Sam Kacey

Sam's expertise is in Landscape, Portrait, and Travel photography. He and his team also review the best Cameras and Lenses on the market in 2022 for B&H Photo.

The era of masks and social distancing will finally be behind us soon, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that thinks a vacation is long overdue – somewhere warm with a lot of water. Of course, you’ll want some great pictures to remember the momentous occasion. If you want the most amazing underwater shots possible, then you’ll need to go out and buy a waterproof camera.

Of course, you have plenty of other expenses on your plate, and we don’t want to add a super-pricey camera to that list. That’s why we’ve made this list of the best cheap waterproof cameras that you can buy on a small budget. By the time you finish our list, you’ll have found an affordable underwater camera that will let you show your friends just how amazing your tropical getaway was.

Carry on reading to see our full list of the best cheap waterproof cameras, followed by a recap breaking down what makes each product on our list stand out. Or jump straight to our number one pick on Amazon here.

What Should You Look For in a Cheap Waterproof Camera?

If you don’t know what to look for in your waterproof camera, don’t worry. We have you covered. Thankfully, other than the whole waterproof thing, waterproof cameras and regular cameras are pretty similar. This means that if you know what to look for in a standard camera, you’ll be pretty much ready to go, as long as you remember to include that crucial waterproof feature.

Of course, if you’re not exactly a camera expert or if you just want a quick review, we’re here to help. We’ve laid out the criteria we used to review the best cheap underwater cameras so that you can get up to speed and feel like an expert before you even get to the beginning of our list.

Criteria #1: Picture Quality

Just like any camera, we want our waterproof cameras – cheap or otherwise – to take good pictures. It doesn’t really help if you can take pictures underwater, but the picture is blurry and grainy. Picture quality will mainly be measured in pixel count, with some other features also coming into the equation. We’re going to show you in our list below the best cameras out there that have more pixels than ever so that your friends will really appreciate the breathtaking beauty of your scuba diving trip or laugh at the blooper of your surfing wipeout.

Criteria #2: Waterproofing

Waterproof is not a 1 or 0 – all or nothing – adjective. There’s a whole spectrum of waterproofing strength that we’re working with. Some cameras will only be able to handle a few light splashes, while others will be able to be fully submerged in water, and still, others will be able to withstand the heavy pressure of deep water levels. Everyone’s needs will be different but – price permitting – there’s no downside to having a strong waterproofing mechanism. We want to help you find a waterproof camera that can dive even deeper than you can.

Criteria #3: Extra Features

The little things go a long way. Especially depending on what you’re looking for, the right feature could even be more important to you than better picture quality, and nobody appreciates convenience more than I do. Whether a camera offers special effects to add your artistic flair, or wi-fi connectivity to let you easily upload your pictures to social media, we want to provide you with a streamlined experience. Your waterproof camera should be more than just a camera, so that’s what we’re going to look for in the products on our list.

Criteria #4: Price

Given the title of our article, all of the products on our list will obviously be pretty cheap. We’re not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. That being said, meeting this criterion is less about being cheap and more about justifying your price. We’d rather buy an expensive (don’t worry…that’s a relative term) product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well.

Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Cheap Waterproof Cameras

We measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up, and if they were worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best cheap waterproof cameras” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised. We’ll also make sure to include a wide variety of products that covers different niches and price points. This way, everyone can find the perfect product that will satisfy their needs and their budget.

And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best cheap waterproof cameras. 

#1: Uggkin HD Underwater Camera (Best Value – All-Purpose)

Our list starts off with the Uggkin HD Underwater Camera, which is the perfect budget camera for all of your underwater photography needs. Our top-ranked cheap waterproof camera boasts 2.7k-video capabilities and 24 megapixel-photos, so you can get a fantastic highlight reel to go with your beautiful photo album.

