Old underwater cameras were used to be quite heavy and needed stronger legs to be propelled in water. Those cameras were huge, comprising of a big casing and a light (strobe) and were controlled manually. Thanks to our new technology, nowadays the underwater cameras are really compact and digital, there is no strobe or casing needed. Weather is snorkeling or scuba diving, we want to capture our adventurous moments in high resolution. Snorkeling and scuba diving is one of the best aquasport in my opinion because you get to see a whole another world which lives with us side by side yet feel so foreign. And it just simply feels great to see your adventure again on digital devices, so that is why we bring you a thorough research in finding the best underwater camera for snorkeling and scuba diving.
After more than 72 hours of long research and testing, we concluded that:
SJCAM SJ7 Star is the best underwater digital camera for snorkeling.
Why SJCAM the best underwater digital camera for snorkeling?
So why did we choose the SJ7 as the best cheap underwater camera for snorkeling? There are many factors we looked at due to which we concluded that the SJ7 was the best cheap underwater camera for snorkeling.
- Provides the best value for your money (best image and video quality for the price).
- Best Build Quality on an action camera (has a metallic body).
- Feels premium.
- The company has a good support.
For those of you, who are unfamiliar with Snorkeling
Snorkeling is a sport where you simply wear a diving mask and observe the underwater environment while staying on top of the surface of the water. You simply stay on the surface of water watch the undersea life.
As you can see, due to the diving mask the snorkeler is able to both breath and see underwater effortlessly.
On the other hand, Scuba diving is an aquasport where you actually go underwater and do not necessarily stay on the surface of the water.
The Apeman A80 (Our 2nd Choice)
The Apeman A80 was another camera that stood out during our testing for the best underwater digital camera for snorkeling.
Why is the Apeman A80 our second choice?
- Doesn’t record in 4k.
- Not very good in low-light.
- Not the best screen on the market.
The Apeman A80 is one of the best cheap underwater cameras for snorkeling due to its amazing price. It’s cheaper than our first choice, it has 2 included batteries with it and a good-looking carrying case (which the SJCam doesn’t provide).
The SJCAM SJ7 STAR (Our 1st Choice) | Our Research
The SJCAM SJ7 Star is still a very good camera for a very good price. It has all the features and things for it to become the best underwater digital camera for snorkeling. The company has a good support team and a nice community as well.
What’s in the BOX?
When buying an underwater digital camera for snorkeling it is important to make sure that the camera has some good accessories especially the water-proof casing because otherwise, you won’t be able to take it in water. The SJ7 Star has some of the useful accessories in the box, including a waterproof case and mounts. It also has some stickers and cables.
Who is it for?
The SJ7 is an action camera, it is for many kinds of people. If you want a camera that you don’t have to worry about taking to the pool or falling or breaking very easily the SJ7 is for you. It has a ton of uses like recording underwater, being a dash cam, mounting it on cars, bicycles, vlogging and even using it as an FPV camera for drones (uses other than being just a regular underwater digital camera for snorkeling).
The SJ7 is a camera that can record up to 4k underwater. It has an Amber A12S75 chipset and a Sony IMX 117 sensor which is capable of shooting really good quality video. The sensor can shoot in 30 FPS. The camera also has gyro-stabilization which is an amazing feature to have a cheap underwater camera for snorkeling. However, unfortunately, the stabilization feature is only available in the 1080p mode and not the 4k mode. The camera also has an HDR mode that helps enhance the colors.
There are many features in the camera that can be used on different occasions. One of the reasons we selected the SJ7 as one of the best cheap underwater cameras for snorkeling was because its video quality was very similar to the much expensive GoPro Hero 5.
One flaw we found during our research was that it isn’t the best in recording 1080p videos in low-light, it tends to darken things a little but that can easily be fixed with a software update.
But, the pictures by the camera are just phenomenal, it has a wide-angle lens that helps to get everything in the shot. The pictures look crisp and detailed during our research even during low-light.
How well is it built?
The SJ7 is very well built compared to other action cameras. It has a metallic body which is something you don’t find in many action cameras. The metallic body gives it a premium look and feels also adds some durability to this underwater digital camera for snorkeling.
This camera can go down to 30 meters underwater which is more than enough for an underwater digital camera for snorkeling.
However, one thing that we noticed that when shooting in 4K outside the water the camera did get a little bit hotter than we would like. This is a problem with all the cameras that shoot 4K, all of them get similarly hot, but due to its metallic body it’s a little bit more noticeable, however, you won’t feel that in the water.
In terms of design, the SJ7 Star is very intelligently built. Like all action cams it is compact and portable. Its dimensions are like that of a GoPro. In our opinion, this is the best compact camera for scuba diving due to the good feel and small body.
