For crystal-clear photos and videos of sea creatures and geology, high-tech underwater cameras come with features like strobes and powerful batteries. But, professional-quality underwater cameras can be a pricey investment. Fortunately, for the rest of us, the best cheap underwater cameras make it easy to document and share your photos from the water, while costing less than $100 (and sometimes even less than $30). The main features that separate cameras close to $100 from those under $30 will be the resolution of the photos and the durability of the device.
As you shop for a cheap underwater camera, there are a few baseline specs you should consider. Underwater cameras have water-tight enclosures that prevent ingress of water under pressure. Since pressure increases the deeper you go, make sure your camera can operate at the depth you need. On average, most affordable underwater cameras can be used in 30 meters or about 98 feet of water.
Battery life is also important if you plan to be in the water for a while, and a fully-charged battery should last for at least an hour of use. And like regular cameras, picture and video quality can vary, so for the best results, look for a camera with great resolution. One term to keep your eye out for when looking at resolutions is MP, or megapixels. Megapixels refers to the resolution on digital cameras, and cameras with a higher megapixel resolution will provide clearer images and video, usually at a slightly more expensive price. Even the very best action cameras on the market tend to offer a resolution of around 20 megapixels, so whether you decide to shell out for higher quality photos or not, the cameras below can certainly suit anyone looking for underwater pictures to frame on a wall or post to your social media.
Lastly, consider weight. Handling a heavy or large camera can be challenging, especially when you’re underwater, so the best options are no larger than a few inches wide so they’re easy to use and pack for travel.
The best cheap underwater cameras below offer an affordable way to document and share your photos and videos. Scroll on for the best options — they’re all less than $100.
1. The overall best underwater camera under $100
- Resolution: 20MP
- Weight: 5.6 ounces
AKASO’s Brave 4 camera comes with some of the highest resolution specs in an affordable camera, offering 4K photo and 2K video quality, and a resolution of 20 megapixels. It also has an impressive 5x zoom lens that lets you get close-up shots of your subjects even from a distance. The Brave comes with two rechargeable batteries that operate for 90 minutes each when fully charged, and the camera can be used in depths of up to 30 meters or 98 feet. The camera’s viewing angle is adjustable for capturing tight or expansive scenes up to 170 degrees wide. A unique feature of the Brave is the remote control wristband, which allows you to operate the camera underwater from dry land. The camera also has Wi-Fi capabilities and links to AKASO’s app, making it easy to transfer, edit, and share videos and images.
According to one reviewer: “Haven't gotten to use it in action yet, but my testing has shown that it is a pretty solid little action cam and is an affordable alternative to the GoPro. It comes with all the mounts and accessories you could ever need!”
2. The runner-up
- Resolution: 12MP
- Weight: 2.25 ounces
Also from AKASO, the more affordable EK7000 underwater camera has many of the same features as the overall best, but has a fixed lens that doesn’t zoom. The 2-inch-wide camera has a generous 170-degree lens and works as deep as 30 meters or 98 feet. This camera comes with two rechargeable batteries that will last you 90 minutes each before needing to be recharged, and has a resolution of 12MP. The EK7000 comes with a range of accessories including a remote control wristband (which allows you to use it remotely up to 50 feet away, according to reviewers), and various mounts and clips for attaching it to a helmet, harness, or tripod to capture all of your outdoor adventures. Photos and images can be transferred to the AKASO app using the built-in Wi-Fi, or by connecting it to a computer using the HDMI port.
According to one reviewer: “This camera was awesome. Loved that it was waterproof. We were able to take great videos while using a waterslide. It even captured our new baby at the hospital. Highly recommend.”
3. Great bang for your buck
- Resolution: 12MP
- Weight: 2.24 ounces
This waterproof action camera from Crosstour is perfect for people who want an underwater camera without spending a lot on bells and whistles. The camera measures just over 2 inches wide, but still has a generous viewing screen and the ability to be used in depths of up to 30 meters or 98 feet. It has a resolution of 12MP, or megapixels, which is a bit shy of the 20MP you’ll get with the best overall camera above. But, it has a similar 170-degree wide-angle lens for capturing everything in your field of vision. While the Crosstour doesn’t come with a physical remote, the camera can be controlled via an app using your smartphone. Several accessories come with the camera, including two rechargeable batteries (for up to 90 minutes each), a bicycle helmet mounting kit, and a wrist mounting kit, making the Crosstour a great value for the price. It also connects via WiFi to your devices so you can upload your photos and videos.
According to one reviewer: “This is also a great camera to bring on the go with me on any trip and I’ve enjoyed it so much because of how light it is. It fits in my bags easily and allows me to use my phone for other matters while also being able to take pics/videos. I think this camera is totally worth the price and I’d highly recommend it!”
4. The most affordable
- Resolution: 12MP
- Weight: 10.5 ounces
For less than $20, this 2-inch underwater camera still boasts a resolution of 12MP, and can be used in water as deep as 30 meters or roughly 98 feet. While its wide angle has a smaller range than the other cameras on this list (140 degrees compared to 170 degrees on the options above), it does have a 2X zoom feature which is rare in a camera at this price. It lacks the Wi-Fi compatibility of the cameras above and doesn’t have an app; instead, you use a micro SD card (not included) to transfer images and videos from the camera to your computer. But its battery life can last up to 90 minutes and the battery is rechargeable via USB. For the price tag, this is the cheapest underwater camera worth your money, especially when you factor in that this camera also comes with so many mounting accessories that reviewers report there are “too many to list.”
According to one reviewer: “I really love this camera. I bought this camera because I needed something I could take underwater. So far, I am very impressed with all it can do. The video quality is good and it came with a boat load of accessories for mounting it pretty much anywhere I would want to mount it.”