Best Waterproof Cameras of 2018 Under $500

After two days of hands-on underwater testing and three days of testing on dry land, the Nikon Coolpix AW130 is by far the best waterproof camera we reviewed. It can withstand greater underwater depths than any of the others and its sturdy build means it should survive any adventure.

Images come out clear and colorful and it also has 1080p video capability, which means it goes beyond just taking amazing pictures. The AW130’s extra features like image stabilization, long battery life, Wi-Fi capability and 473MB of internal storage make it the best underwater camera available.

Best Overall


You can beat up the Nikon COOLPIX AW130 and even use it underwater, but this camera still takes fantastic images. It is rated to survive underwater depths of 98 feet for up to an hour, deeper than any camera we looked at.
If you happen to be in a particularly wintery part of the world, this camera is also freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The AW130 can also be dropped from 7 feet without getting damaged. Durability isn’t all this camera does well. It has an adjustable shutter speed that goes all the way up to 1/4000 of a second so you can take photos of really fast-moving objects.

The ISO is adjustable from 125-6400 to accommodate almost any lighting you’re going to encounter. For our underwater tests, we put the camera on a tripod and placed it in a pool to take photos of an image underwater. Then, we compared the resulting photos. While the COOLPIX AW130’s underwater photos came out with some slight color deterioration in our tests, they were still on the better end of the cameras we reviewed. This camera also comes with a bunch of editing options like red eye reduction, retouching, cropping and image stabilization through its vibration reduction feature. It also comes with 473MB of internal storage in case your own SD card gets full. With Wi-Fi and GPS capability, the AW130 really does offer everything you need from a durable camera.


  • It can function in up to 100 feet of water.
  • The battery life is impressive.
  • It comes with the most internal storage of any camera we tested.


  • The AW130 is rather expensive.
  • Other cameras take brighter underwater photos.
  • Live chat troubleshooting isn’t available on the Nikon website.
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