Best Underwater Compact Cameras

If you are looking for the best underwater camera for under $800 dollars, then this blog post is just what you need. We will look at 10 different cameras that all provide high-quality footage and excellent waterproofing. These cameras have been selected based on their features as well as customer feedback. All of these underwater cameras can be bought online with free shipping!

How We Selected Our Test Criteria

Target Users

  1. I am a new photographer and I want a camera with lots of growth potential.
  2. An underwater photographer wants a camera that is small.

Camera Feature Requirements

  1. Great to excellent image quality.
  2. A camera should be small, lightweight and easy to use when you are topside taking pictures.
  3. A camera should be easy to use like a point-and-shoot, but offer intermediate to advanced controls.
  4. Underwater cameras should be able to capture wide angles.

Wide Angle Lenses

Compact cameras are not compatible with underwater wide-angle lenses. Most of these types of cameras feature a long zoom lens and take dangerous risks without proper housing. Accessory wide-angle lenses must be screwed onto the lens ports of these cameras, which leads to dark corners near the edges of pictures when shooting with a zoom lens. You can use extreme zooming to avoid this inconvenience; however, your picture quality will suffer as you zoom in more and more.

Slave TTL Strobes

Modern strobe manufacturers offer an underwater exposure system in their products called slave TTL. When set to slave TTL mode, the underwater strobe will automatically mimic the camera’s built-in flash. While no automatic system will yield a perfect result, this one works reasonably well for beginners and can help you get some good shots the first few times using your camera underwater. A photographer can capture perfect images by understanding how TTL systems work, how to judge exposures, and working within a camera system’s limitations.

Video

Compact cameras have evolved to rival the level of a high-quality hand-held video camera. Some even surpass traditional ‘Handycam’ and camcorder quality that can capture unexpectedly clear images. Now, with most compact cameras that have advanced video features found on pro-level systems, a photographer doesn’t need to worry about compromising between the two when shooting both photos and videos. All but one of the following underwater cameras is capable of shooting HD videos in 4K resolution.

Custom White Balance

If you are planning to shoot underwater videos, it is crucial that you get an accurate custom white balance. A good-quality photograph always starts with a proper white balance. A proper white balance can make videos look more natural and bring back colors that are filtered out by water when shooting at depth.

Although a camera is capable of capturing higher resolutions, the quality of the frame may be compromised if the white balance in the video exceeds its capabilities.

Olympus TG6

If you’re looking for the best underwater camera within a $500 budget, look no further. The Olympus TG-6 is an impressive successor to the Olympus TG-5 and just about as good as any SLR camera in macro photography mode. Whether you are diving in the ocean or snapping pictures of an aquarium, this camera should be able to take care of all your needs. In addition to being lightweight and easy to use, it shoots amazing wide-angle shots when paired with a couple of affordable lens attachments.

One of the primary new features of the Olympus TG-6 is its ability to go super macro in more than just Microscope Mode. The Super Macro function, found on Aperture Priority & Program Auto modes, makes it possible for you to switch instantaneously from wide or medium shots down to the tightest of super macros. The camera’s new AF mode from the Quick Menu eliminates the need to switch modes via the Mode Dial. The user can now just focus close on any desired object by zooming in at least 1.2x and capturing their subject without using manual mode.

The Olympus TG-6’s expanded control over shutter speed values ensures your camera will never drop below the designated speed, providing you with greater than ever before control. While it’s still not full manual control and there are some caveats to be aware of, this camera is a great upgrade for TG cameras.

The TG-6 can be submerged to 50 feet without an external housing, and is also down dust or drop impacts. For multiple generations now, the Olympus TG cameras have been the supreme balance between performance and simplicity. They have always been go-to choice for both new underwater photographers as well as advanced shooters that are looking for a simplistic macro machine.

The Olympus TG-6 has a focus mode that is better for new users and an exposure control system to make it easier for underwater photographers to use. It’s perfect for beginners with additional features, which makes it our choice for the best all-around compact camera.

