Last updated: August 20, 2021

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Welcome to our big underwater camera test 2021. Here we present all the underwater cameras we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best underwater cameras for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy an underwater camera.

Contents




Summary

  • Underwater cameras allow you to capture the most beautiful memories in and on the water in photos and videos.
  • Basically, cameras with underwater housings are divided into three types: Underwater camera as digital camera, action camera and disposable camera. All three types are available in many different models and designs.
  • While the underwater camera as a digital camera and the disposable camera are mainly suitable for taking photos, the action camera convinces with high-resolution video recordings.

The Best Underwater Camera in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an underwater camera

What are the advantages of an underwater camera over a normal compact camera?

Underwater cameras capture the most beautiful experiences under or on the water. While compact or digital cameras capture the greatest memories on land in photos or videos, the underwater camera offers a wide range of uses in the cool water.

In summary, an underwater camera offers you the following advantages:

  • Great shots in / on the water
  • Robust in the water and on land
  • Good quality of underwater shots
  • Wide range of applications

In addition to taking underwater photos on a diving holiday, the underwater camera can also score points in the water slide park, on a joyride on a jet ski or during water sports.

Jürgen DonauerExperte für IT und Fotografie
"If the housing and camera are separated, you should first take the housing without the camera under water. A piece of toilet paper in the housing will quickly tell you whether it is leak-proof or not."

What storage capacity does an underwater camera offer?

Underwater cameras do not have an internal memory. The storage capacity therefore depends on the memory card used. The memory card format used is either an SD card or a micro SD card.

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With an underwater camera you can take great snapshots on holiday. (Photo: Jeremy Bishop / unsplash.com)

Memory cards offer different amounts of storage capacity, starting at 4 GB. Most models allow a maximum storage capacity of 32 GB, although in exceptional cases memory cards with up to 64 GB are also compatible.

Can I rent an underwater camera?

Yes, it is possible to rent a camera with an underwater housing. You can rent mainly expensive underwater cameras in the big German cities or via the internet. On holiday, such as in water slide parks in Dubai, underwater cameras can also be rented. However, the price should not be underestimated.

Often you can afford a good entry-level camera for a day's rental. In addition, you should be familiar with the operation of the underwater camera in order to be able to take optimal pictures. This is often not the case with a rental. The price trend is extremely fluctuating.

How do I clean an underwater camera?

Cleaning an underwater camera is very simple. The camera itself does not need to be cleaned. However, the underwater housing should be rinsed with clear water after each use. There are some cleaning kits that help you with cleaning.

When using the camera in salt, chlorine or fresh water, small particles will stick to the camera housing, which is why you should clean it after each use. It is important that you dry the underwater housing thoroughly before using it again.

If there is even a drop of water in the housing, this can lead to bad pictures and, in the worst case, to a defect of the underwater camera.

How do I transfer photos and videos from my underwater camera to my PC or smartphone?

Photo and video recordings can be transferred to a PC or smartphone either by app, Bluetooth, cable or memory card. However, transferring from a disposable camera is not possible. The different devices offer different connections.

Unterwasserkamera Fels

The easiest way to transfer pictures and videos to your PC is with a cable. The underwater cameras have a mini-USB connection, so the camera can be connected to the PC via USB or HDMI. (Photo: Jeremy Bishop / unsplash.com)

For the transfer with the memory card, a card slot must be available on the PC. The memory card is inserted into the card slot so that the recordings can be transferred to the PC.

Not all manufacturers and models yet offer transfer via app or Bluetooth. With an app for the smartphone, the camera can be connected to the mobile device via WLAN. In this way, pictures and videos can be viewed and transferred to the smartphone.

When transferring via Bluetooth, there is no need to download an app, the transfer is carried out via Bluetooth, which has the advantage that no WLAN needs to be available.

Which accessories are useful for an underwater camera?

There are countless accessories, especially for action cameras. In the following, we will show you some useful accessories:

  • Chest or head strap
  • Selfie stick
  • Handheld
  • Wristband as remote control
  • Bag
Jürgen DonauerExperte für IT und Fotografie
"Always consider the maximum depth when buying. Some of the cheap cameras can only withstand pressure at shallow depths and are not suitable for scuba diving."

Chest or head strap

A chest or head strap is very useful if you want to shoot video with as little wobble as possible. Another advantage is that you have your hands free while filming. A chest or head strap is therefore ideal for recording a slide or a ride on a jet ski.

Selfie stick

If you also want to take pictures of yourself, a selfie stick is a good idea. With this "arm extension" you can easily take pictures and videos of yourself. Such a gadget is available for almost all underwater camera models. Single-use cameras, however, do not have a mount for a selfie stick.

