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The Best Underwater Compact Camera Systems

Last Revision January 11, 2017

Looking for something compact to travel with that shoots great photos underwater? Here's the run-down of your best choices right now.

Olympus Tough TG-4

Olympus Tough TG-4
Olympus Tough TG-4 camera with Ikelite Housing Product 6233.04

The TG-4 has a fast 25-100mm mid-range zoom lens with a macro mode that betters almost every other compact out there right now. This model introduces RAW image capture to the Tough series, which is a powerful tool for post-dive color corrections using either Adobe Lightroom or the included software. The TG-4 is waterproofed to 50' (15.2m) even without a housing, making it the ideal outdoor companion.

See the Ikelite Housing for the Olympus Tough TG-4...

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V camera with Ikelite Housing Product 6116.15

Sony has been king of the compacts over the past few years with its wildly popular RX100 series. The latest RX100 V combines a fantastic 1" CMOS sensor with a bright 24-70mm lens for crisp and colorful underwater images. Compared to its predecessor, the Mark V now has even faster autofocus and better 4K video quality.

See the Ikelite Housing for the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V...

Canon PowerShot G5X

Canon PowerShot G5X
Canon PowerShot G5X camera with Ikelite Housing Product 6146.05

The Canon G-series has been at the front of the pack underwater for over a decade. The G5X boasts an image quality and control set comparable to the RX100 series, plus adds an essential TTL flash hot shoe which eliminates reliance on the built-in flash to trigger an underwater strobe. Canon finally supports TTL flash exposure in Manual camera mode, making this one of the best G-series cameras yet and a compelling reason to upgrade.

See the Ikelite Housing for the Canon PowerShot G5X...

Panasonic Lumix LX100

Panasonic Lumix LX100
Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera with Ikelite Housing Product 6171.11

The LX100 won't quite fit in your pocket because it packs a huge Four Thirds sensor, a stunning 25-75mm f/1.7-2.8 lens, and 4K video capture. Top it off with an electrical TTL flash hot shoe for rapid fire capabilities and prolonged battery life, edging out the competition underwater.

See the Ikelite Housing for the Panasonic Lumix LX100...

Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1

Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1
Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1 camera with Ikelite Housing Product 6970.03

We cheated and included a DSLR camera on our list of Compact Camera Systems. The price, size, and weight of the EOS 100D make it a strong contender in the compact category even though the image engine and lens interchangeability keep it in the DSLR camp. And with recent promotions by Canon, its performance-to-dollar ratio makes it the top choice on this list. The kit lens is a versatile 18-55mm zoom range, plus it accepts many of the most popular DSLR lenses underwater including the Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye.

See the Ikelite Housing for the Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1...

Nikon COOLPIX S9900

Nikon COOLPIX S9900
Nikon COOLPIX S9900 camera with Ikelite Housing Product 6184.99

We do not recommend taking super zoom cameras underwater (and here's why). But if you MUST, then we suggest the S9900 which has a compact body, a fairly limited lens movement over its 25-750mm range, and good support of manual exposure modes. Making it the most usable super zoom underwater right now.

See the Ikelite Housing for the Nikon COOLPIX S9900...

The Bottom Line

You can get fantastic photos underwater with any of the systems featured above. Pick a camera that feels good to you with menu settings that you understand. Then work on your lighting and composition. And don't be afraid to ask us for help or advice!