Best Underwater Camera for Snorkeling (2021 UPDATE)

(If you’re looking for high-end underwater cameras, check out our main page: Best Underwater Cameras)

Are you biting at the snorkel to record your marine adventures with a waterproof camera but unsure which is the right one for you?

In today’s tech savvy world, there’s a variety of different underwater snorkeling camera available – frankly, they vary a lot in terms of price, specs and capabilities. 

Some waterproof cameras are more suited for scuba diving whereas others are specifically designed for being used near the water’s surface, making them ideal for snorkelers. 

In this article, we’ve reviewed the 6 best snorkelling cameras in 2021. We’ve described each cams’ strengths, weaknesses, features and overall value for money, both honestly and objectively. 

Use the Quick Look section below, to take a fast glance at the best underwater cameras for snorkeling – or scroll down further to read our Comprehensive Reviews of each one.

(Clicking Green Text makes you jump to a section or open a link!). 

At the bottom of this page there’s also a waterproof camera guide: What to Look for in a Snorkeling Camera as well as a handy Terminology Glossary. Let’s dive in!

Get ready to immortalise your snorkeling trips!
under photography whilst snorkeling.
Image Credits: Top: Shutterstock / Denis Moskvinov. Bottom: Shutterstock / Max Topchiii

QUICK LOOK: Best Underwater Cameras for Snorkeling

(Click Green Text to View any Cheap Underwater Camera on amazon or scroll down for our detailed reviews!)

Best Snorkeling Camera Reviews

#1 Best Snorkeling Camera (Our TOP PICK!)

5/5

Waterproof to 31m / 102 ft, the Lumix TS7 is also drop-proof from 6.6 feet and freeze-proof to  14 degrees f – which makes for an extremely tough and durable (not to mention compact) snorkeling camera!

It can capture excellent quality photos with it’s 20.4 mp sensor as well as superb full 4K Video at 30 fps, which in 2021 are very respectable specs, especially for a waterproof camera that’s so affordable.

One of our favourite features of this waterproof camera is the 4.6 X optical zoom lens – it comes in seriously handy when you’re at the surface and notice an interesting subject some way below you in the water.

Another reason the Lumix TS7 makes one of the best waterproof cameras for snorkeling is it’s electronic viewfinder – this means it easy to see the image you’re trying to capture even if bright sunlight is washing out the lcd screen. 

Just remember, an electronic viewfinder is less ideal as you go deeper underwater, so the Panasonic TS7 really does shine through more as a snorkeling camera, not a deep dives one!

Because it doesn’t need to be placed in waterproof housing, the Lumix TS7’s full range of buttons, knobs and dials can be operated in the water, making it extremely quick and easy to control and operate. 

The large, 3 inch LCD display screen makes it a breeze to see the shot you’re framing and there are also 22 unique filter effects that can be used! Other features include optical image stabilization, panorama and WiFi integration.

The Lumix TS7 is the best of the best waterproof cameras for snorkeling, with excellent features and durability as well as an extremely reasonable price point. 

Image Credits: Top & Bottom: Panasonic

PROS:

  • 4K photo feature let’s you turn 4K video frames into 8mp photos.

  • Different Shooting Modes: Underwater, Beach and Surf, Sports.

  • Long battery life.

  • Inbuilt Compass and altimeter useful on treks.

  • 20.4 mp CMOS sensor = good image quality.

  • 4.6x Optical Zoom.

  • Electronic Viewfinder.

CONS:

  • Does not handle low light very well (usually only a problem if you try to dive with it). 

  • Only waterproof to 31m / 102 ft, which some deep dives go beyond. But again, this is a snorkeling camera!

#2 Best Underwater Camera for Snorkeling (RUNNER UP)

Olympus Tough TG 6

4.8/5

The Olympus TG 6 is quite similar to the Panasonic TS7: it can shoot 4k video at 30fps, has a 4 x optical zoom and is waterproof, meaning that all of it’s buttons and dials can be accessed, allowing for easy control.

Straight out of the box, it can be taken to 15m / 50ft deep underwater and if you get it’s separate underwater housing, then it can go to 45m / 147 ft – although that’ll only be needed if you plan to scuba dive with it!

If diving is on the cards, the Olympus TG 6 is the best option to go for, as it uses an LCD viewfinder – which performs well at depth, as a posse to the Panasonic TS7’s electronic viewfinder, which works better at the surface. (We wrote a separate article on dive cams here).

