Some of the important parameters to be considered and compared before you can finally decide on the underwater digital camera that would meet with your approval and years of good service thereafter include:
• What is the level up to which it can be submerged underwater? Some models offer up to 12 meters (40 feet below water). This comes important for scuba diving, snorkeling etc. Models with lower performance may still be useful in paddling, kayaking, surfing or even in the swimming pools. Some of the top end models have depth performance of 45 meters (145 feet).
• Is the camera shock-proof also at the same time? This feature comes in handy since during water activities the risk of accidental dropping or slipping on to the jetty floor etc is quite high and your camera should be sturdy enough to meet such eventualities.
• Is the camera freeze-proof? The answer will determine its use during winter months or your planned trip to Antarctic or snow boarding locations.
• Weather-proof and dust-proof are attributes that fit the camera’s utility in your camping, hiking, mountain biking or similar sports where toughness is required. This may not be available in all models of waterproof cameras, but some offer these features also, making one camera useful for all your adventure sports.
• What is the underwater zoom and focus capability? This becomes very important if for example you are trying to take underwater shoots at a school of fish. The fish is not going to come any closer to make up for your camera’s deficiency. Most good under water digital cameras have 10-12 feet underwater capability and some have up to 20 feet and there are cheap under water models with NO zoom at all.
• What is the mega pixel (MP) resolution available? More the MP value better the picture, for there is very little point in showing hazy and grainy pictures of your scuba experience in the Caribbean to your close friends or family members.
• What is the minimal illumination level specified? You may not carry a photometer, but common sense should suggest that underwater light being lower than that above surface, your camera should be able to record what you can see. Some models may qualify in all other criteria above and yet fail in this one.
• What are the different modes of operation available and how user-friendly is switching from one mode to another? Some are just point and shoot, while others offer more functions including limited video capability.
• The housing should be able to withstand the rigors and leak-proof to be really useful in your escapades below surface. Many models claim “crush-proof’ capability.
• Last but not least is the battery life and ease of battery replacement which need no explanation.
Finally you need to consider the cost vis-à-vis features and may have to make trade-off!