Those days when surfers dream of sharing with the world what’s it like to be inside the pocket of a barrel but just can’t because cameras are bulky and they don’t function in waters are long gone. Thanks to the ever-evolving technology of photography, everything can now be captured clearly and in 4k with the best surf cameras.
Nowadays, it is easy to seize the lifeblood of almost any sport, particularly surfing. The exponential advancement of photography has made a great step towards fitting the ultimate wave-riding needs. Maneuvers, tricks, underwater excitement, and wipeouts are all possible to catch.
Table of Contents
Top 7 Best Surf Cameras Reviewed
If you’ve just changed from land to ocean photography or have simply decided you want to capture every detail of your ride getting the best surf camera can be complicated. And, you are probably here to find out what makes a quality surf camera.
- HERO6 Black by GoPro
- WG-50 by Ricoh
- Cube+ HD Action Video Camera by Polaroid
- Sports Surf Action Camera by Yuntab
- CT7000 Surf Action Camera by Crosstour
- RX0 II Ultra-compact Premium Surf Camera by Sony
- HD Hero2 by GoPro
1. HERO6 Black by GoPro – Best Overall Surf Camera
- Waterproof Depth Rating: 33 ft / 10 m
- Dimensions: 2.6 x 1.8 x 1.4 inches / 6.5 x 4.5 x 3.5 cm
- Screen Size: 2 inches
- Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, 1220 mAh
- Recording Media: x microSD/HC/XC
It is almost impossible to tell HERO6 Black by GoPro from their previous HERO5, and although there are newer models in GoPro’s HERO line, HERO6 remains worthy of being in the top spot.
HERO6 Black by GoPro features a custom chipset named GP1 processor. This lets HERO6 Black offer 4K video capture with a smooth 60fps (frames per second), while its predecessor can only shoot at 30fps.
Aside from that, this chipset also allows for some breathtaking slow-motion footage. This fancy shooting can be captured at 1080p Full HD footage at a remarkable 240fps.
The frame rate was not the only focus of GoPro GP1 as it also played with its image stabilization system. With that, image stabilization is now possible as you shoot 4k footage in any condition. While it is still capped at 30fps, it is way more improved than HERO5 which can only offer this at Full HD footage.
Stills can be captured very well with HERO6 at 12mp images in single, burst, or timelapse modes. Its new features included an integrated HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode for high-contrast scenes. This replaces the Wide Dynamic Range mode. Venturing out after dark? Night mode is improved with GP1 so it is more accomplished at low-light shooting.
Compact, durable, and waterproof even without housing, HERO6 Black by GoPro can take some beating. While it is still your preference to put on some protective casing, without it means, there is no casing to get in the way of audio quality.
While it also can go up to 33 ft below water, it would be best to use the optional Super Suit housing that offers protection down to approximately 200 ft below.
Overall, HERO6 Black by GoPro is a bang for the buck in terms of specs. You wouldn’t believe how 2 inches versatile action camera can get you a cinematic marvel with 4K at 60fps, super-slow-motion 240fps at 180p footage.
|Super slow-motion footage at 240fps video||No sound is recorded if used with a mic adapter|
|Better image stabilization system ||Issues of system freezing reported
|Durable, sturdy, waterproof body||Expensive than most brands
|Faster Wi-Fi transfer speeds|
|Sharp 4K video at 60 fps
2. WG-50 by Ricoh – Best Mid-Priced Surf Camera
- Waterproof Depth Rating: 45 ft / 14m
- Dimensions: 4.8 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches / 12.19 x 6.09 x 3.04 cm
- Screen Size: 2.7 inches
- Battery: Rechargeable D-LI92 lithium-ion battery
- Recording Media: micro SD, micro SDHC, micro SDXC
A perfect water sports buddy, WG-50 is Ricoh’s rugged compact camera built for capturing your aquatic experiences, whether above or in the waters. This is what you should get if you need a surf camera that will keep up and survive some rough and tumble.
The 16.0-megapixel sensor along with its 4x optical zoom lens is protected by an armored exterior that can survive a 14-meter water dive, a 2-meter drop, and -10° temperature. It is crushproof to 100kg making it the best surf camera to shrug off some serious abuse.
Aside from the toughness credentials WG-50 by Ricoh boasts, it can do full DH video recording and GPS location mapping, too. This is what makes it different from its predecessor, WG-4. It has a 4x optical zoom lens that has a focal length range of 25-100mm. One that can open to an f/2.0 aperture to help with low light and fast action capture.
