Best Underwater Camera for Snorkeling

Best Camera for Snorkeling
 
 
These are our favorite underwater cameras for snorkeling and surf photography. Often snorkelers and surfers can feel lost and feel out of place when looking at underwater photo gear. After all, Snorkeling is a very streamlined activity, and therefore cameras for snorkeling must remain small and compact, unlike many camera systems for scuba diving. But at Bluewater Photo, we have some avid snorkelers and surf photographers on our team, so we put our heads together to find the best underwater camera systems for the shallow water explorers out there.
 
When looking for the best snorkeling camera, you will want to consider the resolution and image quality of the sensor, the video capability, and ergonomics. Because you don't have a scuba tank, you will need to react quickly and know your camera well. We have selected the most ergonomic, easy-to-use, lightweight underwater cameras available. We also added some smartphone housing options. After all, a smartphone housing can be one of the most affordable ways to get started taking underwater photos and videos. An added benefit is that you can immediately start posting to social media as soon as you get out of the water!
 
 

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Best Value - SeaLife Micro 3.0 Camera

SeaLife Micro 3.0

Read the SeaLife Micro 3.0 Review

The SeaLife Micro 3.0 Camera just might be the easiest underwater camera to use for both photo & video. We recommend it to any diver looking for a no-frills, ergonomic source of underwater content. These are the shooters that may not be looking to get a professional image but need a simple tool to document their dive and what they see in the beautiful underwater environment. The SeaLife Micro 3.0 is designed to be permanently sealed, making it flood-proof for the camera's lifetime. There is no need for any o-ring maintenance and no need to worry about flooding. The battery life is also excellent - it can be operated for more than three hours which is great for a full day of diving.

Operating the camera is easy - it's equipped with three wide piano key type buttons that are easy to locate and control even while wearing thick gloves. The camera is also equipped with the "Easy Setup" feature that quickly guides you through the correct settings based on the shooting environment, depth, and lighting accessories that are being used.

Camera Features:

  • 16 Megapixel Sony CMOS image sensor
  • Permanently sealed
  • 3+ hours battery life
  • Built-in 64GB memory card
  • Easy operation
  • "Easy Setup" feature
  • Capable of manual white balance and RAW format for post-processing
  • 100° Lens

SeaLife Micro 3.0 Packages:

 

School of Ta’ape Lanai,HI. SeaLife taken with SeaLife Micro 3.0

School of Ta’ape Lanai,HI. SeaLife taken with SeaLife Micro 3.0

 

 

Easiest to Use - SeaLife RM-4K Ultra Compact Camera

SeaLife RM-4K

 

The SeaLife RM-4K Ultra Compact Underwater Camera is a small and compact action camera that features a 14 megapixel Panasonic CMOS sensor and allows you to capture 4K videos @ 30fps. This is great for divers and snorkelers as the camera captures sharp and colorful 14 MP photos and videos with its built-in color correction. Its fisheye lens gives you a 140° field of view. The ergonomics of the camera are also superb. It is effortless to operate, even while wearing thick gloves.

Camera Features:

  • 14 megapixel Panasonic CMOS image sensor
  • Captures 4K video @ 30fps
  • Built-in color correction
  • Whopping 140° field of view with a fisheye lens
  • Unique pressure lock thumb screw seal system
  • Integrated with Moisture Muncher
  • Four-button control system
  • WiFi
  • 2" LCD screen

SeaLife RM-4K Packages:

 

 

Best for Macro - Olympus TG-6 Camera

Olympus TG-6

Read our Full Review of the Olympus TG-6 Camera

The Olympus TG-6 Camera is small and compact and the same size as its predecessor (TG-5), which means the two cameras can share the same housing. The TG-6 is a top-rated underwater camera that can also be used when snorkeling as the camera is waterproof up to 50ft. So if you don't do much deep free diving, you don't need a housing! The camera features a high-speed 12 MP sensor designed for excellent low-light performance and noise reduction. It shoots 4k video, RAW photos and includes built-in WiFi, making transferring images on the go a breeze. What makes this very special is its microscope mode which excels in macro shooting. 

