This is an underwater photo of a boy in a pool
Photo: Terry Sullivan

The Best Waterproof Cameras and Action Cams

These rugged models not only withstand moisture and falls, but more of them include new features such as built-in W-Fi


Many people like to take waterproof cameras and action cams with them on vacation, whether they're headed to a beach resort where the cameras can handle a dive into the ocean, or off to the mountains for skiing or snowboarding.

These models are great in a crowd, too. Many rugged, waterproof cameras can withstand a several-foot drop. So, you don't have to worry about being jostled by holiday crowds at a theme park or mall.

New rugged cameras and action cams are also including more features. For instance, built-in Wi-Fi makes it easy to share photos. And with many models, you can download an app to your smartphone or tablet that lets you control the camera from afar. Many even let you operate manual settings. You can zoom in, change from video to still photos, or set the camera or action cam to capture a time-lapse video.

Here are some of the rugged-and-waterproof models we recommend. 

Olympus Stylus TG-4

Olympus Stylus TG-4

This sturdy, top-rated, wireless model ($380) can capture photos as RAW files, a capability found mostly on advanced cameras. It also has an excellent LCD. It's waterproof to 50 feet and is able to survive a drop from 7 feet. The camera has an f/2-aperture lens and built-in GPS for geo-tagging your photos, along with a built-in compass. However, the camera's not perfect: It captures only fair quality video and audio.

    Price Not Available

    Nikon Coolpix AW130

    Nikon Coolpix AW130

    A top model, this wireless camera has fine overall performance and very good image quality for shooting stills without a flash. Its zoom is among the widest in its class, and the lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8. It also includes a GPS feature and a built-in compass and map. Video quality is good, but below what you would find on some other top-performing cameras. It's waterproof to a depth of 98 feet and can withstand a drop from 7 feet.

      Price Not Available

      Olympus Stylus TG-860

      Olympus Stylus TG-860

      What makes this stylishly designed, wireless rugged-and-waterproof model stand out is that it has a very wide angle zoom lens (21mm-105mm), which is great when you're shooting landscapes or underwater seascapes and you want a broader vista. This is also helpful when you want to get more people into a group portrait. It has a very good quality LCD that swivels, which is helpful for shooting selfies and hard-to-reach shots. And the camera can fire off seven frames per second in burst mode. However, if you plan on shooting a lot of video, you might want to consider another model: It only captures fair quality video. 

        Price Not Available

        Sony HDR-AS100V

        Sony HDR-AS100V

        It's one of the few action cams we've tested that captures both very good quality video and good quality still photos. Unlike many in its class, this Sony ($200) includes a very good image stabilizer, which counteracts hand shake and gives you less jittery video and sharp still photos. The action cam's body is waterproof to a depth of 16 feet when used with its protective housing.

          Price Not Available

          GoPro HERO4 Silver Standard Edition

          GoPro HERO4 Silver Standard Edition

          Although more expensive than most action cams, this wireless GoPro also has more features, including a 1.7-inch touchscreen LCD, rare on this type of camcorder. It also has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capability. Another standout feature is that it has more manual settings designed to improve image quality. It captures good quality video and still photos. We also liked its easy-to-use mobile app, which is quite versatile.

            Price Not Available

            Sony FDR-X1000V

            Sony FDR-X1000V

            It's about $100 to $200 pricier than most top-rated models, but in many respects, this action cam is worth the high price tag. For starters, it’s one of the first in its class to offer both 4K video capability and image stabilization. The image stabilizer helps counteract hand shake and gives you less jittery video and sharp still photos. (However, the camera did not score that much higher than others in its class, including GoPro models, which lack an image stabilizer.) The action cam's body is splashproof, which means light rain or a little bit of water won't affect it. Another feature that sets this action cam apart is the ability to adjust some settings manually, including exposure and white-balance settings. It’s waterproof to approximately 33 feet when used with a special enclosure. 

              Price Not Available
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              Terry Sullivan

              I've been writing about tech since the 1990s and joined Consumer Reports in 2007. I cover audio-related devices, like headphones, and digital-imaging products, like cameras and printers. When not making fine art with a camera or oil paint, I also jam with my band, The Not-For-Prophets. I live on Long Island with my wife and kids.