A comprehensive guide to the best underwater cameras for snorkeling. Whether you're a beginner or an underwater pro, we've covered the perfect camera for every budget.
Are you an avid snorkeler looking to capture stunning underwater moments?
Finding the perfect underwater camera can be a daunting task, especially with the multitude of options available.
Join us as we explore five top-notch options that will elevate your snorkeling experience and help you capture breathtaking photos and videos beneath the surface.
Best under $100
Waterproof Phone Case
One of the major advantages of using your phone for snorkeling is that you already own it. There's no need to purchase and carry around an additional camera, making it convenient and cost-effective. Additionally, sharing pictures from your phone is much easier and more seamless. Despite being a phone, it is capable of capturing some impressive underwater photos.
If you're looking for a budget-friendly option, consider investing in a good waterproof case for your phone. We’ve had better results using our phone camera whilst snorkeling compared to any camera priced under $200.
LifeProof FRE Series
The LifeProof FRE Series case for iPhones boasts impressive waterproof capabilities, allowing your iPhone to be fully submerged in water without any worry.
There are also plenty of cheaper water proof cases out there but we feel most comfortable with the reliability and robustness of the LifeProof, which has a waterproof IP68 rating.
|Waterproof Depth:||1 hour @ 2 meters (6.5 feet)|
|Compatibility:||Specific to each iPhone model|
- Your iPhone photos and videos will surpass those of any disposable camera or sub-$200 camera.
- Many users find the iPhone's JPEG processing preferable to the image processors used by other camera manufacturers.
- iPhones feature two to three lenses, providing wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto options.
- Risk of water damage and potentially ruining your iPhone.
- Due to its small sensor, the iPhone's image quality may not match that of cameras with larger sensors, especially in low-light conditions.
- The iPhone's battery life may be slightly shorter compared to other camera options, and you cannot replace the battery during snorkeling sessions.
- Limited to specific phone models, which can be restrictive when you upgrade.
- No easy way to attach a lanyard.
Best under $250
Underwater Phone Housing
Underwater housing provides several advantages over an underwater phone case, making it a better choice for capturing underwater moments.
While underwater phone cases may offer convenience and affordability, underwater housings provide superior protection, camera compatibility, control, lens options, and image quality.
They are specifically designed for the demands of underwater photography, and many are designed to accommodate a wide range of camera models.
DIVEVOLK Seatouch 4 Max
The DIVOLK Seatouch 4 Max housing is rigorously tested and certified to provide excellent waterproof performance at specified depths. It effectively seals out water, allowing you to confidently explore underwater realms and capture breathtaking moments with peace of mind.
What we love most about this phone housing is the ability to fully utilize your camera's touchscreen while underwater. This unique feature enables effortless menu navigation, quick adjustments, and easy access to settings, providing a seamless and intuitive shooting experience.
|Waterproof Depth:||60 meters (196 feet)|
|Compatibility:||iPhone 12-14/Pro/Max, Samsung S21-S23 Plus/Ultra|
- The housing supports a variety of interchangeable lenses, and can accommodate various popular camera models.
- Function wise, this is the only housing where you can use the entire touchscreen underwater. No buttons!
- Superior durability and resistance to water pressure compared to a standard waterproof phone case.
- The Seatouch 4 Max housing can be relatively expensive compared to basic underwater phone cases or entry-level housings.
- Proper maintenance is crucial to ensure the longevity of the Seatouch 4 Max housing.
Best under $400
Waterproof Action Camera
If you want an inexpensive, very compact underwater camera that specialises in wide-angle video – action cameras are the right choice for you.
GoPro HERO 10 Black
The tried-and-tested GoPro Hero 10 Black is a camera that is ideal for snorkelers. Model evolution over time has produced a very user-friendly and dependable camera.
While you may get action cameras for a fifth of the cost, they will be of lower quality and you can never be certain that they have been pressure tested before being submerged in water. We've personally purchased two far less expensive (chinese-branded) action cameras in the past; despite being waterproof, both of them flooded when immersed.
