A waterproof camera is one that can safely be taken into the water and used to take photos underwater, without causing any damage to the camera. Waterproof cameras are primarily point and shoot cameras. Larger digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) must be put into a dry box designed to make it safe to use the camera underwater. For those who travel frequently, or have accidentally dropped their camera in the water, a waterproof camera can be a good investment.
In many cases, a waterproof camera has similar features of any other digital camera. Many have as many megapixels as a traditional digital camera, as well as the ability for the user to adjust settings for a more manual feel, or to simply allow the camera to choose the best settings. Other features may include face detection, red-eye reduction, a zoom, an LCD screen, an image-stabilized lens, and various shooting modes, among others. Some also offer the option of taking video.
Many waterproof cameras are designed to be resistant to other elements as well. Some are designed to be freeze-proof and shock-proof, made to withstand snow, freezing temperatures, or drops from heights. Other waterproof cameras may have sturdier bodies that are advertised as crush-proof or shake-proof. Keep in mind that all cameras have their limits, however, and it is important to follow the directions. For example, a typical waterproof camera may only be waterproof to a depth of 30 or 40 feet (nine to 12 meters). More expensive, specialized cameras are available for those who wish to take their camera on deep-sea diving expeditions that can withstand the pressures at greater deptsh.
Keep in mind that a waterproof camera is different than a weatherproof or water resistant camera. A weatherproof camera is simply resistant to the elements, such as snow or rain, but should never be fully submersed underwater. A waterproof camera simply functions as a sturdy camera for a family who enjoys traveling in the great outdoors or is fairly rough on their technology.
When purchasing a waterproof camera, it is important to check to see if it comes with a warranty, and what exactly that warranty covers. Somewhat surprisingly, some warranties for waterproof cameras will not cover damage to the camera if it leaks water, but will only cover defects in manufacturing. In general, waterproof cameras are fairly comparably priced in relation to other digital cameras. Another option is to simply buy a disposable waterproof camera; these are simply single-use cameras that offer the ability to take a certain number of pictures, after which the pictures are developed, and the camera is then disposed of.