Best Underwater Video Camera: A Buyers Guide

What is the best underwater video camera?

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I know you’re pain. You want to record all your crazy kayak adventures, but the average camera simply can’t handle being exposed to all that water.

You could get a waterproof case, but these are often extremely bulky, ugly, and irritating to remove. They’re also a lot more likely to spring a leak than a camera designed specifically for the purpose.

These days a good waterproof camera can do many of the same things your regular camera can do—sometimes more.

If you’re looking to record your adventures in, on, and under the water, here are the best waterproof video cameras in 2016…

1. GoPro Hero 3+ Black

GoPro Hero 3+ Black ReviewGoPro has successfully revolutionized action sports photography and videography.

The Hero 3+ Black is waterproof all the way up to 131 feet (40m), and offers a 30% longer battery life as well as a 33% clearer image than previous GoPro models.

The quality of the 4K video is seriously impressive, and the wide angle lens ensures you capture as much of the scene as possible in stunning HD film. You also have a range of video modes allowing you to capture perfect video in every circumstance:

  • 4Kp15
  • 7Kp30
  • 1440p 48fps
  • 1080p 60fps
  • 960p 100fps
  • 720p 120fps

Being an action camera, GoPro’s are designed to be in the thick of it. The Hero 3+ comes with a heap of accessories that will allow you to record hands-free. Paddlesport enthusiasts will love the range of helmets and chest straps that can be used for camera attachment without obstructing your paddle movements.

If you’ve never had a GoPro before, the unusual design may take a while to get used to, but once you do, you’ll be converted into a life-long fan.

If you’re willing to pay a little extra for the latest model, you could also go with the GoPro Hero 4.

2. Olympus TG-4

Olympus TG-4 ReviewIf you’re looking for a robust camera, your search stops here; the Olympus TG-4 is THE TOUGHEST CAMERA available. Period.

You would have to run the TG-4 over with a tank and then chuck it in a furnace to stand any chance of destroying it.

It’s waterproof to 50 feet (15m), shockproof to 7 feet (2m), pressure resistant to 220 lbs, and it’s even able to withstand temperatures as low as -10 degrees celsius!

It’s a good choice for the self-identified klutz, and for those that just want to chuck a camera in a bag without worrying about carefully packing everything.

However, the TG-4 isn’t just some indestructible, chunky camera you would give to a kid to play with, and it also packs some very impressive technical specs. Its 16 MP wide-angle camera can zoom up to 4x and has a continuous shooting speed of 5fps. For video capture, the TG-4 has three settings:

  • 1920 x 1080 (30p)
  • 1280 x 720 (30p)
  • 640 x 480 (30 fps)

You can also check the quality of your photos and videos right after you shoot using the 3” LCD on the rear of the camera.

With built-in GPS and pressure sensors, the TG-4 records where your shots are taken, and can even tell you the current air pressure, altitude, and direction. Now how’s that for smart?

3. Nikon 1 AW1

Nikon 1 AW1 ReviewIf you are a big camera geek, you will fall in love with the Nikon 1 AW1.

It has one up on the competition being the first underwater camera designed to accept interchangeable lenses. It also comes with a one inch 14.2 megapixel CMOS image sensor which means no more blurry or dull snorkelling pictures – even in lowly lit reefs.

Waterproof all the way up to 49 feet (15 m) for as long as 60 minutes, the Nikon 1 AW1 will be more than suitable for every water sport you take up.

You’ll never miss that perfect shot, as the camera has a fast continuous shooting speed of 15 fps on autofocus or up to 60 fps when using fixed focus.

Besides beautiful photographs, the camera also records Full 1080p HD video.

However, there is one downside; the price. At close to $700, it’s only going to be the serious camera buffs that would consider purchasing the AW1. And with many other underwater digital cameras available for less than half the cost of the AW1, it leaves this camera in the domain of the professional photographer.

However, the AW1 is without a doubt the best camera for underwater photography. Still photos captured on the Nikon 1 AW1 look better than those taken with any other camera on this list.

There are two waterproof lenses available for the AW1, but all the Nikon 1 regular lenses also fit the AW1 model.

4. Canon PowerShot D30

Canon PowerShot D30 ReviewCanon has a reputation for producing quality photography equipment, and the D30 waterproof digital camera lives up to expectations.

The 12 MP camera and auto focusing technology takes superb underwater photos, can capture 1080/24p HD video, and is even capable of slow motion shooting at 640×480. The 3 inch LCD screen on the rear of the camera allows you instant access to smooth and clear photos and videos.

The Powershot D30 is also compact, lightweight, and extremely durable.

It’s prepared for everything that life could throw at it being waterproof up to 25m, shockproof to 2m, dustproof, and temperature resistant in the range of -10 to 40 degrees celsius.

However, this camera isn’t a market leader, and if you’re being picky, you can find some small imperfections with the D30.

For instance, it has no Wi-Fi compatibility, its video features are slightly dated, and its GPS function is limited. You’ll also find that the camera isn’t particularly effective in anything other than broad daylight. This may not be an issue for most kayakers and paddle boarders, but it’s worth bearing in mind when making your purchase.

That being said, it’s still packed with a host of features and is a great camera – especially for the beginner underwater photographer or anyone that just wants to snap a few pics of their kayaking trip and isn’t bothered with cutting-edge technology.

This model is recommended for general use, and rates it one of their best options for 2016. At only $300, the camera is an incredible deal!

5. Panasonic DMC-TS6D LUMIX

Panasonic DMC-TS6D LUMIX ReviewIf you’re looking for a cheap underwater video camera, or you’re just sticking your big toe into the world of underwater photography, then Panasonic’s DMX-TS6D Lumix is the perfect camera. It captures fast moving and highly detailed objects in clear still images and top-quality, seamless video, in and out of the water.

Like all good action cameras, DMC-TS6D is hard-wearing, waterproof (up to 43m for 60 minutes), shockproof, dustproof, and resistant to extreme temperatures.

The 16MP camera with CMOS sensors takes beautiful still images as well as full HD 1080p videos, both of which can be viewed on the 3” LCD screen.

Wi-Fi pairing with a smart device allows location tagging, remote shooting, and easy data sharing between devices.

Best of all, at only $200, the DMCC-TS6D remains relatively inexpensive. You would be hard-pressed to find such a high-quality camera with this many features around this price tag.

Final Advice

With so many video cameras available, you could spend hours, or even days, pouring over all the specs and reading reviews. We hope that our waterproof video camera reviews have saved you that hassle, and your precious time.

The best underwater video camera for you depends largely on how frequently you’re going to use it, and why you want to make the videos.

Don’t just go with the highest rated or most expensive, because that’s not always what’s going to suit you best.

If you’re only making home videos, a cheaper camera is usually the smarter option. However, if you’re videos and photos are going to form part of your professional portfolio, you’ll want something that captures crystal clear, unbroken imagery.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a camera that suits your needs from the above list whether you’re a novice action sports enthusiast or professional underwater photographer.

Now, let’s get back to the fun stuff (while creating unforgettable memories in the water). Paddle on!



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