Having the right underwater camera can make a world of difference whenever you’re snorkeling. A quality underwater camera should not only withstand the water and its pressure but also give you a clear images. GoPro built this industry, but many competitors have released ever-improved models. Technology moves rapidly, and cameras improve with each generation.
Here are my five recommended affordable underwater cameras:
- AKASO Brave 4 4K 20MP WiFi Action Camera
- Campark ACT74 Action Camera
- Fujifilm FinePix XP130 Waterproof Digital Camera
- Crosstour Waterproof Action Camera
- APEMAN A79 4K Action Camera
Before you set out on your snorkeling adventures, be sure to grab one of these cameras so that you can document your experience and relive it for years to come! And if you have your heart set on going with the GoPro line, read our guide to choosing the right one for Scuba.
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AKASO Brave 4 4K 20MP WiFi Action Camera
Highly rated and not overly expensive, the AKASO Brave Action Camera is a camera of professional quality that isn’t too complicated for the average consumer. Video recording and photo-taking are both done in exceptional resolutions at 4K/24fps, 2K/30fps, and 1080P/60fps for video and 20 MP for photos.
You can change the angle of view on the AKASO to suit your artistic preferences between 170°, 140°, 110°, and 70°, and the built-in smart gyroscope for anti-shaking properties allows you to capture beautiful footage, stabilizing the picture as you snorkel. This underwater camera comes with a water-resistant clear casing. It is fully waterproof up to 100 feet, making it suitable for snorkeling, which is usually done near the surface of the water.
The AKASO Action Camera can connect to WiFi and can maintain its signal up to 10 meters below the surface of the water. The WiFi enables you to connect to the AKASO Action Camera App so that you can edit and share your photos and videos on the go. The 2-inch screen makes it easy to navigate your footage. This action camera also features an HDMI port for whenever you make it back to the hotel room or home and want to relive your adventure in HD TV.
Even underwater, this camera can zoom in 5 times without sacrificing the quality of the picture. And, if you’ll be snorkeling for an extended period, you can utilize the time-lapse feature for a more cohesive final product. The AKASO comes with two rechargeable batteries that last around an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the resolution you’re recording with, along with a 19 accessories kit, and a remote control wristband (which is not waterproof).
What We Like:
- Pretty affordable for such excellent quality
- Three video resolution options and 20 MP resolution — all exceptional and able to give a clear picture of whatever it is you’re shooting
- Comes with two rechargeable batteries, lasting up to an hour and a half each with constant use
- The angle can be changed between four options
- The camera can connect to WiFi for editing and sharing, as well as a TV for viewing
- Once the waterproof case is locked on to the camera, it’s completely waterproof up to 100 feet
- 5X zooming and picture stabilizing capabilities
What We Don’t Like:
- We have nothing negative to say about this underwater camera!
Overall, this is an excellent underwater camera for snorkeling with a wide range of features, including various angles, resolutions, and video types — all for a price that will fall under most user’s budgets.
Campark X ACT74 Action Camera
Although this camera requires a waterproof case for diving, it is an incredible budget-buy that delivers stunning results. Right now, you can get a good deal on the Campark ACT74 with 3 color choices on Amazon. Video is recorded in 4K/30fps, and photos are taken at a lovely 16M to give you a clear picture every time. A GoPro-type camera, the Campark Action Camera boasts a 2-inch screen and 170-degree optional angle rotation so you can capture as much of the background as you want.
When the waterproof case is clamped onto the camera, the Campark is waterproof up to 100 feet below the surface. This camera features three video recording modes – time-lapse for extended adventures, loop recording for an artsy visual effect, and slow-motion to capture the moments how you want. With the Campark, you can connect your IOS or Android phone to the camera to upload your photos onto your phone or automatically share it onto your social media.
With your purchase, two rechargeable batteries are included, and each lasts for an hour and a half when taking continuous footage. They take 2 to 3 hours to charge completely, but if you charge both at the same time, you’ll have a backup for whenever you’re on the water for a total of 3 hours of footage time. It also includes a bike and helmet mounting kit, USB cable for computer viewing, and a bracket for the waterproof casing (also included in your purchase).
