When it comes to choosing the best budget underwater camera; one can easily feel overwhelmed.
With so – many – options (!), for cheap diving cameras; each one of them with numerous specs, features and reviews to compare, how the hell do you separate the truth from the hype?
Perhaps more importantly how do you tell which inexpensive underwater camera really is the most affordable – and will it serve the purpose you have in mind for it?
Don’t even trip dawg (fish). We’ve scoured the seven seas for the very best cheap underwater cameras; having compared, tried and tested dozens of the things.
Below we present to you our top five picks, along with a handy buyers guide and additional specs to consider when it comes to budget underwater cameras. Let’s dive in:
Review: The all time cheapest underwater camera that still ensures quality, is the Crosstour Action Camera.
Waterproof for up to 40 metres / 133 feet, it has a 170 degree wide angles lense that let’s you capture wider surroundings in the underwater world.
It can shoot 20MP photos and full 4K videos and has a solid construction which makes it impact resistant.
The 2 inch screen allows you to easily view your photos and videos, whilst the simple setup makes it easy to use for beginners, a trait enhanced by the inbuilt image stabilisation to counter shaky hands.
This is a stellar option for hobbyist shots and videos. With 20MP resolution, it also captures higher detail than many significantly less affordable underwater cameras.
Review: The hands down best budget underwater camera is the Apeman Trawo A100. Waterproof to 40m / 133 feet, it shoots high quality video in Hyper 4K at 30 fps.
This surprisingly cheap underwater camera uses next level image stabilisation technique to counter shaky hands and is durable, yet exceptionally compact; making it ideal for travel.
20 MP detail results in crisp and high quality photos that are lifelike and full of detail.
The settings and button layout are extremely beginner friendly, whilst the 2 inch display screen makes framing your pictures a breeze.
The second cheapest underwater camera, it is without any doubt the best cheap underwater camera currently trending markets.
Review: GoPro is a legendary name amongst action photographers and the Hero 6 does not disappoint.
Shooting in 4K 60 at 60 frames per second – and with an all new GP1 chip optimised for GoPro capture; video quality is extremely high as are photographs.
Other cool features include advanced image stabilisation, touch zoom and a 2 inch display that makes it easy to frame shots, change settings and play back footage.
Our favourite feature is that Hero 6 automatically sends footage to your phone where the app transforms it into an awesome edited video.
Without a casing, it is waterproof for up to 30m / 100 ft – but if you fork out a fraction of it’s overall cost extra for the Super Suit, it suddenly let’s you dive down to a whopping 60m / 200 feet!
Review: The Akaso Brave 4 is the best selling budget scuba camera on amazon right now – and it’s been that way for a long old while. Oooweeee!
Capable of shooting high quality 20mp photos and HD 4K videos, it includes 19 accessories kit and 2 rechargeable 1050m AH batteries that last for approximately 90 minutes.
In many ways, it’s similar to the Crosstour (cheap underwater camera #1) in terms of overall quality and functionality, but there are also a few key differences.
You can adjust the view to 170, 140, 110 and 70 degrees depending on your needs, allowing you to capture that perfect shot. There’s also a 5X zoom option, perfect for capturing small hidden critters.
One frustrating aspect is that the Brave’s casing only keeps it waterproof to 100ft. With deep dives regularly dropping to 133ft, this means you won’t always be able to take it with you.
Review: This cheap underwater digital camera is from the Bear Grylls Technology Range, both inspired and overseen by the legendary adventurer himself.
You can use it to shoot HD 1080p video at 60 frames per second, ensuring that not a single moment is lost.
Being waterproof up to 30m / 99 feet, the maximum depth usually reached on deep dives; it should last you on all your scuba adventures…within reason.
First up, straight off the bat we want to make one thing very clear. None of the cheap underwater cameras we’ve reviewed on this page are of professional quality.
They might capture exceptionally good quality photos and videos, but these still won’t be professional quality – we’re talking the kind of shots you see in National Geographic.
Simply put, if you want such a camera you’ll have to fork out a minimum of quadruple the price of the most expensive budget underwater camera we’ve reviewed here.
If that does sound like something you’re interested, you should check out our other article Best Underwater Cameras, which describes much more expensive diving cameras.
Phew. Boy are we glad to get that off our chest.
BUT – these cheap underwater cameras will be more than capable of snapping beautiful shots to remember your travels, update your blog with and even edit together incredible videos to showcase dive destinations. Promise.
When it comes to shooting great underwater photos and avoiding the common downfalls that result in less great ones, there’s a fair old few rules of thumb (or flipper), and strategies you’re going to need to remember. If this is something that interest you, then consider checking out our article “Underwater Photography Tips for Beginners”.
Argh! They t’aint’ the same! Waterproof cameras (aka amphibious cameras), work pretty well underwater – but they are not underwater cameras! That’s because they only work well at a depth of about 33 feet before they become significantly less water proof and take poorer quality pictures.
For snorkelling, they’re fine, but for diving they’re not. To snap beautiful shots of reefs and fish, you’ll be needing an underwater camera, which was designed to still work at greater depths. All 5 of our top picks are exactly that.
When we refer to housing we’re talking about the protective outer casing that waterproof cameras have to make them waterproof. A few models are actually waterproof without these, although they still have optional casing which makes them waterproof to a greater depth.
Generally, cheap underwater cameras only come with one style of housing. However, some models do offer the availability of different housings as separately sold accessories. This gives you the option to add on extra expenses like external strobes or other lenses. Choosing a camera that allows different housing allows for more options and flexibility.
This is a really important one. Megapixel (mp_ hype dominates cameras these days and it’s making it’s way into the cheap underwater camera industry to. In theory the more megapixels a camera has, the greater resolution i.e. detail it can shoot photos in.
However, double the megapixels does not mean double the resolution – in fact resolution is only increased be about 40%. A better image quality is actually dictated by sensor size.
Crucially we want to stress that whilst some cameras will be described as having 20mp (such as reviews #1, 2 and 5), and others may be described as having just #12mp (such as review #3, this does NOT mean, those with higher mp will shoot higher quality images.
In fact, in both our experience and that of countless others, the budget underwater camera which shoots the highest quality images, that we’ve reviewed, the GoPro Hero 6, actually has the lowest MP. In short…don’t bash your head against a coral comparing or even paying any more than minimal attention to what a diving cameras megapixel capacity is described as.
In today’s fast paced modern society, motionlessness and tranquility alone just don’t cut it any more. You definitely want an underwater camera that can shoot video – which is why we’ve only reviewed those that can.
How high quality that video will be is another matter on it’s own – but generally, these days you shouldn’t settle for anything that can’t shoot 4K Video – the latest video craze that absolutely nobody can shut up about.
And that’s it. We’re done. The articles over. We truly hope you’ve found this to be a useful and eye opening piece and that you’re feeling ready to go out there and purchase your dream underwater camera.
The take home message: It doesn’t matter if you’re low on cash – in today’s society, technology has accelerated and still is improving so much that you can now buy an incredible budget underwater camera to share and remember your scuba diving adventures, for less than $100. Nice! Chow.