Waterproof Camera

I’m looking for a new digital camera, something that will stay in my PFD for quicker access. The consumer reports are very confusing. What do you use and how does it perform in wet conditions (possibly during a plunge)? I’m looking for something durable, that has good resolution, a wide range of f-stops, and can take a bounce.

Pentax Optio
I’ve had 2 W20’s, a W30 and now a W60 (waterproof but they don’t float). Pictures are fine as long as you are outside in good light. Takes surprisingly good video. At one time, the Optio was pretty much the only option. Now most of the major manufacturers have a waterproof camera. I’m sure others will weigh in on the other brands, but you can’t go wrong with the Optio. When I lose this one, I’ll buy another - cheapest I can find.

Optio W60
Bought one last year. It’s an OK camera nothing great I call it the crap shoot camera as you may get a great picture or you may not. Without a viewfinder it is sometimes hard to tell what your shooting. The video’s I shot with it sucked, however it’s small size does make it convenient to use and carry. I must say the cycle time between pictures is fast which is very important when shooting from a kayak. Bottom line would I buy another one? Probably not.


– Last Updated: Feb-27-10 3:50 PM EST –

I've had an Olympus 1030 SW for almost two years now and am very happy with it. I use it in the ocean, it is waterproof to 33 ft and I've used it down to about twenty. It's one thing to be waterproof but I spend a lot of time in heavy, sandy surf and wanted something a little more rugged. This one takes a beating. I don't know of any other camera that can take the beating that the Olympus SW line can. I am very hard on all my gear and this camera is no exception. I've dropped it onto hard surfaces from 3 or 4 feet several times with no problem. It has a half dozen or so small dents that I have no idea how they got there, looks like it has been chewed by a pit bull. The green paint is chipped off in many spots. But for all that it works as good as it did when I bought it. It takes good/really good pics but only ok video. It is easy to use. One drawback is it's a bit pricey. I would buy another one.YMMV Here are some pic taken with it. http://iceclimbingjsjan.shutterfly.com/43#43

Olympus Stylus 850SW

– Last Updated: Feb-27-10 2:40 PM EST –

Have had it for about 2 years. Good pics except zoom pics of wildlife. Paddling pics and macro flower shots, etc excellent. Has been dropped, dunked left in PFD pocket for weeks at a time and has come to no harm. Haven't taken many underwater shots with it, but it works. I'd buy it again. Here's a couple samples from it. WW

Optio WPi, 43r

– Last Updated: Feb-27-10 3:22 PM EST –

We have both. Chris' 43r is a rare beast these days - probably the last digital waterproof with an optical viewfinder. Takes very good pix for a point-and-shoot, compact, easy to use - but the 3x zoom is pretty short...

My WPi has more resolution, but I don't like the pic quality as well. Very sleek design, good menus, does decent work, but again a short zoom - and very slippery when wet...

Both are durable cameras, as can be seen by their ages, with low to average average point-and-shoot capabilities, depending on conditions - neither does well in low or tricky light. Both, however, have excellent macros. Neither can touch the pic quality of our venerable Canon G2, or the features of her Finepix 2000. But then, neither can swim like the Pentaxs can...

Couple of tips, regardless of model - use a float and/or tether of some sort - most cameras will sink like a stone. And figure out a way of clearing water droplets off the lens - a scrap of chamois, a sharp puff of breath, or in a pinch, a quick dunk or lick...

Camera PFD
Waterproof camera’s are nice to have but as others have noted they do sink like a rock. To alleviate this potential problem I have made a PFD for my camera from some closed cell foam and tethered it to the camera with some nylon twine so it will float. You can also adapt this technology to a hand held GPS.


or one of these

– Last Updated: Feb-27-10 8:28 PM EST –


They are not bulky.
I test dropped from about 6 feet and it brought the camera(Lumix) back to the surface in 3foot chop. I have read in turbulence(ww) that the cameras can be pulled down though.

Just say no to Pentax
Wouldn’t buy another Pentax if they were selling for a dollar.

Canon D10
I had an Olympus 1030 SW and did not like it. Lost a number of shots taken from a kayak because it does not have optical image stabilization. I have also read a number of other complaints about this camera and it does not review very highly.

Now have a Canon D10. I got it shortly after Christmas and have not had it out kayaking yet, but have used it as a regular camera. Controls are easy to use and in good light takes good pictures. Not sure about the video as I have not used that yet.