As with most waterproof, underwater cameras, the Campark does distort the photo because of its fisheye lens, giving your footage a slight curve. The set up of this camera is easy and straightforward and shouldn’t take any longer than a few minutes. Even with the waterproof case on, the sound quality is surprisingly decent, especially at the low price.
What We Like:
- Can be purchased in black, blue, or silver
- Image quality and video resolution are outstanding
- Comes with two additional rechargeable batteries that only take a couple of hours to charge and can record continuously for one and a half hours before getting low
- Sound quality is good, even when the waterproof case is on
- Waterproof up to 100 feet below the surface
- Features three camera modes for different video shots: slow motion, time-lapse, and looping
What We Don’t Like:
- Micro SD card is not included with your purchase and will need to be bought separately
All-in-all, the Campark Action Camera is perfect for those that are on a budget and looking for an underwater camera that can perform well during their snorkeling sessions.
Fujifilm FinePix XP130 Waterproof Digital Camera
Known for their astounding camera products, Fujifilm brings us the FinePix Waterproof Digital Camera that performs beautifully in a variety of underwater conditions. Waterproof up to 65 feet, freezeproof up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof up to nearly 6 feet, and dustproof, this camera will take your snorkeling trips to the next level.
Snorkeling, though relaxing, is a fast-paced activity, and to catch wildlife on camera, you’ll need an even faster underwater camera. The Fujifilm Digital Camera features a Burst Mode Button so that you can quickly capture dozens of images without any hassle. And when it’s used underwater, this camera captures color just as the human eye sees it thanks to its “underwater macro” modes.
If conditions in the water are low-light, this camera features a 16.4 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor to give you advanced images even when the circumstances aren’t ideal. It also offers image stabilization to prevent shakiness and blur in the photos and videos.
The Fujifilm Camera can deliver a zoom up to 10 times without sacrificing the quality and color of the image or increasing blur underwater. The large, 3-inch screen allows you to navigate through your photos easily and adjusts to the lighting in the room or outdoors to give you a clear picture no matter where you are.
The high-speed movie mode allows you to slow any video down to 320 fps so that you can capture every detail of your snorkeling expedition in fantastic detail! Once you’re ready to process your photos, the Fujifilm underwater camera offers 11 filters to highlight the aspects you like best. Connect your Fujifilm camera to your phone via Bluetooth to transfer your photos and videos effortlessly.
What We Like:
- Available in five different colors to match your personality: yellow, blue, lime, white, and silver
- Waterproof, freezeproof, and dustproof, making this a universal option for the adventurous user
- It’s fast. The Fujifilm underwater camera features a Burst Mode Button to capture dozens of photos in seconds so that you don’t miss a beat — or a photo op.
- Does well in low light conditions
- The large, 3-inch screen that adjusts to light
- You can slow down any video to as low as 320 fps
- Connects to Bluetooth so that you can quickly transfer your images to your phone
- Color is outstanding. The camera captures underwater colors as the human eye sees them.
What We Don’t Like:
- Not a great budget buy. The most expensive underwater camera for snorkeling on our list
- Only waterproof up to 65 feet. It’s still a good option for snorkeling, but if you plan on diving, this won’t be a good option
In general, this is a decent camera for snorkeling. The color quality is top-notch, it’s quick, and it serves all intended purposes. However, it’s on the more expensive end of the spectrum, so if you’re looking for a cheap underwater camera, this probably isn’t it.
Crosstour Waterproof Action Camera
Though it’s the most affordable underwater camera for snorkeling on our list, the Crosstour Waterproof Action Camera has equal or better quality than other, more expensive underwater cameras. For the price, this camera is a beast and is waterproof up to 100 feet below the surface of the water.
It features a high video resolution and photo quality at 12 MP 1080P and can even host live streams and chats at any angle you like up to 170 degrees. The wireless remote control connection allows users to connect the camera to their phone and access the photo and video files to delete, download, or view.
The Crosstour boasts a 2-inch screen for effortless viewing and comes with an 18 piece kit with various accessories, like a helmet mount, to boost your underwater shooting experience. Unfortunately, this camera doesn’t perform very well in low light conditions. It’s best used in more transparent water during the day when the sun is bright.
