Water Camera

I’m looking for an afordable digital water camera. Something that can withstand being washed off of the deck or droped in the drink and not be affected. I’ve only used the $8 disposable floating kind in the past. What do ya’ll use?

How cheap?
Olympus 710 etc - prices go down every year. Fully waterproof. But it may stil be above your limit.

I was in Target yesterday and they had one for $299. Wolfe Camera has had some for $250 in the past. My wife has a digital SLR that was over $1200 but I’m not going to spend anywhere near that much for something to strap under my deck bungies. With Christmas coming up I wanted to find out what everyone uses. Just something to get snapshots with. Paddling is my hobby, I am not into serious photography.

Search around online and you can get one of Olympus’s waterproof ones for maybe a bit more than the Target camera but a lot less than the $1200. That’s been the way to get the best prices for us for digital cameras.

Does anyone have a Hero3 ?
I am curious about it. Very cheap and simple waterproof digital camera. Tiny. Does not have any zoom.

Sony Cyber Shot
I got for a present a few years ago, it was only about 100 bucks, I use it for surfing pictures, took it to Kauai and got some good underwater shots. It does not zoom and has a crap view finder. I can vouch it is very water proof… dove with it 10 -12 ft with no problems. It has been in massive wipeouts in big waves in a pfd pocket, seems pretty tough. takes mpeg movies too.

Beachav8ator has a really good waterproof camera, check his posts.

My buddy has one
Not sure if he reads/posts to p.net. I just paddled with him this past weekend and he told me that he was not all that pleased with his. It IS TINY! Very hard to see the viewfinder. Takes decent pictures on land but while out on the water . . . not so good. Lots of unusable bbbllluuurrryyy pictures due to textured waters. Finds it a little awkward to use and impossible with gloves on when the waters get cold. YMMV

Pentax Optio
Pentax’s Optio series has been a hit with paddlers. They now sell a “WP” series that is supposed to be waterproof and can take nice pictures. That model was fairly new the last time I shopped cameras about a year and a half ago. My criteria for cameras included viewfinder and commonly available batteries, and the WP failed on those. I ended up buying a slightly used Optio, but one of their older “WR” series, for $100 and some memory cards.

The Optio WR series is not supposed to be as watertight as the WP, but merely water resistant. And it is. I have taken a number of swims with the camera on a lanyard around my neck, perhaps for up to ten minutes, and the camera was fine. I am not happy with the ergonomics (I frequently press buttons I don’t mean to), but by and large it has been excellent. Has a decent zoom and many more capabilities than I use, including the ability to take short video clips. The biggest complaint I have about this model is it lacks a lense cover or closing device and it is easy to have pictures ruined by smudges on the lens. I now carry a little scrap of shammy cloth attached to the camera for frequent lens wiping, but even so, I am still encountering smudged shots (probably user error).

Speaking of the lens, I now have a scratch over the lens. I believe there is a replaceable lens guard over the actual lens, and it is this outer piece that has the scratch. Anybody know where to buy a replacement lens guard?

A friend has the WP series and she frequently is frustrated by the battery running out. The WPs use a proprietary battery pack, so when it runs out, you are done. The WRs take AA batteries, which are widely available. I generally use and reuse rechargeables, but in a jam I can buy some or interchange with a flashlight or something.

You can probably get a Optio WR inexpensively (

I Have the Pentax
and want to get rid of it. Paid 224$ for it or so, used it twice and really don’t like it. Needs a new battery but everything else is there. Yours for 180$ if you are interested.


Love my Optio
I’ve been very pleased with my Pentax Optio W20 for photos both on and off the water. All the photos here, except the Isle Royale trip, were taken with the Optio:


Their newer W30 seems to have a better waterproofing mechanism and is available from reputable sources for about $235:


Check out P.Netter MountainWayfarer’s excellent site devoted to paddling-photography, with some great tips on various cameras and shooting w/o conventional viewfinders, etc.:


For what it’s worth, I too longed for a conventional viewfinder when shooting with my Optio, but I soon adapted. Now, I’m not sure I’d WANT to close one eye and cover the other one with a camera while sitting in a bobbing boat. The LCD can be brightened and covered with no-glare protective film for easier viewing. My only remaining gripe is that when wearing polarized sunglasses, the LCD can appear completely black when oriented at certain angles, but this is equally true of any peephole viewfinder which utilizes a tiny LCD inside it.

You should also be aware that when you turn your $8 waterproof disposable ‘beach’ camera in for processing you can also order a photo CD. For five additional bucks per roll, you’ll get digital files for emailing or web-posting, and get the viewfinder you like. Depending on how much you shoot, the expense may eventually prod you into going digital, but until then, it’s an affordable alternative.

I have an Optio wpi
If you can hold it still it takes fine pictures. It is also definitely waterproof. However, not having a viewfinder is a major problem. I don’t care what people say about adapting to using just the viewing screen. You cannot hold the camera as steady. You really can’t. And the pictures suffer. You also cannot see what you are taking as well. Framing is difficult to impossible in many situations. Yes, the anti-glare plastic film on the screen helps but only a small amount. Plus just about the time you are ready to click the shutter the screen darkens to save the battery. Pay the extra to get a real viewfinder. Holding the camera next to you face aids a lot in not moving the camera and the viewfinder does not darken, is not affected by ambient sunlight, and gives you the same view as the screen.

