Best Underwater Snorkeling Camera
Looking to capture your snorkeling adventures in high-quality resolution? Here is our top picks and buyer's guide for best snorkeling cameras for underwater.
We revised our list of underwater cameras on the market in 2018 to figure out which ones perform best.
Our top choices based on verified buyer experiences are:
- Campark ACT74 4K WiFi Waterproof Snorkel Cam 2000+ 5 star reviews (62%)
- AKASO Brave 4 4K WiFi Underwater Snorkeling Camera 850+ 5 star reviews (73%)
- Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD 110+ 5 star reviews (48%)
- Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera 50+ 5 star reviews (52%)
- Fujifilm FinePix XP120 Waterproof Digital Underwater Camera New - July 2018
Top Rated Underwater Snorkel Cameras
The Campark ACT74 is an action camera that allows you to capture your snorkeling adventures in a high-quality resolution. Using the +Sony Sensor mechanism, the camera can record 4K video footages at 30 frames per second (fps) or take photos at 16 megapixels. It has a built-in 2-inch HD LCD Screen where you can playback your photos and videos made, even if you are underwater, courtesy from its 170°Ultra wide angle lens. Using a micro SD card, you can store photos and videos of up to 32 gigabytes.
This action camera can be remotely operated through WIFI using the iOS or any android system. This means that you can remotely control and manage the camera over the phone. You can instantly view your photos and videos, or send and share them directly on social media. On top of the high resolution and smooth user experience rating, the good thing with Campark ACT74 is that you can continuously use and operate the camera for up to 180 minutes. This is courtesy from its increased lithium battery that can be easily recharged through its battery charging port.
When it comes to snorkeling and other water-based recreational activities, the Campark ACT74 goes with its own waterproof case that is rated to go 30 meters (100 feet) deep. This underwater capability makes the camera also great for swimming, scuba diving, and surfing. It is also packed with several multifunctional mounting accessories where you can either place the camera on your wrist, helmet, surfboard or at the top of your mask. Just do not forget to lubricate the rubber seal with silicone grease for an extended rubber life. There is even a mounting accessory designed for bicycle use.
Compared to other action cameras out in the market, the Campark ACT74 is one of the cheapest that you can get. The price is relatively inexpensive provided that it features high-resolution photos, videos with a slow-motion rating at 720p and multifunction controls such as time lapse. The only downside that we see on the Campark ACT74 is that it has no image stabilization. This means that you need to focus on your subject and have a steady shoot for good quality images and videos. While it has an LCD screen, it has no touch screen feature. And lastly, when installed with its underwater casing, the camera unit, in general, becomes slightly bulky. However, it is still relatively compact and lightweight when you compare it to the old-school manual cameras with film.
Why use an Underwater Camera for Snorkeling?
Among the long list of hobbies we enjoy, going to the beach and go snorkeling is one of our favorite. In fact, we treasure this particular aquasport that we make sure every moment is documented and that’s the reason why most, if not all of us, brings a camera. But make no mistake in bringing just any kind of camera. It should be an underwater camera. Otherwise, you will have a flooded unit.
In the old days, underwater cameras were heavy and bulky. Snorkelers back then need more leg power just to propel themselves in the water while holding the camera equipment. Traditionally, old underwater camera units are composed of a camera, a sturdy casing and an external strobe where in most instances, are heavier than the camera and casing itself. Not to mention that everything is controlled manually and that the number of shoots that you can take underwater is dependent on the type and capacity of the film that you are using.
New-age underwater cameras still employ the same concept. However, everything now is compact and digital. Small and compact Digital Cameras have become a hit in the nineties. And coupled with its compatible casing, viola, you have an instant underwater camera. You don’t need to bring a separate external underwater strobe as the internal flash of the digital camera will suffice. You have endless possibilities of shooting your favorite underwater subject, as SD cards have replaced the old film allowing you over a hundred, if not thousands, of underwater photos to shoot. The only thing that can be considered remnants of the old-fashion camera is the manual controls. With underwater digital cameras, you still need to make the necessary adjustment for you to have a high-quality underwater photo, without the fuss and blur.
However, as they say, it: technology is speeding fast like lighting, a digital camera was suddenly out of the trend with the introduction of “Action cameras.” From your mid-size digital cameras, people are now using action cameras for reasons that they are highly compact, lightweight and relatively small in size. To give you an idea, most, if not all sizes of action camera do not exceed the palm of your hand. It’s that small. Aside from being compact and lightweight, action cameras employ the point and shoot technology where your hands are being freed from frequent adjustments of the setting. Just turn on the camera and press the shoot or record button. Unlike old cameras where you need to buy a separate case, action cameras usually come and offered with its own underwater casing.