Get a GoPro. Without giving it much thought, you'll obtain some pretty incredible footage.
|Waterproof Depth:||10 meter (33 feet)|
|Video Specs||5.3K (60 fps), 2.7K (240 fps)|
|Photo Specs||23 megapixels, 1/2.3” sensor, 1/2000 shutter (max)|
- Wide field of view captures immersive snorkeling experiences.
- Small enough to connect to your mask, place in your pocket, or hold in one hand.
- Advanced image stabilization ensures steady footage while snorkeling.
- High frame rates and incredible video resolution that perform admirably even in dim lighting.
- High-quality accessory ecosystem for enhanced snorkeling versatility.
- They take a long time to shoot, so you risk missing an opportunity while the camera captures the prior shot.
- Still pictures are best grabbed from video footage albeit the quality won’t be great.
- A small viewing screen means you probably won’t see what you are recording.
- GoPro Hero 10 will start getting hot when recording in a high frame rate.
Best under $600
Waterproof Compact Camera
These cameras are specifically designed to withstand water exposure without the need for additional housing.
Unleash your underwater explorer with the Olympus TG-6. The best bang for the buck waterproof compact camera on the market, and a delight for snorkelers!
One of the standout features of the TG-6 is its wide range of shooting modes. From macro photography to action-packed videos, this camera offers a versatile selection of options to cater to every creative vision. The microscope mode is particularly impressive, allowing you to capture intricate details of tiny underwater creatures with astounding clarity.
Overall, we cannot recommend the Olympus TG-6 underwater camera enough. It combines rugged durability, exceptional image quality, versatile shooting modes, and user-friendly functionality into a single, compact package.
|Waterproof Depth:||50 feet (15 meters)|
|Video Specs:||4K (30 fps), 1080p (120 fps)|
|Photo Specs:||12 megapixels, 1/2.3” sensor, 1/2000 shutter (max)|
- Already waterproof by itself – with housing it become almost invincible.
- Rugged construction withstands bumps and knocks during snorkeling trips.
- Brilliant microscope mode for macro photography.
- If you want to upgrade your system, Olympus offers additional lenses, flashes, and many other accessories.
- Zoom range is limited, restricting versatility for distant subjects.
- Small image sensor may limit low-light performance and dynamic range.
- Limited manual control options for advanced photographers.
- 12 megapixel camera is somewhat lacking.
Best under $1000
Compact Camera & Housing
By using a compact camera with an underwater housing, snorkelers have the flexibility to use the same camera for both underwater and everyday photography. The housing can be easily removed, allowing the camera to be used in various environments and situations.
Compact cameras often feature high-quality sensors and lenses, delivering excellent image quality even in underwater conditions.
Sony RX100 V
The Sony RX100 V is easily the best compact camera out there for UW photography. A 20.1-megapixel and 1-inch sensor delivers outstanding image quality with sharp details, vibrant colors, and excellent low-light performance, ensuring stunning underwater photos and videos.
Snorkelers can capture their underwater adventures in breathtaking detail with the RX100 V's 4K video recording capability. The camera offers various frame rate options, including high-speed recording for slow-motion footage, allowing snorkelers to create dynamic and immersive underwater videos.
Seafrogs RX100 Housing
When combined with the Seafrogs RX100 housing, you have the option to attach additional accessories, such as wide-angle or macro lenses, filters, and external flashes.
|Waterproof Depth:||195 feet (60 meters) with Seafrogs housing.|
|Video Specs:||4k (30 fps), 1080p (120 fps)|
|Photo Specs:||20 megapixels, 1” sensor, 1/32000 shutter (max)|
- Excellent waterproof performance with Seafrogs housing (compatible Sony RX100 V and previous models).
- Affordable housing options and accessories.
- A superb underwater and travel camera with insanely fast focusing and shooting.
- Lots of custom manual settings but the user interface is unfriendly for beginners.
- Recording at 4k for prolonged periods can cause the camera to heat up, creating condensation on the housing lens.
