Best Waterproof Cameras of 2018 Under $500

Olympus TG-4

If you’re going on an adventure and you’re unsure when you’ll have access to electricity, the Olympus TG-4 is ideal because of its long battery life.
This camera can take up to 380 photos on a single charge, the most of any camera we reviewed. You can submerge this camera in up to 50 feet of water and drop it from up to 7 feet without worrying about damaging it. Along with its impressive battery life and ability to withstand the elements, this camera takes crisp, bright images. While some underwater cameras produce discolored underwater photos, the TG-4 shot vibrant photos in our tests. Photos taken out of the water turned out well though not quite as clear as some other models. This underwater digital camera also includes all the extra features we looked for, like video capture, image stabilization, face detection, Wi-Fi and GPS. The lengthy battery life and impressive feature set make this an ideal camera for capturing your adventures off the grid.


  • It has long battery life.
  • This device takes the best underwater photos of any camera we reviewed.
  • It can withstand a drop from 7 feet.


  • Other cameras take better pictures on dry land.
  • The optical zoom only goes 4x.
  • It’s rather expensive.

How We Tested

After first researching waterproof cameras online, we ordered the top devices and tested them ourselves. We performed image quality testing above water for three days and under water for two days.

For our dry-land image testing, we set up a controlled environment so each camera had the exact same lighting and positioning. We took pictures of our test scene at every ISO available on the camera. Then we compared the images and evaluated them based on accurate color replication, color saturation, sharpness and clarity. The cameras that produced the most accurate and best quality images were given the highest grades.

The underwater image testing was conducted in an indoor pool to eliminate lighting variables. We placed each camera on a tripod and, using the underwater mode, captured images of the same underwater scene located at the bottom of the pool. If the camera did not feature an underwater mode, we used the auto settings. We compared the images closely to determine the best ones. The cameras that produced the best underwater images received the highest scores.


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