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Rugged and waterproof cameras are designed to withstand mishaps and the harshest conditions. From protecting itself from simple drops to having the ability to capture underwater worlds, a rugged and waterproof camera is the ideal device for the adventurous photographer.

Your expensive smartphone may take better images, but you’ll unlikely want to expose it to the conditions a rugged camera can take. Your iPhone certainly won’t survive the ocean, and you’ll probably think twice about exposing it to freezing conditions.

Here's a look at some of the best rugged, waterproof cameras in 2023.

Our Favorite Rugged and Waterproof Cameras in 2023

An Olympus Tough TG-6 rugged and waterproof camera
Olympus Tough TG-6
Best Overall

A Tough Tank for Land and Water Photography

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a highly durable camera that can withstand harsh weather and terrain conditions. Its rugged and waterproof design can handle shocks, crushes, and freezing temperatures. You can also take it up to 50 feet underwater, making it ideal for outdoor adventures and aquatic activities.

  • Good macro modes
  • Microscope Control Mode for 44x magnification
  • Deep and textured hand grip with wrist strap
  • Simple layout of buttons
  • Solid battery life of 340 images
  • No touchscreen

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is widely regarded as the most rugged camera around. It’s shockproof to seven feet, crushproof up to 100kgf, and freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. And, while it may not have the best waterproof depth rating you can find, it’s still IP68, and you can submerge it up to 50 feet. It’s perfect for any water-based activity other than scuba diving deeper than 15 meters, and its IP rating also means it is completely dustproof.

It has a wide-angle, 4x optical zoom lens equivalent to 25-100mm in 35mm terms, a 2x digital converter, and a fast f/2.0 aperture. The camera’s 12MP image resolution is good enough for most, and the larger pixels help contribute to its good low-light performance.

The ISO ranges from 100 to 12,800, and colors remain vibrant up to ISO 3,200. Image stabilization is also included and is quite useful. It has a simple on/off setting and works when taking stills or videos. The autofocus is also pretty good for the price point; it’s simple but fast, while it supports burst shooting with speeds up to 20FPS for up to 14 frames.

You can also capture crisp videos in 4K at 30FPS. Furthermore, if you want to take some awesome slow-motion captures, you have the choice of 1080p at 120FPS or 720p at 240FPS.

A GoPro HERO11
GoPro HERO11
Best Action Camera

Awesome Action Videos from a Rugged Action Camera

$298 $349 Save $51

The GoPro HERO11 boasts exceptional video performance. Its high-resolution options and slow-motion captures enable users to shoot professional-grade footage. With HyperSmooth 5.0 stabilization, an excellent Horizon Lock feature, and 10-bit color support, this rugged action camera delivers sharp, vibrant videos to make you the envy of social media.

  • 8:7 aspect ratio option
  • Water-repelling lens cover,
  • 27MP screen grabs
  • Touch interface and voice commands
  • No Freezeproof or crushproof ratings
  • Limited battery life

The latest GoPro model, the HERO11, is rugged, durable, and has an IP68 rating, making it dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 33 feet. You can also purchase housing separately, allowing you to take the camera to depths of 200 feet. It's shockproof, too, and can withstand falls from up to three feet.

While it’s not perfect for taking stills, it’s an outstanding action camera for capturing professional-grade videos. You can shoot your high-octane adventures in glorious 5.3K at 60FPS, capture slo-mo videos in 4K at 120FPS, or 2.7K at an astonishing 240FPS.

Additionally, its HyperSmooth 5.0 stabilization and 360-degree built-in Horizon Lock imbue you with the skills of a pro cinematographer. Your videos will be sharp and detailed and, with the camera's new 10-bit color support, vibrant and energetic.

The HERO11 now includes the once sold-separately Enduro battery, which has a better cold-weather performance if you take the HERO11 skiing or snowboarding. However, you should probably still keep the camera warm when not in use, as it has no official freezeproof rating.

Ricoh WG-6
Best Value

A Rugged Point-and-Shoot With All-Around Good Value

The Ricoh WG-6 offers durability, performance, and value, making it an excellent choice for adventurous photographers on a budget. Its IP68 rating ensures waterproofing up to 65 feet, while it is also resilient to falls, extreme temperatures, and forceful impacts. Its high-quality sensor and other advanced features further contribute to its overall good value as a versatile point-and-shoot camera.

  • Camera can double as a webcam
  • 4K at 30FPS video
  • Robust, lightweight plastic construction
  • Built-in GPS
  • 340-shot battery life
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Shake reduction is digital only

The Ricoh WG-6 perfectly balances ruggedness, performance, and value. It’s a simple point-and-shoot but offers impressive durability with its IP68 rating. With this considerable resistance rating, you get a waterproof depth of up to 65 feet and complete dustproofing. It can also survive falls from almost seven feet, temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and forces up to 100kgf.