The Shake Reduction System tames the camera shake and puts out stable images and videos from a 16.0MP, 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor capable lens with maximum ISO6400 sensitivity. These images are displayed with sharp colors on its 2.7-inch, 460K-dot screen.
In general, WG-50 is one dependable waterproof camera that can be best used in surfing. Its build quality is something you can never question. Just by the looks and feels of it, it sure does say it can survive a fair amount of beating.
|Image quality at low sensitivities||Poor low light functionality|
|Natural Underwater Coloring||Poor screen design
|Remarkable Macro Mode||Some image noise
|Waterproof to 14m
3. Cube+ HD Action Video Camera by Polaroid – Best Small-Sized Surf Camera
- Waterproof Depth Rating: 6 ft / 1.8 meters (waterproof case and suction mount, can go down to 33 ft / 10 m
- Dimensions: 1.4 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches / 3.55 x 3.55 x 3.55 cm
- Screen Size: No screen
- Battery: Rechargeable 600mAh battery
- Recording Media: Supports microSD™ card, up to 32GB
A conversation about photography is not complete without mentioning Polaroid. They are best known for their instant film and cameras. Their move to go along with the technology in photography had them decrease their production of films and analog cameras.
However, it wasn’t a wrong decision after all. As the path of photography moved to digital and more technologically advanced processes, Polaroid started releasing a line of cameras that did not include printers. It eventually helped them bounce back from bankruptcy and get acquired by investors.
One of the most advanced photography gear they released is the Polaroid Cube. Marketed as a cuter alternative to action cameras like GoPro, made specifically for casual and light users of action cameras. In the coming years, it evolved into a better version and is now being marketed as Polaroid Cube+.
Cube+ is a tiny little action camera that measures just below 2 inches. In spite of its small size, this small-scale gear carries a sensor, lens, plus shutter button – basically all the bare requirements of a digital camera. The only thing that keeps it at par with most is not having a screen to review what has been captured.
The only difference Cube+ has from Cube is the newest feature that allows users to connect the camera to an Android or iOS device. Its Wi-Fi connectivity lets the user utilize the device as a viewfinder so they can compose and edit their shots as well as do changes to the settings of the Cube+
The bottom line, Cube+ can take and keep all the good stuff in a tiny gear that is very simple to use. The addition of its Wi-Fi capabilities definitely made it better than its forerunner.
|Ease of use as the original Cube||Needs protector for aquatic use|
|Super small lightweight design||Low resolution still images
|Good video quality||No screen for reviewing
4. Sports Action Camera by Yuntab – Best Value Surf Camera
- Waterproof Depth Rating: Comes with rugged casing for safe use down to 98 ft / 30 m
- Dimensions: 2.4 x 1.67 x 1.29 inches / 6.09 x 4.24 x 3.27 cm
- Screen Size: 2 inches
- Battery: Built-in lithium battery (Rechargeable, last max to 120 minutes)
- Recording Media: TF card, Micro SDHC Class10 up to 32GB
Yes, you can have an action camera that won’t hurt your budget. With a design that is sleek, has clean lines, and a boxy shape that is appealing to most users, you won’t believe it doesn’t have the same price tag as most fancier action cameras have.
Yuntab Sports Action Camera is one you can bring to any adventure you may have. Its water-resistant case allows you to go surfing or even underwater diving. Its rugged housing is ideal for anyone who can’t keep their items from extreme beating.
Very easy and simple to use, you can mount it to your helmet, bike handles, or integrated camera holder of surfboards. It functions well enough to give you captivating pictures that seize every detail, all brought to you by its 120° wide-angle lens that gives a different perspective from other action cameras.
Yuntab Action Camera is ideal for anyone who wants to try vlogging or experimenting with photography but doesn’t want to spend so much on expensive camera gear and kits. There are understandable limitations to what this camera can do – still shots at 5mp, and poor sound quality. But, it can still hold up pretty well and can be compared to mid-priced models.
|Simplistic controls and very easy to download files||Poor sound quality|
|Decent underwater capabilities||Short battery life
|Different modes to play with||No stabilizer|
|Great deal for your money
5. CT7000 Action Camera by Crosstour – Best Surf Camera for Casual Photographers
- Waterproof Depth Rating: With case 98.4 ft / 30 m
- Dimensions: 2.33 x 1.61 x 0.97 inches / 5.91 x 4.08 x 2.46 cm
- Screen Size: 2 inches
- Battery: Removable 3.7V 1050mAh Li-ion battery
- Recording Media: 32GB micro SD card support(Max)
Another sports action camera that won’t break the bank, CT7000 by Crosstour is making rounds in social media about how efficient it is in capturing every detail of your adventures. A no-fuss, low-cost photography gear, CT7000 is ideal for anyone who can go with a cheap but cheerful product.