Pros

  • The camera on this phone has really high quality. It takes both wide-angle and close-up pictures.
  • Microscope Mode and new Super Macro focus options are even easier than before to get super macro.
  • It is easy to capture super macro in a 4K video. You can’t do that on previous generations.
  • Cameras can take pictures in different modes. You don’t need to switch it between modes if you want to take wide, macro, video, and photos.
  • The camera is easy to use and is great for taking pictures. It has many settings and you can learn them easily.
  • The best choice for new underwater shooters who want a simple camera that they can learn to use.

Cons

  • Still no manual mode.



GoPro HERO9 with FLIP8/9 Filters

The GoPro HERO9 is a major upgrade from the previous GoPro HERO8 camera. The higher-resolution sensor allows for 5K video and 20MP still images and is the only camera in this category to shoot 4K 60p video. One of the exciting new features of the GoPro HERO9 is its ability to shoot 4K 60p. However, only advanced cameras such as SLRs and mirrorless models are capable of shooting at that frame rate, giving this camera a unique attribute. The increase in size from the previous model allows for a larger screen and battery with increased capacity The menu system was updated and now includes the ability to set presets for shooting settings. Previously, it was impossible to change camera settings underwater which can be a problem if you’re scuba diving with a preset lens that’s not up to par for photographing aquatic life. The HyperSmooth image stabilization continues to be the best in-camera image stabilization in the industry, helping keep wobbles from ruining shots.

The GoPro Hero9 is the most advanced camera in terms of video specs. This makes it an ideal choice for a first-time shooter, or as a secondary cam for someone who needs to be able to capture footage at any moment.

Pros

  • Providing high-quality pictures, the camera was designed to be as small and lightweight as possible, making it a great device for travelers.
  • 4K 60FPS and 5K 30 FPS video
  • Longer battery life
  • Larger screens make it easier to view the things that are being recorded.
  • Crazy low price point for this quality underwater camera.

Cons

  • The camera performs best in bright scenes, but its low light capability is rather lackluster.
  • This 20MP camera is a versatile tool for stills but not a good choice for a photographic camera.



Panasonic LX10

The Panasonic LX10 is the company’s answer to 1-inch sensor-sized cameras from Sony and Canon. It has excellent image quality comparable to these other models, with its large sensor size. The Panasonic has a more customizable control set than its competitors and offers 4K video capability for the first time on an underwater camera.

The major advantages of underwater cameras are waterproof housing and compatibility with most lenses. The camera’s 4K video functionality and ability to perform accurate custom white balances underwater make it one of the best all-around cameras on the market.

Executing a manual white balance is done with 3 button pushes and can be saved in 4 preset banks, saving the user time from having to set up for different circumstances. This makes the Panasonic LX10 the only real choice for serious compact camera video shooters.

If you’re looking for the best camera that can do both stills and video, this is it. The Panasonic LX10 excels in every area, with excellent image quality, 4K video capability with accurate white balance. If you’re just looking to take good photos exclusively, some other options on the market might suit your

Pros

  • For those who love being underwater and love photography, Panasonic’s new LX10 is a great option. The camera has high-quality photo capturing capabilities, and the world only gets prettier when you see it on the LCD screen.
  • Excellent image quality, for both stills and video
  • This camera offers clean 4K footage and is equipped with stabilization.
  • The features on these underwater cameras will make you feel like you’re using an SLR rather than a compact model.
  • Able to work with white balance, allowing users to capture accurate color even at depth.

Cons

  • This camera does not provide for manual flash control. Camera does not allow manual flash control.
  • Macro shooting is difficult without a macro lens.



Sony RX100 VII

Sony’s RX100 VII does it again with a stellar performance and an unprecedented zoom of 2x. With this incredible camera, you can both capture topside and underwater photos with one handheld device. When you take pictures, it can be hard to get both the topside and underwater pictures. But this camera is great because you can use it for both types of photos and not need two cameras.

