Best 7 Waterproof Film Cameras – From 10 to 1000$

Mar 16, 2020
10 min read

Whether it’s going to beach, on summer holidays or even skiing, there’s always this dilemma in my head about which camera is going to join and be first in line to risk a tragic death. Those of you following me on Instagram already know that I’m the lucky owner of some of the best film cameras ever made but none of them has any sort of waterproofing and it’s no secret that these little gems don’t get along very well with water, humidity or sand.

So every time I’m heading to a risky place, I can’t help but fear for my gear, wallet and deserved blames that Madam On Film Only will have for me if something would happen with my gear. This leads to frustration because these cameras aren’t the right tools for such situations and I miss many opportunities to capture these memories on film.

With the recent birth of my son, I’m also anticipating the many “first times” coming ahead and want a camera that will be able to withstand the gentle care of a toddler. Hence why I’ve been looking for a rugged and waterproof camera that will stand a chance of surviving all these calamities 😅

From my research, came out of few potential candidates to do the job and thought it would be interesting to share with you the 7 best waterproof/weather-resistant/baby-proof film cameras that I could find.

Either you want something cheap and easy to use or need a camera that offer full control and interchangeable lenses, you’ll certainly find the best waterproof 35mm camera for you in this TOP 7 going from the cheapest to the most expensive!

TOP 7 Waterproof Film Camera

Kodak Water & Sport

Kodak Water & Sports - TOP 5 Best underwater waterprood disposable 35mm film camera

The Kodak Water & Sport is a waterproof disposable camera that will survive where your regular camera won’t!

It’s made of durable, shock-proof rubber shell and can go down to 50 feet (15m) which should be more than enough for the occasional snorkelers. It’s lightweight, compact and also floats which is nice to avoid loosing pictures and let them sink at the bottom of the ocean 🌊

The lens is sand and snow scratch resistant but will also resist from sunscreen smudges which can blur (even more!) your pictures.

Loaded with KODAK ULTRAMAX 800 ISO and 27 exposures, the Kodak Water & Sport claims to be the sharpest waterproof single-use film camera but there isn’t much to compete with so we’ll take their word on that.

That being said, for less than 20€, the Kodak Water & Sport is the best way to get a first taste of under-water photography.

Kodak Water & Sport Features

  • 800 ISO Kodak Ultramax
  • 27 exposures
  • Waterproof down to 15 m (50 feet)
  • 1/100 sec. shutter speed
  • For outdoor and daylight use only
  • Rugged, durable, floating and shock-proof rubber shell
  • Scratch and sunscreen-resistant lens
  • From 9 to 15€ on eBay

Minolta Weathermatic 35DL

Minolta Weathermatic 35DL - TOP 5 Best underwater waterprood 35mm film camera.jpg

Also known as the yellow submarine, the Minolta Weathermatic 35DL stands out with a dual lens: a standard 35mm f/3.5 switchable to a 50mm f/5.6. It’s waterproof up to 5 meters (16 feet) which, except for serious divers, it will be more than enough to cover most situations. It also come with a build-in flash, which unfortunately can’t be switched off.

Similar to the Canon Sure Shot A-1 that comes next, it has autofocus on both lenses but switch to zone focus when under water. There’s also a close-up mode for underwater macro. It was initially sold with a set of accessories like this big detachable finder that can be used with goggles.

Minolta Weathermatic 35DL Features

  • Lens: 35mm f/3.5 switchable to 50mm f/5.6
  • Viewfinder: magnification changes when switching lens
  • Focusing: Autofocus above water and fixed focus underwater
  • Film speed: ISO 100 and 400 only
  • Flash: Automatic, can’t be disabled
  • Automatic film advance, transport & rewind
  • Waterproof: To 5 m (16 feet)
  • Battery: 1x 6V lithium or 4 AAA batteries
  • Size & weight: 148 × 78 × 65mm, 400 g (with battery)
  • From 30 to 80€ on eBay

Canon Sure Shot A-1

Canon Sure Shot A-1  - TOP 5 Best underwater waterproof 35mm film camera

Do not confuse with the Canon A1, the Sure Shot A-1 is a compact 35mm waterproof film camera, also know as Sure Shot WP-1, Autoboy D5 or Prima AS-1 depending on which continent it was made for. It comes with a fixed 32mm f/3.5 lens which is praised for its sharpness.