- The Seafrogs housing does not allow use of the back wheel, which means you can't shoot in full manual mode.
Best underwater camera accessories
Underwater camera accessories greatly expand the creative possibilities, image quality, and versatility of your snorkeling photography.
Whether it's protection, lighting, lenses, stability, or creative effects, these accessories are invaluable tools for snorkelers looking to capture their underwater adventures with precision and artistry.
Best for GoPro
SHOOT Dome Port Lens
There are so many GoPro underwater accessories to choose from, but number one on your list should be the housing.
The SHOOT dome port lens for GoPro enables snorkelers to capture stunning split-level shots, expanding the field of view and eliminating water distortion. It enhances image quality with a unique perspective, and offers additional waterproof protection.
|Waterproof Depth:||147 feet (45 meters)|
|Compatibility:||GoPro Hero 9/10/11|
- Clear Dome Lens captures vivid 50/50 images above and below water.
- The case provides enhanced protection and expanded depth range.
- Dual handle ensures stability and buoyancy for steady photo and video capture.
- Enlarged trigger.
- Bulkier compared to standard GoPro housing.
- Requires extra care to prevent scratches on the dome.
- Limited compatibility with specific GoPro models.
Best housing accessory
The Accessory Pro Anti-Fog Inserts
Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to capture a magical underwater moment to find the lens area of your camera housing is fogged up. When you transition from a cool environment to a warmer underwater environment, condensation can form on the lens or inside the housing, obstructing your shots.
These anti-fog inserts by The Accessory Pro are made from a high quality silica gel on cellulose fiber, and are highly effective at absorbing moisture.
Silica gel has a high adsorption capacity and can continue to absorb moisture for an extended period. The cellulose fiber helps to distribute the absorbed moisture more evenly, maximizing the effectiveness of the silica gel.
- Great size for all other camera housing, including GoPros and other action cameras.
- They can be "recharged" in the oven, and used multiple times.
- One of the cheapest purchases for your camera housing but has makes a big difference.
- 1. Limited lifespan before needing replacement or regeneration.
- 1. May need to be removed and stored separately when not in use.
Ringke Waterproof Floating Strap
Cameras and phones are slippery in the water and they will be drifting off before you know it without some kind of leash.
The Rinkge floating strap and lanyard ensures the safety of your camera by keeping it afloat, allowing for easy retrieval, and providing hands-free convenience whilst snorkeling.
We love the vivid colors and designs by Ringke. These floats come in a pack of two, which is handy as they can be doubled up to float much heavier devices.
- Easy to spot marine-yellow and several other bright colors to choose from.
- Don't lose your camera or phone when snorkeling, this is a cheap insurance!
- Swim hands free with comfort.
- Unlikely, but could get tangled or cause drag in the water.
- May obstruct camera controls or lens.
- Extra bulk and weight to carry.
Tips for snorkeling with your camera
Familiarize yourself: Before snorkeling with an underwater camera, take time to understand its features, settings, and controls. Practice using it on land or in a controlled environment to become comfortable with its operation.
Optimize settings: Adjust camera settings according to the lighting conditions underwater. Consider using the underwater mode if available, it will help with white-balance.
Stabilize your shots: Maintain steady hand movements or use a stabilizing accessory like a camera float grip to reduce camera shake and capture sharper images or smoother videos.
Focus on close-ups: Get closer to your subjects to capture details and vibrant colors. Underwater environments can sometimes reduce visibility, so getting closer helps to eliminate distractions and produce clearer images.
Rinse and dry: After snorkeling, rinse your camera and housing with freshwater to remove any salt or debris. Allow them to dry thoroughly before storing to prevent mold or corrosion.
More great snorkeling gear
Now you've equipped yourself with the best snorkel camera, check out our guide to the best snorkeling gear. We've handpicked a range of high-quality masks, snorkels, fins, wetsuits, and accessories to elevate your snorkeling experience to new depths.
Visit our snorkeling gear guide and embark on your next underwater adventure with confidence.