The Olympus Tough TG 6 is a truly excellent camera for shooting macro (small critters or things up close) as it can focus on subjects as close as 10cm and also has focus stacking and a built in macro mode.

It does only have a 12 mp sensor, which means that photos aren’t going to be as crisp as those taken by the Panasonic Lumix TS7, however the Tough TG 6 makes up for this by having RAW support, adjustable white balance and an auto mode that makes it extremely easy to use for beginners. 

This is a seriously easy to use camera and is actually a little cheaper than the Lumix TS7 despite having the several advantages it has over it. 

It’s an extremely popular option among beginners and those who want to do a mix of snorkeling and diving. 

Image Credit: Olympus
Image Credit: Olympus

PROS:

  • Image stabilisation. 

  • Also makes excellent dive camera.

  • Auto Mode= easy to use for beginners.

  • Simple and intuitive user interface.

  • RAW support.

  • Adjustable white balance.

  • Macro Mode.

  • 4 X Optical Zoom.

  • Affordable.

CONS:

  • Can’t go deeper than 15 m / 50ft without separately purchased waterproof housing (but this will only be an issue if you plan to scuba dive with it).

  • Image quality is not as detailed as some other options due to 12mp sensor. 

#3 Toughest Snorkeling Camera

4.4/5

Drop-proof to 7.9 ft, freeze-proof to 14 degrees, dustproof and waterproof to 100ft / 30m, the Nikon Coolpix W300 is the most tough as nails snorkeling camera out there. You’ll be hard pushed to break it. 

Besides it’s nigh invincibility and lightweight, compact build that make it ideal for travel, this is a high performing camera – it can snap 16mp photos and record full HD 4K video at 30 fps. 

Users can select from a number of shooting modes including underwater, beach, close up, snow and sport amongst others. The 5x optical zoom let’s you get closer to subjects with plenty of added detail. 

Other great features include vibration reduction for smooth footage, WiFi integration as well as AE lock in when shooting underwater video. 

An extra large grip and smart button placement make for stable one handed shooting whilst the 3 inch LCD screen is anti-reflective coated, which helps when shooting in bright light, i.e. near the surface. 

There is a dedicated tool button that gives quick access to GPS, e-compass and other tools, plus depth is displayed on the lcd screen. 

The Nikon coolpix W300 is a seriously cool all rounder and in many ways feels like a blend of the Panasonic TS7 and the Tough TG 6, although it’s a little cheaper than both. 

With many raves reviews, this has also got to be one of the most popular snorkel cameras currently trending the market. 

camera for underwater photography: the nikon coolpix w300
Image Credit: Nikon
Image Credit: Nikon

PROS:

  • 2 autofocus modes for video shooting.

  • Extremely durable.

  • Compact camera. 

  • Inexpensive.

  • LCD screen is coated with anti-reflective.

  • AE lock in when shooting underwater is possible.

  • Vibration reduction / video stabilization.

  • 5x optical zoom!

CONS:

  • Battery life is quite short – 1 hour video recording at 1080p and less for 4k.

  • Video recording time limited to 29 minutes or when file size limit is reached. 

  • Mostly made of plastic which may put off some uses. 

#4 Best Action Camera for Snorkelers

(We’ve written a separate article going into full detail on underwater action cameras).

GoPro Hero 9 Black

4.9/5

Action cameras are small, digital cams that have been designed to record action, usually from the shooters point of view. They’re great for activities like surfing, biking, diving and yep, you’ve guessed it: snorkeling. 

Without a doubt, the highest quality action cam going right now is the Hero 9: as of 2021, it’s the only waterproof camera that can capture 5k video!

Without it’s waterproof casing, the Hero 9 is waterproof to 10m / 33ft, which is more than adequate for snorkeling. 

An extremely cheap, separately purchased  underwater casing let’s it be taken to 60m / 196 ft, so it can be taken on scuba dives also. 

With it’s 23.6 mp sensor, the Hero 9 can snap extremely detailed 20mp images – underwater photos do come out significantly better at shallow depths, which is why the Hero 9 particularly shines through as a snorkel camera.

Other cool features include advanced image stabilization, 8 X slow motion, time lapse mode and digital lens modes that allow for wide, linear or narrow shots. 

There is an 8 X digital zoom, but unlike zooms that are optical, it won’t provide any extra detail, it’s more of a glorified crop. Also, the Hero 9 features WiFi integration allowing you to easily share your photos and videos on social media.

