Waterproof digital camera suggestions
January 7, 2017 4:06 PM   Subscribe

I am going on a tropical vacation in April and will be snorkeling, etc. I'm looking for recommendations on a solid waterproof digital camera to use while I'm in or around the water.

I am looking for something that is able to let me take multiple pics (like a full sized digital camera). I have found that most point and shoots are slow to store each picture...or maybe it's been since I long time since I've purchased one that they've improved that feature.

Price range? Up to $400. I've looked at the around $100 Nikon waterproofs on Amazon and they look like they might be sufficient, but I'd love to hear others feedback, ideas, and recommendations.
posted by OkTwigs to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've been eyeing the Olympus Tough TG-4 because of the lens aperture at f/2.0 - there are a ton of reviews and comparisons for these ruggedized cameras, at the top end it's a bit hard to go wrong. In general image storage has a camera and sensor dependency as well as a storage media dependency. Get a fast card for the camera to mitigate one of these, but almost any modern point and shoot that is ruggedized should be fine given they all record 1080 or 4k video at 30fps.
posted by iamabot at 4:39 PM on January 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I borrowed a friend's cheap waterproof a couple years ago for snorkeling and the pictures came out great for underwater, technology has improved since then, so for light use they're probably all good enough, just check the depth rating, some are good for 30 ft, some for 100.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:40 PM on January 7, 2017

It's a couple years old, but I would read through dpreviews waterproof camera roundup to learn the important features, dpreviews 2014 waterproof roundup
posted by TheAdamist at 4:49 PM on January 7, 2017

Underwater photographer here: Those little waterproof nikons or olympus cameras are great for snorkeling and just- below- the- surface stuff. Very fast processing, great images, and durable. Both companies are well-respected in the UW photography world, you really can't go wrong with either brand. Most should have an underwater mode that adds a little red back in to the shot automatically to compensate for color absorption and the blue haze most underwater shots have, even if taken from the surface. I think i saw some of the newer ones you can even specify what depth you're shooting from and it adjusts the white balance accordingly.

GoPros are also good but they don't give you as much customization in the photo department for in-water shots, other than physical filters you can buy separately. The GoPro 4 series does have a Protune->GoPro Color setting that does a decent job of compensating red color-loss in videos and photos taken shallower than 15'/5m without the use of an additional filter. Keep in mind GoPros are designed to be used as action video cameras and typically require lots of light to perform well, and water cuts out a ton of light. I've spent $500 extra on lights and filters to get good video out of my GoPro 4 silver underwater but I'm also looking for production quality stuff so YMMV. I haven't used the Session so cannot speak to that specific model.

Have fun!
posted by danapiper at 5:46 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had an Olympus and now have a Ricoh. Love both of them and they have performed very well. I just like having the idea of a camera thats sand and waterproof when I'm out with the kiddos.
posted by PJMoore at 7:36 PM on January 7, 2017

The Olympus will blow the go-pro out of the water, image quality-wise. If you don't want to invest in a case, it's widely viewed as the best underwater instant camera. The predecessor - TG-3 - is also quite good.
posted by smoke at 7:58 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have the Olympus Tough TG-4 and love it. The picture quality is wonderful, and it has great pre-sets for various scenes (landscape, night, portrait, etc.). It's very easy to switch to super macro and underwater modes with the turn of a knob. I've used mine for underwater photography while kayaking and the results have been surprisingly decent considering the murkiness of the water.
posted by ants at 8:55 AM on January 8, 2017

I have the Panasonic TS-5, it takes fine pictures and is appropriately waterproof.

I don't think you want to use a GoPro for snapshots. Many have minimal controls and require your fragile phone to do anything complicated.

One of the best things you go can do improve the shot-to-shot performance of taking pictures is to remove the 'image review' mode on (that shows every single shot on the screen right after). It's best to take a lot of pictures first then review, not shoot-review-shoot-review, especially for action photography.
posted by meowzilla at 5:03 PM on January 8, 2017

Thanks everyone! You've given me some great resources and lots to consider. :)
posted by OkTwigs at 6:01 PM on January 8, 2017

Last year my husband and I both got Olympus TG-4s for snorkeling and they both work great under the water, but mine has an issue if I use it out of the water, in a space where there are extreme differences in light and dark (like in a hotel room shooting out the window, where I discovered this): it won't adjust for the light properly, while my husband's works just fine. I can't get any more detailed because it's been so many months I've forgotten the exact issue! I think I was trying to expose for the outside light, but it insisted on exposing for the indoor light, even when the focal spot was on the open window and it should have.

I have a fancy DSLR that I use for everything other than underwater photography, so the problem wasn't enough for us to bother sending my camera back when it works properly under the water, but if it had been my only camera, it would have gotten sent back ASAP. So TEST TEST TEST while you have enough time to get it replaced.
posted by telophase at 12:21 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

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