With a fully charged battery, you can expect this camera to record for an hour and a half with constant videoing or shooting. This camera also comes with two batteries, so if both are charged, you can get 3 hours tops on your snorkeling trips.
What We Like:
- Lightweight camera
- Can record up to 3 hours of footage with both batteries at full-charge
- Can host live streams and chats at any angle you prefer, including the wide 170-degree angle
- 2-inch screen for easy photo and video viewing
- Connects to phone (IOS and Android devices) for viewing, deleting unwanted photos, and downloading
- The most affordable camera on our list and good quality for the price
- Comes with an 18 piece kit to increase your shooting experience
What We Don’t Like:
- It doesn’t come with an SD card. It will need to be purchased separately
- Doesn’t perform as well in low light as other underwater cameras
- Doesn’t feature as many video or photo modes as the other options on our list
Overall, this is the best quality underwater camera for the low price; it has a long battery life, comes with lots of unique pieces, can host live streams, and records quickly at whatever angle you’d like. However, it is missing some features that other cameras on our list have, which could be a deal-breaker for some.
APEMAN A79 4K Action Camera
With astounding video and photo resolution at an affordable price, the APEMAN A79 4K Action Camera is a fast-acting, high-definition underwater camera. You can capture footage at a fantastic 4K 30 FPS quality and 20 MP photos for memories that will make you feel as if you’re still in the water.
Though snorkeling only requires an underwater camera to be able to withstand the pressure of a few feet below the surface, the APEMAN can take you to the maximum depth limit of scuba diving, if ever you wish to brave those waters. That’s 130 feet of waterproof capability without sacrificing the sharpness and overall quality of photos, making this camera the most durable and versatile choice out of all of the options on our list.
This camera features seven individual recording modes so that you can get the perfect shot no matter what. These include a Still Picture mode, Burst so that you can flawlessly capture speedy aquatic life, a Selfie Timer, Time Lapse Video for long snorkeling trips, a Slow Motion option for when you want to experience the underwater world in more recognizable detail, Loop Recordings for an artsy effect perfect for social media sharing, and Auto Mode.
The APEMAN allows you to connect to WiFi through a phone app so that you can instantly view, edit, remove, or download and share your footage on social media or through text. It also features USB and HD ports, so you can effortlessly view or transfer your photos and videos to your computer or television. The WiFi connection even allows you to preview live video feeds on your other devices so you can be assured that you’re getting the perfect shot.
What We Like:
- Outstanding quality for a price that’s affordable for most consumers
- Features 7 recording modes to make each underwater shot you take unique
- Connects to WiFi via an app and allows you to control the camera from your phone. You can share, edit, delete, download, and view a live feed
- Underwater camera can withstand depths up to 130 feet
- Outer mic records sharp sound, even when placed in the protective waterproof casing
- Video and photo quality are out of this world with videos recording at 4K 30 FPS and photos taken at 20 MP
- Highly rated and raved about by users
What We Don’t Like:
- Charging the battery isn’t very convenient. You’ll either have to purchase a compatible charger separately or connect your phone charger or other compatible cord to the USB port to charge the battery inside the camera
This is one of the best underwater cameras for snorkeling on our list. The sound recording is excellent, the picture is sharp, and the depth that this camera can go is phenomenal.
What to Look for in an Underwater Camera for Snorkeling
With all the features underwater cameras have to offer, there are a few must-haves to give you the best device possible for precise shots. Here’s what you should look for:
- A durable body that allows you to go as deep as you want. A good underwater camera will be waterproof to at least 30 feet. Since the deepest snorkelers go is 3 feet, finding an underwater camera for snorkeling shouldn’t be a problem. Most of the cameras on our list can withstand depths up to 100 feet.
- Able to record video. While you may think you just want a few photos of your snorkeling trip to look back on, once you get there, you’ll likely want to capture everything. Finding an underwater camera that’s capable of recording video and taking photos is more useful in the long run and doesn’t do much to amp up the cost.
- Long battery life. Snorkeling trips generally take around 3 hours, so you’ll want to have an underwater camera that can capture footage as long as you’re able to take it. All of the waterproof cameras on our list come with two rechargeable batteries that last about an hour and a half each with constant use, which should be more than enough to get you through your snorkeling expedition.
