Waterproof cameras for watersports … and other adventurous pastimes
If you're planning to go scuba diving or snorkeling on your vacation, or just like to take photos playing on the beach, then a waterproof digital camera is what you need. But waterproof cameras offer much more than just a dry underwater environment for your photos and videos -- they're among the most rugged cameras available and work for any active lifestyle. Their waterproofing works for frozen water as well, so skiers and snowboarders can safely use them. And these cameras are all freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, suitable for even the coldest winter sports days. Planning on rock climbing or hiking in the mountains? Most of these waterproof cameras are shockproof and crushproof, so you can drop them from 6 or so feet, or have boulders fall on them without any ill effects. They're also dustproof, which is good for desert environments. All in all, waterproof digital cameras are great vacation traveling companions or for recording your extreme sports.
In considering a waterproof camera, it's best to be clear about what they're good at. Traditionally, these cameras are for outdoor use, so their indoor performance is not usually up to par with that of regular compact cameras (with a few exceptions). That's not to say that you won't get good photos inside, but the lesser quality is noticeable if you look at the photos at full size. However, these cameras are great at taking underwater photos and videos, as well as landscape and action shots. If you're going to be around or underwater or in rugged terrain, then these cameras are practically a must-have.
Most of the cameras in this review have GPS to varying degrees, offering geo-tagging of photos to plotting your vacation route through your photos on a map. Waterproof cameras don't have viewfinders, so you have to frame your shot using the LCD screen. Wi-Fi is still an option, though, and that's how we've divided the categories in this report. Many of the cameras we reviewed are fairly lightweight, which makes them suitable for traveling, but one in particular is small enough to keep in your back pocket.
To find the Best Reviewed waterproof digital cameras, the editors looked at enthusiastic and thorough expert reviews on waterproof cameras. Professional reviewers perform extensive testing in labs, out in the field and underwater. These detailed reviews are often backed up by sample images and videos shot with the cameras, and the most useful reports have comparisons between the leading cameras. One thing to be aware of in the expert reviews, however, is any comparison to regular compact cameras, as waterproof cameras can come off poorly for on-land photos. User reviews are also very important for finding out what it's really like to use the cameras on the go. Some user reviewers go into great depth on this, giving both the pros and cons of their experiences with the cameras.