Pressed for time? Here’s my selection of the best camera for snorkeling – Olympus TG-6
There are tons of different options available these days when it comes to underwater photography.
Technology is constantly improving and digital underwater cameras are becoming smaller, lighter, cheaper, and offer stunning image quality.
There are quite a lot of options open to you if you’re keen to capture your underwater adventures – Dedicated waterproof cameras/DSLRs, or regular compact cameras used inside waterproof housings.
In this guide we will specifically cover the best cameras for snorkeling that are waterproof.
That is, camera’s which are designed to be waterproof and do not require additional purchase of waterproof housings.
QUICK ANSWER – The BEST Camera For Snorkeling 2022
- Olympus Tough TG-6 – Best Waterproof Camera, Overall
- Go Pro Hero 8 – Best Underwater Action Camera
- Nikon Coolpix W300
- Fujifilm Finepix XP140
- Panasonic Lumix TS30 – Best budget camera for snorkeling
The Best Cameras For Snorkeling Reviewed
1. Olympus Tough TG-6 – Best Waterproof Camera, Overall
Erm, shall we talk about durability? The TG-6 is waterproof, dust proof, shock proof, crush proof and freeze proof!
The picture quality of the photos you can achieve underwater with the TG-6 is excellent – very colorful, vivid and clear, and you have the choice of 5 different underwater shooting modes, and 4 underwater white balance modes.
You don’t need to be a pro to be able to take amazing underwater pictures with the TG-6, as it is very beginner friendly and simple to use.
All this makes the TG-6 our overall pick for the best camera for snorkeling but it’s also just an excellent camera for capturing all of your outdoor adventures!
- Rugged & Durable
- Simple to use
- Very good for macro photography
- None really!
2. Go Pro Hero 8 – Best Underwater Action Camera
GoPro’s are very well known for their rugged durability.
One of the main benefits of having a GoPro is their versatility – You can pretty much attach them to anything and get some truly epic action shots.
If you like the idea of not having to hold a camera underwater, and you’re more into working with video than images then maybe a GoPro will be right up your alley.
In fact a lot of snorkel masks nowadays come with GoPro attachments on them, so you can simply attach it, hit record and then not have to worry much about it!
GoPros are excellent for a wide array of water sports – snorkeling, diving, surfing, kayaking, and more.
Or, if you’re like me then you might want a GoPro AND an underwater camera. I use a GoPro attached to my snorkel mask to capture video, and use an underwater camera to capture those beautiful National Geographic-esque images!
- Versatile, and very rugged/durable
- Can be attached to person or equipment in numerous ways (no need to hold it if you don’t want to)
- 4k Video Resolution
- Waterproof to 33ft/10m , but additional housing makes it waterproof down to 196ft/60m
- Not great in low light but an additional lighting mod can be purchased
3. Nikon Coolpix W300
The Nikon Coolpix is another rugged camera that’s a great all rounder for both above and below the water photos.
If you’re a scuba diver then the Nikon W300 might be the ideal choice for you due to the fact that it’s waterproof down to 100ft/30m right out of the box, and displays useful information like depth and altitude.
That makes this camera much more waterproof than some of the other cameras we have featured and potentially the best truly waterproof camera.
The W300 is capable of 4K Ultra HD and comes packed with features (GPS, Altimeter, eCompass, Wi-fi, bluetooth) and it also has a decent 5x optical zoom range.
- Great for scuba divers
- Rugged & Durable
- A great all rounder both above and below the water
- Has a ton of features
- No RAW shooting
4. Fujifilm Finepix XP140
The Fujifilm XP140 is waterproof to 82ft/25m so is a great camera to take snorkeling, recreational diving or kayaking for instance.
For those on a bit more of a tighter budget, this may be the waterproof camera for you. It doesn’t quite boast the image quality of some of the other cameras on our list, but for the price this rugged and durable camera boasts some impressive features, and the bluetooth photo transfer is very fast and seamless.