- Wireless footage transfer. Whether you’re out on the water and just want to be sure that your footage is safe, or you want to share your experience directly with your friends and family on social media, an underwater camera that features wireless transfer is entirely helpful. The cameras on our list connect to your phone via app to allow you to download, delete, or share your photos and videos in an instant.
- Fast Autofocus or burst photo abilities. Sea Life may not be cut out for marathons on land, but they are quick underwater. You’ll need to ensure that your underwater camera either has fast autofocus or is capable of taking burst photos so that you never miss a beat.
- Size of the camera. The last thing you want to do while snorkeling is lug around a giant underwater camera, which is why size is so important when deciding on the best option for you. The largest you’ll probably want to go is a camera with a 2- to 3-inch screen, which would add up to around 5 ounces, give or take a few (for optional attachable equipment).
- Filters out the overwhelming “blueness” of the ocean. A good underwater camera for snorkeling should have a manual white balance feature or a red filter on the lens to balance out the light underwater and make your photos and videos come out with colors that are more true to life.
In general, you want a speedy camera that’s able to shoot true-to-life photos and give you the water protection necessary for snorkeling and shallow diving.
Tips for Taking Better Pictures Underwater
No matter how excellent an underwater camera for snorkeling is, photos taken underwater can still turn out subpar if you’re not taking the extra step to make them great. Here are a few general tips on how you can get the most out of your waterproof camera:
- Get as close as possible to your subject. Even on land, zooming in at an object that is still multiple feet away is going to result in an image that isn’t as clear as it could otherwise be if you were closer. Without frightening the animal or straying too far from your snorkeling group, get as close as you can to whatever you’re trying to capture. This will ensure that you have a sharper, detailed image.
- Don’t underestimate the usefulness of flash. Water naturally reduces sharpness and color. Turning the flash on will help to combat these dulling effects and give you a better outcome.
- Make use of the natural light and shoot with the sun behind you. Sunrays dancing in the ocean can create gorgeous imagery if you take advantage of it. Shooting photos or videos with the natural light of the sun underwater is best when you’re in a shallow part of the ocean, such as a coral reef.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
While there are many things you should do to get a good picture, there are just as many things you shouldn’t do, including:
- Taking photos without enough contrast. Increasing the contrast on your underwater camera or post-photo will help to bring out the colors better. Not doing so could result in the blue effect that oceans always bring.
- Taking too wide of a shot. If you’re photographing rather than videoing, you should always make it a point to focus on a single subject or a single part of a subject (such as a small section of coral). A subject that is too busy can overwhelm a photo and lead to blurs and uneven lighting.
- You set your shutter speed too high (or too low). Setting your shutter speed higher than your camera’s sync speed will result in partial blackness at the top or bottom of your photos. Setting the shutter speed too low will give you blurry pictures possibly without fish in them (because they swam by too quickly for the camera to capture correctly).
When in doubt, just let the camera do what it was designed to do. Most waterproof cameras have “underwater modes” that automatically adjust the settings to suit underwater conditions. You don’t want to miss that special encounter with a fascinating animal when snorkeling, such as a whale shark.
After comparing the best underwater cameras for snorkeling, we’ve concluded that the top option for the average consumer would be the AKASO Brave 4 4K 20MP WiFi Action Camera. It’s highly-rated, under 100 dollars, is completely waterproof up to 100 feet (which is more than enough for snorkeling and even diving if you ever decide to test those waters out), has top-notch photo and video stabilizing qualities, has multiple angles and video resolution options, and is connectable to WiFi for sharing and storing your footage.
Overall, there’s no way that you could go wrong with the AKASO. The only downside is that it may be over budget for some. That said, if you need a quality budget-buy, we’d suggest that you go with the Campark ACT74 Action Camera. It’s not the cheapest camera on our list, but the difference in price is only a few dollars, and we found that the Campark performs better.
Regardless of which underwater camera for snorkeling you decide on, all of the picks on our list would make a great addition to your underwater arsenal and can capture beautiful memories that you’ll cherish for years to come.