During its early days, action cameras were worn using a lanyard and strapped to your hand. However, it has evolved that its operation has become hands-free. Most new models have accessories where you can mount the camera on your wrist, helmet or use it using a selfie stick making it a highly versatile photographic and video recording equipment.
Lastly, on top of all these features, what makes people keep using action camera is the high-quality resolution where most recent models have an integrated stabilization system that significantly reduces the shaky recordings done by most newbies, just like me years before. And do not worry if it's a high-resolution camera where most of its photos and videos take up more space, most action cameras are now using micro SD cards which can store more pictures and videos compared to SD cards.
Waterproof Camera versus Underwater Camera
Firstly, one camera is not better than the other, but it is essential to know that each make and model will contribute to the different quality and what it will be used for. You just need to see the difference.
Underwater Cameras can be a bit confusing except remember that you will generally need housing (a case that surrounds the camera). Depending on the product though it may have a case included with it, so it appears only to be one unit so just air on the side of caution when you are looking and buying these products, so you know the difference.
If you do buy an underwater camera and they don't come as one unit, and you need to buy the housing separately, and you need to make sure the camera will fit into the housing unit. Always double check that features first before you an expensive camera and expensive case and they do not fit.
Cleanliness is a huge factor when it comes to housing though. You need to be cautious to make sure sand or salt water does not affect both products. You will have to thoroughly clean the camera and case with fresh water and use a dry towel to make sure to mold or sand gets stuck in the camera or case. With proper casing on a camera, they will never leak as long as they are taken care of.
One downside of the underwater camera is that with casing they are a little bulkier and beefier. That being said they can be more durable when you are in the water.
The best part of underwater cameras is that with the housing, you will be able to go very deep into the water without any issues and you can stay in the water as long as you want so you can keep filming and taking pictures as long as you want.
With housing, usually, there are different attachments so you can put on a red filter which will change the lighting of your pictures to make it more clear and precise.
Firstly for waterproof cameras, you can only go down about 3-10 meters, so that is a huge factor when you think about what kind of snorkeling or diving you are doing. If you are just snorkeling at the top of the surface, you won't have any issues, but if you are an expert and duck dive down past 10 meters your camera might not work after... This also depends on the make and model of the waterproof camera.
They usually are very durable, so they have a drop resistance in which if you did drop it on the boat or ground nothing with happen from a certain "distance." The waterproof camera is also ready to go. That is a big plus especially if you are raring to go. Take it out of the package and jump in, no problem.
You want to make sure that you rinse your waterproof camera off thoroughly in fresh water to make sure it stays clean. Double check but sometimes with different makes and models they can only be submerged for a shorter period of time.
If you are strictly snorkeling I would recommend going with a waterproof camera because it is very unlikely that you are going to a deeper depth than 10 meters and for the extras, unless you use it for special features this will usually do a good enough job and then you don't have to worry about a bigger bulkier camera when you are traveling.
What kind of camera should you get?
I am not talking about specific brands such as GoPro, Panasonic, Nikon, and other brands but what kind of camera you need. Firstly, snorkel masks now can come with an attachment for your mask so you can put your camera right on your head so you can film your entire snorkeling adventure and then edit and make a video later. You may want a handheld camera that you can attach it to your wrist or even hold it so you can take basic pictures and small videos. You may want a camera with a great zoom on it so you can get up close and personal with the marine life.
Underwater camera or a waterproof camera: Some cameras will say they are waterproof up to a certain depth such as 10 meters or 30 feet. So you need to know how deep you will be diving down to so you are not to wreck your camera. Underwater cameras have housing to protect the camera and can usually go down much deeper and are built stronger that can withstand the pressure.
FYI: Underwater and waterproof can be used out of the water so you do not have to have 2 separate cameras and it becomes and nuisance.
To sum up, there are lots of options and price ranges for underwater cameras. It all depends on how much you will be using it and how much you want to spend. You can get cheap underwater digital cameras and cheap waterproof digital cameras, and there is a difference between the two. I tried to go over the differences between the two of them. There are lots of things you need to consider before buying an underwater camera: what kind of pictures you will be taking, will you be making movies, do you want a camera that will attach to your head so you can film everything that you see, etc. These are just some of the questions you need to think about before buying a camera, so you get what you need.
For the purpose of this article I started from talking the fundamental models from quick and easy cameras to a little more complicated but if you are taking pictures or videos for National Geographic! or want exceptional cameras for a dive shop this may not be the best site for you even though it will give you reliable information.