CT7000 boasts a 12MP photosensor that takes full 1080 HD videos as well as quality still mages both in normal and burst mode. Its 170° lens view encased in a rock-solid waterproof shell makes it perfect for capturing vibrant underwater videos and photos down 30 meters at max.
Outside the waters, it is perfect for people who don’t feel like asking anyone to take their pictures for them. Its self-timer is efficient and after you set up the time interval, it will automatically take a photo or two when the set interval is over.
It may be cheap, but it can stand against similarly priced and mid-ranged sports action cameras. Unlike Cube+, it has a 2-inch HD LCD screen that lets you review what you have captured and make alterations to the default settings of the camera.
It comes complete with mounting accessories and 2 rechargeable 1050mAH batteries – both capable of lasting up to an hour and a half of continuous use. It has an SD card slot competent of taking a class 10 32GB SD memory card. Memory card is not included and you can purchase it separately. Go for brands like SanDisk.
|Includes not just one but two pair of batteries||No Bluetooth or HDMI|
|Comes with everything you need with it||Not touchscreen
|Remote control included||Fishy eye lens|
|Wi-Fi Control is solid
|Great value for money
6. RX0 II Ultra-compact Premium Camera by Sony – Best Surf Camera for Professional Use
- Waterproof Depth Rating: 32 ft / 10 m
- Dimensions: 2.32 x 1.60 x 1.37 inches / 5.89 x 4.06 x 3.47 cm
- Screen Size: 1.5 inches
- Battery: Rechargeable battery pack NP-BJ1
It looks like an action camera works like an action camera, but is not really an action camera. RX0 II Ultra-compact Premium Camera is Sony’s GoPro look-alike that could well have given any video or action camera a run for its money.
RX0 II is the successor of RX0 I and there are not many changes between the two. Both are of the same dimensions. They may be little but, they are fierce. This compact camera can hold up and capture your surfing adventures as well as a deep-diving escapade. It is waterproof down to 33 ft, drop-proof to 6.5 ft, and crush-proof to 200 kg.
One of the leading brands in photography, it won’t fail you with still photos captured at 15.3MP. It can shoot videos at 4K with speeds of up to 10fps or 1080p at 120fps. While it is pretty much the same as GoPro HERO6, it has features that GoPro doesn’t have.
For instance, it takes videos at a higher bitrate, which effectively puts more quality into your short clips. Its intelligent auto mode gives a lot of granular control over the image. This is what camera geeks will love about this gear.
Ideal for vlogging, this powerful little camera can turn into a selfie machine with its back that can flip all the way up and face forward. The angle may be fairly low but, when the lighting is right, it can give you the most fantastic shots.
Ultimately, RX0 II is an incredible and powerful camera that is efficient in capturing impressive images for its size.
|Ability to separate the subject from the background||Field of view not nearly as wide as a GoPro|
|The flip-up screen makes framing a vlog easier||Heftier price tag than most other brands
|Very good video quality when stable||Lack of continuous autofocus
|Good audio quality|
7. HD Hero2 by GoPro – Best Action Camera Specifically Designed for Surfing
- Waterproof Depth Rating: with case 197 ft / 60 m
- Dimensions: 2.36 x 1.65 x 1.18 inches / 6 x 4.20 x 3.0 cm
- Screen Size: 0.5 inch
- Battery: 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery – 1100 mAh
- Recording Media: SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
HD Hero2 is what GoPro came up with to answer the needs of water sports enthusiasts, particularly in surfing. With an improved interface, it reveals amazingly little change in the gear’s form factor. Still dimensionally identical and both feature the same lens, power and shutter buttons, and LCD placement.
A closer look reveals the changes and addition to distinguishing it from the old model. To begin with, HD Hero2 showcases a new glass lens that is supposed to be sharper and more hard-wearing than the predecessor. The old one only featured one red recording indicator LED while this one has four – one enlarged indicator on the front of the unit and smaller lights on its top, back, and bottom edges.
There on the sides, you will find the connections for proprietary video output, the port for charging, and 2.5mm mic input. It won’t also be hard to find where to put the SD card. Integrated microphones are now positioned on the top and bottom edges. The battery is at its rear panel.
