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The best waterproof cameras

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is the best waterproof camera for documenting your rainy, snowy, or muddy adventures. Not only is it built to survive a dip in the river, it can also handle freezing temperatures and being dropped, kicked, or stepped on. It doesn’t hurt that it still takes good quality pictures for its class, and has some interesting shooting features like an excellent macro mode and fun light-painting mode.

It’s not the only option out there, and there are a few different takes on the waterproof camera, so we’ve rounded up the best waterproof models, from point-and-shoots to 360-degree cameras.

At a glance:

The best: Olympus Tough TG-6

Why should you buy this: Good image quality and features; built-in GPS.

Who’s it for: Serious outdoor adventurers.

Why we picked the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-6:

When you need a camera that can handle being dropped down a small cliff into a stream — and live to tell about it — the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-6 is for you. With adventurers in mind, the TG-6 is waterproof to a depth of 50 feet, drop-proof from a height of 7 feet, and features a built-in GPS with geotagging and location-logging abilities that can create a map of your adventure viewable in the Olympus Image Track app.

The resolution has actually dropped from the TG-4, to 12MP, but this improves low-light performance, which pairs nicely with the 25-100mm (full-frame equivalent) f/2.0-4.9 lens. It also offers RAW files for maximum quality, a 20 frames-per-second burst mode, and even 4K video. Plus, it has a couple of tricks up its sleeve, like an excellent macro mode and an effortless Live Composite mode that makes light painting a breeze.

To be clear, the TG-6 doesn’t have very many improvements over the older TG-5 outside of a new lens coating to fight flare and some minor adjustments to shooting modes and features. The TG-5 and TG-6 are currently listed at the same price, which makes the newer model a no-brainer. If you happen to spot a price drop on the TG-5, however, that model may make more sense.

With its focus on image quality and features, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is a great option for both beginners and experienced photographers who want an outdoor-ready camera. It won’t match the performance of an advanced point-and-shoot like the Sony RX100 series, but it gets you as close as you can get with a waterproof compact.

The best budget waterproof camera: Fujifilm Finepix XP140

Why should you buy this: It’s small, affordable, and easy to use.

Who’s it for: Vacationers looking for an inexpensive rugged camera.

Why we picked the XP140:

Fujifilm has mostly killed off its point-and-shoot lineup — except for the rugged XP series. Why? Because it’s a category that still sells well. Although similar to the Olympus Tough TG-6, the XP140 has an affordable price tag and is as lightweight as possible. But don’t let its simple design fool you: The XP140 is waterproof to 82 feet, shockproof up to 5.9 feet, freezeproof to 14-degrees Fahrenheit, and dustproof.

Inside the XP140 is a 16.4-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. The camera handles continuous shooting at 15 frames per second. It also boasts 4K, but at only 15 frames per second, which may make the 1080p HD at 60 fps the better shooting mode. The lens isn’t as bright as the TG-6’s, but its 5x optical zoom lens is optically stabilized to help you get steady pictures, even if you’re teetering on a log in a lake. Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth let you upload vacation pics while you’re still on vacation, or print to one of Fujifilm’s Instax Share printers for pocketable instant prints.

If you don’t need the bright lens, GPS or RAW support of the TG-6, save yourself some cash with the Fujifilm Finepix XP140. You may still be able to find the XP130 at a lower price, with a bit less low-light capability and a body that’s not quite as durable.

The best waterproof action camera: GoPro Hero8 Black


Why should you buy this: Super-smooth electronic image stabilization, great user experience

Who’s it for: Extreme athletes, travel vloggers, and professional filmmakers

Why we picked the GoPro Hero8:

GoPros have long been the standard for action cams — but competitors have been catching up. That just inspired GoPro to go even further, however, and the Hero8 Black is proof of that. Still requiring no housing to go underwater, the action camera now has the mounting bracket built-in to eliminate another accessory. With a waterproof rating down to 33 feet, it’s good for both beach days and even some diving.

The Hero8 builds on the Hero7’s excellent image stabilization with Hypersmooth 2.0. Action camera footage tends to be shaky because of the, well, action, but the Hero8 is impressively smooth. Livestreaming is also included and even the sound quality is solid. Still image quality is also solid for such a small camera — though the shape is more awkward to hold than the TG-6, if you plan to do most of your shooting handheld instead of with mounts.

New to the Hero8, mods allow you to expand the camera’s capabilities with accessories like a mic or front-facing LCD screen.

If you want a waterproof camera that can both go anywhere because of the waterproof rating and the size, the GoPro Hero8 Black is a good pick.

Read our GoPro Hero8 review

The best waterproof 360 camera: Insta360 One R

Why should you buy this: 360 when you want it, and an action cam when you don’t.

Who’s it for: 360 video aficionados

Why we picked the Insta360 One R:

Strictly speaking, 360-degree cameras don’t exactly work underwater; the water itself distorts the camera’s view, thus making it impossible for both sides of the video from the dual lenses to stitch together properly. However, if you like the idea of immersive video and you want a camera that is at least capable of surviving some wet weather or a splash in a lake, try the Insta360 One R — because when you don’t want 360, you can just swap mods.

The Insta360 One R is a modular action camera. One mod shoots wide-angle much like a traditional action camera, while the other captures immersive 360 video. Since, frankly, every scene doesn’t really warrant that full view, having both is a big plus. A third mod, sold separately, shoots action with a larger one-inch sensor.

But the Insta360 is about more than mods. The photo and video quality is good, and the camera offers a long list of extras, like stabilization, object tracking, hyperlapse, invisible selfie stick and more. The camera’s accompanying app is also excellent, with more features and editing options than some cameras even offer on a desktop computer.

Even with the modular design, the Insta360 One R is still waterproof down to 16 feet — the same as the GoPro Max. To go really deep, you can add a case to dive down to almost 200 feet.

Read our Insta360 One R review

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Hillary K. Grigonis
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