The camera has 2 buttons at the front. One to power on and off and the other one is to check out the settings. At the back, we see a touchscreen that is easy to use and is brighter than other cameras in the market. The SJ7 supports up to 128 GB SD card which is more than enough for a cheap underwater camera.
Overall the build quality of the camera is nice and premium looking, it well thought and compared to other cheap Chinese options it stands out due to its metallic body. We would give the SJ7’s build quality a solid 4 out of 5.
When it comes to choosing the best compact camera for scuba diving, getting good battery life in 4K cameras is hard. However, the SJ7 Star is good enough in our opinion. It can record up to 40 minutes of continuous 4K recording which should be good enough in our opinion. However, recording in 1080p will give longer battery life. If you plan on using it for longer than 40 minutes, you can buy another battery.
One cool thing we liked about it is that it can be used while charging, now that isn’t a helpful feature when you plan on using it underwater, but it surely is when you plan on using it for other things like time-lapse and dashcams.
When it comes to price the SJ7 just crushes cameras like the GoPro. It’s priced low, which is an amazing price point in our opinion compared to other cameras with the same performance. This is the best cheap underwater camera for snorkeling you can find in this price range with the cool features!
With this price, one can easily call it a GoPro killer.
Pros. & Cons.
To summarize things up let’s discuss the Pros and cons briefly.
- Amazing Video Quality
- Metallic Body
- Fine battery life
- Very reasonably priced
- Feels hotter than it should due to the metallic body
Apeman A80 (Our 2nd Choice) | Our Research
If you’re looking for the best compact camera for scuba diving under $100 USD well then, the Apeman A80 is the one you should go for. It’s cheap for what you get, and you won’t get a better bang for buck camera then the Apeman A80.
Who is it for?
If you’re looking to buy an action came for a cheaper price, or maybe you’re looking for more than one cheap underwater camera for snorkeling then the Apeman A80 is for you!
How well does it record videos and take pictures?
The Apeman A80 claims to record in 4k however like all the cameras in its range it doesn’t really record in 4k because its NovaTech processor doesn’t support 4K.
So, you’ll be getting 2K video interpolated to 4K.
But the video quality in our opinion is pretty still good and crisp. It’s much better than the other cameras we have tried so far in this price range.
One other selling point of the Apeman A80 is that it has gyro-stabilization which means your footage won’t be shaky when recording while swimming or while walking. The gyro-stabilization is a must have featured in our opinion for an underwater digital camera for snorkeling, as it makes a major difference in the video quality.
One downside is that the Apeman does not record very well in low light as it does in daylight. However, the footage is still very usable. You do get some grain but other than that the footage is very usable.
The picture quality of the Apeman A80 in nice lighting is extremely good. It also has an HDR mode which makes the colors look better. The HDR mode makes a big difference in the picture quality. The pictures during our research were extremely nice in daylight, however again in low lighting, the camera did produce some good quality pictures, but they weren’t as good as they were in the daytime.
What’s in the box?
The Apeman A80 comes in a nice feeling box. Inside the box, you can find a very nice looking carrying case. The carrying case is a nice add-on as we haven’t seen them with other cheap underwater cameras for snorkeling. The bag makes the A80 the best compact camera for scuba diving in this price range. In the carrying case, you’ll find the camera itself, the waterproofing case, some other accessories, charger and also 2 batteries.
The Build Quality
The A80 feels nice, it isn’t made of metal like the SJ7 Star but it feels good for a camera of that price range.
It has a power button in the front and an “OK” button on the top that records and does other functions.
The A80 also has a 2-inch touchscreen to control through the menu which is pretty good.
The screen isn’t the best but it gets the job done.
The camera can record up to 90 mins of continuous recording which really nice. And they also include 2 batteries which something that we didn’t find in many cameras during our research. It charges using a micro-USB port which means you can charge it up with a power bank anywhere you go, adding to the portability. This also strengthens the point that the A80 is one of the best compact cameras for scuba diving in this price range.
The price may drop down on discounts like Amazon Prime and Black Friday! (& we give out the best offers, so make sure you bookmark our website).
Pros and Cons
- Nice Video and Picture Quality
- Carry bag
- Fine Build quality for the price
- 2 batteries and more portable
- Really nice price
- Isn’t 4k
- Not the best in low-light
- Not the best screen
So, if you’re looking for a reliable underwater camera for snorkeling then we’d recommend the SJCAM SJ7 Star, it has an amazing build quality, amazing video quality and an amazing support for an underwater digital camera for snorkeling and recording your underwater adventures.
But if you’re looking for something cheap then we’d recommend the Apeman A80, it has a good battery life, nice video recording capabilities and has a nice carrying case!
We’ve tested and checked out many other cameras during our long research but these were the 2 cameras that stood out from the bunch!