Handheld

To be able to hold the rather small underwater camera better, a handheld is a good idea. This waterproof handheld is also very useful when diving, as it makes handling extremely easy. The handheld is also attached to the wrist with a small arm strap.

Wristband as remote control

A wrist strap as a remote control is extremely useful if you often film with a chest or head strap. Once you have screwed the underwater camera into the mount, it is extremely difficult to operate it without the remote control. A wristband is also suitable as a remote control when diving, as otherwise it is extremely difficult to operate the camera through the diving equipment.

The wristband has two buttons: one triggers the photo recording, while the other button can be used to start and stop video recordings. The buttons are very generously sized, so they are easy to use.

Bag

A camera bag for the camera and accessories is always a good idea. Some of these bags can be bought for very little money. Since some underwater cameras offer you a lot of accessories, it is worthwhile to buy a storage option anyway.

Small items such as extra batteries, memory cards or connection cables can easily get lost if you don't keep them together in a bag.

Other accessories

There are countless other accessories. Depending on the purpose for which you want to buy an underwater camera, the extras are more or less useful. Besides all kinds of mounts and attachments, there are also small tripods for use above water.

Our expert Jürgen Donauer has further important tips for you:

"Under water, the visible red light is absorbed relatively quickly. That's why photos often look very colourless. Up to a certain depth, you can help yourself with a red filter that brings back some of the colours. For great photos like those in magazines, you can't do without strong flashes. The camera and the housing must be suitable for this.

If you spend a lot of money on an underwater camera, the result can still be very disappointing. A good flash, however, quickly costs 500 euros. If you want to experiment with the subject, you should perhaps go for an inexpensive model and then choose a professional version if you like it.

With video, of course, there is the same problem with the light. For moderate depths, a red filter for the GoPro is advisable. If you have a camera that you can take out of the housing, there are a few things to keep in mind. It's best never to open the camera between dives or between visits to the water. It's best to open it in a wind-protected and clean environment.

The reason is that otherwise dirt, hair or the like can collect on the O-ring. One hair is enough and your camera will leak. If you dive, the end of the camera is sealed. Always check meticulously that the O-ring is clean and not dry before closing it.

If the camera can shoot in RAW format, this has a huge advantage. Under water you often only have one chance and then the fish is gone. If the exposure or the white balance is not right, you can correct it up to a certain point with free software such as RawTherapee, Darktable or an HDR procedure

Decision: What types of underwater cameras are there and which one is right for you?

Basically, there are three different types of underwater cameras:

  • Underwater camera as digital camera
  • Action camera / outdoor camera
  • Single-use camera

All three types of underwater cameras offer individual advantages and disadvantages, which we have compiled for you below.

The cameras offer very different functions. Depending on the purpose for which you want to buy an underwater camera, we will show you which type is best suited for you. In the following, we will introduce you to the different types so that you can easily find the perfect underwater camera for you.

How does an underwater camera work as a digital camera and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

An underwater camera as a digital camera has the great advantage that it is easy to use without sacrificing important functions. However, the waterproof compact camera clearly focuses on photography. If you mainly want to take photos under water, an underwater camera is absolutely suitable for you.

Advantages
  • Easy to use
  • Immediate view of pictures on the digital screen
  • Affordable purchase
Disadvantages
  • Partly weak video function
  • Few accessories

The underwater camera as a digital camera is particularly suitable for beginners because of its simple operation. There is a large selection of digital compact cameras that are also available for little money. The underwater housing is permanently installed and cannot be removed.

Unlike action or outdoor cameras, there are few accessories for underwater digital cameras. In addition, most devices only offer a weak video function, which is why the action camera is more suitable for high-resolution video recordings.

What functions does an action camera offer and what advantages and disadvantages does it have?

The actioncam is becoming increasingly popular and is the type with the most functions. In addition to very good videos, it convinces with a good image quality. A so-called action cam or outdoor cam is now available from many manufacturers and offers a wide range of possibilities.

In addition to taking photos, an action cam is particularly suitable for high-resolution video recordings, so that one or the other wet slide is gladly filmed with it.

The Actioncam scores with a wide range of functions. In addition to taking photos, high-quality videos are also possible. Some action cams can be connected to a smartphone via WLAN so that the video and photo material can be transferred directly to the smartphone.

Advantages
  • Many functions
  • Good video resolution
  • Many accessories
Disadvantages
  • More difficult to operate
  • Weak battery performance
  • No optical zoom

In addition, some models also offer a digital screen, which makes operation much easier. The wide range of accessories, from chest straps and helmet mounts to waterproof handles, opens up many possibilities.