Still, with the same polycarbonate shell, its waterproof housing allows for water adventures even dropping it at more than a hundred feet below water. Bottom line is, Hero2 passes as a camera to use for surfing adventure, the way it is really intended to be. Rugger and very simple to use, the only thing that can crack your back is its 90-page user manual.
|Available accessories from both GoPro and third-party vendors||Occasional freezing|
|Lots of options for video and still resolution||Confusing interface
|Works well under low light||Limited battery life|
|Fun to use
Our Top Pick
Nothing beats a brand that is specifically focused on capturing the best moments of an active lifestyle A company that is geared to be there at every step of your life as you live it. Therefore, it is no surprise that HERO6 Black by GoPro tops our list.
Its major update of 4K 60fps added with a super slow motion full HD 240fps video, not to mention improvements in image quality, faster transfer speeds, and smaller file sizes make it the best action camera you can use for surfing.
Surf Cameras As Essential Gear In The Modern Surfer’s Life
Digital photography and video cameras have progressed substantially in the past decades. These upgrades have been indispensable for the wave rider’s needs. Capturing every action while in the water can be recorded in 4K with all its stunning and brilliant colors.
The evolution of cameras, especially the technology of waterproof surf furnishes a surfer’s great legacy. Surfers can now go over everything they did on the waters such as their position on the board, fine-tuning their tricks, correct potential positioning in the line-up, and better decisions in the waves.
However, not all digital cameras are for water sports. Cameras that are specifically for surfing or other aquatic activities have particular features and must meet a few requirements. Beyond anything, it should be considered that each wave is unique and that this gear should be ready to withstand the harshest water and weather conditions.
There are more surf cameras you can choose from than you can imagine. From the tiny ones to the bigger ones with lenses longer than binoculars. They are not just limited to the kind that you can just mount on the surfboard and click record. Although in this article, they are mainly the kind we will talk about.
With the advancement of photography and the wide use of action cameras, there are so many of them that you can choose from in the market. From $20 knockoffs to $700 fancies, you have to be careful which one to pick. Your decision should not always be based on its price tag. Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it won’t work or vice versa.
You have to really dig deeper into what the camera can do and the features that help it do its functions. Some of the things you will want to consider when looking for your best surf camera are the following:
Sure, your camera may have an enormous number of megapixels, however, if not taken with the perfect lens, the quality of your pictures will turn out unsatisfactory. Make sure that you don’t get dragged by the megapixel marketing and take time to examine the lens.
Transfer / Connectivity
Most, if not all of the action cameras we reviewed come with removable storage like SD cards, but not a lot of them in the market have them. Remember that 4K video files are massive, so you will want to make sure you won’t run out of storage. Have a camera that is able to transfer your files quickly, either wireless or via a cord.
Photo and Video Quality
Megapixels should never define what the camera can do, however, it is true that the more megapixels you have, the better picture you get. To be on the safe side, look for a camera with more megapixels but be sure that the lens should be at par.
The water depth rating is important for action cameras, especially if you are going to use it for surfing or other water activities. If it is simply for surfing, then a 10m depth rating may work. But, if you plan on using it for scuba diving and the like, get a decent 30m depth rating. Some cameras just can’t go more than 10m, but there are waterproof casings available to increase their depth rating.
Surfing is action-packed, you have every part of your body involved as you ride. Your whole torso and your arms to balance and your legs to stand up. And, while your hands are free, it may not always be available to hold an action camera to film the whole thing.
This is why a lot of surfboards now have a built-in mount for them. Aside from the things we wanted you to consider in getting a surf camera, be sure to get one that is user-friendly, especially for surfers. Everything happens so fast as you surf, you don’t want to miss anything because the camera is hard to operate.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):
Q: How do I use my action camera for surfing?
Q: Are all surf cameras waterproof?
- Surf Gloves
- Bodyboard Bags
- Surfboard Traction Pads
- Hybrid Surfboards
- SUPs for Surfing
G’day, my name is Rach Taylor and I’m the proud Founder of Surf Hungry. I am a former Australian Olympic athlete and Australian representative surf sports athlete. I’ve worked in the surf industry and lived at many of Australia’s best surf spots, sparking a life-long love of the ocean and a passion for surf sports which also rubbed off on my two young sons! I am also lucky to spend a lot of ocean-time in my favorite second home, Indonesia. In addition to SurfHungry I have founded several other websites in my areas of passion, namely coffee and rock climbing, and am also a regular rowing content contributor.