Focusing is achieve with a precise 3-point Active Smart AF with 415 focusing steps from 45 centimetres (1.5 feet) to infinity. However the autofocus mode is disabled when using the underwater mode and it becomes a fixed focus lens, though you can switch to the underwater/macro mode which lets you focus to 45cm to 1m (1.5 to 3.3 feet) for underwater selfish 🐟 📸 This mode corrects underwater optics distortion, otherwise photos would turn out like taken with a fish eye lens.

It has a built-in automatic flash with red-eye reduction, a flash on/off switch, an extra large high-eyepoint viewfinder which makes it easier to frame photos while wearing a snorkel mask or goggles and is waterproof to a depth of 5 meters (16.4 feet).

Canon Sure Shot A-1 Features

  • Lens: 32mm f/3.5 (6 elements, 6 groups)
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s to 1/250th
  • Viewfinder: large and bright, easy to use with goggles, autofocus frame, ready light, flash warning
  • Flash: Automatic, but can be disabled
  • Date/Time feature
  • Automatic film advance, transport & rewind
  • Waterproof: To 5 m (16 feet)
  • Battery: One 3V CR123A
  • Size & weight: 133 x 88 x 56 mm, 385 g (with battery)
  • From 40 to 120€ on eBay

Fuji Fujica HD-P Panorama

FUJI FUJICA HD-P PANORAMA - TOP 5 Best underwater waterproof 35mm film camera

The Fuji HD-P is part of the Fuji “Heavy Duty” series which consist of different variation of this camera. The P stands for Panorama and it comes with a fairly fast 38mm f/2.8 lens and built-in flash. On top of the camera there’s a scale focus wheel with zone projections in the viewfinder, going from 1 meter to infinity.

It’s water resistant up to 2 meters (6 feet) so not really a proper diving camera but it will be able to endure most outdoor and aquatic activities like snorkelling, kayaking or just any regular day at the beach.

Fuji Fujica HD-P Features

  • Lens: 38mm f/2.8 (Tessar type, 4 elements in 3 groups)
  • Shutter speed: 1/8 to 1/500s
  • Focusing: Scale focus with zone projections in the viewfinder, 1 m to infinity
  • Film speed: 100 to 1600 ISO in half stops
  • Flash: Automatic, but can be disabled
  • Manual film advance, transport & rewind
  • Waterproof: To 2 m (6 feet)
  • Battery: 2x AA / LR6
  • Size & weight: 140.5 x 72.5 x 62 mm, 515 g (with battery)
  • From 45 to 70€ on eBay

Sea & Sea MotorMarine II EX

Sea & Sea MotorMarine II EX - TOP 5 Best underwater waterproof 35mm film camera

The Motor Marine IIEX, Sea & Sea’s is the most sophisticated of the whole Motor Marine line-up. It’s a fully automated amphibious camera except for the manual focus 35mm f/3.5 lens that works on both underwater and land. One of its strengths is certainly the bayonet mount to attach a macro or wide angle (20mm) lenses. Those two adapters are for underwater use only, but that means you can swap lens while diving or snorkelling without having to be on dry land unlike the Nikonos. In my research of the best waterproof film cameras, this is certainly the feature that caught the most my attention!  

The Motor Marine IIEX is a cheaper alternative to the Nikonos V as they share a lot of features but if you want to invest into a serious diving camera, the Nikonos V coming next will be superior in terms of image quality, durability and range of accessories available.  

Sea & Sea MotorMarine II EX Features

  • Lens: 35mm f/3.5 (3 groups 34 elements ??!!)
  • Screw mount focal length adapters
  • Maximum depth 45 meters (150 feet)
  • Close up to 0.5m
  • Aperture range from f/3.5 to f/22
  • Shutter speed: 1/15 to 1/125th
  • Automatic film advance, transport & rewind
  • External Flash Port
  • Battery: 2x AA / LR6
  • Shutter lock
  • DX coding: 50, 100 and 400 ISO
  • From 80 to 350€ on eBay

Nikonos V

Nikonos V - TOP 5 Best underwater waterproof 35mm film camera

The Nikonos V is certainly the most famous waterproof camera. Before Nikon acquired the patent which lead to the biggest underwater film camera line of all time, the first version (called the Calypso Phot) was designed in partnership by the famous commandant Cousteau and the Belgian engineer Jean de Wouters in 1956. It was waterproof up to 50 meters (160 feet) which was, +60 years ago, a real performance!