GoPro are a legendary name in the action camera sphere – the Hero 9 will cost you more than any of the other snorkeling cameras we’ve reviewed, but the reputation of this camera brand is truly stelar and with it’s impressive 5k video shooting capability, users are virtually guaranteed to be impressed. 

The GoPro Hero 9 is one of the best point and shoot cameras for underwater photography.
Image Credit: GoPro
The GoPro hero 9 is also an extremely compact camera that can fit in the palm of your hand.
Image Credit: GoPro

PROS:

  • Shoots 5K full HD video = superb video quality!

  • 2 LCD screens – one on front, one on back for effortless framing.

  • Long battery life.

  • 23.6 mp sensor = very decent picture quality (20mp photos). 

  • Digital Lens Modes = wide angle, linear angle or narrow.

  • Hyper Smooth blast: excellent video stabilization.

  • 8 X Slow Motion.

  • Wi Fi Integration.

CONS:

  • More expensive than other snorkeling cameras.

  • Zoom is digital so doesn’t provide any extra detail.

#5 LOW BUDGET: Best Waterproof Camera for Snorkeling

3.8/5

Markedly cheaper than all of the other snorkeling cameras we’ve reviewed so far, the Fuijifilm FinePix XP140 offers many of the same features as more expensive options, albeit with lower specs.

It can shoot in 4K – but only to a maximum of 15 frames per second whereas the other best snorkeling cameras can shoot 4K at up to 30fp. Because of this, we find it better to shoot video in 1080p at 60fps when using the Fuijifilm. 

As for photos – with it’s 16.4 mp sensor, this snorkel camera can snap decent 16 mp photos that are actually as good as those taken by some of the more expensive waterproof cameras. 

Still, don’t be too surprised when stills taken by this camera, are poorer than anything your smartphone could capture. 

The Fuijifilm Finepix XP140 is waterproof to 82 ft / 25 m, which isn’t quite as deep as it’s more expensive companions can go, but still a lot deeper than anyone who is simply snorkeling will descend. 

It uses a fixed lcd viewfinder paired with a wide angle lens to present high quality images and is also nicely complimented by a CMOS-sift optical image stabilisation that controls camera shake and minimises blur. 

There is also 5 x optical zoom, which is combined with an intelligent digital zoom to result in double the zoom range (10x) whilst offering image processing to counteract the degradation that normally occurs with digital lenses. Nice!

 
underwater photography camera: the fuijifilm finepix xp140
Image Credit: Fuijifilm
Image Credit: Fuijifilm

PROS:

  • Long battery life.

  • Self timer and movie lapse modes.

  • Can switch between autofocus and manual focus.

  • Compact and sturdy.

  • Dustproof.

  • 20 unique shooting modes.

  • 5 X optical zoom + intelligent digital zoom = 10 X zoom.
     
  • Highest zoom range of any snorkeling cam. 

CONS:

  • Can’t shoot 4K at a higher frame rate than 15. So it’s better to use it in 1080p resolution at 60fps. 

  • No cap for lens – so if it gets scratched, game over.

  • Focus can be a bit delayed

#6 Cheapest Underwater Camera

Akaso V50 Elite

3.6/5

The Akaso V50 Elite is a low cost action cam which includes waterproof casing – it has been a top selling cheap underwater camera for some time now, having countless rave reviews. 

Despite being the cheapest camera on this page, the Akaso V50 can shoot video in full HD 4K at an impressive 60 frames per second and it can also take decent 20mp photos. 

With it’s included waterproof housing, it is waterproof to 131ft / 40m and features excellent video stabilization. 

However, do realise that when it’s in it’s waterproof casing, the Akaso V50 Elite can only be controlled via two buttons: this makes it slower to navigate settings compared to other waterproof cams with their many buttons, dials and knobs. 

All the same, the user interface is simple, intuitive and easy to get used to. 

There are some other great features about this action cam: it’s one of the most compact cameras in the world and also features a remote control, wrist strap and helmet accessories for land use. 

Users can select between three view angles and there’s also an 8 X digital zoom – although unlike the optical zooms sported by most other snorkeling cams, a digital zoom doesn’t provided extra detail. 

For such a low price, it’s hard to complain about the Akaso V50 Elite though – this snorkel cam offers superb value for money, ease of use and some very respectable filming specs. 

(We have a main page on the cheapest underwater cameras!). 