The Uggkin HD Underwater Camera is waterproof up to 10 feet, so while you definitely won’t be going deep-sea diving with this underwater camera, it’s a great start for a beginner in either underwater photography or underwater activity in general.

What sets the Uggkin HD Underwater Camera apart from the crowd more than anything is its incredible design and its amazing features. This aqua-friendly waterproof camera comes with a rope hole so you can fasten it to your wrist and make sure it doesn’t go off swimming without you, and it has screens on both sides.

This means that you can easily see what you’re pointing out if you want to take an underwater selfie. Plus, the Uggkin HD Underwater Camera features automatic face-tracking, so you don’t need to worry about the beautiful scenery taking the attention away from your dazzling smile.

The more experienced photographers among you will be excited to take advantage of the continuous shooting, self-timer, exposure, and white balance features, while the beginners out there will be relieved by the simple and intuitive design of our number one cheap underwater camera. The Uggkin HD Underwater Camera has a frame of 5.75 x 4.72 x 2.32 inches and weighs just 4.4 ounces, so it won’t weigh you down too much while you’re swimming.

The Uggkin HD Underwater Camera is the perfect blend of power and function. It has all of the specs you could want in a camera, solid waterproofing, and a design that delivers a simple user experience. And, of course, fitting with our theme of cheap underwater cameras, it’s…well, cheap.

The Uggkin HD Underwater Camera won’t put too much of a dent in your vacation budget, and it’s sure to make your Instagram page the talk of the town. The Uggkin HD Cheap Underwater Camera is the best deal out there, and for your money, the best cheap waterproof camera on the market.

#2: Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera (Best Overall)

Obviously, our first cheap underwater camera isn’t going to be for everyone, or our list would be much shorter, and I’d have much more free time on my hands. If you weren’t a big fan of the Uggkin HD Underwater Camera, you may want to push your definition of the word “cheap” and check out a more luxurious – but still cheap – underwater camera. If you fit that description, then you’ll have to check out the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera.

Panasonic is definitely not a brand that needs an introduction, and there’s a reason for that. This waterproof camera pushes our budget to its limits, but, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Here are some of the key features that might convince you to go a little past your original budget and splurge for the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Camera.

Reason #1 to Choose This Product: Everything Proof

A basic understanding of trends tells me that if you’re the kind of person that’s looking at underwater cameras, you probably live a pretty active lifestyle in other regards as well. And if that’s the case, you’re going to want a cheap underwater camera that can keep up with you on the hiking trail as well as in the pool, lake, or ocean. For all you nature junkies out there, the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera exists.

This insanely tough camera is waterproof up to 26 feet, shockproof up to 5 feet, freezeproof up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and dustproof. I’m having trouble thinking of something this camera can’t stand up to. I guess it would probably break if you threw it into the sun. Whether you’re going diving, hiking, trekking through the desert, or exploring an icy tundra, the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Camera will be right there with you, and it’ll keep right on trucking.

Reason #2 to Choose This Product: Built-In Memory

Especially with the kind of action the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera is going to see, you might feel a little more paranoid that your memory card will stay intact. But that’s not a problem, because unlike most cameras – waterproof or otherwise – our Panasonic underwater camera comes with 220 megabytes of built-in memory. While that isn’t exactly a ton, it’ll go a long way if you make sure to backup your contents on an even somewhat regular basis.

A quick couple of minutes per night of transferring the contents of the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera to your computer will make sure that 220 megabytes feel like 220 gigabytes. Our runner-up cheap underwater camera is a fantastic option if you don’t want to risk your SD card, or if you just don’t have one and want to save yourself an extra item on your shopping list.

On top of the amazing durability and the built-in flash memory, the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera features an amazing Optical Image Stabilizer feature to make sure that your pictures are blur-free even if you’re bobbing up and down in the water. It also includes a time-lapse mode and – just in case it wasn’t clear who the target audience is – a special underwater mode.

The Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera may be the least cheap underwater camera on our list, but it’s still far from expensive. So if you want the best waterproof camera you can possibly buy without breaking the bank for something professional-grade, then the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera is calling your name.

#3: Nikon Coolpix W100 Digital Camera (Best for Cold Weather)

Really, I should give a quick side note that our next product is actually the best underwater camera for cold weather except for the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera. That being said, the Nikon Coolpix W100 13.2MP 1080P Digital Camera is an amazing choice for anyone who wants to go exploring the great north and also is being a little stricter about the “cheap” part of this list.

Just like the previous camera on our list, the Nikon Coolpix W100 13.2MP 1080P Camera can handle temperatures as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. On top of that, it’s waterproof up to 33 feet, so it’s the most aquatic camera on our list so far. Again, just like our Panasonic waterproof camera, the Nikon Coolpix W100 13.2MP 1080P Digital Camera is also shockproof and dustproof.

In terms of picture quality, it offers 13.2-megapixel pictures and 1080p videos, so every picture and video you take will be up to the Hollywood standard. The third camera on our list has a sleek and simple design that’s as intuitive as possible, and the white color scheme is nothing to sneeze at. The biggest issue with the Nikon Coolpix W100 13.2MP 1080P Camera is that the 3x optical zoom lens leaves something to be desired, so make sure you can get physically close to your target.

Finally, the Nikon Coolpix W100 13.2MP 1080P Digital Camera has wi-fi capabilities that let you transfer all of your pictures straight to your smartphone. This is amazing both for uploading your photos and videos to blogs and social media and for saving your camera’s memory.

The Nikon Coolpix W100 13.2MP 1080P Camera is a solid waterproof camera for any adventure addict, especially if you’re on a limited budget. Its cheaper price compared to our Panasonic product is what makes it one of the best waterproof cameras out there, so if you’re looking for a cheap underwater alternative to the Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera, then look no further. The Nikon Coolpix W100 13.2MP 1080P Camera is sure to give you some amazing photos and videos during your next vacation off the beaten path.

#4: 4K 20MP Action Camera (Best 4K Video Action Camera)

If you’re already looking at cheap underwater cameras, you’ll probably have a pretty easy time imagining the uses of a solid waterproof action camera. Does anything sound more amazing than a completely hands-free filming experience while you snorkel, scuba, or dive in the beautiful sea or ocean? The answer is “absolutely not.”

With the same compact and hands-free design made popular by brands like GoPro, the 4K 20MP Action Camera offers amazing 4k video resolution and 20-megapixel photos while your hands are free to focus on the more important tasks like improving your diving form and helping you swim.

This waterproof action camera also features Electronic Image Stabilization, and it’s waterproof up to an astounding 30 meters, so you can capture beautiful underwater photos and videos deeper than ever before. The time-lapse feature will let you condense your entire diving session into one short highlight reel, and its wi-fi connectivity will make sharing your underwater gems easier than ever before.

Finally, the battery of this 4k Video Recording 20MP Action Camera has a fantastic 60- to 90-minute battery life, so you won’t be leaving the water until you’re more than satisfied. And, of course, this cheap underwater camera is sure to fit in your budget and earn its place in your bag of diving equipment without putting a dent in your wallet. If you want to explore the ocean blue like never before, then you need to purchase the 4k Video Resolution 20MP Action Camera.

Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t worry if you’re not feeling like a photography expert. Even after finishing our list, everyone is sure to have some questions left over, and we want to make sure everything is crystal clear before we send you on your way. In an effort to make sure everyone’s questions are answered, we’ve included this FAQ section to make sure our article doesn’t leave anyone out of the loop. Keep reading to find the answers to your unanswered questions.

What am I missing out on when I save?

After seeing so many amazing cheap underwater cameras, you might be wondering, “What am I missing out on when I pass on the more expensive options?” The answer is pretty straightforward. In terms of features, there’s not much the expensive underwater cameras have that the cheap ones are missing, but in terms of specs, you’ll definitely see the return on your dollar if you decide to splurge.

