Home / Opinions / Which waterproof camera should I buy? Six waterproof cameras reviewed

Waterproof Camera Group Test


Which waterproof camera should I buy? Six waterproof cameras reviewed

Waterproof camera reviews - six waterproof cameras tested

Whether it’s the beach, the pool, the ski slope or some other exotic climb, some places are just far too dangerous to risk your DSLR, normal compact or even your smartphone. You could buy an expensive enclosure for your DSLR, or you could just buy one of the increasing number 'tough' compact style cameras.

Question is: which one should you buy? We put six tough, waterproof cameras to the test to see which one is the best pick.

Watch the waterpoof camera video review from What? Digital Camera:

How we test waterproof cameras

While all of the cameras have slightly different camera specs, they are all waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof to varying degrees, and with only small differences in the distances and depths that can withstand. All are freezeproof down to -10 degrees C, for example, and most are shockproof from a height of two metres or so.

To test these claims, each camera was:

  • Left overnight in a freezer and a block of ice
  • Dropped onto a hard floor from the height specified by the manufacturer
  • Used underwater in a swimming pool with underwater mode with no flash
Each passed the toughness tests with flying colours, so the key question is which one takes the best photos – particularly underwater – and which is easier to use.

Read on for all the details on the first three of our six waterproof cameras review.

Canon PowerShot D20, £260

The Canon PowerShot D20, like a few of the compact cameras in this group, inherits a host of its imaging tools from its non-tough (in this case PowerShot) stablemates. Its 12.1MP sensor is combined with Canon's DIGIC 4 processor and as such should deliver good image quality at the higher end of the 100 – 3,200 ISO range.

It's waterproof to a depth of 10 metres, which puts towards the bottom of our group, and shockproof from 1.5 metres.

Canon PowerShot D20 3

Despite having a non-protruding lens – as is the case with all the compacts on test – the Canon PowerShot D20 has a 5x optical zoom that covers a focal range of 28-140mm in 35mm equivalent terms. There’s an Intelligent IS stabilisation system that will no doubt come in handy when sliding down the slopes or splashing in the surf, too.

Although it might not have as many gadgets and gizmos as some of the other cameras in this group it does still feature GPS functionality, as well as full HD video capture at a rate of 24fps.

Canon PowerShot D20 2

It’s well-designed for use in the water and in difficult shooting conditions, as the ergonomically designed body sits comfortably in the hand and allows a secure grip. The large, bright buttons are easy to locate and press when needed, too.

The 3-inch LCD screen is crisp and clear, even in challenging conditions, and benefits from active display technology that allows you to operate it with either a tap or a tilt; great for when you can't quite reach the buttons.

Fujifilm FinePix XP60, £150

The Fujifilm FinePix XP60 is by some way the most affordable of our six contenders. This shows in the fact it's only waterproof to a depth of six metres, less than half the depth of all but one of the cameras on test. That's good enough for the pool, however, and it's shockproof from 1.5 metres.

Fujifilm XP60 1

At its core sits a 16.4MP CMOS sensor, which is paired with a non-protruding 5x optical zoon. The zoom covers a focal range of 28-140mm in equivalent terms and benefits from the presence of sensor-shift image stabilisation.

At 2.7-inches and with a 230k-dot resolution, the XP60’s screen is the lowest-specified out of the group and doesn't have either the sharpness or the clarity to match some of its competitors. There’s no GPS, either.

The XP60 does have a few more highlights, however, including full HD image capture along with a headline continuous shooting speed of 10fps, while in macro mode the camera can focus as close as 9cm.

Fujifilm XP60

The XP60 is one of the smallest and most lightweight out of the group and as such feels as much like a traditional compact. One of the trade-offs of the more compact body is that it doesn't necessarily feel as robust as some of the other models, although it does feature the full repertoire of locks and tough features needed for such a compact.

