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Top Underwater Cameras of 2022 for under $500!

As more people are discovering the underwater world we naturally want to capture it too! With underwater photography and videography getting more popular it is also becoming more accessible with great cameras now being cheaper than ever. I've compiled a list of my top 7 underwater cameras of 2022 that all come in under $500! I've also given my specific recommendations with each camera plus listed my recommended accessories to further help you capture stunning underwater images. So let's get this started with our cheapest camera and work our way up.


For accurate & current prices, please check the links provided



The best budget underwater cameras you can buy today

Akaso V50 Elite | GoPro HERO 8 Black | Kraken Smartphone Housing | Olympus TOUGH TG-6 | Insta360 ONE X2 | Insta 360 ONE R | GoPro HERO 10 Black


Akaso V50 Elite action camera

1. Akaso V50 Elite

Great for beginners


Specifications

Camera Sensor: Sony IMX078

Release Date: 2018

Weight: 78 grams / 2.75 oz

Battery: 1050mAh

Recording Time: 4K/2K About 60min | 1080p About 90min

Lens: 170° wide angle lens f2.8

Video Capture: 4K/60fps, 2.7K/60fps, 1080P/120fps, 720p/240fps | h264/h265

Photo Capture: 20mp RAW/JPEG

Memory Card Type: MicroSD

Waterproof Depth Rating: No

White Balance Modes: Video Scene Mode → Diving

Image Stabilisation: Digital


Today's best deals

Camera: Akaso V50 Elite

Price: $139.99


Memory Card: Samsung EVO Select 64GB (U3)

Price: $39.99


Tray & Arms: Movo GB-U70

Price: $24.95


Cheap Video Light: Suptig Diving Light

Price: $24.99


Selfie Stick: Sealife - Aquapod Mini

Price: $49.95


Grip: GoPro The Handler

Price: $29.00


Reasons to buy

+ Cheap (!)

+ Comes with tons of accessories including underwater housing


Reasons to avoid

- Camera body is not waterproof

- No front screen


Recommended for

Beginners on a budget

It's easy to shy away from the cheapest option on any list, as reduced price usually means reduced quality and features. Not so much with the V50 Elite which is the top action camera model from Akaso. This camera can shoot 4K/60fps for roughly 60 minutes before running out of battery. It also comes with 2 batteries and loads of mounts which are for the most part also compatible with other action cameras. If you've never owned an action camera or you're not sure how invested you are just yet in shooting video or photos underwater, this is a great starter package!



GoPro HERO8 Black action camera

2. GoPro HERO 8 Black

More power & features


Specifications

Camera Sensor: CMOS 1/2.3 inch

Release Date: Oct 2019

Weight: 117 grams / 4.13 oz

Battery: 1220mAh

Recording Time: 4K/2K 75-120min 1080p 90-230min

Lens: 16-39mm (FF equiv) depending on resolution

Video Capture: 4K/60fps, 2.7K/120fps, 1080P/240fps, 720p/240fps | h264/h265

Photo Capture: 12mp RAW/JPEG

Memory Card Type: MicroSD

Waterproof Depth Rating: 10 m / 33 ft

White Balance Modes: Using a red filter is recommended

Image Stabilisation: Digital (HyperSmooth 2.0)


Today's best deals

Camera: GoPro Hero 8 Black

Price: $278.99


Underwater Housing: HERO8 60 m / 196 ft

Price: $41.44


Red Filter: Backscatter - FLIP8/9/10

Price: $99.00


Dome Port: SHOOT Dome Port Lens

Price: $50.99


Memory Card: SanDisk 256GB Extreme microSDXC

Price: $34.99


Tray & Arms: Movo GB-U70

Price: $24.95


Cheap Video Light: Suptig Diving Light

Price: $24.99


Selfie Stick: Sealife - Aquapod Mini

Price: $49.95


Grip: GoPro The Handler

Price: $29.00


Reasons to buy

+ 4K/60fps & 1080P/240fps

+ Waterproof to 10 meters / 33 feet


Reasons to avoid

- Stabilization not as good as later GoPro models

- Low resolution photos


Recommended for

Beginners looking for a tough & solid action camera

While the GoPro Hero 8 Black isn't the latest and greatest anymore it's still a powerful camera for underwater shooters, especially at its price point. With its built in waterproofing you can safely take it out snorkeling or shoot images in other shallow environments without the need for other accessories. The underwater housing for it is cheap, and personally I find it easier bringing it underwater knowing it has some native waterproofing in case of housing leaks. For scuba divers the red filter is an absolute must.



