With more and more people traveling to tropical locations each year during the holiday season, snorkeling has became an increasingly popular activity. Due to this we have noticed we are receiving more and more emails from our readers asking us what we think the best underwater cameras for snorkeling are.
As the vast majority of people will not dive deep under the water during their snorkeling adventures, there is no need for an expensive double sealed waterproof camera as the majority of the entry-level and midrange waterproof cameras will offer more than enough protection against the water pressure within the first 30-60 feet.
For that reason we have focused on a number of entry to mid level digital cameras for this article in the hope that we are able to suggest something that will be able to meet everyones budget and requirements.
The Fujifilm FinePix XP120 Waterproof Digital Camera – The Best Underwater Cameras For Snorkeling
First up we have the Fujifilm FinePix XP120, it is an excellent midrange waterproof camera that offers more than enough protection to allow you to enjoy your snorkeling adventure while taking photographs and recording video to captcha your memories forever.
The XP120 is advertised as being water resistant up to a depth of 65 feet, this is more than enough for the vast majority of people who will go snorkeling. It is also chillproof between the temperatures of 14/-10 Degrees C meaning you will be able to use the XP120 in the majority of conditions without having to worry about the camera sensor steaming up and having an effect on your photographs.
The camera also comes with a five times wide angle optical zoom that allows you to zoom in on any underwater shots that you want to capture without having to leave the surface level of the water. With its 16.3 megapixel camera you are guaranteed high quality photographs of your adventure every time displaying a beautiful range of colours.
With the ability to record high quality full HD video at a rate of 1080p you can be confident that you will be recording some of the best videos of your adventures as possible. Due to the videos being full HD, the use of an external high capacity SD card is highly recommended to ensure you don’t run out of storage space while out snorkeling.
Although the XP120 may have slight difficulty in low light conditions, the majority of the time, while snorkeling near the surface of the ocean, your light conditions should be optimal and offer plenty of light for the XP120 to work its magic and take excellent high quality photographs.
The Nikon Coolpix W300 – Our Second Pic
Our second choice when talking about the best underwater cameras for snorkeling has to be the W300. It is an excellent offering from Nikon that has done nothing but gain popularity over the past year or so.
Similar to the FinePix XP120 the Coolpix W300 comes with a 16 megapixel sensor as well as a five times optical zoom meaning it offers a similar standard of high quality photographs as well as its zoom capability. An advantage of the W300 over the XP120 is its ability to record in 4K Ultra HD offering a higher quality of video but on the flip side, recording in 4K Ultra HD will eat your storage like theres no tomorrow so it is essential to use something like a high capacity SD card to allow you to record as much as you like.
The W300 also has the Nikon hybrid VR stabilisation technology that will allow you to keep taking high quality blur free images while snorkeling, even if the surface waters are rough and throwing you around. Although a number of waterproof cameras do offer some form of image stabilisation, the W300 is by far the best for its price point.
If it highly recommended that you rinse your W300 in fresh tap water after using it while snorkeling in salt water as this will help extend the usable life of the camera and reduce the chance of the salt causing damage or marking the camera lens and potentially having a long term effect on the performance of the camera.
In addition to all of the above, the W300 is also shockproof allowing it to withstand a few knocks during your snorkeling adventures without the need to worry about any potential shock damage.
The Nikon Coolpix W100 – Our Budget Entry Camera
Next up, we have our budget entry that is also the cousin of the W300 above, the Nikon Coolpix W100. Although it offers the same high quality build standard you would expect from any Nikon product, they have had to reduce the quality of the product in some areas to enable them to reduce the price for this entry level underwater digital camera that is excellent for snorkeling.
Rather than a 16 megapixel camera sensor like one the W300, the W100 had slightly downgraded to a 13.2 megapixel sensor. For the vast majority of people who go snorkeling will not be able to tell the difference between the 16 megapixel and 13.2 megapixel photograph quality meaning the W100 can be an excellent budget camera to use during your snorkeling trips.
Another way Nikon have managed to reduce the cost is to have the W100 have a three times optical zoom rather than five times like its W300 cousin. Again, the vast majority of people who are only wanting an entry level budget camera will probably not be able to tell much of a difference in the zoom quality of the W100. It will still offer you an ability to zoom into shots deeper in the water while still staying at the surface.
Although the W100 is also advertised as shockproof, we have seen a number of reports saying that the camera suffered slight damage during accidental drops but most of the reports state that the camera was still usable. That said, if your digital camera suffers damage from a knock of a fall then its ability to waterproof maybe effected meaning further damage maybe suffered by the camera the next time you go snorkeling.
The Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera
Next up we have the Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera. The TG-5 has quickly gained in popularity within the extreme and outdoor sports communities as it is an extremely tough camera that can take a whole load of punishment with minimal damage being sustained.
When it comes to snorkeling, the TG-5 is waterproof down to a depth of 50 feet and although there are a wide range of third party cases that are also available to extend this depth if required but when it comes to snorkeling, we feel that 50 feet is more than enough.
It has the lowest megapixel sensor so far rating 12 megapixels but it is still able to take excellent quality photographs while also recording videos in HD quality as well as 4K ultra. It is also a shockproof meaning it can be knocked around in the surf if you drop it an come out the other side with minimal damage.
The TG-5 has excellent low light photography capabilities meaning if you are snorkeling in stormy seas or during dusk and dawn, you will still be able to take clear, bright, high quality photographs as required.
There are a wide range of additional accessories available for the TG-5 that can allow you to strap the camera to your body and record yourself snorkeling while keeping your hands free. If this is something that you are interested in doing, especially when recording in the 4K ultra setting then it is essential that you use an external SD card with the camera to ensure you are able to record the full duration of the swim.
Although the TG-5 has been designed to be usable in a wide range of sports, a number of other accessories are also available to enhance its performance meaning if you are into your outdoor or extreme sports then this can be an excellent all round camera that you are able to use to record footage and photographs from all of your activities without the need to purchase a range of different cameras.
The GoPro HERO5 Black
Our final recommendation is the GoPro HERO5 Black. Realistically, no list of cameras for active sports would be complete without at least one entry from the GoPro range. The GoPro team have managed to cultivate their reputation over the past few years to become the go to brand for any active or extreme sports but we feel that in most cases, a GoPro would be over kill if you just want to record your snorkeling adventures.
The GoPro HERO5 Black has the ability to record at up to 4k video with options for 2.7K60, 1440p80, 1080p120, 960p120 and 720p240 also being available. The camera is also able to take photographs in 12 megapixel quality and we feel that this is slightly underwhelming for its price tag. It is also only waterproof down to a depth of 33 feet without a third party camera housing meaning other cheaper cameras on this list are able to go to deeper depths without risk of damage.
Although the Hero 5 Black has the ability to be controlled by your voice to take photographs and record video, this feature is pretty much rendered useless when snorkeling due to the user having their snorkel in their mouth or being underwater.
The standard battery included in the Hero 5 Black is able to record for up to 90 minutes without issue but the camera charger is not included as standard meaning you have to shell out even more for a sub quality camera.