If you are going on vacation somewhere this year, there is a good chance you are going to be around water of some kind. It could be a lake, the ocean, a river or even a swimming pool.
We have been conditioned to keep all of our electronics away from water. The 3 point pat check of the pockets before going into water has become an almost subconscious part of many peoples lives. But this is a shame.
Some of the best shots (and best memories) we create are usually around water. Swimming with your kids, snorkelling in the sea, playing in a waterfall, or just paddling in a stream. These moments are seldom captured as much as they could be.
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But it doesn’t have to be this way, and with a waterproof camera you can take shots you never thought possible. When you get used to being able to take shots in water, you are never going to be able to stop – you have been warned.
Many people think that waterproof cameras are either expensive specialist items or low-quality products that take bad pictures (or break down pretty quickly). However, that is not the case, and there are a wide range of reliable cameras that can take great pictures underwater without breaking the bank
With that being said, here are our top 5 cheap underwater cameras on the market that we feel are worthy of your consideration.
The Absolute Best Cheap Underwater Camera Available – Fujifilm FinePix XP90
With our top pick for this list we feel have found the absolute best cheap underwater camera. The Fujifilm FinePix XP90 isn’t the newest underwater digital camera in the world, but it has stood the test of time well. It is still one of the best products on the market, and as an added bonus – its very cheap.
This is a fully waterproof camera (not to be confused with water resistant). It can be submerged to 15 meters (50ft) and still work wonderfully well. This is more than the maximum limit for certified divers. So unless you have had advanced training – its capable of working as deep as you can go.
However, this isn’t just a waterproof camera, this is a seriously rugged device. It can function in sub freezing temperatures of -14 degrees, is totally dust proof, and survive a drop from 5.8ft.
When its rugged waterproof nature is combined with a brilliant picture quality and high quality optics, its an all round winner in our books.
Despite being an older product, this camera is still fully loaded with Wi-Fi connectivity. This means you can automatically have all the images on your camera transfer to your computer or phone when they are connected to the same network. It’s a great little feature that you don’t know you need until you try it.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
The only issue with this camera is related to its age. This is a reasonably old product and as such, camera technology has evolved a little bit since it was first released. Its possible to get a better picture from a newer camera. However considering we are looking for cheap and affordable cameras in this article, we have decided not to mark it down because of this.
The Second Best Affordable Underwater Camera Available – Nikon CoolPix AW130
Many people will know Nikon for their incredible range of high-performance professional-grade camera equipment. They are arguably the most respected brand in the photographic industry. With the AW130 they have turned their attention to underwater point and shoot photography. We think they have made one of the best affordable underwater cameras available, and it is more than worthy of being included on your shortlist.
Like the Fujifilm above, this is a seriously rugged camera (but even more so than the camera in the top spot). It is rated to be totally waterproof to a depth of 100ft or 30meters. This is the absolute limit for recreational diving (unless you are an instructor). It is also shockproof to 2.1 meters and is freeze proof to minus 10.
The picture quality of the 16MP camera is nothing short of amazing (as you would expect from a Nikon product). It can shoot in full 1080p video and it even has a GPS tracking system so you can see exactly where you took your photos.
Many underwater scenes that you will come across are just too vast and expansive to be captured by a reasonably standard narrows lens. Nikon being the camera experts they are realized this and as such they have given their AW130 a super wide angle lens. You will be able to capture vivid incredible wide angle scenes and it’s also perfect for taking underwater selfies with ease.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
The one thing people seem to complain about a little bit with this camera is the controls. They can be a little bit tricky and fiddly to operate when underwater, which can be an annoyance. However this being said, once you get used to it (and you will get used to it) it’s not really a problem.
The Third Best Cheap Digital Underwater Camera – Olympus TG-4
Olympus have been around making world class cameras for a while now. While they may not have the same amount of prestige attached to their name as the Nikon above – they still make incredibly well built cameras. Their TG-4 is one of the most rugged cameras on this list, and it takes stunning photos.
This cheap underwater digital camera will be able to do anything you ask it to, and it will scream at you for more. The 15 meter water resistance level is nothing too special (more than enough for recreational diving) but its other features are almost insane. It is crushproof to 220lbs, shockproof to 2.1 meters, and can work in temperatures as low as minus 10.
What really makes this camera a worthy addition to this list is the fact it can pictures in RAW format. This means there is no compression on the images when you take them, and you get the original full detail in each and every picture. Its something no other camera on this list can do – and as a result it takes some of the best pictures out of any of them.
