Underwater camera or underwater camera case?

Underwater photos or shots from the water is a must for any travel vacations involving water. Your vacation will be more memorable if you have photos while snorkeling in the water or just plain goofing at the pool.

I still rarely see casual photos taken from the water and it’s something that people who likes being close to the water should consider.

Shot from the water

Shots taken from the water are still uncommon but they are fun and make good photos

The question is this, would you rather buy an underwater camera or just an underwater camera case? I already tried using both in different occasions and here’s my take on the issue.

Underwater camera

What’s nice about underwater cameras is that they are portable and you can easily shoot in and out of the water without having to deal with a case. They are usually built ruggedly so dropping it from a table won’t scare you.

Olympus u1050 SW

Major disadvantage is the price. They’re quite expensive especially those that can shoot well which is important for underwater scenes. I also heard that a certain brand of underwater camera typically breaks down after a year just when the warranty is over. Screws or panels loosen up and next thing you know you will be getting water bubbles inside.

No matter how rugged or how waterproof a camera gets, it won’t stay that way over time especially if you use it underwater a lot. Better purchase extended warranty if you can.

Underwater case

Underwater cases can be as cheap as your snorkeling gear (Dicapac cases) or as expensive as the camera itself. But those expensive ones are really built to protect the camera and are perfect for diving photography. Unlike underwater cameras, you can use a really fine-shooting camera for your shots.

A big disadvantage is the size. Sony lent me MPK-WD marine pack and it’s really bulky and heavier than the camera inside. Lugging it around can be cumbersome but the protection it offers to your camera is worth it I guess.

It’s also quite a hassle to remove the case from your camera in case you want to use it on land or if you need to charge it. Good thing we have a separate camera for land shots.

If you’re wondering  just how well-protected a camera can be inside those expensive marine packs, check out this story where a camera inside an underwater case traveled from Aruba to Florida. (Thanks Li for the link)


Whether you have an underwater camera or underwater case, the most important thing is still how good the camera takes photos. I used the Olympus 1050SW during our whitewater rafting adventure and the lack of image stabilization only allowed me to take mediocre shots.

It’s hard to keep steady when shooting underwater so use cameras with real image stabilization (optical not digital).

The marine pack was much better during our Coron trip because the Cybershot W300 inside already takes decent pictures. Here are some underwater shots using the Sony Cybershot with a marine pack:

So which do you prefer? I say go for anything that fits your budget. People without means to shoot from the water will be envious of you on your next snorkeling trip.

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18 Responses

  1. Robbie says:

    Hmmm…. I’d rather take the hassle of lugging around a camera case than spend more bucks to buy another camera. Case to case basis. If you can afford an underwater camera, why not?! :D

  2. Gena says:

    Naku Calvs this is my current obsession, finding an underwater camera that fits my needs and budget!

    I have been to Bora and La Union (and Splash Island) in the past 6 months, taking photos with my Snapsights! film camera which I bought for 600 bucks. I’ve only had about 30% success rate with this cheap ass film camera. My main prob is the film is not exposed properly, so a lot of wasted film and developing fee. Hay.

    Now I have my eyes set on the Pentax Optio W80 because it’s cheap at $119 at Fry’s and it has a decent (mid of pack) rating at dpreview. Hope I can get my hands on it soon!

    • Calvin says:

      gumamit din ako ng underwater film, nasayang yung trip ko sa donsol, di maganda mga kuha ko ng mga whale sharks.

      oi that pentax optio w80 is cheap. make sure it can withstand a handful of trips to the water. tsaka image stabilization talaga is important.

  3. happykoko says:

    Try Lumix TS1. It sells for 12K at local online stores( since may TS2 na). I used it underwater once and the results are okay. On land, Lumix beats even the more popular brands as their IS is excellent.

  4. Rygel says:

    the canon d10 has good reviews…

  5. Magnus says:

    Is there an underwater case available for canon?

  6. jeni says:

    i also want to buy an underwater case for my canon digicam. but a friend told me na ngmomoist ung loob ng case so mejo nababasa rin ung camera. is this true?

    • Calvin says:

      yung pag moist is because of sudden change in temperature. while in the water hindi naman sya dapat magmoist although i don’t know about the dicapac. sa marine pack di ko naman sya naexperience. pero best practice palagi is to remove the camera from the case pag hindi kailangan.

  7. Jesse says:

    Actually been looking for a marine pack for my wx1. =) heard its at 14k-17k!

  8. raceman says:

    got a tx5 & i’m satisfied & happy w/ results of the pics taken underwater, however i still want to get a marine pack for it …where & what shops in mla have it?

  9. Gerson says:

    Hi calvin,

    i am interested in buying underwater camera and thank god i found your blog about this….. i was hoping if you have some insights on the speedo camera…. is it worthy for my coron trip or would you suggest to buy an underwater camera case and a good camera instead…. tyt ang budget ko but if worthy naman ung cost ng camera would be ok for me hehehhe

    • Calvin says:

      i haven’t tried or heard anything about the speedo. pero if you have a decent digital camera already go with a case na lang. my sister got good shots in Coron with her plain canon camera and a dicapac case.

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