Camera Features:

  • Bright f/2.0 fast lens
  • Anti-reflective coating glass around sensor (reduces flare and ghosting)
  • 12MP high-speed image sensor for improved low-light performance and noise reduction
  • Improved LCD: 1.04 million dots compared to 460 K dots on the TG-5
  • Improved microscope mode 
  • Microscope mode available in program and aperture priority mode
  • Dual Quad Core TruePic™ VIII image processor
  • Image file format: RAW, JPEG and RAW+JPEG
  • 4K and high speed video
  • Field sensor system w/ GPS, manometer, compass & temperature sensor
  • Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, crushproof
  • 3" LCD screen

Olympus TG-6 Packages:

Olympus TG-6 sample image
Shot in Mircroscope mode

 

Best Advanced Snorkeling Camera - Canon G7X Mark III

Canon G7X Mark III

Read our Full Review of the Canon G7X Mark III

The Canon G7X Mark III camera is a tiny camera with a large 1-inch, 20 MP sensor, a direct competitor to the Sony RX100 series cameras. It is an excellent, fast-focusing camera with great image quality and has a dedicated macro focus function. The camera also boasts 4K video, slow motion video, a bigger image buffer, a new stacked sensor, a better image processor, and quicker burst shooting over the G7X II.

With all of these features at an affordable price, we have chosen the Canon G7X III as the Best Value Camera. The Canon G7X Mark III also has advantages over recent RX100 series cameras like the RX100 VII because you can shoot both wide-angle and macro on the same dive! The Canon G7X Mark III has advantages over the Olympus TG-6 camera because you can have full manual control with the G7X Mark III. 

Camera Features:

  • DIGIC 8 image processor
  • New stacked CMOS sensor
  • 20 fps burst mode (upgraded from 8fps)
  • 70 shot RAW buffer (upgraded from 21 shots)
  • Ultra-fast electronic shutter for shooting wide open aperture in daylight – 1/25,600s
  • 4K video @ 30fps and 1080p @ 120 fps
  • Slow motion video (120 fps in 1080p)
  • Supports vertical video shooting (not for live-streaming)
  • Supports live streaming videos to YouTube
  • Built-in Bluetooth and WiFi
  • Ability to shoot panoramas

Canon G7X Mark III Packages:

 

Best High-End Snorkeling Camera - Sony RX100 VA and VII

Both are excellent for image quality, autofocus speed, & shooting video

Best Underwater Camera

The Sony RX100 VA & RX100 VII cameras are top-of-line compact cameras. One notable feature of the camera is its autofocus; it is lightning quick in both cameras, making them great for capturing action/behavior photos or shooting fast animals like sharks and sea lions. These cameras feature a large 1" sensor with 20 MP resolution. Each camera is equipped with excellent image quality, fast autofocus, useful video modes (like slow motion), and full manual controls. The RX100 VA's key upgrade is 24fps sequential shooting, enhanced image buffer, and a customizable menu system. The RX100 VII has some minor improvements over the VI, including quicker autofocus with a better autofocus tracking system, burst modes without blackout, and faster processing. The RX100 VII comes at a heftier price tag, but it's a great option for people who want to take advantage of its autofocus tracking system - especially for video, which can now be captured for an unlimited amount of time.

Comparison:

 

RX100 VII Key Features:

  • 1-inch 20.1 MP stacked CMOS sensor
  • BIONZ X processor
  • Built-in 24-200mm (equivalent) f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens – same as the RX100 VI
  • Electronic shutter up to 1/32000s
  • 4K video with full pixel readout (no pixel binning)
  • S-LOG2, S-Log3, and HLG picture profiles
  • Pop-up EVF (2.36 million dots)
  • No more built-in ND filter
  • Tilting touch screen LCD
  • Wifi and Bluetooth capability

RX100 VII Key Features:

  • 20.1-megapixel 1-inch Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor
  • 315-point phase detection autofocus system - focuses in 0.05-sec
  • 24 fps RAW burst with AF tracking for up to 233 photos
  • Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm F/1.8-2.8 lens
  • Anti Distortion Shutter minimizes rolling shutter effect when recording video