Nikon Coolpix AW110, £270

Nikon was a relative latecomer to the tough camera market when it launched the Coolpix AW100 in 2011. The AW110 picks up where the AW100 left off, both in design and features. Much like the Canon PowerShot D20, the AW110 is similar to Nikon’s compact cameras, and as such ought to perform just as well.

It goes the deepest of all those on test, 18 metres to be precise. If you're a serious diver this could be your best bet. It's shockproof from two metres, too.

Nikon Coolpix AW110 2

The AW110 has a 16MP CMOS sensor and 5x optical zoom, covering a focal range of 28-140mm in equivalent terms that’s somewhat familiar to this group. On the rear of the AW110 sits an impressive LCD screen that measures in at 3in and has a 614k-dot resolution, and is very sharp as a result.

It has GPS and Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi functionality not only allows for the wireless transfer of images between the camera and a smartphone, it also allows for the wireless control of the camera through either a smartphone or a tablet.

The AW110 is one of the more ruggedly built of the cameras on test, too. Its heavy body suggests that it can more than withstand the demands that a tough compact is sure to face. The buttons are nicely pronounced and are easy to operate with cold or wet hands.

Nikon Coolpix AW110 1

In use the AW110 generally performs well, with a good operational speed and general shooting performance. The model's HD video mode is particularly pleasing, offering 30fps at full HD resolution.


July 5, 2013, 5:54 pm

Confused: Same article, same model, same photos, similar text and same result was published in May at


by Mike Topham.

Now it's published here, two months later by Paul Nuttall.

What's going on?

Emil Nyström

July 6, 2013, 7:27 pm

I dont think its so confusing, petapixel buys finished articles all the time. Like EVERY other media out there.


July 6, 2013, 8:21 pm

What Digital Camera is a sister title of ours at IPC Media. Their article was re-written for our site.


July 6, 2013, 11:57 pm

I'd hope the models are the same if the pictures are the same.

Michael Andrew Broughton

July 7, 2013, 5:44 am

there's no way they had the white balance set properly on the pentax for the underwater shot.

Scott M.

July 8, 2013, 5:37 am

Just got back from Colorado River/Grand Canyon rafting trip. Took D7000 and the waterproof Nikon in the review. I was very happy with the camera. Shot many rapid videos, including Lava Falls, with no problems. Color is very good and the lens is amazing for what it can do. Tiny sensor no match for a "real camera" but while the D7000 was safe in the Pelican case, the Coolpix was getting very wet for 8 days. Too scared to take D800 and I am glad I didn't. Too much fine sand in the air, and everywhere. My DX zoom is now very crunchy. :(


July 8, 2013, 8:41 am

They were all shot using each camera's underwater mode, so the fault more than likely lies with the metering system - as suggested in the review.


August 6, 2013, 6:35 pm

And renames the author?


September 30, 2013, 2:52 pm

You'll find that you do not actually need some special underwater white balance. Your eyes use the Sunlight, the same as your camera, thus wysiwyg. Underwater modes just add some red which you can't see in water anyway, and if you have to use flash or artificial light, the camera will, again.see what you're seeing.
That is, if you want to shoot what you see. If not, you can always make corrections later in PP.

Anyway, we don't really know just for which kind of "underwater" the camera has been programmed, so we can't really use the one same mode for, say, lakes and seas...

Tom C

December 7, 2013, 8:36 pm

One thing completely overlooked is that the Olympus TG-2 has lenses that can be put on UNDERWATER. I use the wide angle fisheye lens and the teleconverter (close-up) lens regularly. When I see an shot that's better for wide angle I just put it on right there.
I can't find any other manufacturer that does that. In fact, I even take over/under photos with my fisheye lens. The fisheye FCon1 is $140USD and the camera is $329USD. Its not possible to take over/under photos for less than $500 with any other manufacturer. See my Flickr account for photocaruso to see actual photos with the TG-2


March 3, 2015, 4:37 pm

why no specs on the lenses? I'd imagine that lower F ratings have better light getting ability?

comments powered by Disqus