Which waterproof camera should I buy?

The first thing to point out with this group of tough compacts is just how far the category has come. It wasn’t too long ago that a waterproof camera for £150 was unthinkable.

As our test proves, however, spending that bit extra ensures an improvement in performance, and in this instance the cheapest camera of the six is the most disappointing. Although the Fujifilm XP60 isn’t without merit, issues with the build quality and its poor underwater image quality count it out.

There's a huge difference between the best and the worst underwater shots

Both the Canon PowerShot D20 and Nikon COOLPIX AW110 take decent photos, but they’re not without their flaws. The D20 is a few years old now and could do with updating, while the Nikon AW110’s screen is a little disappointing. While the AW110 goes the deepest of all here, we wager the 15 metres of the Olympus Tough TG-2 should be enough for most people.

The Pentax WG3 offers all of the physical characteristics that you could want from a tough camera and certainly feels like it would stand the test of time. Unfortunately, it’s another of the group to be let down by poor image quality – its underwater shots are only marginally better than the XP60, despite the WG-3’s much higher price tag.

That leaves just two cameras; namely the Panasonic Lumix FT5 and the Olympus Tough TG-2. Both are equally tough and take excellent photos. While the Lumix FT5 benefits from NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity, the Olympus Tough TG-2 has a better OLED screen and more impressive lens performance thanks to its f/2 maximum aperture.

Recommended waterproof cameras


This is a competitive group of tough compact cameras - most models have their merits. However, if you’re looking for the very best in both performance and image quality, the Olympus Tough TG-2 and Panasonic Lumix FT5 get the nod. The FT5 takes the brightest underwater shots, but colours look a little washed out. The TG-2 has a faster auto-focus and a better screen. Neither will disappoint you.

Waterproof camera spec table


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?

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