 

 
 

Sony RX100 Mark VA and VII Underwater Housing Options:

Sony RX100 V/VA Underwater Packages:

Sony RX100 VII Underwater Packages:

Bext RX100 Series Wet Lenses:

octopus photo taken with underwater camera
Day Octopus Sony RX100 VII f/6.3 1/250 ISO 10

Best Full Frame Snorkeling Camera - Canon EOS R5

 

45 Megapixel photos, 8K/30p & 4K/120 video recording, incredible autofocus, 20fps burst shooting- what more could you want?

 

Read our Full Canon EOS R5 Review for Underwater Photography

 
You may notice that there aren't many full-frame cameras on this list. That's because they're big and heavy - not exactly the ideal tools for snorkeling. But if you are an avid photographer, and you need the best of the best in image quality and performance, a full-frame camera will provide that to you. In our opinion, the Canon EOS R5 stands out among full frame cameras as being the best camera, value for money. It has a number of underwater housings options, including two that are specific to snorkeling and more affordable than dive housings. Check out our best underwater cameras article for more full-frame camera options - most models also have snorkel housings. 
 
The Canon EOS R5 is our top choice if you're looking for the best underwater camera for professionals at an excellent price point. The standout features of the R5 include a 45-megapixel full-frame sensor that can capture beautiful images to 8K/30p and 4K/120 internal RAW 10-bit 4:2:2 video recording capability. 5-axis in-body image stabilization provides you with 8 extra stops of exposure to play with because you'll be able to shoot at slower shutter speeds and still get pin-sharp results. Our tests showed that shooting at 1/8th of a second was no problem....as long as your subject isn't moving!
 
The AF system on the Canon EOS R5 is one of the best we've seen in any underwater camera. The animal eye autofocus tracks fish eyes exceptionally well, which will only improve in the future with subsequent firmware updates. 
 
Being able to shoot video in 8K/30p gives you the flexibility to crop in a lot in post-production when it wasn't possible to get as close to the marine life as you would have liked. Again, the 5-axis IBIS makes shooting video underwater easy and a pleasure. Overall we consider the Canon EOS R5 one of the best underwater cameras on the market today!

 

 

Key Features
  • New 45 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS Sensor and Digic X processor
  • Canon's first 5 axis In-Body Image-Stabilization (IBIS) which works in conjunction with optical IS RF and EF lenses. Up to 8 stops of correction
  • Improved Dual Pixel II Autofocus
  • 5,940 AF points
  • 100% of the sensor has AF coverage!
  • ISO 100 - 51,200
  • Animal eye AF detection (for birds, cats, and dogs) - it works on macro fish 20-40% of the time!
  • 12fps burst shooting with mechanical shutter
  • 20 fps burst shooting with silent (electronic shutter)
  • 180 shot RAW image buffer
  • Dual card slots - 1x CFexpress and 1x SD UHS-II
  • 8K video @ 30p, 10- bit 4:2:2 - using the full width of the sensor!
  • Internal RAW and C-Log recording
  • 4K oversampled video up to 120p, 10-bit 4:2:2
Underwater Snorkeling Housing Options
Sample Underwater Image

Snorkeling with the Canon EOS R5

A pod of dolphins captured with the Canon EOS R5 in an Ikelite housing while snorkeling

 

 


Best Smartphone Options

Smartphones are a great way to capture content while snorkeling and immediately share it with friends and family without needing to download the images to a computer first. It also tends to be more affordable to invest in a smartphone housing than to purchase a new underwater camera altogether. Many smartphone housings are packed with safety features to ensure that you don't lose any precious data - including moisture alarms and vacuum systems. 

