Best Waterproof Camera Under $100
If you are a water sports enthusiast, you will want to record yourself in action or other enthusiasts doing their thing. To do this, you need the best cheap underwater camera.
Everything about the ocean, paddle boarding, surfing, swimming and snorkeling is very exciting. Even waves can make a picturesque moment. You definitely need a camera to capture all that.
The best underwater camera can be quite expensive. However, since you are not looking to take professional footage, you need not dent your wallet.
For as little as $50, it is possible to find a waterproof underwater camera that takes decent footage.
So, what is the best budget waterproof underwater camera? Check the waterproof rating of the camera. It comes with a waterproof casing and the depth rating should be decent. If you can use the camera for snorkeling, you can definitely use it for swimming, stand up paddle boarding and surfing.
What is an underwater camera?
This is a special type of camera used when stand paddle boarding, snorkeling, diving, surfing or swimming that you can use to capture footage.
As with everything else in the market today, you can find advanced underwater cameras, such as those used to shoot documentaries and movie scenes underwater.
They come with long lasting batteries and strobe lights. You can automate it and attach it to underwater vehicles and automated to capture footage and many more.
However, their bane is the high cost, which explains why only companies and well-moneyed honchos can afford them.
Even for individual, non-professional use, there are some costly cameras. The good thing though is that there are cameras for under 100, under 200, under 500 and so on.
No matter what your budget is, there is an affordable waterproof camera for you. In any case, you just want a simple, aim-and-shoot camera that can capture memorable moments.
If you have a dry land camera, you can use it for underwater shooting if you buy a waterproof casing for it. You do not need to buy another camera.
How do underwater cameras work?
This is a very common question among people looking for a waterproof camera for the first time.
The main thing with costly as well as cheap underwater cameras is that they have macro lenses or wide angle lenses.
An important consideration is the focal length of the lens, and if it is below 35mm, it will have a wide field of view.
Longer focal length has a narrower field of view, which will cause distortion and will capture small images. When buying an underwater cheap camera, remember to check the focal length and the shorter the better.
If the lens size is 31mm and it has a focal length of 25mm, it is best for underwater photography as compared to a 52mm lens with 50mm focal length.
Cameras with short focal lengths can also capture a wider background and they remove distortion, which is common in footage taken under water.
Handheld or automated underwater cameras?
An automated waterproof camera can stay in the water alone and take shots from different angles, without you having to hold it in your hands.
However, since we are looking at cheap cameras only, this can be costly. Thus, for budget, you might want to consider handheld underwater cameras.
If you cannot afford an underwater camera, you can buy a waterproof casing for your Samsung or iPhone and use it to take excellent shots underwater.
These housings are made of corrosion-resistant materials such as plastic or aluminum, and they can last a long time.
You might need to download a good app for underwater shooting so that it can correct some common human errors.
Can an underwater camera work out of water?
In some instances, you can use underwater cameras on dry land especially if they do not come with paraphernalia such as strobe lights and focus lights.
If it is a regular aim-and-shoot camera, it can work perfectly out of water. In fact, for most of them, you can even remove the waterproof casing, since they are just normal cameras encased in waterproof cases.
If you are a professional photographer, you will have professional equipment. The camera will be fitted with lights.
These lights can become too hot but in the ocean, you would not feel it because the water cools them. On dry land though, they can sustain damage easily from the heat build-up.
Another consideration is the type of lens that the camera comes with. Some underwater cameras come with fisheye lens, which use the refraction in the water to get better shots. On land, the footage it takes would appear distorted.
Today, you can get good action cameras designed to work both on land and underwater. But remember, it is your budget guiding you, so most of these might be out of reach.
Our advice is to know your camera and its capabilities well. Since this post is for budget underwater photography cameras, you hardly have to worry about using it out of water. Just use it.
Is there a camera for underwater photography in dark places?
This is the age of technology, so there is something for everything, including a camera for underwater photography in dark places.
For lighting, underwater cameras need a strobe, which works in almost the same way as a flash. You attach the strobes to the strobe arm and there is an optical cable or sync cord to connect it to the camera.
Other considerations for such a camera include having a wide lens so that it can allow the camera to get as close to the object/subject as possible.
In clear water, the strobe light should be able to penetrate the water long enough to take good shots and video footage.
