively buoyant, so it won’t sink if you drop it in the water. The DC2000 takes excellent pictures too, thanks to multiple modes for shooting underwater, a powerful optical zoom, and the option to shoot in RAW or JPEG. Plus, this model is easy to upgrade for SCUBA diving by adding a tray, and lights or strobes.

Sea & Sea DX-6G

Specs
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.5 x 4 Inches
  • Weight: 36.9 Ounces
  • Resolution: 16 Megapixel Photo, 720p Video
  • Size: Medium
  • Style: Point and Shoot
  • Display: 2.7 Inch Color LCD
  • Housing: Optional
Features
  • Water-Resistant Up To 46 Feet
  • Multiple Underwater Shooting Modes
  • 5x Optical Zoom
  • Waterproof Housing Is Compatible With A Bayonet System For Mounting Additional Lenses And Fiber-Optic External Strobes

BEST FOR: FUTURE UPGRADES  

If you plan to upgrade your underwater camera later, you’ll save time and money by purchasing a compatible system. The Sea & Sea DX-6G is an excellent setup for beginners and a smart choice for anyone who plans to add lenses and strobes to their setup. If you’re new to underwater photography, you’ll be happy with this model’s preset modes for snorkeling and diving. Plus, its optical zoom is powerful enough to capture small subjects from the surface. Later, when you want to take your photography further, an optional bayonet system and fiber optics will help you achieve professional quality images.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING AN UNDERWATER CAMERA FOR SNORKELING

SIZE

When it comes to camera equipment, many snorkelers and freedivers assume that smaller is better, but that’s not always the case. Smaller sized cameras are more modern looking and easy to pack. However, they often lack the variety of features found in larger models. And, if you’re new to the underwater world, you’ll find a heftier option easier to hold on to and keep track of while you swim. Snorkelers who already have their hearts set on a miniature model should consider mounting their camera to a tray or stick instead of carrying it by hand.

 

HOUSING

Some underwater cameras need a water-resistant housing for use while snorkeling. This plastic case protects your camera’s delicate electronics from sand, sun, and seawater. Other “aquatic” options are built to withstand the abuse of the ocean with no extra casing. Keep in mind that most cameras designed with built-in housings are not intended for use at depth or while SCUBA diving. If you want a camera that will last for years to come, your best bet is to buy an aquatic model with an optional housing and to use both every time you enter the water. When it comes to “flooding” or water entering your camera, you can never be too careful.

 

STYLE

Cameras for snorkeling come in two main styles, point and shoot, and action.

Point and shoot models, and their compact versions, typically feature multiple modes and functions. And while they might take up more room in your gear bag, most snorkelers agree that their higher photo and video resolution is worth the extra weight. Point and shoot cameras are also easier to upgrade later and are compatible with a variety of lights, strobes, lenses, and other accessories.

Action cameras are much smaller than point and shoot models. These options are often used in video mode, and still images are later pulled from the footage. Because these super small options are so easy to drop or misplace, you’ll want to use yours with a mount like a tray or a selfie stick. Keep in mind that these models may feature lower photo and video quality than point and shoot cameras.

 

RESOLUTION

Image resolution is represented in pixels and megapixels, and the greater this number, the more data each image contains. Keep in mind that while a higher number means a more detailed and higher resolution image, bigger is not always better. High resolution images take up more storage space and need resizing before they can be posted online. Plus, you’ll need an ultra-sharp monitor or screen to view them in full detail.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

WATER RESISTANT

Some underwater cameras are “aquatic” or water-resistant and can be used on the surface or in shallow water without an exterior housing. Water-resistant options feature a series of seals and o-rings to lock ocean water out.

CONTINUOUS SHOOTING

Also known as “burst mode,” continuous shooting lets you capture multiple frames per second. This feature is especially helpful if you’re shooting fast-moving wildlife or a subject with numerous focus points like a large school of fish.

RAW AND JPEG

RAW and JPEG refer to two common formats for capturing digital images. Which is best for you depends on what kind of pictures you’re taking, and whether you plan to edit them using post-production software. Not sure which file type is best for you? Choose an underwater camera that can capture both types of images for extra flexibility in shooting and editing.

IMAGE STABILIZING

Camera shake is a leading cause of blurry pictures, especially in underwater photography. Image stabilization helps you capture clear images, even if your body and subjects are in motion. This feature works by stabilizing the image projected onto your camera’s sensor before it’s converted into digital information.

OPTICAL ZOOM

Built-in optical zoom lets you take close up shots of your favorite subjects without losing image quality. This alternative to buying an external lens is ideal for beginner and intermediate underwater photographers. Optical zoom is especially helpful for capturing macro images.

BAYONET SYSTEM

The bayonet system allows you to carry multiple lenses in the water. This method of attachment uses a simple 1/4 turn action to add and remove lenses and store them in place. This feature is best for advanced underwater photographers.

READ MORE

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