The Best Beach Cameras Just in Time for Summer – Updated

The Best Beach Cameras Just in Time for Summer – Updated

2400 1350 James Tocchio

Summer (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) has just arrived, and while the sun, the sand, and the sea can be glorious for our bodies and minds they can be murder on delicate cameras. You’ll need a camera that can handle the waves, the heat, and the slippery grip of sunscreen-soaked fingers.

But don’t worry – from point-and-shoots to fully manual cameras with interchangeable lenses, instant cameras to digital dive cameras, there are plenty of ways to snap the perfect shot at the beach, the pool, or anywhere else your summer may take you. Here are just a few!

Konica Genba Kantoku 28/35

Let’s get things started with an odd duck. The Konica Genba Kantoku (roughly translated from Japanese to English as Site Supervisor or Foreman) is a 35mm film point-and-shoot camera made for rough usage in harsh environments. It’s shockproof, dust-proof, and sand-proof, and while not a submersible underwater camera, it is water-resistant to JIS-4 (Japanese Industrial Standard 4). That means it’ll take splashing water from any direction without any harmful effect.

Added bonus – this thing actually takes decent photos. With coated lenses and the standard suite of flash and shooting modes typical to point-and-shoots of the time, it’s a surprisingly potent and easy-to-use photographic tool. Just load it with Portra, then point and shoot.

There were a number of different generations of this machine built over the years, but they’re all fairly similar. Choose your favored focal length (these come with either a 28mm or 35mm lens), hit the beach, and get shooting.

Find one on eBay here!

Canon Sure Shot A1

The Sure Shot WP-1 (also called the Sure Shot A-1, Prima AS-1, and Autoboy D5 depending on its sales market) is Canon’s entry in the splash-proof point-and-shoot field. Similar in many ways to the other point-and-shoots on this list, it’s a great choice for those looking to burn film on a summer day.

If it wins when measured against its competitors, it does so because of its massive and bright viewfinder (which is easier to use while wearing sunglasses or goggles), painfully obvious controls, and its refreshingly light weight. It further differentiates itself through its impressive six element in six group lens (32mm f/3.5), and capable autofocus system.

People on the internet will tell you that the WP-1 is an underwater camera, but wait a moment before plunging the thing underwater. According to page six of the owner’s manual, the WP-1 is not made for submersion, only to resist splashes.

The Sure Shot A1 manual, however, says that the camera is submersible to 15 feet below the surface! And these cameras look identical! Did Canon change their literature due to warranty issues? Is the WP-1 really a submersible camera? Whether or not it can survive underwater is up for debate. What’s not debatable is that it’s a pretty amazing beach camera.

If you’re a diver, to be on the safe side buy an A1. Here’s my review.

Find one on eBay here!

Minolta Weathermatic 35DL

The point-and-shoot film cameras we’ve spotlighted so far have been splash-proof. That makes them great in a sudden summer thunderstorm or around the pool. But if you want a point-and-shoot that won’t hold you back from diving in, you need Minolta’s Weathermatic 35DL.

This camera is actually submersible to five meters, features an underwater macro mode, autofocus (plus zone focusing for underwater use), and two lenses of different focal lengths that are switchable via a single button press. It’s also bright yellow.

Of all the point-and-shoot film cameras on the list, this is the most capable for those of us who want to get in the water, put on a snorkel, and shoot some fish.

Find one on eBay here!

NIkon Nikonos V

Looking for the ultimate beach and summer film camera? Then look no further than Nikon’s storied series of dive cameras called Nikonos (see our retrospective here). Of these, the camera that blends the best of style and capability is the Nikonos V, and if I could only own one Nikon camera this would be it. It’s a legend in the photography world. Flip open the pages of any National Geographic printed from the 1960s to the late 1990s and you’ll probably see a photo made with a Nikonos.

It’s robust, simple, effective, and gorgeous. Shoot it in the rain, shoot it in the sand, shoot it underwater for hours at a time. Drop it and it’ll land with a thunk and keep on shooting. With or without batteries it’ll fire away, and when powered by batteries it offers a convenient TTL auto-exposure mode that turns the camera into, essentially, an undersea point-and-shoot.

Couple this camera to the W 35mm F/2.5. This amphibious lens can operate equally well under and above the water, unlike some of Nikon’s UW lenses, which are for underwater use only. This makes it the ideal choice for any adventure, land and sea.

Find one on eBay here!