However, if the water is dark because it is muddy, it can be hard for the light to penetrate and hold long enough to capture shots. In such cases, it would be better not to use the camera altogether.
Cheap underwater camera buying guide
There are hundreds of options of cheap underwater cameras in the market. Knowing what can serve you is hard, especially for a first-timer.
The few factors we are sharing here should get you a decent underwater camera under $100:
Your camera for underwater photography will come with a high quality waterproof casing. However, as you go deeper into the water, the water pressure increases and it can easily burst the casing.
Check the depth rating for the camera. The cheap ones will mostly be recommended for use in depths not exceeding 30 meters.
Since you are mostly looking for a good camera for stand up paddle boarding, swimming, snorkeling or surfing, any can do as long as it has waterproof casing.
Unlike scuba diving, these are surface water sports, so you need not worry about the depth rating too much.
If you intend to use the camera long enough, long battery life is very important. If you can get one hour of use from the battery underwater, it’s a good deal for a cheap camera. Of course, costlier options come with a longer battery life.
Weight and size of the camera
When you are in the water, you are trying many things. Perhaps you are trying to get back on your paddle board after falling in the water.
If you are snorkeling, you are using your limbs to help you float. Therefore, the last thing you want is a heavy camera to bog you down.
The most that your waterproof camera should weigh is 500 grams, perhaps slightly more. Anything heavier than that might cause cramping on the wrists.
However, the advanced underwater waterproof cameras are heavier since they come with attachments for strobes, bigger lens, bigger battery and so on.
About the size, ensure the length is a few inches only so that you can pack it easily among your swimming, surfing or stand up paddle boarding gear.
Camera resolution in megapixels
Without going into the mechanics of what megapixels are, it is the same as your phone. Higher megapixel rating of your phone camera will get videos and photos with more vivid details in your footage. The vice versa is also true.
With an underwater camera, go for as high MP resolution as you can find. If there is one with an 8MP camera and another one with a 12MP camera, choose the latter. It will serve you very well.
This post is on the best cheap underwater camera. Therefore, we suggest you keep it below $100.00. If it comes costlier than that, it is definitely not a budget camera.
You can also check on things such as warranty, if you are paying a price close to a hundred bucks.
Ease of use
Pretty much, most of the cheap cameras for underwater shooting will come in the point and shoot design. Therefore, you can expect no complexities at all using these cameras.
When you take videos and photos, they should be stored in the memory card because such cameras come with limited on-board storage.
Action vs compact vs mirrorless underwater camera
This is generally about the best type of camera to buy for your day-to-day shooting. However, since you want a cheap one, you will do well to just get a compact one. Here are brief definitions of each type:
Compact waterproof cameras
As the word compact suggests, this camera is self-contained, has everything onboard, well, apart from the waterproof casing.
It has the lens on (mostly comes with a zoom lens). Because the compact cameras come in bright colors like pink, silver and others, if you drop it in water, you will spot it easily.
If it is classified as an action camera, it is definitely not cheap at all, but then, cheap is relative. Action cameras such as those sold by GoPro pack more features.
They are smaller and you can attach them to your bike helmet to capture action on the mountain biking trail in hands-free mode.
The only small issue (if you can call it that) is that the footage has a fishbowl orientation because the lens is fixed.
Mirrorless underwater camera
A mirrorless camera does not have a mirror inside the body, so it is designed to capture images and display them digitally since it cannot reflect the images to viewfinders.
These cameras are very affordable, lightweight and they can take decent footage even when the user is a total novice.
Best cheap choice: If you are on a low budget, you will do much better with a mirrorless camera. It is cheap and light and it takes good footage.
What is the best cheap underwater camera to buy?
There are many small, affordable and decent underwater cameras. Choosing the best one can be confusing to buy. Here is a table with a few:
If you are into surface water sports only, these cameras are okay. In fact, some like the LeadEdge have a bigger waterproof rating of 131 feet. So, you can use it for scuba diving, but make sure you do not go deeper than 130 feet.
These are the best cheap underwater cameras that cost less than a hundred bucks. With good care, they can last a long time.
They all come with two batteries, each lasting up to 90 minutes of shooting time. Other things to look for include red filter, anti-shake features, wrist remote and so on.