Bought it mostly for snorkeling and kayaking. Gets great reviews on DP Review. The only two underwater cameras I would consider right now are the Canon D10 and the Panasonic underwater camera. They get the best reviews. There are two reasons I went with the Canon. First off, I have another Canon so I know and understand all the controls. Secondly, the Canon is rated waterproof to 33 feet, and the Panasonic only to 10 feet. Since I plan on taking the camera snorkeling, the extra depth was important to me. I think either of these two cameras would be very good choices.

Hope this helps.

Canon makes waterproof
housings for most (all?) of their point & shoot cameras. They work well, and many are rated for over 100 feet of submersion.

As a bonus, the bit of air trapped in the housing makes them float.

Pentax Optio!
The Optio is a great camera. We use it for everything. I have taken hundreds of videos and thousands of photos with it. I take it paddling 40 times a year, See for yourself by viewing my Youtube Listings at: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=paddlingfan1&search_type=&aq=f

discunted Optio W80
I found some discounted Optio W80s on Amazon. I got one for $175 with free shipping, memory card, and floating strap. That deal seems to have gone, but there are others in similar price ranges.


Hard to go wrong with a Pentax Optio or the similar Olympus. Recenty some other cameras have also come out, but like you, I think it would get confusing to figure out which is best.

Olympus stylus tough 6000
I love this little camera it’s my 3rd kayak camera and by far it is the best I’ve owned. I got a factory reconditioned one on Ebay. Works perfectly!

All the waterproof P&S
cameras have compromises when it comes to image quality. The Olympus models are pretty tough. The video from the Optio line is better, but the images aren’t and they aren’t as durable. The Canon is just a bit on the bulky side. The Panasonic gets good ratings on the images, but the durability may not be that great just yet. None will meet the standards of a pro photographer who is used to a big sensor and big lenses.

I bought an Olympus 1050SW and the only real complaint I have is that the wide angle on the zoom isn’t all that wide. The older 1030 was better, but it doesn’t have the flip down lens cover which keeps a lot of spray off the lens.


I have an Olympus XA rangefinder camera that I got in 1979. It still works, although the rangefinder focus is misaligned. I definitely got my money’s worth. I think I’ll try the Olympus digital. It sounds like they all have their weak points. The bad thing is that in 5 years, the technology will be way better and I’ll have to buy another one.

I’ve had an Olympus 1030SW for over
a year. It has the foam camera float attached. Won’t leave home without the float. It works very well.

I paid around $20 for it. One of the best investment I’ve evr made.

How do you plan to use it?
If you are going to use it mostly out of the water with only occcasional splash than just about any waterproof cam would do (e.g. like paddlingfan1’s videos that seem to be in calm water with the camera way above the water).

If you plan to have serious wave action splashing on the camera, then I would be concerned even with the 33 feet waterproofing of the Canon or the new TS-2 from panasonic (though it will probably hold-up just fine). The panny is anounced here: http://www.dpreview.com/news/1001/10012603panadmcft2.asp but they smushed a 14MP sensor in it that will probably be more of a problem than a good thing for low light given how small physically it is…

If you are shooting mostly videos in harsh conditions, you probably want to consider the Go Pro Hero HD - probably the best video available in such a small and tough camera and on par if not better with the best compacts in video mode. The HD video on the Panasonic is very good too, plus it has good zoom range, something the Go Pro lacks.

Many manufacturers came out lately with new waterproof cameras - it is no longer just Olympus/Pentax/Panasonic/Canon. Fuji makes a very nice looking and very compact cam (that is quite cheap at under $150). I’m sure Canon will update their model to something with better video and probably better zoom range too - that would be a sure bet as would be the Panny.

I’m not too keen on the other brands as most of them do not make as good photos as the Canon or the Panny models (check the credible review sites with side by side images to see for yourself) and also most of them lack “real” image stabilization

(what good is a certain brand’s “tripple image stabilization” if all it does is increase ISO for more grain in your photos and smudge detail in post-processing???).

The cheapest way to get into the waterproof domain is something like this: http://microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0287105

I got one and used it quite a bit with a Fuji F30 camera. A little bulky and awkward at first but if all you want to do is take photos or videos while holding it (as opposed to having it strapped somewhere to shoot automatically), it is good and offers about the same protection as the best waterproof compacts have for under $15. The IQ depends on your camera, all I can say is that the polycarbonate lens cover is of very good quality (I see no impact on my images) and the bag does not leak.

We got
a small cheap camera inside a housing. The housing looks to be of better quality than the camera. The problem is that you can’t see if the thing is on or off while in the housing. The lever that hits the power button is prone to turning the camera on when you don’t want it on. Nothing like floating up on a great shot and the camera has no juice.