The autofocus on the Sony RX100 VII is better than other cameras. You should point the camera at what you want to be in focus, then half-press the shutter. The camera will then follow that thing as it moves through your frame. The performance and accuracy of this camera are the same as you would get with the Sony A7R IV. This is great for close-up, wide-angle shots where the depth of field is small or when you are tracking a fish. It won’t work well if you are photographing moving subjects, like insects.

The 200 mm lens of the Sony RX100 VII camera makes underwater super macro viable for the first time in a sleek pocket-sized camera. Previous models struggled with this due to shorter lenses or no macro mode, but despite a lack of macros, this still rivals an SLR when using a diopter. The Sony RX100 VII is not an easy camera to shoot for super macro because of its limited depth of field and distance range with a strong diopter. A +10 lens or higher will get the closest possible focus on small reef creatures, but your DOF will be razor-thin.

Photos taken with this camera have sharp detail and great colors. The 4k manual white balance has improved with an underwater camera’s color, but if you are shooting in low light you will not be able to get the correct color because the light is too dim.

The Sony RX100 VII  is a marvel. It is waterproof and takes jerky, crisp shots underwater with just as much quality as it does on land. For those who want to snap photos in the water but also want a camera they can take everywhere on their adventures, this is the best option out there. For those professionals who are willing to shell out the money, this is a camera that will take your underwater shots to new heights.

Pros

  • The best compact camera is one that has a lot of power (called topside shooting) in a small body. It is our pick for the best compact camera because it has the most power and it is small.
  • A 24-200mm lens is good for taking pictures of things close to you.
  • The lens zoom range is great for use both on the top of the water and under it. It still fits in your pocket.
  • The video quality is good.
  • This camera is really good because it can take pictures quickly. It also tracks things and we can see them.

Cons

  • 24-200mm lens takes in a true wide-angle and macro view
  • Long videos or ones with a lot of clips in them can make your camera get hot.
  • If you are using a camera and there is something farther away than 35 feet, then your manual white balance will not work.
  • A built-in flash is the only TTL, which can slow down your shooting speed with a flash.
  • Versatility and being compact come at a cost that is not very different from an SLR.


Canon G7 X III

The Canon G7X Mark III builds off of the camera’s compact design by incorporating a unique sensor, image processor, and lens.

As per underwater photography, these hardware upgrades have resulted in improved features. The camera is capable of a 20fps burst shooting rate and has a 4K video capability (no crop). Furthermore, the image buffer storage capacity has been increased to 70 shot RAW. Even though image quality does not change much, it’s still worth mentioning this improvement since the G20X also has a lot of room for improvement.

The G7X Mark II has been the leader in the compact camera marketplace for 2 – 3 years. Canon’s initial competitors are up to great things – like Sony’s RX100 V and VI, so it is clear that Canon needs to get a leg up. However, based on what I’ve seen from the G7X Mark III

We took this camera diving in the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest and managed to capture some beautiful photos and video. Indeed we can confirm that the image quality is just as good, if not better than, the G7X Mark II. Take a look at the 4K video and underwater pictures in this post before you decide which compact camera is best for you.

Pros

  • Macro mode and a greater zoom range allow for better photos.
  • This camera offers unbeatable underwater custom white balance.
  • True one-touch white balance.
  • Movies taken with this camera have a bit rate of 35 mbps, higher than Sony’s RX 100 Mark II at 28 mbps.

Cons

  • Wide angle lenses are hard to use underwater without sacrificing image quality.
  • The movie mode bit rate for the camera is lower than that of  Sony RX100 III.
  • The camera’s continuous shooting speed is slow, at only 1.2 frames per second in RAW format and so isn’t useful for fast shoot topside but will work underwater with flash recycle.


Conclusion

I hope you have found this blog post to be helpful. If you are looking for the best underwater camera that fits your budget, then one of these five cameras is perfect! With so many options available it can seem overwhelming, but don’t worry we have narrowed down all of the choices and made a list just for you. These high-quality cameras come with different features and prices which means there will be an option that meets your needs!

Remember if you want to see more information on any specific feature or product feel free to click over to our site where we provide in-depth reviews as well as customer feedback. Happy shopping!

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