Finding the Best Waterproof Camera

When you are diving, the one thing you will always want to carry is a waterproof camera so that you can click all those incredible pictures. There are quite a few of them. Which one should you buy? I’m reviewing four of the best waterproof cameras brands to help you decide.

Let me start by saying that I’ve owned many, many, many cameras. I am mostly a Nikon person, with my primary camera being a Nikon D7000. In the past, my point and shoots have been Nikon, Olympus and Panasonic, so while I am brand loyal to Nikon, I will branch out if it means getting the best photos possible.

For this review, I picked two Olympus brand cameras, one Nikon and one Pentax. The Olympus and Nikon both received top ratings in the underwater category on Amazon, but I wasn’t sure if that was based on user reviews or sales, so I did what any nutty photographer would do. I tried them all. They’re waterproof cameras, so I headed out to the beach and put them through a variety of tests. For each photo, I set all the cameras to the same settings and stood in the same spot and took one photo with each camera.

Wide Angle

I was testing how wide angle each lens was, as they all claimed to have a wide angle lens. The Olympus TG-2 and Pentax are both the widest. But the Pentax takes wider than normal photos (at an HD aspect ratio). The Nikon seemed to be washed out.

Macro Capabilities

All cameras have a macro and a super macro setting. I set each on the super macro setting and got as close as I could to the caterpillar. The Pentax out-performed all three other cameras in focusing distance.

Zoom Capabilities

Next up was the zoom capabilities. I stood in the same spot, and zoomed in as far as I could to an object in the dunes. They all appeared to be similar, but the Pentax has a larger digital zoom (which I’d rarely use because it decreases quality).

Underwater Mode

Last, I put all four onto their underwater mode and got down on the level of the waves. For the first time in all my tests, I think the Nikon performed the best. The water seemed the most “crisp”, followed closely by the Pentax. Both Olympus cameras produced images that were too soft for my liking.

So at this point, I was down to liking two cameras – the Pentax and the Olympus TG-3.  With the Olympus, I can attach two different lenses, and they both are waterproof, but for a point and shoot camera, seemed expensive to me. The Olympus also had great color renditions, as opposed to the cheaper Olympus and the Nikon. And last, the Olympus has some fun features called magic art filters (fisheye, tilt shift, dramatic, etc) which can be fun to play with, but aren’t anything I can’t do in Photoshop.

Even with all of that going for it, I went with the Pentax. Why? For one reason – the Pentax does one thing that not one other waterproof camera does. It has bracketing, meaning I can take a series of 3 photographs, one overexposed, one properly exposed and one underexposed and merge them later into a properly exposed photograph.