This camera boasts an excellent 20MP BSI CMOS sensor that produces detailed images. Shooting in adequate sunlight ensures nice color saturation, while low-light performance is decent. With its ISO range of 100 to 6,400, an f/3.5 aperture, and a reasonable digital shake-reduction system, you can overcome some challenging lighting.

Underwater Mode enhances dim images when snorkeling or diving. It makes the colors of the coral and fish more vibrant, while Digital Microscope Mode makes macro photography a breeze. With six adjustable LED lights circling the lens, you can find the ideal luminosity for closeups of creatures hiding in the murky depths.

With its 5x optical zoom lens covering a 28-140mm focal length, it also enables versatile shooting. Autofocus is good at the shorter end of the scale, though it slows down as you zoom in. It also has a 3FPS burst-speed mode, ideal for capturing moderately fast-moving subjects such as schools of fish.

A Ricoh WG-80 rugged camera
Ricoh WG-80
Most Affordable

A Tough, Affordable, Lightweight Point-and-Shoot

The Ricoh WG-80 is a budget-friendly, rugged camera that provides excellent durability and performance without compromising on cost. With its affordable price tag, adventure-seeking photographers can confidently capture thrilling moments, knowing they have a reliable camera that can withstand various challenges.

  • ISO range of 125 - 6,400
  • 300-shot battery life
  • IP68 and freeze and crushproof
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Affordable
  • No 4K Video
  • No Bluetooth or Wi-Fi

The Ricoh WG-80 offers much the same quality as the WG-6 but at an even more affordable price. It boasts the same IP68 rating and is another excellent point-and-shoot that fearlessly takes on abuse. While its waterproof depth and shockproof ratings are less than the WG-6, you can still take it down to 46 feet, and its 5.2-feet shockproof rating ensures it survives drops and bumps.

It has a 16MP CMOS sensor and a 5x optical zoom that ranges from 28 to 140mm in full-frame terms with an f/3.5 aperture. When down in dimly lit depths, Underwater Mode optimizes color and contrast, while you can achieve the same macro shots offered by the WG-6. The six LED lights circling the lens help illuminate close-up ocean life.

Its digital shake reduction is effective when shutter speeds are not too slow, while Movie SR keeps your Full HD movies smooth. The contrast-detection AF is basic yet efficient and features auto-tracking with face detection, and it even recognizes a single pet face.

A Fujifilm FinePix XP140 rugged camera
Fujifilm FinePix XP140
Easiest to Use

Out-of-the-Box Usability

The Fujifilm FinePix XP140 is a rugged and user-friendly camera built for adventure. With waterproof capabilities up to 82 feet, a 5x optical zoom with digital options, good optical image stabilization, and versatile autofocus options, it's the perfect camera for capturing unforgettable moments in any environment.

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Shockproof and freezeproof
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth image transfers
  • Simple to use
  • Average 240-shot battery life
  • 4K video at 15FPS only

Easy to use with little fuss, the Fujifilm FinePix XP140 delivers good image quality straight out of the box. With its IP68 rating, it’s another fine example of a robust, waterproof camera. This rating also makes it completely dustproof, but it’s the waterproof depth rating that is most impressive. This camera can get down to murky depths of 82 feet, meaning it exceeds even the Olympus Tough TG-6 by over 30 feet.

While its widest aperture of f/3.9 is narrower than some other rugged cameras, its Intelligent Digital Zoom feature effectively doubles its 5x 28-140mm zoom. However, the image quality will naturally degrade the more you zoom in, but it does have its uses. For example, when trying not to scare a bird or fish.

The XP140 is powered by a 16.4MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor and incorporates effective CMOS-shift Optical Image Stabilization. Furthermore, with an ISO 100 to 12,800 range, it performs pretty well in low-light situations.

It also features versatile autofocus with three focus modes. These are Area AF, Center AF, and Tracking AF, with the latter ideal for capturing fast-moving subjects. Additionally, it has a dedicated Continuous Shooting Mode button that enables you to catch some fast-paced action at 10FPS for up to six shots or 3FPS until your card is full or the battery dies.

An AKASO Brave 8 action camera
AKASO Brave 8
Best for Timelapses

A GoPro Alternative with Quality Timelapse and Stills Captures

$230 $290 Save $60

The AKASO Brave 8 is a compelling alternative to the GoPro HERO11 for those seeking a budget-friendly action camera. Its 8K timelapse capabilities and effective image stabilization ensure you can capture captivating moments with remarkable clarity and precision. It's an excellent choice for adventurous creatives.