Kraken KRH04/05 Underwater SmartPhone Housing

3. Kraken KRH04/05

Perfect if you already own a good phone


Specifications

Housing Type: Smartphone

Release Date: Dec 2019

Material: Aluminum

Port Threading: 52/67mm

Phone Connectivity: Bluetooth

Waterproof Depth Rating: 80 m / 262 ft


Today's best deals

Basic Housing: Kraken KRH04

Price: $325.00


Pro Housing: Kraken KRH05

Price: $429.00


Adapter: Kraken M52 / M67 Adapter

Price: $49.99


Red Filter: Mozaik Red filter for 67mm

Price: $59.00


Macro Lens: Kraken Macro Lens +12 M67

Price: $215.00


Wide Angle Lens: Kraken KRL-07

Price: $265.00


Tray & Arms: Kraken Dual Handle w/arms

Price: $189.00


Video Light: Kraken Hydra 2500 WRU Macro

Price: $399.00


Reasons to buy

+ Both housings comes with vacuum seal system

+ Rated for 80 meters / 262 feet (!)

+ No need to change housing when buying new phone

+ Multiple apps supported for both IOS & Android with Bluetooth connectivity


Reasons to avoid

- Doesn't fit all phones

Recommended for

Anyone who owns a decent smartphone

The smartphone housings from Kraken are the most solid underwater housings we will include in this article. Built out of machined aluminum and rated for a depth far exceeding the needs of most underwater shooters, this thing is built like a tank. It even comes included with a vacuum seal system which allows you to check if the housing has been correctly assembled before taking it underwater, a must feature for owners of more expensive phones! The pro model also comes with a temperature & depth sensors at a slightly higher cost. Don't let the prices of the recommended accessories scare you, you can easily start shooting only with the housing. I do however recommend getting the adapter & red filter to help you get even better results, especially at depths when scuba diving.



Olympus Tough TG-6 Compact Camera

4. Olympus Tough TG-6

Compact camera designed for underwater use


Specifications

Camera Sensor: CMOS 1/2.3 inch

Release Date: July 2019

Weight: 253 grams / 8.92 oz

Battery: 1270mAh

Lens: 25-100mm (FF equiv) f/2 – 4.9

Video Capture: 4K/30fps, 1080P/120fps

Photo Capture: 12mp RAW/JPEG

Memory Card Type: SD

Waterproof Depth Rating: 15 m / 50 ft

White Balance Modes: Several for various depths incl manual white balance

Image Stabilisation: Sensor shift 2.5 stops


Today's best deals

Camera: Olympus Tough TG-6

Price: $399.00


Underwater Housing #1: Olympus 45 m / 148 ft

Price: $299.00


Housing #1 + Dome Port: Olympus + Kraken KRL-02

Price: $699.00 Underwater Housing #2: Ikelite 60 m / 200 ft

Price: $299.00


Housing #1 + Dome Port: Ikelite + FCON-T02

Price: $549.00


Memory Card: SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO UHS-I

Price: $29.38


Reasons to buy

+ Incredible macro features

+ Waterproof to 15 meters / 50 feet

+ Great options for underwater color balance


Reasons to avoid

- Small sensor for a compact camera

- Low resolution photos

- No slow motion options above 1080P

- Quite a large setup compared to others on this list


Recommended for

New shooters looking for a camera to learn with

The Olympus TG-6 is perhaps the most popular underwater camera for scuba divers. It offers truly incredible macro features and the best manual camera features of any camera on the list. It's not only waterproof to 15 meters or 50 feet but is practically indestructible, living up to the excellent TOUGH series of Olympus cameras. Features like optical zoom & sensor shift image stabilizer differentiates it from the other cameras on this list too. If you are serious about scuba diving and shooting underwater images, this is a great camera to start with!



Insta360 ONE X2 360 camera

5. Insta360 ONE X2

Best camera for budget 360 video!


Specifications

Camera Sensor: CMOS 1/2.3 inch

Release Date: Oct 2020

Weight: 149 grams / 5.25 oz

Battery: 1630mAh

Recording Time: 5.7K 80min

Lens: 7.2mm (FF equiv) f/2

Video Capture: 5.7K/30fps, 4K/50fps, 3K/100fps | h264/h265

Photo Capture: 18mp RAW/JPEG

Memory Card Type: MicroSD

Waterproof Depth Rating: 10 m / 33 ft

White Balance Modes: Aquavision

Image Stabilisation: Digital (Flowstate)


Today's best deals

Camera: Insta360 ONE X2

Price: $429.99


Underwater Housing: Official Housing 45 m / 147 ft

Price: $198.00


Memory Card: SanDisk 256GB Extreme microSDXC

Price: $34.99


Selfie Stick: #270Pro Backpack S

Price: $139.99


Reasons to buy

+ Great 360 video capabilities

+ Waterproof to 10 meters / 33 feet

+ Built-in underwater mode

+ Good in low light


Reasons to avoid

- Expensive (yet well designed) dive housing

- 5.7 max resolution is not that great for 360 video


Recommended for

Underwater 360 video shooters on a budget

The Insta360 ONE X2 is a highly specialized 360 video camera with excellent features for the price. It features a bright f/2 lens, dual lenses that automatically stitch together your footage and native waterproofing down to 10 meters / 33 feet depth. Together with their excellent Flowstate stabilization shooting video with this camera is a dream! It also comes with an intuitive app that allows you to import & edit videos on your smartphone or tablet. Finally the battery life is quite good, something that's always welcomed on underwater cameras.