Olympus Tough TG6

When I first published this list in 2018, the Olympus TG5 was the best waterproof camera on the market. Now there’s a newer model, and it’s the one I recommend for digital underwater photography. The Olympus Tough TG6 is a pretty interesting digital camera. Crush-proof, freeze-proof to 14º F, shock-proof, water-proof to 50 feet, and dust-proof, it’s got to be one of the most robust digital cameras ever made.

The fast apertured 25-100mm (35mm equivalent) lens (f/2) makes it adept at shooting action and low-light shots, the twelve mega-pixel CMOS sensor captures images in RAW format, and it’s capable of shooting 4K UHD video. Not bad for a camera about the size of a pack of cards.

If you need a digital camera for your summer adventures, you can’t do much better than this little gem from Olympus. DPReview even called it “the best waterproof camera  on the market.”

Get it from B&H Photo here!

Honorable Mention – Polaroid One Step 2

The instant camera from Polaroid just got a refresh. Easier to use than ever, as seen when we reviewed it recently, the Polaroid Now is the epitome of carefree shooting. It’s on the list because, frankly, there’s nothing that screams summer fun more than instant photography. Gather your friends or family, pile them in the Jeep (or even better, a vintage Volkswagen Cabriolet) and throw the Polaroid Now into the mix. Everyone will be smiling in no time.

Pick up a few Polaroid film packs and fire away. Instant souvenirs.

Get your Polaroid Now from B&H Photo here

Got a summer camera you think should be on the list? Let us hear about it in the comments.

You can find many more cameras at our own shop,  F Stop Cameras

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop

All stories by:James Tocchio
  • Nikonos is of course the king in this category! 🙂 I used an Canon Sureshot WP1 quiet often when i lived in the southern pacific, and even if not really waterproof, it holds well for some snorkeling activities where you just swim and have the camera less than 1 meter underwater (be sure the seals inside the camera are lubricated and in good condition).
    Another great cam to add to this list is the Fuji HD-M, waterproof (5m), shock resistant and fearing no extreme situations… that’s why it’s called “Heavy Duty”, the M is for motor as it’s fully automatic (but manual zone focusing). The lens is a Fujinon 38/2.8 that delivers excellent results.
    To tell you an example how resistant the camera is, a little anecdote: I was on a canyoning trip a few years ago with the camera, making some jumps from 3-5 meter high cliffs, and I was holding the camer strong to my chest. The last jump I made was from a slightly highr cliff, and the reception in the water was kind of stringer than the others… the camera fell out of my hands, hit my chin and fell into the water… the camera had absolutely no scratch at all from this little shock… but my chin had been cut open by the contact with the camera and I needed 4 stitches… Don’t worry, my chin is ok now and the camera still works perfectl! 🙂

  • The Canon is f/35? It must require really sunny days, but the wide DOF is amazing! 😉

  • You left out one of the best, the Nikon Action Touch/L35 AW. I really love this camera. It has a great 35mm f/2.8 lens and is fully submersible, though given its age I would advise against this. It has autofocus for shooting on land and a manual zone focus mode for underwater, which is also handy for shooting through windows. I also like the manual on/off button for the flash.

    I just got a Konica Genba Kantoku 28. I’ve shot one roll with it so far and am not sure if the lens is quite as good as the Nikon but the jury is still out.

    • Great choice Neilson, thanks! If you could’ve seen the draft to this article, I had the Nikon you mentioned listed right there with the other point-and-shoots, but eventually I decided that since we were already spotlighting three film point-and-shoots, one had to get cut. And since Nikon was already pretty well-represented in the Nikons, sadly the AW had to go. But I’m glad you mentioned it here in the comments. It’s a great choice!

      Oh, and for what it’s worth, I also think the Konica lens isn’t as good as the Nikon’s (or the Canon, for that matter).

    • Agreed. I recently bought one of these and they are really under rated. I bought it to use in situations I wouldn’t take my Leica M6, and I’ve started taking it in places I probably should use my M6 but I’m too lazy to meter. Wonderfully crisp sharp lens, easy to use and cheap!

  • All those cameras sound fantastic! Just picked up a Sea & Sea MX 10 recently. Have heard good things and it was dirt cheap. Taking on it’s maiden (for me) voyage to the lake next weekend.