For example, the Olympus Tough TG 6, one of the best waterproof cameras on the market, is very expensive, but it offers 50 feet of water resistance on top of the dustproof and shockproof casing. The Olympus Tough TG 6 also shoots videos at an incredible speed of 120 frames per second. For some context, 60 FPS is usually considered standard. Basically, if you’re okay with the same overall product that’s just slightly worse, then you should definitely save your money and go with a cheap underwater camera.

What happens to a camera past certain temperatures?

We specifically praised two of our underwater cameras for being resistant to cold temperatures. This begs the question: What happens to cameras in cold weather? One side-effect of cold weather is that your battery will be weaker, while another issue is that frost can form on your lens.

Finally, frigid temperatures can seriously damage any plastic parts of your camera. Of course, if you’re like me and you prefer the beach to the snow, this really won’t be an issue. But if you want to take some amazing photos of the northern lights, you’re going to need a camera that can handle the cold, and you’ll still want to take certain precautionary steps like carefully using your lens cap and keeping your camera stored away while it’s not in use.

Verdict: Your Best Cheap Waterproof Cameras

We’re reaching the end of our list, and you’re hopefully starting to get a good idea of which of our products is best for you. But if you haven’t made up your mind yet, not to worry. We don’t want to rush, and we know how important it is to make sure you’re getting the cheap waterproof camera that’s perfect for you.

That’s why we’re going to recap all of our underwater cameras and focus on their standout features. This way, you’ll be able to see the highlights and really know what each product has to offer for you.

If you want the best value for your money, pick the Uggkin HD Underwater Camera.

The folks at Uggkin clearly understand that a good design is more than just a pretty package. While the Uggkin HD Cheap Underwater Camera has solid specs – it boasts 10 feet of water resistance, as well as 2.7k-video resolution capabilities and 24 megapixel-photos – where our top-ranked camera really shines, is in its design.

The Uggkin HD Underwater Camera has a screen on both sides and face-tracking technology to help bring your underwater selfies to the next level, and it features a rope hole so you can keep fastened to your body. Even if it wasn’t very expensive, no reason to risk this camera going off for a swim without you.

The amazing design makes this camera easier to use than any other product out there, and that combined with its price makes it just about the best value out there. The Uggkin HD Underwater Camera should be the first camera any customer looks at.

If you need something for cold weather, go with the Nikon Coolpix Digital Camera.

If you’re itching to get some incredible photos and videos in Iceland or Greenland, you’re going to need a camera that’s just as tough as you are when it comes to the cold. And if you want to do that on a budget, there’s no option better than the affordable Nikon Coolpix W100 13.2MP 1080P Digital Camera.

Along with its 33 feet of waterproofing, this Nikon product can withstand temperatures as cold as 14 Fahrenheit, so you’ll probably want to go inside way before your camera does. Capture the beauty of the winter wonderlands with the Nikon Coolpix W100 13.2MP 1080P Digital Camera.

If you want an action camera, pick the 4K 20MP Action Camera.

Few things go together as perfectly as action cameras and waterproof cameras. If you want a completely hands-free experience while you dive and swim, then this 4K 20MP Action Camera is the only choice for you. With its amazing photo and 4k video resolution quality and its strong battery life, it’s the perfect companion for your underwater adventures. Plus, it’s waterproof up to 30 meters. You’ll be exploring parts of the water you’ve never even dreamed of before with this action camera.

That brings us to the end of our list. If none of the highlighted products above are the cheap underwater cameras you’re looking for, you may be more interested in the life-proof Panasonic Lumix Waterproof Digital Camera and its built-in storage that will let you say bye-bye to memory cards.

Remember, every camera has one main feature that really sets it apart from the crowd, so that’s what you’ll want to focus on before making your final decision.

That’s all for now. We hope your list has helped, and we can’t wait to see your dazzling underwater photos!

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