Insta360 ONE R Modular Camera System

6. Insta360 ONE R

A modular setup with incredible functionality


Specifications

Camera Sensor: CMOS 1/2.3 inch / 1 inch

Release Date: Jan 2020

Weight: 121-200 grams / 4.3-7 oz

Battery: 1630mAh

Recording Time: 65-70min

Lens: 7.2mm - 14.4mm - 16.4mm (FF equiv) f/2 - 3.2

Video Capture: 5.7K/30fps, 4K/50fps, 3K/100fps | h264/h265

Photo Capture: 12 - 19mp RAW/JPEG

Memory Card Type: MicroSD

Waterproof Depth Rating: 5 m / 16.4 ft

White Balance Modes: Aquavision

Image Stabilisation: Digital (Flowstate)


Today's best deals

Camera #1: Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition

Price: $479.99


Camera #2: Insta360 ONE R 1-Inch Edition

Price: $467.49


Underwater Housing #1: Housing for 360

Price: $27.88


Underwater Housing #2: Housing for Wide Angle

Price: $59.99


Underwater Housing #3: Housing for 1-Inch Edition

Price: $69.99


Memory Card: SanDisk 256GB Extreme microSDXC

Price: $34.99


Selfie Stick: #270Pro Backpack S

Price: $139.99


Reasons to buy

+ The 1-Inch edition has the largest sensor of the cameras in this list

+ Built-in underwater mode

+ Great modular design


Reasons to avoid

- Only natively waterproof to 5 m / 16.4 ft


Recommended for

If you want to shoot everything, this is your camera

The modular camera system from Insta360 is something quite unique. There are 3 mods in total that all fit together with the same screen & battery mod, meaning you can quickly change between a action camera, 360 camera and a 1-inch camera. The 1-inch camera mod is perhaps the smallest ever made and produces better images in low light and a wider field of view than most action cameras. It's also expected that Insta360 will continue to upgrade this series with new camera mods, meaning you don't have to invest in a brand new camera system from scratch when upgrading.



GoPro HERO10 Black Action Camera

7. GoPro HERO 10 Black

The ultimate action camera!


Specifications

Camera Sensor: CMOS 1/2.3 inch

Release Date: Sep 2021

Weight: 158 grams / 5.6 oz

Battery: 1720mAh

Recording Time: 4K 90min

Lens: 16mm (FF equiv) f/2.5

Video Capture: 5.3K/60fps, 4K/120fps, 2.7K/240fps | h264/h265

Photo Capture: 23mp RAW/JPEG

Memory Card Type: MicroSD

Waterproof Depth Rating: 10 m / 33 ft

White Balance Modes: Using a red filter is recommended

Image Stabilisation: Digital (HyperSmooth 4.0)


Today's best deals

Camera: GoPro Hero 10 Black

Price: $488.99


Underwater Housing: HERO10 60 m / 196 ft

Price: $49.99


Red Filter: Backscatter - FLIP8/9/10

Price: $99.00


Dome Port: SHOOT Dome Port Lens

Price: $51.99


Memory Card: SanDisk 256GB Extreme microSDXC

Price: $34.99


Tray & Arms: Movo GB-U70

Price: $24.95


Cheap Video Light: Suptig Diving Light

Price: $24.99


Selfie Stick: Sealife - Aquapod Mini

Price: $49.95


Grip: GoPro The Handler

Price: $29.00


Reasons to buy

+ 5.3K/60fps & 4K/120fps!

+ Waterproof to 10 meters / 33 feet

+ Improved processor for better & quicker functionality

+ Improved stabilization

+ 23mp RAW photos

+ Drop-resistant lens cover


Reasons to avoid

- Expensive


Recommended for

For those wanting the very best action camera ever created

Coming in at the top of the list, the GoPro HERO 10 Black is the most expensive but also easily the most powerful camera that is made for the below $500 price point. While GoPro have made minimal updates to their camera series over the years, this time they took a big step and upgraded pretty much every part of the camera to create something that far overpowers their competitors. It shoots at higher resolutions and frame rates than any of the competition, and it does so with excellent stabilization and functionality. It performs better in low light too which helps us massively underwater, especially when using red filters that causes some loss of light.



Need help finding the perfect underwater camera setup? Give us a shout!

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