Olympus have really jam packed this camera with all kinds of additional functionality that may be useful in a range of situations. For example it has a pressure meter, an altimeter, an electronic compass, and full GPS tracking. If your hobbies are a little bit on the extreme side, this could be the camera for you.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
The main issue this camera has is again to do with the design of its controls. However unlike the Nikon above the majority of the controls on this camera are easily usable – even underwater. It’s the zoom control that leaves a little bit to be desired. It can be difficult to operate accurately and takes a little bit of getting used to.
The Best Cheap Underwater Digital Camera – Marvue 810s
Marvue are a reasonably unknown brand in the world of camera equipment compared to the big names of Nikon and Canon. However, their 810s is incredible product that takes outstanding underwater shots.
Its one of the cheapest underwater digital cameras we have picked for this article, and is well worth the money. It might not be as fully featured as some of the other cameras we have included, but if you are on a tight budget this is a camera worth considering.
As you can imagine, the budget pick (on this already cheap list) is one of the least durable. It can only be used to depths of 10 feet, which is not enough for diving (but is good enough for snorkelling).
It’s very light and comfortable in the hand. The large LCD screen on the back is bright and luminous enough to be used in dark conditions. It can record full 1080p video and (for the price) takes excellent sharp, clear images.
Yup, you read that right. This camera floats. This is an ingenious design feature that allows total peace of mind when swimming. You can give this to the Kids without having to worry about them dropping it down to the depths of the ocean. It’s almost a no brainer feature to have on a waterproof digital camera (but one that the big brands seem to have overlooked).
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
The main flaws with this camera are directly related to it being a cheaper product. The image quality is a little worse than the other products on this page, and the maximum depth makes it unusable for diving. This being said, if you are looking for a cheap option to take some causal aquatic holiday pics – it’s a great product.
An All Round Good Cheap Underwater Camera – Canon Powershot D30
Our final entry on this list is from Canon, one of the worlds best camera manufacturers. Their Powershot D30 is a little bit old now, but its still in our opinion a good cheap underwater camera that will take excellent photos in all kinds of conditions.
The D30 is waterproof up to 25 meters, shockproof to 2 meters, and can work in temperatures as low as minus 10. Its as good as (or better) than many of the other products on this list when it comes to toughness. But that’s not the main reason we like it.
We love the fact this camera has image stabilization technology built into it – something than many other manufacturers seem to have overlooked. When you are taking shots underwater, lighting conditions are suboptimal and holding the camera steady can be difficult. This can result in a large number of your pictures being unusable because they are too blurry.
The image stabilization technology in the Canon removes this issue entirely, it’s the easiest to use camera on this list.
The autofocus on the Canon is simply superb. Focusing underwater is a quite a difficult task for some lower quality cameras. There can be a lot of focus hunting that can means you miss time sensitive shots. The Canon however does not have this problem, and focuses quickly and accurately time and time again.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
Because this is an older camera, it does not have some of the more advanced features that some more modern cameras have. Here we are mainly missing features like GPS tracking, depth data, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Its not the end of the world, but its certainly something we miss.
As you can imagine, cameras that have been designed for use underwater have a wide range of specific features and qualities that make them a good product. Here we are going to talk about 2 of the most important features you should look out for when shopping around.
Waterproof Vs Water Resistant
There is a huge difference between these two terms, and unfortunately its one many people seem to overlook or just don’t understand. A water resistant camera can withstand the occasional splash or accidental drop into water, but cannot survive prolonged exposure. Waterproof cameras can be fully submerged without issue. Be sure to check any camera you are considering is waterproof or you risk destroying your device.
As anyone who has ever been diving will be able to tell you, when you go deeper underwater the pressure increases. This means there is more force being exerted on the sealants and gaskets in your camera that keeps the components dry. Too much pressure and water will be able to get into the electronics and destroy the camera (and any pictures that are stored on it).
If you are planning on diving (or diving down when snorkelling) ensure you get a camera that can withstand the pressures of underwater life. If you are just planning on playing around at the surface, this doesn’t matter too much. But the depth rating is still an indication of the quality of the water resistance, so its worth paying attention to.
So there you have it, a list of the best cheap underwater cameras perfect for a vacation or a little bit of recreational diving. Once you get the ability to take pictures underwater you will never be able to go back to doing without it.
It’s an unusual unnatural feeling the first time you take your camera into the water. All your subconscious training tells you its wrong and you will almost certainly have to do a double-take about what you are doing.
But once you get used to it – it’s addictive.
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