Fast forward to 1984 and a few iterations later, came out the Nikonos V.

It also has TTL auto flash control and comes with series of flashes and accessories of all sorts which makes it the most comprehensive underwater film camera kit of all time. Focus is manual only with parallax marks inside the 0.55x magnification viewfinder and also give LED shutter speeds reading.

Forget hard plastic, the Nikonos V is made of die-cast aluminum alloy, meaning it will survive in environments where you wouldn’t last long. It offers the essentials controls you’d except from a camera and operating is made easy with large knobs and screw.

If you’re a serious diver and photographer don’t look further, the Nikonos V is the best waterproof film camera you’ll ever find.

Lenses for Nikonos-V

It has a total of 6 interchangeable lenses going from 15, 20, 28, 35 to 80mm. They all feature the Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SC) for reduced ghost images and flare, which is here to improve contrast and deliver rich details. Some of these lens are exclusively for underwater use and others only for outside water so make sure to pick the right one depending on how you’re planning to use it.

Nikonos V Features

  • Exposure control: Aperture Priority & Manual
  • Shutter speed: 1/30 to 1/1000th
  • Exposure metering: Center weighted
  • Maximum depth: 50 m (160 feet))
  • Manual film advance, transport & rewind
  • Automatic TTL flash control 
  • Battery: 2x 1.5V LR44 or 2x 3V CR1/3N
  • Manual ISO from 25 to 1600 ISO
  • Size & weight: 146 x 99 x 58mm, 700 g (without battery)
  • From 150 to 450€ on eBay

Nikonos RS

Nikons RS Review Best underwater waterproof film camera SLR autofocus

I just mentioned above that the Nikonos V is the best underwater film camera, but actually the Nikonos RS is THE BEST and only waterproof autofocus SLR film camera.

When it came out in 1992, the RS was the world’s first TTL autofocus reflex underwater film camera. Nikon also introduced at the same time the Nikon R-UW mount which is based on the standard Nikon F mount, with an extra bayonet to ensure the waterproof sealing. Nikon made a total of 4 lenses for the Nikonos RS (50mm f/2.8 macro, 28mm, a pricey 13mm FISHEYE F2.8, and the world’s first underwater zoom lens, a 20-35mm) along with a few others made by third party manufacturers.

The RS body is made of of die-cast copper silumin oxidized aluminum alloy which makes it extremely durable but also heavy! Film loading and advance is fully automated and the camera is powered by one 6V CR-P2 lithium battery.

Even thought it was acclaimed for all its unique features, the RS’s reputation was tarnished by water sealing problems causing flooding in some of the earlier models. Apparently the issue was coming from the silicon O-rings that required a special Nikon grease unlike other Nikonos or any underwater cameras that could be maintained with third-party grease. Because of that, Nikon discontinued the RS after 5 years and marked the end of the Nikonos era.

Aside from this little annoyance, the Nikonos RS is still the ultime solution if you can dive deep enough to use its full potential and have deep enough pockets to afford it!

Nikonos RS Features

  • World’s First Underwater SLR Camera
  • Exposure control: Aperture Priority & Manual
  • Underwater Auto Focus system
  • Maximum depth of 100m (320 feet) without special housing
  • Shutter speeds: from 1/2000 to 1 sec
  • Exposure compensation: ±2 EV range in 1/3 EV steps
  • Matrix & Centre-Weighted Metering
  • Automatic Balanced Fill-Flash
  • DX-coded from ISO 25 to 5000 – Manual setting from ISO 6 to 6400
  • Size & weight: 196 x 151 x 85mm, 2130g or 920g underwater (body only)
  • From 800 to 2500€ on eBay

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