Best Cameras for the Beach


Ahhhhhhhh, the hot summer sun, cool waves along the shore, sand between your toes—what’s not to love about the beach? If you are a camera, all of the above. Extreme heat, corrosive saltwater, and tiny particles can destroy a vulnerable camera faster than you can slather on sunscreen. Luckily, with a little preparation, you can safely take photographs at the beach while minimizing risk to your gear. Read on to learn how.

Tough Cameras

If you plan on making a habit of bringing a camera to the beach, your best bet is to invest in a “tough” camera built to handle extreme conditions. Forget about “splash-proof”; these cameras are designed for clumsy photographers who frequently drop their gear into water, dirt, sand—you name it. Most can even survive dips into saltwater, as long as you rinse them off with fresh water after. Tough cameras are tested and rated to specifications set out by the Ingress Protection (IP) Code or Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS).

Panasonic DC-TS7 Digital Camera.

Olympus’s Tough TG-6 Digital Camera is waterproof rated at IPX8 to a depth of 50 feet and dustproof rated at IPX6. This means neither sand nor water will be able to sneak into your camera to wreak havoc. The TG-6 is also freezeproof in case your preferred beach is on the north pole while simultaneously being able to operate at up to 104°F (140°F for storage). To prevent fogging or condensation, the lens is sealed with double-pane glass. The TG-6 is shockproof to 7 feet and crushproof to 220 lbf so you can toss it in your bag with your sunscreen, towel, and dumbbells without worry. On the imaging side, it has a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor, TruePic VIII image processor, and 25-100mm lens. Finally, the TG-6 has five dedicated shooting modes and three white balance modes for underwater work.

Olympus’s Tough TG-6 has five underwater shooting modes in case you want to take it into the water with you.

Another tough camera well equipped for the beach is Ricoh’s WG-70 Digital Camera. Like the TG-6, this camera is waterproof rated to IPX8 to a depth of 45.9 feet, shockproof to 5.2 feet, and crushproof to 220 lbf. It is dustproof rated to JIS Class 6 so you don’t have to worry about sand. It has a 16MP 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor and 28-140mm lens. In addition to its rugged construction, the WG-70 has a number of useful features, including six LEDs arranged into a ring light on the camera for close-ups and selfies, and underwater still and video modes to help with white balance and color when working beneath the surface.

Ricoh’s WG-70 has an LED ring light built in for close-ups and selfies.

Instant Cameras

Instant film cameras have been beach staples for decades. While they lack the sealing and protection of tough cameras, many are surprisingly durable and can withstand more than they advertise. With that said, avoid digital hybrid models and go full analog for beach trips. Many models are quite resilient, but you still need to use common sense to avoid damage. Finally, make sure to keep light-sensitive instant film out of the sun while developing for optimal results.

FUJIFILM makes a trio of fully analog cameras that, while not designed for the beach, have become common sights at the shore. The INSTAX Mini 11 Instant Film Camera is a simple point-and-shoot camera that uses FUJIFILM’s popular INSTAX Mini film to produce credit card-sized prints. It has a built-in flash and automatically calculates exposure so you can hand it off to friends without worry. A mirror is built into the front of the camera next to its lens, which is capable of focusing as close as 11.8" for selfies. The INSTAX Mini 11 runs on two AA batteries. A custom case is available for an additional layer of protection.

The INSTAX Mini 11’s popularity comes down to its simple design and reliable performance.

For fans of the more traditional square format for instant prints, FUJIFILM’s INSTAX SQUARE SQ6 Instant Film Camera produces 2.4 x 2.4" prints. Like the Mini 11, the SQ6 has a built-in selfie mirror. It also comes with three colored flash gels for creative lighting effects. Two CR2 batteries power the SQ6. A fitted case with adjustable shoulder strap is available as well.

The INSTAX SQUARE SQ6 creates prints reminiscent of the Polaroids of yesteryear.

Finally, FUJIFILM’s INSTAX Wide 300 Instant Film Camera produces the largest prints of the INSTAX format at 2.4 x 3.9". Incorporating a point-and-shoot design, the Wide 300 can focus as close as 15.5" using an included close-up lens adapter. Built like a tank, it runs on four AA batteries.

The INSTAX Wide 300 is built strong and creates the largest INSTAX prints.

For a more thorough rundown of available instant cameras, read Which Camera Is Right for You?

Camera Cases

Whether your default camera is a smartphone, action cam, DSLR, or mirrorless digital camera, there are plenty of ways to protect the gear you already have. Waterproof phone cases come as universal pouches or model-specific varieties. Universal cases are great for transport. While many include transparent “windows” for taking photos, they are not ideal. Custom cases are better options since they are built around the location of the camera on your specific phone model.

Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Underwater camera cases provide the most thorough protection available for larger cameras. Not only will they allow you to take your camera into the surf with you (hold on tight!), they will also keep sand and dirt out of your gear. Likewise, waterproof bags can transport your camera and lenses while not in use. Many float in case they are accidentally dropped into the water. Waterproof or not, a camera bag is a crucial component of any trip to the beach as it will put a protective layer between your gear and the sun and elements. For more tips on protecting your camera in challenging environments, check out How to Protect Your Camera Against Nearly Anything.

OverBoard’s Waterproof Dry Flat Bag will float if dropped in the water.

Do you take your camera to the beach? Share your tips in the Comments section below!