I have an Optio WP20
and I like it on the water. The LCD viewfinder is ok as long as you don’t have the sun shining directly on it.

A cheap solution was found in a camera store in Canada last month. It’s a plastice pop up sun shield that can also be easily removed. It protects the LCD from scratches when not in use and does a good job of shading the screen.

Cost was $20 and they have them for just about all digital cameras.

I just bought an Olympus 790 SW
at Best Buy. The camera listed for $298, but they matched a competitor’s price of $265. It seems great, but I’ve yet to get it wet. I chose it over the Pentax because of all the bad customer reviews. Many, many complaints about bad customer service and the LCD screen filling up with water the first time out. I’ll post again after I’ve had it a while.

Pentax Optio
I started out with the W10 which I put through some rather rigorous outings: battered about on beach landings and such. It died recently and I’ve just moved on to the W30.

I stayed with the Pentax because it was a lot cheaper and used the cheaper, faster SD cards. Sadly, they changed the battery from the W10, so I can’t use the extras I have. I created a paddle mount for my camera, another reason I wanted to stay with the same camera. I’ve been shooting mostly video this last year and I’m pretty impressed with what this camera can do. I’ve learned to live without a viewfinder and really think it would be useless with the shots I take on the water. If you’d like to see my pics or videos,

or see my camera mount, check out:


Mark Sanders

Pentax W30
I have a W30 and like it… not love it. I have taken many pictures with my hand shoved under water. It is definitely waterproof to a couple feet (it fell in the water once too). It would be nice if it floated. I keep it clipped to a long lanyard when I’m kayaking. It does seem to take a bit of time to focus but all in all it does the job and gives pretty nice pictures. You don’t want to zoom if you are taking a video or you will record lots of ‘zooming’ noise. The battery has lasted me up to a couple hundred 3M-5M pixel pictures.

Great shots!

– Last Updated: Nov-01-07 11:04 AM EST –

Really enjoyed the photos on your site, Mark! Especially liked the "Big Water at Big Arch" series:

In my opinion, your photos clearly contradict Dr_Disco's assertion that a camera without a peephole viewfinder simply cannot be held steady, and that framing is 'impossible' in many situations. Your (well-framed and steady) shots of sea arches and cliffs, taken in what could only be described as 'lively water', demonstrate that such a camera is very functional for paddlers.

Your photos, and similarly aesthetically pleasing shots by the abovementioned MountainWayfarer and by Derrick at KayakQuixotica http://www.kayakquixotica.com/home-galleries.html (most taken with the Pentax Optio) belie the suggestion that a peephole viewfinder is essential.

These guys observe and study their subjects, try a few different angles, then take several shots to ensure a keeper. I would venture to suggest that an amateur photographer with a keen eye needs NO viewfinder whatsoever, and will get more good shots with a handheld $8 beach camera wrapped in duct tape, with one arm tied behind his back, than any impatient and cliched 'clicker' with a thousand-dollar gee-whiz digicam. It's not the hammer but the carpenter that builds a beautiful house.

I will agree that an LCD viewfinder can be difficult to see for those who are far-sighted. My wife, for example, has pretty good vision but recently began using reading glasses for close vision. She finds that she has gradually needed to hold her LCD camera further and further away, almost to arm's length, in order for her eyes to focus on the viewfinder. That could be inconvenient in a kayak. Most people with normal vision need hold the camera no more than 12-18 inches away. So it is perhaps more correct to say that a peephole viewfinder is essential for SOME people.

I suggest anyone buying a camera try several models, in indoor and outdoor lighting conditions, borrow a friend's, and find one that works for YOU.

Nice shots; nice site

Your pictures offer good testimony on the camera.

I am curious about how you are building the pages. Is it html hand-coded or do you have a software tool to help build the pages, and if so, what is it?

I like to post trip reports with pictures. For example, http://home.comcast.net/~chipcanoe/Susq/Susquehanna2007-TR.html . But I feel it takes me way too much time. By the time I export the photos and insert them into the page using Netscape Composer, it probably works out to something like ten minutes per picture. You are either faster than me or you have way more time on your hands. So, how about some hints?

BTW, last picture of that TR, you can see on image left there is some blur, due, I assume, to smudge on lens as I mentioned in the post regards the WR models. I cropped off most of the blurred part, but still, not so good.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

I have the wpi
I had great service, the on/off button would stick. They fixed it and had it back in 10 days. I used it underwater for a half hour or so to shot a sunken ship. I would rather have a finder also.

Olympus 790SW
How’s your first impressions of your new camera? Been looking at that for a little bit and am impressed w. specs, but a first hand review is better. Most important to me are how fast does the camera take shots, does the image stabilization work (if it has that feature)?

waterpoof cameras for paddlers
You can find some information of waterproof camera, pictures and video on my website: http://photokayaker.fit2paddle.com/

My main paddling camera is Pentax Optio W10 (and earlier Pentax Optio WP).

Here is a little shopping guide to compact digital waterproof cameras: