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Best Waterproof Cameras

These rugged models not only withstand moisture and falls but also offer new features such as GPS tagging and WiFi connectivity

Like sunscreen and beach towels, waterproof cameras are made for summer vacations, whether you’re headed to a Caribbean resort, a national park campsite, or a three-day hike in the rain forest. They can withstand a good dousing, and they’re rugged enough to survive a drop of 6 feet or more, so you don’t have to worry about having one slip from your backpack or ending up in the hands of your best friend’s toddler.

Today’s models are outfitted with a bunch of useful features, too. The examples below offer built-in flash, capture wide-angle images, and zoom in on the action without inconveniencing you with a bulky lens. Some even create high-resolution 4K video like modern action cams and transfer photos to a smartphone via WiFi for easy sharing on Instagram.

That’s not to say they’re without drawbacks. To stay compact, they lack valuable features such as a viewfinder and the hot-shoe mount used for attaching a powerful external flash unit.

And unlike our favorite mirrorless cameras and advanced point-and-shoots, they don’t have manual controls. This makes dealing with tricky lighting situations more difficult and limits how much command you have when creating images. 

But if you’re happy to shoot during the day and don’t mind letting automatic settings run the show, there’s a lot to like about the following models—starting with the fact that all were approved by our testers.

1
Canon PowerShot D30

Canon PowerShot D30

The $330 Canon PowerShot D30 is the current king in CR’s waterproof camera ratings. Like all the models on this list, it provides solid still images and video quality. And the rugged construction can survive up to a depth of 82 feet underwater and withstand a drop of more than 6 feet on land, according to the manufacturer.

The built-in GPS lets you geotag your photos, and the image stabilization technology detects shaky hands and compensates with miniature motors to shift the glass elements of the lens, thus creating a distortion-free image.

However, the camera’s maximum aperture is only about f/4, which can be limiting in low-light situations. The model also lacks 4K video recording and the wireless support found in most modern cameras. If those features are important to you, read on.

    2
    Nikon CoolPix W300

    Nikon CoolPix W300

    The $390 W300 can survive an 8-foot drop and is water-resistant up to 100 feet, Nikon says.

    It has a wide, maximum aperture of f/2.8 and features one of the widest lenses in this category, which lets you capture group pictures and more of the scene than other models.

    And in addition to a GPS feature, image stabilization, 4K video recording, and WiFi connectivity, the camera offers a 16-megapixel sensor, so it can create larger, more detailed images than the 12-megapixel sensors of the Canon and Olympus cameras on this list.

      3
      Olympus TG-5

      Olympus TG-5

      This $400 camera’s big draw is the bright f/2 aperture, which comes in handy when there isn’t a lot of light available. It’s excellent for creating beautiful portraits with bokeh, the pleasing effect in which the crisply focused subject looms before a blurred background.

      That’s not all, of course. The TG-5 packs the useful features you’d expect to find in a modern camera, including 4K video recording, GPS support, and WiFi connectivity. It can withstand a drop of about 7 feet and is water-resistant to 49 feet, according to Olympus, which is plenty rugged, though slightly less than the other cameras on this list.

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        Tercius Bufete

        I'm an avid photographer and tech nerd with a passion for writing about gadgets and consumer technology. Originally from Los Angeles, I'm now an East Coast resident searching for the perfect burrito in Brooklyn. Follow me on Twitter (@tercius).