However, the many functions and compactness of these outdoor cameras make them a little more difficult to operate. Before you can really get started, you should definitely take a look at the operating instructions.

The battery power of action cameras is very weak and only lasts for about one to two hours of video and photo recording, which is why you should always take a spare battery with you. Action cameras do not have an optical zoom.

Before using your underwater camera for the first time, you should always read the instruction manual. This will make you aware of many important points.

In any case, the action cam offers the most possibilities: Whether it's a diving holiday in Egypt, a visit to the water slide park or a ride on a jet ski, an action camera scores points for all activities. An action cam is therefore wonderfully suitable as a travel camera.

Such an outdoor camera can be found on the market from many manufacturers. The price range is very wide, but good models are also available for the small purse for less than 100 euros.

What functions does the disposable camera offer and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Disposable cameras are, as the name suggests, intended for one-time use. This type of underwater camera is the cheapest but also the simplest alternative. It is particularly suitable as a travel camera. The disposable camera only offers a photo function that is reminiscent of a normal camera.

It has no other connections, so the photos cannot be transferred to the laptop. After the photo has been taken, the wheel is always turned a little further until it stops. A disposable camera can take between 20 and 27 pictures before the film is full.

Advantages
  • Cheap purchase
  • Easy to use
Disadvantages
  • Poor picture quality
  • No digital pictures
  • No connections

A disposable underwater camera is submitted to a drugstore for development after use. There is no way to get the pictures digitally. Although the disposable camera is easy to use, the quality of the pictures is rather poor.

With a purchase price of between ten and 15 euros, the disposable underwater camera is the cheapest version of the underwater cameras.

Although disposable cameras do not shine with perfect picture quality, you can try your hand at underwater photography for little money.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate underwater cameras based on these factors

Underwater cameras offer different functions that are more or less important depending on their purpose. Below we have compiled the factors you can use to compare and evaluate underwater cameras:

  • Purpose of the camera
  • Weight
  • Resolution
  • Waterproof
  • Screen
  • Zoom
  • Video recording function
  • Battery life
  • Colour
  • WLAN and GPS

In the paragraphs below we have listed the individual buying criteria.

Purpose of the camera

The different underwater cameras offer a wide range of functions and applications. Depending on the purpose for which you want to buy a camera, a special model is particularly suitable for you. So first ask yourself what you want to buy an underwater camera for.

Unterwasserkamera Fischschwarm

For one-time use on holiday, a disposable underwater camera is sufficient if you do not attach importance to particularly good quality pictures. (Photo: Johnny Chen / unsplash.com)

A digital underwater camera is the right one for you if you mainly want to take photos. The advantage over a disposable camera is obvious: you can use the camera more often and the quality of the pictures is much better.

If you want to use the underwater camera for spectacular video recordings and good quality photos, an action camera is exactly what you need. It is the underwater camera with the most functions and is therefore suitable for a wide range of purposes.

Think about what you want to do with your underwater camera and how often you want to use it. Depending on this, a specific type may be right for you.

Did you know that an underwater camera offers more than a normal camera in some respects?

Underwater there is much less vibration or other disturbances, but thanks to their solid construction, underwater cameras are also sufficiently protected from dust, shocks and cold temperatures on land - sometimes even better than normal cameras.

Weight

The weight of the camera also plays a role. It varies between about 55 and 300 grams. At first glance, this does not look like much, but it should not be completely disregarded.

If you want to use a head strap, for example, this can be exhausting in the long run with a heavier camera. Action cameras are much more compact than digital underwater cameras, so they are also lighter.

Resolution

The resolution of the underwater camera is an important indicator of image quality. The number of megapixels varies from model to model.

Basically, it can be said that not only the resolution plays a role in the quality, but also the wide angle and the optical zoom. However, the number of megapixels should be at least 10 megapixels to take acceptable pictures and videos.

Waterproofness

The waterproofness of the underwater camera should definitely be considered. Depending on the purpose, a different waterproof rating is required. The water resistance usually ranges from three to 40 metres.

If you only want to take pictures of slides, a water resistance of three metres is usually sufficient. However, if you want to take photos and videos while diving, you need a much higher water resistance.

Screen

A screen is not always the most important feature of an underwater camera. Some models do not have a screen at all. If one is available, the size naturally plays a role.

Disposable underwater cameras do not have a digital screen. This means that there is no way to view the pictures you have taken before developing them. Action cameras are sometimes equipped with a screen. There are various models with and without screens.