The XP140 is really easy to use so it is very child and beginner friendly. You also have the ability to geo-tag your pictures so you can see the precise place in which they were taken.
- Transfers images via bluetooth quickly & seamlessly
- A great option if you’re on a budget
- Very easy to use
- Waterproof to 25m, and also shockproof, freezeproof & dustproof
- 4K video in 15p only
5. Panasonic Lumix TS30 – Best budget Camera for Snorkeling
The Panasonic TS30 is the best budget camera for snorkeling in our list.
Though the camera may be the cheapest on a list, it has some good features and capabilities; waterproof to 26ft/8m, freezeproof & dustproof.
The advanced underwater mode that the Panasonic has can help compensate for the red tones that are lost as you descend deeper underwater, to help you create crisp looking natural underwater images.
The Max video resolution of only 720p HD is a little disappointing in this day and age, but this may not bother you if you don’t intend on using this camera much for video.
- Best on a tight budget
- Waterproof to 26ft/8m
- Advanced underwater mode
- Slim and lightweight (easy to tuck away in pockets)
- Video resolution of only 720p HD
How To Choose The Best Camera For Snorkeling
When thinking about the budget you want to spend on a waterproof camera you should consider; how often will you be using it?
How much you’re willing to spend on a waterproof camera will probably correlate with how much you intend on using it.
If you’re going to get a lot of use out of it, both in and out of the water, then you may want to consider spending that little extra to ensure you’re going to get a top quality camera that’s durable.
For the casual user who might only use the camera once or twice a year whilst on vacation, perhaps a more budget friendly option is going to be more your thing.
A camera with bluetooth connection will be the quickest and easiest way for you to transfer the pictures from your camera over to your pc/laptop/other storage device.
If your camera is also wi-fi capable, then this will allow your to upload your pictures and videos directly onto your social media from your camera.
Megapixels & Sensor Size
One Megapixel (shown as 1MP) is equal to one million pixels.
The more MP your camera has, the higher resolution and better image quality. However it isn’t all about the MP count that the camera has.
As important is the sensor size. A small sensor will equate to more ‘noise’ and a smaller dynamic range.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that 1080p was the best quality video on the market, but now we’re into the era of 4k and even 8k.
Needless to say when it comes to video resolution then the higher the better, or i should say, the higher then the better quality video you will get.
1080p however is still excellent and for the vast majority of people you will be more than pleased with this video resolution, but if you want more than this then this you will need to be prepared to spend a little bit extra.
Will you only be using the camera for surface snorkeling, or does your waterproof camera need to be able to handle going deeper for when you want to dive down underwater?
All of the cameras on our list will obviously handle surface snorkeling and shallow depths just fine, but what if you intend on taking your camera down a little deeper than that?
If you intend on diving down quite deep, or even scuba diving with your waterproof camera then make sure that whatever camera you purchase is designed to handle those kinds of depths.
Try to go for a waterproof camera with optical zoom, which actually uses a lens adjustment to zoom in, rather than simply enlarging the picture like a digital zoom.
Digital zoom can result in more quality loss as it simply enlarges the picture within your frame, and the result of this can be blurry images.
Macro photography is when you take a picture very close up to the subject – these types of shots are very popular in snorkeling and diving as there are just so many tiny plants and critters to photograph!
If you’re interested in underwater macro photography and love getting up close and personal to things then you’ll want a waterproof camera that’s capable of shooting these types of shots.
This will be where ‘macro mode’ on your camera comes in.
Personally I find macro shots of tiny underwater creatures to be the most fascinating!
Nothing beats the Olympus TG-6 as the best camera for snorkeling.
The rugged design of this camera will allow you to take it on all sorts of adventures, both above and below the water for years to come.
The Olympus outperforms the other cameras in our list by being the most rugged and durable, but also being able to offer beautiful image and video clarity, including being able to capture the best underwater macro photography.
Check out our other guides to the best snorkel gear, or, if you’re new to snorkeling why not give our guide on How To Snorkel a read.