  • Front and rear color screens
  • 90 minutes of 4K recording battery life
  • Two batteries and dual-battery charger included
  • Splashproof remote control
  • Buggy software

If the GoPro HERO11 is out of your price range, or you want an action camera that takes great stills, the AKASO Brave 8 is a worthy alternative. While its 4K at 60FPS video can’t compete with the HERO11, its half-inch 48MP 1.6μm Quad Pixel sensor does produce excellent images, even in low-light conditions.

That’s not to say its video quality is terrible; GoPros are pretty tough to beat in this regard. However, the Brave 8 offers a nice balance. And with outstanding 8K timelapse captures, you can preserve mesmerizing moments in fine clarity and exceptional detail. You can also take advantage of its 16x Slo-Mo feature for stunning action footage, while its SuperSmooth image stabilization is effective.

Durability-wise, it has a sturdy build, and you can take it underwater to 33 feet without housing–matching that of the HERO11. It’s also dust and freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can also drop it from heights of 6.6 feet without repercussions. That said, the camera does have software problems, while file transfers are slow and wireless connections can introduce overheating issues.

A full face view of a SeaLife Micro 3.0 underwater camera
SeaLife Micro 3.0
Best for Scuba Diving

Record Extreme Depths Without the Need for Camera Housing

The SeaLife Micro 3.0 is an exceptional underwater camera designed for scuba divers. It allows for exploration to depths of 200 feet without needing housing. With its user-friendly controls and durable design, this camera is ideal for capturing the diverse marine life inhabiting the ocean's depths.

  • Good ergonomics
  • Easy to use
  • Durable construction
  • Long battery life
  • Small and lightweight
  • No built-in flash
  • On the expensive side

The SeaLife Micro 3.0 stands out among underwater cameras as an excellent choice for scuba divers. Most waterproof cameras can’t reach the depth that this camera can. It’s explicitly designed for divers who want to go that bit further without caging their devices in cumbersome housing. With the Micro 3.0, you can get as deep as 200 feet, significantly deeper than its competitors.

It features a 16MP CMOS sensor and a 19mm equivalent f/2.8 fixed lens. You can shoot excellent videos in 4K quality at 30FPS, and still-image quality is good and allows you to capture the deep's vibrant colors and abundant marine life. There are settings for both underwater and on-land, so photography doesn’t need to stop once your tank is out of air.

Controls are straightforward and easy to use. Furthermore, the menu system cuts out a lot of the faff, and after a short familiarization period, it’s easy to navigate. This simplicity is particularly appreciated by scuba divers, who have more critical concerns to attend to while exploring the ocean floor.

There are few potential leakage points, with the camera even providing 64GB of storage to eliminate the need for an SD card slot. Furthermore, its impressive battery life of up to three hours is more than sufficient for extended diving sessions.

Considerations Before Purchasing a Rugged and Waterproof Camera in 2023

When you buy a rugged and waterproof camera, you need to compromise on some aspects that regular cameras offer. The most apparent is image quality. Rugged and waterproof cameras have smaller sensors and less powerful image processors, which impact detail, color accuracy, and contrast. But this doesn’t mean images are terrible. Quite the contrary, they just don’t match more premium devices with larger sensors.

They also have fewer features in order to maintain a lightweight and compact design. However, waterproof and rugged cameras can come at surprisingly agreeable price points. One of the most agreeable is the Ricoh WG-6. It offers terrific value and performance, while its younger sibling, the WG-80, is even more affordable.

However, many want a durable action camera to record their adventurous lifestyles. Whether you are a cyclist, hiker, surfer, snorkeler, or even scuba diver, the GoPro HERO11 is the standout choice for most. It’s durable and affordable and offers incredible video quality.

Yet the HERO11 isn’t famed for taking still photos. If you want a camera that balances both yet remains incredibly rugged and waterproof, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is the camera to beat. It can survive any extreme, and you won’t need to remortgage your home to afford it, either.

An Olympus Tough TG-6 rugged and waterproof camera
Olympus Tough TG-6
Best Overall

A Tough Tank for Land and Water Photography

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a highly durable camera that withstands harsh conditions. Its rugged and waterproof design can handle shocks, crushes, and freezing temperatures. You can also take it up to 50 feet underwater, making it ideal for outdoor adventures and aquatic activities.

  • Good macro modes
  • Microscope Control Mode for 44x magnification
  • Deep and textured hand grip with wrist strap
  • Simple layout of buttons
  • Good battery life of 340 images
  • No touchscreen