Digital underwater cameras, however, all have a screen on which the pictures can be viewed. Another advantage of a screen is the ease of use. With a screen, you don't have to look through the viewfinder, but you can see the subject comfortably on the screen.

The size of the screen varies from model to model and of course depends on the overall size of the camera. The displays of underwater cameras range from 1.5 to 3.0 inches. Action cameras usually have a smaller screen than digital underwater cameras.

Zoom

The zoom plays a role in the quality and should therefore be considered. While action cameras usually do not offer an optical zoom, good digital underwater cameras are equipped with one.

Mechanical adjustments in the lens change the angle of view that is captured. A particularly large zoom range provides more adjustment options, but lenses with a very high zoom factor often deliver visibly poorer image quality than those in the medium zoom range.

Video recording function

Action cameras all have a video recording function, which is usually of very good quality. Digital underwater cameras also have a video recording function. However, since the focus of these cameras is on photography, the quality is not quite as good. Single-use cameras do not have a video recording function.

Battery life

The battery life of the underwater camera is an important factor to consider. Disposable cameras do not need to be and cannot be recharged, so battery life is not an issue with this variant. You can influence the battery life of digital underwater cameras by buying higher-quality batteries.

Unterwasserkamera Seestern

Most models work with rechargeable batteries. If you use batteries, you can expect to change them frequently. (Photo: Amy Humphries / unsplash.com)

Because the focus of digital underwater cameras is on taking photos, the battery lasts longer. The runtime of action cams, on the other hand, is short because recording videos requires a lot of battery power.

At best, the battery lasts for two hours. Since the batteries of the action cams are limited and a longer runtime is therefore not possible, the only option here is to buy several batteries and replace them.

Colour

Underwater cameras come in all kinds of colours. Of course, the design is not important for use. However, you should like your device, which is why you should inform yourself about the different colour variations. Most underwater cameras come in black, blue or silver. However, trendy colours such as green, pink or orange are becoming increasingly popular.

WLAN and GPS

With the WLAN function, you can connect the underwater camera to your smartphone. Some camera manufacturers offer apps for the smartphone so that you can upload photos and videos in the Wi-Fi network directly to the smartphone with the app.

This is a very useful function, as you often don't have a laptop with you, especially on holiday. Only a few underwater cameras offer the GPS function. With this function, the camera records the location, angle and depth when taking a photo.

For many divers, however, the GPS function is indispensable, as it allows them to locate where and at what depth they took certain shots. The GPS function is therefore a nice addition that beginners can do without.

Facts worth knowing about underwater cameras

How long have underwater cameras been available and how have they developed?

The diver William Thopsen succeeded in taking underwater pictures for the first time in 1856. In 1893, the Frenchman Louis Boutan joined forces with Joseph David to take more pictures under the water's surface. To this day, Louis Boutan is considered the inventor of underwater photography.

Nikon brought the first underwater camera onto the market in 1963. At that time, however, it was still an SLR camera in a waterproof housing. In the following years, when digital cameras became fashionable, more and more waterproof housings were used.

The technology has become more and more sophisticated, so that there are now many models of underwater cameras in almost all quality and price categories. The manufacturer GoPro launched the first action camera on the market in 2004, which has been constantly developed and improved until today.

How can I operate the control buttons of the underwater camera with diving equipment?

On a dive, in addition to the wetsuit and the compressed air cylinder, you usually wear gloves that make it difficult to operate a dive camera. In most diving areas, however, these gloves are prohibited! Here we recommend the use of a wristband with which the underwater camera can be controlled.

These wristbands usually offer two buttons that are very generously designed. The size of the buttons makes operation extremely easy, even when wearing gloves. One button can be used to take photos, the other to start and stop video recordings.

Such a wristband is not only suitable for divers: when used with a chest or head belt, the wristband also makes it extremely easy to use.

There are remote controls that make it easier to take pictures while diving.

Is the use of an underwater camera allowed in water slide parks?

Each park decides for itself whether use is permitted in the slide park. So no definitive statement is possible here. The use of action cameras is regulated in the house rules of the parks and can therefore be viewed before the visit.

Often, the use of an action camera on the slides is only permitted with an appropriate chest or head belt, so that the sliders still have the possibility to hold on or to keep to the prescribed slide position. In any case, you should check with the water park beforehand to be on the safe side.

Is it possible to edit underwater recordings?

Basically, every picture can be edited on the computer with the appropriate programmes. If the pictures are of good quality, editing is of course somewhat easier.

For editing your underwater photos, we recommend the free software Gimp, which delivers great results. Alternatively, of course, you can use the well-known, but chargeable programme Adobe Photoshop.

Image source: Varin Rattanaburi / 123RF.com

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