Underwater camera question again

I posted several months ago asking about underwater cameras, but I never took any action, so I am asking again, since I am missing way too many good rare shots.

My wife has a high end digital one that takes perfect pictures, but it is not waterproof, and hence no good for underwater shots.

My specs:

I will probably be only using it for holding it in the water just under the surface from the kayak to take pictures from between close ups to about ten or fifteen feet away.

I would like something that is simplified and small with just an on/off button, and a button for taking the picture.

Also a zoom for the closeups and if they have it, one that takes video clips. I don’t want it cluttered up with a lot of buttons that I will never use.

What do you all have that you like or ones that you don’t like? - and approximate cost ?

I am also looking for one that I can get in a big box store like Best Buy, or Wally World

Jack L

Kodak Playsport
I just bought a Kodak Playsport video camera. Its rated for 3m submersion. Mainly a video camera, but does have a 5MP still mode. No bells or whistles for sure.

I have not taken a picture underwater, but I did do a real world submersion test when it fell out of my lifejacket as I was getting out of the kayak. It survived ok thanks in part to the lanyard I had attached to the PFD.

Videos came out pretty good. I think the Zoom might only be a digital zoom because of the way some of the shots looked, but others seemed fine.

I aslo still use my Pentax Optio. Water clarity here is not so good so my few attempts at underwater pics with it have not worked out too well. Never tried it in better waters like the Keys.


Olympus has a series of waterproof and
shockproof cameras that meet that description.

olympus Stylus SW550
It’s a simple waterproof point and shoot. Does video. Has zoom. Has a button for taking the picture. :slight_smile:

Costs about $150.

Fuji Finepix Z33WP
has provided us good results for stills and videos above and below surface. Got it 2 years ago to replace a Pentax Optio that drowned. At that time both best Buy and WM had it for same price in choice of case colors. Current models are the XP series with no first hand experience on those.

Are you happy with the results ?
Jack L

I’ll check those out

Jack L

I’ve been happy with it. In interesting conditions, the camera mis-focuses about 1/4 of the shots, but I’m not sure it can be blamed, since I’m firing at stuff moving fast, and I’m not staying still either. When the pics come out they’re really suprisingly good.

It’s no good at all indoors or in really low light. But in any daytime conditions I’ve been pleased with it. It’s good with short movies too.

Pentax or Olympus

– Last Updated: Feb-04-11 3:43 PM EST –

Pentax Optio W series or the similar Olympus (mentioned in earlier post) both would be great for this. I use the Pentax, originally using a W20 model and not a W80. Both have been used for photos that have been published in magazines.

Probably get similar results with Olympus, but I can't vouch.

There are some lower end cameras that could also work, like the GoPros.

I posted to my blog a while back about a good deal on the Pentax (which may no longer be available) at http://peter-singlespeed.blogspot.com/2010/02/good-deal-on-waterproof-camera.html. This also links to 2 reviews I did of the older model cameras (W20 versus an older GoPro).

Jack, I have both the
Kodak Playsport Zx3 and the Olympus X-560WP.

Both are waterproof to 10 ft. The Playsport is $129 at Walmart, and I just bought the Olympus at Walmart for $109, marked down from $149.

The Playsport has image stabilization which is nice, 4-5 settings for video, and will take 5 mg still shots which look nice. Zoom is so-so and at more than 30 ft you’ll want something with more resolution. But it is a great camera as it is waterproof, small and tough (dry, wet, cold or hot). It works well for video.

The Olympus has become my favorite for shots that are a bit further away. Good size display, lots of settings available, controls are easy to use and it does seem to be waterproof so far. Battery life is decent too. I’m SURE there are better cameras but for something around $100, they are more than worth it.

not Mega-Lo-Mart!

– Last Updated: Feb-04-11 4:31 PM EST –


You're puttin' Hank out of business! I hope you get what you pay for.

I have the Olympus Stylus Tough 3000. It does not take the best pictures in the world but it’s compact, durable and easy to use. When I’m out on the water I don’t need a million buttons or settings to mess with. I’m quite happy with it so far and for under $300 it won’t be a tragety if it gets lost or broken.


Fuji Z33 discontinued
But the XP10 that replaced it is better, IMO. I’ve had mine for about 3 months and have been using it in and around the water all winter. Available at Wallyworld for ~150, I think. Mine’s been dropped, dunked, frozen, and washed under the faucet with no ill effects. Pretty good video but not much for sound quality. Pretty good photo quality for a waterproof camera in this price range. Easy to use on auto, but takes better looking pix if you learn your way around the shooting modes. Battery life suffers in sub-freezing temps, but extra batteries are inexpensive on ebay. I make sure the fresh one is in before I go out, since Fuji recommends against opening the battery compartment without rinsing and drying first. Cycle time seems average for the price range. Editing software that comes with it isn’t much, but I use other programs anyway.

You can get better in all respects, but probably not without spending more. If I were to accept a higher price tag (which I don’t right now, because I need something more “disposable” to be comfortable using it on the river) I would look to the Panasonic DMC series at about twice the price.

Waterproof camera
Try the Kodak Playsport. I recently bought one, about $115. You will also need a memory chip, about $40.

Takes stills, videos, waterproof to 10’ and is super simple to use. It connects direct to your computer or TV. It’s perfect for kayaking.

Olympus Tough
Here is a a picture taken just as you suggest, camera stuck under the surface from a kayak.


good camera
Might I suggest the Hero Go-Pro camera. It even comes in hight definition giving you quality photographs and video with sound. I purchased the original version which attaches to your wrist. Great web-site. Camera housing is very durable and I’ve been using mine for many years.

Nice picture
Are their various models or do I just look for an “Olympus tough” ?

Jack L

Jack, there are several Olympus
’tough’ models and several generations.


I got mine ,an 850SW from Amazon, for about $150.In a store, you will pay 3X what you will on Amazon.

Fuji-- I won two, love IT!



Can find for $150 on sale. Sold at Target. And also online at B and H Camera (fantastic store).

P.S> Olympus sucks,
See Derrick Mayoleth’s blog: Kayak Quixotica. He has had many, and they all fail and leak. I have avoided Olympus, but never owned one. The Fuji is a winner.