Of all the best waterproof cameras we've reviewed on this page, the Akaso Elite V50 is the cheapest.
Image Credit: Akaso

PROS:

  • Ultra lightweight.

  • One of the most compact cameras in the world.

  • Decent image quality in good light.

  • Built in gyroscope to counter shaky hands.

  • Simple user interface for this point and shoot camera. 

  • Wi Fi Integration

CONS:

  • Must be in it’s waterproof housing at all times whilst snorkeling.

  • In it’s waterproof housing, it can only be controlled via 2 buttons, slowing up settings a little.

  • Zoom is digital and so images degrade when it is applied.
      
  • Image quality also quickly degrades in poor light.

Camera Guide: What makes a great Snorkeling Camera?

First and foremost a good snorkeling camera must be fully waterproof. Ideally it should be waterproof without needing to be placed in underwater casing, which can limit access to some buttons, thereby slowing up controls. 

That’s why 5 of the 6 snorkeling cameras we’ve reviewed (all but the cheapest option, the Akaso V50 Elite), can be operated underwater without any underwater casing. 

Snorkeling cams should also be durable and compact and they shouldn’t cost too much money either as they’re usually orientated towards hobbyists. Once again, only models that meet these standards have been presented. 

A good snorkel camera should have decent filming and photo specs – it ought to be able to at least film 4K and take 12 mp photos, which all of the cams on this page are capable of doing. 

All the same, I’m going to be honest with you about something. Waterproof cams that are orientated towards snorkelers can take some very respectable video footage but the photos they snap will usually be of poorer quality than what your smartphone would take. 

However – because waterproof cameras are both sturdier and cheaper than smartphones, they’re far more appropriate to risk at sea.

(But if you’re really serious about getting a high quality waterproof camera and you don’t mind forking out a lot of cash, check out our main page on dive cameras). 

Because snorkelers usually stay at the surface, it’s extremely useful for a snorkeling camera to have a zoom, because that way you can get a closer shot of something that’s below without having to swim down closer to it.  

Every camera in this article comes equipped with a zoom – the Akaso Elite V50 and GoPro Hero 9 have digital zooms which are pretty handy; sort of like a close up crop, however the other four snorkeling cams all have optical zooms, which are even better as they give extra detail when applied. 

It’s also useful for a snorkeling camera to have image stabilisation tech as this counters for shaky video footage and makes it less blurry – once more, all the cams featured on this page have video stabilisation. 

Finally, when a camera is equipped with an electronic viewfinder, it’s slightly easier to see the shot you’re framing in bright light – which a snorkeler is likely to experience, due to being at the surface. 

Because of this, our favourite snorkeling camera of all time is the Panasonic Lumix TS7, as in addition to having an optical zoom, video stabilisation, macro mode, being sturdy and waterproof without casing to 30m, it has an electronic viewfinder, so it’s easy to see what you’re doing even if the sun is out in full force!

The other cams rely on traditional lcd viewfinders, which can still be used at the surface and unlike the electronic viewfinder are better to use in low lighting, meaning they’ll actually be better for greater water depth / diving – but they still make excellent snorkeling cams as well. 

Among them, is our second favourite snorkel camera: the Olympus Tough TG 6!

buying guide
Shutterstock / F8 Studio
Shutterstock / luchschenF
Image Credit: Panasonic
buying guide - happy young woman snorkeling.
Shutterstock / Wonderful Nature

Terminology Glossary:

#1: Viewfinder

This is the camera component that shows you the area of the subject that will be included in the shot. 

Generally speaking, most digital cameras are built with optical viewfinders or prominent liquid-crystal display (LCD) preview screens  that can be used as convenient viewfinders in casual photography. This is the case for all the cameras we’ve reviewed, except for the Panasonic Lumix TS7, which uses an electronic viewfinder. 

An electronic viewfinder is a separate LCD that accurately reproduces the images gathered through the lens and also displays essential camera settings, whilst also showing exposure levels. 

It’s quite a bit easier to see things on an electronic viewfinder even when bright light would wash out a standard lcd display screen, so you get a better idea of how the shot will turn out. 

#2: Underwater / Waterproof - Casing / Housing

When we refer to underwater housing we’re talking about the protective outer casing that some cameras must be placed in, either to allow them to be placed in the water; or if they’re already waterproof, so that they can be taken to greater depths. 

