Top five waterproof cameras under $300 right now

Top five waterproof cameras under $300 right now

Summary: Waterproof cameras have the reputation of not being the greatest when it comes to photo quality. Yet here is a look at five cameras that will deliver great photos, can be brought underwater and cost you $300 or less.

TOPICS: Hardware

Waterproof cameras have the reputation of not being the greatest (to say it lightly) when it comes to photo quality. They have been primarily known and promoted for one obvious feature.

But the technology of waterproof cameras has improved dramatically in the last year. Instead of just being known as "waterproof cameras," now there's a long list of stellar ultra-compact models that include "waterproof" as one of many onboard features.

Here's a look at five cameras that will deliver great photos, can be brought underwater and cost you $350 or less. And don't forget to check out our tips of how to use these special cameras when going underwater this summer.

Samsung AQ100 The most budget-friendly of this group, Samsung's AQ100 (a.k.a. Samsung WP10was announced earlier this year. The 12.2-megapixel AQ100 looks simple, but its photo specs actually outshine its waterproof ability a bit. This one can handle watery depths up to 9.8 feet, and its ultra-slim frame should fit easily into any pocket or day bag, making it a great companion for any basic underwater travel adventures. With ISO up to 3200, 5x optical zoom, 720p HD video recording ability and a 2.7-inch LCD screen, it should serve you just fine above water as well. Lowest Price: $179.99

Pentax Optio W90 Pentax's Optio W90 is an extremely rugged, ultra-compact camera that is ready to handle more than just a few drops of water. Along with being waterproof for depths as low as 20 feet, the Optio W90 is also shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof. The 12.1-megapixel point-and-shoot has some specs that are impressive for any camera of its size, including a 2.7-inch TFT color LCD with anti-reflective coating, and ISO range of 80 - 6400, and the ability to record 720p HD video at 30fps. The design isn't the sleekest, but it will take some tumbles and serve you just fine. And if black and green aren't your favorite shades, Pentax recently updated the color options to include orange (pictured). That should surely stand out underwater. Lowest Price: $249.95

Canon PowerShot D10 Released last summer, Canon's first entry into the waterproof camera market is still a solid choice. The PowerShot D10 sports a 12.1-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor that is safe within the waterproof casing up to 33 feet underwater. Reviews for photo quality are solid, with plenty of white balance and color effect options to choose from as well. The only downside is that the unusual, submarine-esque design looks a bit like a fish out of water when on land. (Excuse the pun, but I couldn't help it.) Lowest Price: $265.95

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 Sony has proved that waterproof shooters don't have to look rugged and bulky, but they can also be sleek, colorful and stylish. Color is actually a good option for waterproof cameras as it is easier to spot underwater, whether you're looking for your travel companion or your camera somehow got away from you. Like the Samsung AQ100, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 was announced in February in time for summer. Available in five shades, the specs aren't as high some of the other cameras on this list, as the 10.2-megapixel DSC-TX5 has 4x optical zoom and is waterproof up to 10 feet. But it is durable being dustproof, freezeproof and shockproof, plus there is also 720p HD video recording mode and HDMI output to show off all your fancy underwater action on the big screen in the living room when you get home. Lowest Price: $295.95

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 Panasonic's Lumix DMC-TS2 is a stellar options on the ground and underwater. Making it to my colleague Janice Chen's list of the top 10 compact digital cameras of 2010, you can't go wrong with this one. You've got the usual quartet of rugged details here: freezeproof, dustproof, shockproof and (of course) waterproof. This one can also take the big plunge to 33 feet underwater. Specs are top-notch on this 14.1-megapixel shooter with 720p HD video recording (even in AVCHD Lite), a Leica DC lens with 9.8x extra optical zoom, ISO from 80 to 6400, and a slew of preset functions to choose from including "underwater." Design is a bit of a mixed bag here, as Panasonic has tried to fashion something stylish and colorful yet still with a rugged exterior. Lowest Price: $299.99

Topic: Hardware

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  • RE: Top five waterproof cameras under $300 right now

    I'm a little surprised none of the Olympus Stylus Tough models got into the list, though I'll grant the one I'm using was priced just [i]over[/i]$300. Supposedly able to handle rough treatment, including getting dropped onto concrete repeated times as well as true underwater functionality down to 15 feet, the Stylus Tough could go beyond the mere 'waterproof' market.
    • RE: Top five waterproof cameras under $300 right now

      @vulpine@... I bought an olympus stylus. It never worked right from the day that I got it. I borrowed a friend's stylus. It broke as soon as I took it into the water. Back in olden times olympus made great products. I still have a 10 year old olympus digital camera. It still works great. The new ones are garbage.
  • nice, thanks NT

    Richard Flude
  • RE: Top five waterproof cameras under $300 right now

    Would also have liked to see the Fuji FPXP10 which now has a street price around $130. Not the BEST photo quality, but a product offering that is hard to beat; rugged, reasonably waterproof, slim, colors, etc.
  • Do you even know how to swim?

    10-30ft is now where near "waterproof". My underwater video housing is rated to 250ft and I don't consider it water proof. I've had 300m "waterproof" watches implode while diving at depths far less.
  • How about under $200 for HD video?

    Buy a Flip cam and get their underwater housing for around $50. Now you've got HD video!
  • "Waterproof" does not exist

    The proper term is "Water Resistant", and it includes the rated depth -- you did that properly. My diving watch and depth guage, each rated 20 atmospheres (666 feet in salt water) are no more "waterproof" than a 10ft depth camera.

    What's important is being practical. 10ft is fine for most pools or splaching in the ocean, but it's not enough for good snorkling. 33ft is better for surface diving, but it's still quite possible do dive deeper, even without SCUBA gear. For anyone diving on SCUBA, you need a conventional camera with a housing.

    Also, these models may only keep their water resistance when properly maintained. Maybe its easier in the post-film era, but do oay attenation to the manual... there my be O-rings to grease from time to time.
  • RE: Top five waterproof cameras under $300 right now

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  • RE: Top five waterproof cameras under $300 right now

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  • Best Waterproof Camera

    Lumix has got to be the best waterproof camera on the market. Got mine from Amazon at a awesome discount price and would like to share the discount that I received with anyone who is looking for a great dependable waterproof camera: - you will not be disappointed.
    Tin City
  • Need a decent best waterproof camera

    In my opinion , for people who want to take some very nice pictures in easy way following "cleaning", etc... My advice is clearly :
    - CANON S100 or S95
    - SONY WX1
    see more:
    All those models give a beautiful picture in all condition, as macro to wide angle. An external flash could be good to add.
  • Cameras

    A disposable waterproof camera is a great way to capture images of underwater fun for posterity, whether you are out scuba diving, camping, skiing, or on the beach.

    Disposable cameras are generally inexpensive, so there is less worry about damaging or losing them, like there can be with a pricier multi-use camera. In fact, single use cameras are so affordable it often makes sense to buy a multi-pack of them when going on an extended marine vacation, or water-themed adventure.
    Paul Goodman