This is an update of the article originally posted in August 2007.
What is the best camera for paddling? There is no simple answer to this question. With a proper care and protection you can use almost any photographic gear when paddling a kayak or canoe. However, as a casual paddling photographer I would like a digital camera which is
compact, so it can be carried in a pocket of my life jacket and is easy accessible
waterproof to survive splashes, rain, eskimo roll, but I am not going to dive
capable to shoot video in addition to decent quality still pictures,
relatively inexpensive, so I can deal with a risk of loosing or damaging it
I have assembled a shopping guide for available cameras which seems to fit into the above criteria:
For each camera I listed related articles or reviews from Paddling with a Camera blog.
Pentax Optio "W" models
Olympus Stylus "SW" models
- GoPro Digital Hero 3
Sanyo Xacti VPC-E1 camcorder
Of course, these are not only options available for a paddler. I have not covered here any point and shoot camera available with waterproof cases like many
However, these cameras are typically more bulky and more expensive than Pentax Optio or Olympus Stylus discussed here.
It seems that all weather or splashproof cameras offered, e.g., by Olympus are less popular than waterproof models. There are also other video options including waterproof bullet cameras connected to a camcorder protected by a waterproof box or simpler devices like
Oregon Scientific Action Cam.
GoPro Digitial Hero is the simplest camera listed here. It is not known for high quality pictures, but it can produce a decent video comparable (or better according to some owners) with Pentax Optio W cameras. It is available with different mounts including a helmet mount and a suction cup mount which may be pretty useful for paddlers.
There are also inexpensive cameras designed for scuba diving like Vivitar VIVICAM-6200W or SeaLife SL321 ECOshot which can be used deeper underwater than Pentax or Olympus, but do not provide comparable image quality and have no zoom lens.
I am providing my referral links to amazon.com for all cameras listed below. It is where I am buying all photo gear, GPS, other electronic gadgets, and, of course, books. You can usually find the best prices there and you can choose free shipping for items above $25 shipped directly from amazon (third party items available through amazon may be cheaper, but shipping is not usually free).