Underwater casing can restrict access to most of a cameras buttons though, so it can slow up navigating through settings. Of the six snorkeling cameras we’ve reviewed only the cheapest one, the Aksao V50 Elite has to be placed in underwater casing. All of the rest are waterproof at snorkelling depths. 

#3: Action Camera

A compact and generally low cost camera that’s been designed for shooting action, whilst being in the midst of it, usually from the point of view of the shooter. They’re very popular sports and adventure activity cameras and can also make great underwater cameras. 

Most are packed with a range of accessories such as a wrist strap, remote control and accessories to let you attach the camera to helmets, etc. They also include underwater housing, which they must be placed in for snorkeling and diving.

#4: Zoom

Digital zoom is like a specialised image crop – it makes a subject bigger, but it doesn’t actually provide any more detail. The Akaso Elite V50 and GoPro Hero 9 feature digital zooms. 

Optical zoom is more like the real deal, because as it’s applied it does actually provide greater detail within the image. The Panasonic Lumix TS7, Tough TG 6, Nikon W300 and Fuijifilm Finepix XP140 all feature optical zooms. 

#5: 4K Video

The ability to shoot in 4K video is now considered the benchmark for good video shooting capability. 4K refers to the approximately 4000 worth of pixel width within the image. If a camera can’t shoot in 4K, don’t bother with it – it’ll be terribly outdated compared to newer models!

(We have a main article on the best video cameras for scuba divers). 

#6: MP Sensor

A megapixel (mp) is a million pixels – the term not only used for the number of pixels in an image but also for the number of image sensor elements. 

The more megapixels a camera has in it’s mp sensor, the more detail it can capture in an image. So a 16 mp sensor can capture a more detailed image than a 12 mp sensor. 

#7 FPS

FPS stands for frames per second and it refers to how many video frames a camera can capture per second. The higher the fp, the the higher the quality of video footage. So if a camera’s max video capability is 4K at 60fps, this is better than 4K at 30fps! 

#8 Image Stabilization

This refers to gyro, EIS, algorithm or other technology installed in a camera, which is able to counter for and correct shaky video footage, with the effect also being referred to as video stabilsation. We’ve only reviewed snorkeling cams that have this awesome feature. 

#9 Drop-proof

This is a good indication of how durable a camera will be. A drop-proof rating of 7 ft indicates that the camera can withstand the force of being dropped from seven feet without breaking. This is more impressive than a drop-proof rating of 5ft, which would indicate a less sturdy cam. All these snorkeling cameras are durable and compact!

#10 Battery Life

Refers how long the camera can keep running on a single full charge of battery. Shooting in higher video resolution will use up more battery than shooting in lower resolution. 

#11 Video Resolution

Video resolution refers to the number of pixels displayed on the screen: more pixels means a higher video resolution = a better quality image. 

Video resolution level is usually described according to the width of how many pixels can be fit within each dimension – for example with 1080p video resolution there are 1080 pixels in the width, whereas for 4K resolution there is almost 4000 pixels in the width – meaning you get almost four times the detail. 

Although higher video resolution does provide more detail, as a camera reaches it’s maximum video resolution capabilities it is not able to film at as a high a frame rate as it could for lower video resolutions. Also, shooting in higher video resolution gets through battery life much faster. 

Tip for first time Underwater Photographers / Videographers:

When shooting videos or snapping photos of subjects that are underwater, there’s a few important rules to remember to make sure that the image turns out well. 

We’re talking essential stuff here: such as white balance,  RAW settings and underwater filters to name a few. To find out more, take a glance at this informative article: Underwater Photography Tips for Beginners.    

Diving Squad Debriefing

Splash! You’ve just finished our article on the best snorkeling cameras of 2021…how do you feel? You should feel as if every cell within your body is pulsating with in-depth knowledge of what makes a great snorkeling camera and which model is going to be the absolute best one for you!

Eh…if you don’t feel that way, maybe read the article a couple more times or if you ain’t got no more time, just take our word for it: right now the Panasonic Lumix TS7 is the best snorkeling camera out there. 

Also, you can rest easy in the knowledge that we are constantly on the prowl to stay in the know how of the very best scuba gear drifting through the market. We constantly update and add to our content so know that what you’ve read today reflects the very latest knowledge on the best snorkeling cameras currently available. Trust us ;). 

And if a dive camera is more what you seek, do check our main page on the best scuba cameras. 

That’s all for now folks. Diving Squad Out. 

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Written by:

Alex

Alex

Scuba fanatic. Travel ecstatic. Erratic. The name's Alex.