    • Took an MX10 on a cruise earlier this year, enjoyed using it when we went snorkeling in Barbados. Just remember most color film prefers to be overexposed a bit 😁

  • The confusion on the Canon’s waterproofing is in the manuals. The WP-1 manual says it can’t go underwater, while the A1 manual says it’s waterproof to 5m, but don’t run it under water with any pressure like a kitchen sink. The A1 manual even has a section about underwater photography.
    I’ve got a WP-1 and I just pretend it’s totally waterproof, it survived waterskiing and plenty of submersion last summer.

  • No mention of the pocketable Nikonos RS, the final Nikonos? Whattabout the Leica X-U? Makes that Olympus tuff-cam look like a toy.

  • The Pentax Zoom 90WR. While not submersible like others on this list, it will solider on even after a steady dousing in torrential rains. A 38-90 Zoom that is a tad faster than it looks, a macro mode, bulb, multiple exposure, spot AF, as well as other features make this a very good value.

    I picked one up in a multi camera lot and reluctantly elected to give it a try. It has literally blown me away with its image quality and ease of use. Yes, it looks “generic 90s” but it is a Camera I’ve taken out in conditions that I normally wouldn’t trust a camera, and it has opened up new worlds for me. Oh, and it has a handy built in remote as well!

  • Well first a big thumbs up James for the design of this website, and the well written articles. I hope you put a lot more content up. I got a minolta 24mm with 9 obtics for my Sony mirrorless, and read the cool article on here. Having worked as a fashion photog and in advertising for many years i can tell James here has a good feel for design. I looked at the part written about my beloved Nikonos, the Canon and the cool yellow Minolta. All high quality cameras from a time when things were different and cameras had value. I always kept them. The prints that came out of these cameras nicely framed are still as colourfull as they were when i picked them up from the lab back than and the people on them looked like they truly looked on that day. Nowadays with digital i have hundreds of GB with images i never look at after 2 days of taking them, and if… i can, t help altering them in PS, lightroom and you name it. Either a printout is super expensive because of ink cartidges etc. or it fades in color after time. Prof. Labs all gone or as expensive as a 3 course good meal. Summer of 2018 i tried getting 2 of the 3 refurbished, i. e getting them newly sealed. And even living in Paris were they are 10 years back on many things i found no spare parts anywhere, and the many photostores on bld. Beaumarchais all gone. Minolta gone anyway since long and thus no one left to service them i did take 3 rolls of Fuji Velvia film to the lab shot with the Nikonos and the develloppment per film incl. a cliptest and french tax was 34,75€ for a roll.
    So i just keep looking at those cameras with their bright colors that left me colurfull memories of many years of my life.

  • No community pool this year and I never swim in the water at the Jersey Shore. Never. And our regular rent-a-large-house-with-extended-family holiday at Virgiia Beach or the Outer Banks of North Carolina won’t be happening during a pandemic so …. sigh. I wish I could use one of these cameras.

  • Great review.
    One nice one too is the Nikonos RS

  • As you’ve updated this, may also suggest the Fuji Work Record? Superb 28mm lens, humongous viewfinder, and cool industrial design.

  • I live at the beach and have done so for 20 years. I don’t know why I have not picked up a Nikonos till now. I ended up getting a Nikonos III. I was always a little nervous about the gaskets and this is why I have not bought one till now. However I ended up getting grease and a gasket kit with it. Additionally it had been serviced recently. So I figured what the heck and why not try it. I have paddled out in over head high surf with the camera and surfed/wipped out with it and the camera is fine. I have already gotten photos that I think are some of my best unique work with it. I would even go as far as to say that the nikonos III is one of the most durable cameras ever made. Almost as good as my nikon F2. I kinda feel like they could have implemented some sort of rangefinder system Like somthing the voigtlander bessa r cameras have. But zone focusing usually does the trick. `

    • Sounds great. Anywhere we can see the photos? I’d love to write about the Nikonos III specifically, as it’s the last model that’s all mechanical, but I know I wouldn’t be able to do anything interesting with the photos as I’m not a surfer, diver, or swimmer. If you ever want to donate some shots to a review let me know! And of course I’d like to see them anyway, for the sake of seeing them.

  • Nikonos of course.
    Or for low budget who dont listen to today G7 about PRC “trade manors”, very soon probably : The Niekouillenos from KKartisan and 77 artists, made in PRC which look like Nikon Nikonos, brand new nearly 150 US dollars, with ED glass, aspherical lens (4) and so on, soon, you can connect to your XiaoMi Leica smartphone, the Niekounos is perfect for TikTok according to the AD, maybe next week, they still in concept, but for a part of market they can produce it and sale it next week, just to make money and destroy our industries,

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop

All stories by:James Tocchio