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Disposable Underwater Cameras Aren't Always the Cheapest Option

Updated on May 16, 2013

You Might Save Money with a Waterproof Case, Rental or Cheap Digital Camera

It might seem like a no-brainer. You want to go to the beach and take photos, but you don't want your camera near sand and water. So you decide to get one of those cheap little disposable cameras. But, wait - you can only take 26 photos on a roll of film. Maybe you need two of those cameras. Or even three. Now you're ready to hit the beach, content in the knowledge that you've selected the cheapest way to capture your beach vacation on film. Or have you?

The initial purchase price of an underwater disposable camera makes it seem like a bargain, but once you start calculating the cost of multiple cameras and the price of processing, printing and a CD (if you want to transfer high-quality images to your computer), you could easily up spending more on a few disposables than you would for some much better options.

3 Alternatives to a Disposable Underwater Camera

1. Waterproof Camera Case
A waterproof camera case is the cheapest alternative to a disposable camera and probably the best option for most people. Flexible see-through packs such as those made by DicaPac allow you to use your own camera underwater, so you can take advantage of all the features on it. Plus, there's no learning curve. These bags are inexpensive (starting at less than the price of two disposable cameras) and reliable. Read the reviews from all the happy customers on Amazon to see why an underwater case could be your best bet.

2. Underwater camera rental
If you don't want to hassle with an underwater case for your own camera, you can rent a simple Canon Powershot D20 from for $35/week plus shipping and handling. It's like Netflix for cameras. You rent it, they ship it, and you ship it back in the prepaid shipper. Easy! And don't worry - this isn't some fancy, expensive underwater camera that you won't be able to figure out how to use. The Powershot D20 operates very much like any other compact camera. The only difference is that the outer case is waterproof.

3. Cheap digital cameras
This is the most expensive alternative to a disposable camera, but if you're planning to buy multiple throw-aways (four or more), you could still get an inexpensive digital camera for about the same price as you'd pay for those disposable ones, plus the cost of film processing, printing and a CD with your images. Check Craigslist or eBay for a good deal, or look at Amazon in the underwater camera category. You'll find some options such as the Coleman Xtreme for under $100, or you can get a Nikon S31 for a bit over $100. The cost of these cameras might be more upfront that you'd pay for the disposables, but if you go to the beach again next year, you can use them again. Plus, you'll be able to use them on land or water all year long.

Waterproof Cameras Are Great for the Pool, Too


Disposable Waterproof Camera or One of These Alternatives?

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    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 

      5 years ago

      These are good alternatives to disposable underwater cameras. It would be much better to get your own underwater camera that you can keep using over and over again rather than going with disposable cameras. In the long run, these alternatives would be much cheaper than the disposable camera.

    • RTalloni profile image


      5 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for an interesting look at these options. I think the last alternative would my choice today, but this is good food for thought!


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