Three Questions To Ask When Buying An Underwater Camera

A good underwater camera is a versatile tool that you can use to take photos and videos in both wet and dry conditions.

Man swimming and holding underwater camera
Underwater cameras let you take fun and surprising photos for your collection.Jakob Owens via Unsplash

If you’re shopping for an underwater camera, you’re in luck. Regardless of what you want it for, there’s a model available that will fit your needs. That’s because there are more underwater cameras and waterproofing options for smartphones available than ever before. Underwater photography is fascinating and fun. But all underwater cameras are not created equal. To make a good selection when shopping for an underwater camera, ask yourself three questions—how you plan to use it, do you want to shoot still photographs or video, and how often you plan to use it.

How Will You Use It?

AKASO EK7000 4K WiFi Sports Action Camera Ultra HD Waterproof DV Camcorder
This still and video camera is made to withstand extreme environments.Amazon

If you're going to be scuba diving or snorkeling, you'll likely need a different underwater camera than someone who is just being cautious in case they accidentally knock their camera into the lake or river. If you're simply trying to get a photo of a pretty fish or two to show your friends, you'll need a different model than a professional photographer who hopes to sell his or her images to National Geographic. Explore all your options and compare them to your intended use before making a decision. Factors to consider include size, available controls, photo quality, video quality, shutter speed, lens options and your budget for this purchase.

Still, Video Or Both?

Hiearcool Universal Waterproof Case,Waterproof Phone Pouch
The transparent cover on this waterproof smartphone case will not block use of the camera.Amazon

If you want an underwater camera solely to shoot still photography, you'll have more options than if you want a camera that will shoot both stills and videos. If you want both, you'll need to specifically focus on that fact when considering different models. You'll also want to consider both photo quality and video quality when making a purchase, and much of that is dependent on your usage, as mentioned previously. Note that a waterproof smartphone pouch might be your best bet, since many models are clear, allowing you to shoot both still photography and videos through them. They are available for many different smartphone models and are fairly inexpensive compared to most underwater cameras.

How Often Will You Use It?

Kodak underwater camera
This single-use disposal underwater camera is simple to use and economical.Amazon

This might sound like a strange consideration, but it's important. If you are a hardcore scuba diver and plan to take photos and video several times a week, you need to look for a dedicated underwater camera that will hold up to that frequent usage. If you plan to use it once a month or so, you'll still be better with a "real" underwater camera, although you might not need all the bells and whistles that the hardcore diver desires. If you're just going on your annual canoe trip, a single-used disposable underwater camera might be the best option for you. Many single-use cameras take good pictures, and they can be money savers if you're not going to be using an underwater camera very often. They also make great gifts for your kids when you send them off to summer camp.