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Seven of the best underwater cameras for your next snorkelling or scuba dive trip

From a special case you can put on your phone to a waterproof ‘tough’ camera, there’s now plenty of ways to take pictures of the ocean’s depths. Here are our favourites

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 7:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 7:48pm

Whether you’re snorkelling or diving, the ocean’s colourful reef fish, sea turtles and sharks make it an unforgettable experience – and one you’ll want to capture in photos and video. Can you take your phone underwater? You can if you get a special case, though dedicated housings for DSLR cameras and a plethora of waterproof ‘tough’ cameras may be just as appealing. Either way, it’s getting easier to make a splash with underwater photography.


If you already have a GoPro, underwater photography is yours to explore thanks to its waterproof design.

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Like the HERO5, the new HERO6 (US$510) is waterproof without a housing down to 10m, but it has other features that could be handy in the ocean. Hands-free controls means you can simply utter “GoPro, start recording” before heading beneath the waves. It also films video in 4K. Available at

Ricoh WG-50

Another way to approach underwater photography is to find a waterproof compact camera. Although not specialised underwater cameras, so-called ‘rugged’ cameras are a good value option. Weighing 193g, the Ricoh WG-50 (US$273) is typical of the genre, pairing 15-megapixel stills with Full HD video. It’s waterproof to 14m, with a 5x optical zoom. Available at

Fujifilm FinePix XP80

An almost identical compact ‘adventuring’ camera comes from Fujifilm, whose FinePix XP80 (US$138) is also waterproof to 15m. Like the Ricoh, it’s shockproof, freeze-proof (down to minus 10°C) and dustproof. This all-weather adventure camera also does Full HD video, but it’s slightly lighter than the Ricoh, at just 179g, and has better image stabilisation tech. Available at

Canon 5D Mk III & Hugyfot Underwater Housing

A high-end choice for sure, it is possible to take a full frame camera underwater, though the housing is even more expensive than the body. Take the Canon 5D Mk III (US$3,329); this 22.3-megapixel camera has no special watertight properties, but can be taken down to a whopping 100m if you strap it inside the Hugyfot 5D MkIII housing (US$3,364).

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It’s an expensive set-up best considered only by professionals. Available at and

Olympus Tough TG-5

Freeze-proof to minus 10C, crushproof to 100kg and shockproof if dropped from 1.2m, the TG-5 (US$511) advances its tough tag by being waterproof to a depth of 15m – no special casing required. If you want to take it deeper than 15m, a separate housing is available for about half the cost of the camera. You may want to do just that because the TG-5 shoots video in 4K – something that marks it as a step-up rugged camera – records stills in 12 megapixels, and has a 4x zoom lens. Available at

Lifeproof frē

You can use just your smartphone for basic underwater photography while swimming or snorkelling by fitting it with a simple waterproof case. However, the Lifeproof frē (US$91) for Samsung Galaxy, Google and Apple handsets is only waterproof to a depth of 2m, and only then for one hour, so this is only good for a short snorkel.

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Not everyone will want to risk losing their phone in the ocean, but this is the most affordable solution for occasional use. Available at

Nikon Coolpix W300

This compact from Nikon (US$510) is freezeproof, shockproof, dustproof and waterproof down to 30m. Like the Olympus, it’s capable of taking 4K-quality video, but it ups its still resolution to 16 megapixels. The W300 also has Wi-fi, Bluetooth, GPS, eCompass, an altimeter and – crucially – a depth gauge. It’s also got a 5x optical zoom. Available at