 

Best Universal Housing - Kraken Sports KRH04 Universal Smart Phone Housing

Kraken Sports KRH04

The Kraken Sports KRH04 Universal Smart Phone Housing is our top choice for smartphone housings. It is built from aluminum material which makes it durable and robust. In addition, the build quality is outstanding, and it's filled with lots of features. It has a built-in vacuum pump and sensor, which allows you to draw out air from the housing and check if there are leaks prior to diving. This gives you peace of mind that your phone is safe inside. There are also two options, the basic and pro version (with temperature and depth gauge). To enhance your shooting experience, wet lenses are compatible with the housing. The most important feature of the housing is that it is compatible with the latest and most popular smartphones available in the market. 

KRH04 Packages:

 

 

SeaLife SportDiver Housing

SeaLife SportDiver

The SeaLife SportDiver Smartphone Housing has been designed to be used with all the latest iPhone and Android phones. It is compact and lightweight and built from polycarbonate material with stainless steel, aluminum, and optical glass, enabling you to capture tack-sharp photos and videos. Setting it up is a breeze. Operation is also effortless with its large shutter lever and rear control buttons.

SeaLife SportDiver Packages:

 

 

Most Affordable/Best for Selfies - Nautismart Smartphone Housing

Nautismart Smartphone Housing

The Nautismart Smartphone Housing gives you the biggest bang for your buck. It is affordable yet durable. It is built from a polycarbonate material and features a 67mm thread attachment for macro & wide-angle wet lenses. It also features a transparent back which means taking selfies is possible! Compatible with both Android and iOS phones. 

 

Nautismart Smartphone Housing sample image
Colors of the wrecks. Sri Lanka. Shot with iPhone 6s Plus in Kraken Smart Phone housing, UWL-09 wide-angle wet lens and dual Kraken Hydra 5000 lights. Photo: Brent Durand
 
Nautismart Smartphone Housing sample image
Wreck reefscape in Sri Lanka. Shot with iPhone 6s Plus in Kraken Smart Phone housing and dual Kraken Hydra 5000 lights. Photo: Brent Durand

 


Best Underwater Camera Housings for Snorkeling

 

There are many underwater housing options out there. If you're a snorkeler or a surf photographer it can be difficult to navigate through your options. Afterall, do you really need a large, heavy aluminum housing rated to 200ft? No you probably want the lightest, easiest to use housing available. Thankfully, at Bluewater Photo, we have surf and snorkel photographers on our staff who know exactly what you need. So feel free email us at sales@bluewaterphotostore.com or call 310-633-5052 and we'll get you set up. 

In addition to our underwater smartphone housings and compact cameras that we offer, larger camera systems have two types of housings that work great for snorkeling - Aquatech Underwater Housings & Ikelite 50 DL housings.

 

Aquatech Edge Housings

Lightweight, Easy to Use, Optional Pistol Grip, and Depth Rated to 10m (33ft)

 

Aquatech Edge Housings are some of the most popular underater housings used by surf photographers. They are lightweight, compact and simple - everything you need for shooting action on the go. Aquatech has been in business for over 20 years so they have experience in design and engineering specific to the niche. The housings themselves have dual safety clips to ensure that no water gets in. Edge housings are designed for most popular camera models, so send us an email if you have difficulty finding your model. Here are some of the most popular models we carry:

 

Ikelite 50DL Underwater Housings

Lightweight, Ergonomic, Full Camera Controls, More Affordable than 200DL housings, and Depth Rated to 50ft (15m)

ikelite 50dl snorkeling housing

Ikelite is well known among scuba divers for producing excellent polycarbonate housings with full control over the cameras they house. Typically, these housings are rated to 200ft depths. However, we also offer a 50DL option that is exactly the same as the 200DL housing but rated to 50ft. It is also about $200 more affordable. We think 50DL housings from Ikelite are a great choice for snorkelers and surf photographers that don't need the deep depths that diving requires. They are the best choice for avid photographers that need full control over every one of their camera controls while they are in the water. We offer 50DL options for many popular Ikelite models, but if you do not see one listed, feel free email us at sales@bluewaterphotostore.com or call 310-633-5052 and we'll get you set up.

Ikelite 50 DL housings are available for popular camera models including:



Related "Best Underwater Camera" Articles:
 
 
Need help? Give us a call (+1 310-633-5052) / email us to schedule a skype session to find the right housing for you.