Why Disposable Underwater Cameras Aren’t Really a Bargain

A lot of people think the cheapest way to take photos at the beach is to buy a one-time-use disposable underwater camera. And if you only want to take a few photos, this probably IS the best option for you.

But let’s say you’re going on a week-long vacation and want to take more than 27 photos (the limit on a disposable camera). Suddenly your costs start going up. Now you’ll need to pay for two or three cameras, plus the price of film developing and printing. And if you want to get your images on a CD so you can transfer them to your computer, you’ll need to pay even more. The price for three underwater disposable cameras, developing and CDs can easily exceed $50.

So if you can’t afford to buy a digital waterproof camera, is this the best – or only – way to get photos of your snorkeling or beach adventure?

No. For about the same price as you’d pay for a few cheap underwater film cameras and the cost to develop your photos and transfer them to your computer, you can rent an easy-to-use digital underwater camera from BorrowLenses.com or get an underwater case for your own camera. Then you can take as many photos and HD videos as your memory card can hold, see the results instantly on an LCD viewer, transfer the files quickly to your computer, and take advantage of a variety of features you won’t find on a disposable camera, such as optical zoom, scene settings, underwater color modes and much more.

Renting an Underwater Camera
As the name suggest, BorrowLenses.com is in the business of renting lenses and camera bodies to photographers. Most of the equipment on their site is geared to DSLR users who are passionate about photography, but they also offer a few models that appeal to everyone. One of these is the Canon Powershot D20 waterproof camera.

This rugged point-and-shoot camera is easy to use and doesn’t require any bulky underwater housing. Its slim body is waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof without needing an additional waterproof case. That makes it easy to operate underwater, and it’s no more difficult to learn than any other compact camera. In fact, it has one-touch video for easy recording. If you’ve used any other point-and-shoot camera, you should be able to learn this one easily.

The camera itself currently rents for $35 for 7 days (see website for any pricing changes), plus shipping charges.

When you rent from BorrowLenses.com, your camera will arrive with a prepaid shipping label, and you just need to get it back to the shipping company (not the rental company itself) by the return date. It’s kind of like Netflix for cameras! Very easy to use, and a great bargain when you need a special camera for a special event.

Buying a Waterproof Camera Case
If you don’t want to learn how to use a new camera or already have a camera you love, another option that’s better than an underwater disposable camera is a waterproof case. You may have been scared away from this idea if you’ve ever looked at the price of underwater housings made for specific models of high-end DSLRs. The cases are often more expensive than the cameras themselves! But nowadays you can get inexpensive waterproof cases for just about any camera model.

Cases such as those made by DicaPac are reliable, affordable (starting at less than $20) and easy to use. They’re perfect for snorkeling, playing at the beach, or having fun at the local water park.

When you look at the cost of several disposable film cameras and the limitations on quality and quantity, the value quickly diminishes as your requirements increase. But when you rent an underwater camera or buy a waterproof case, you pay one fixed price for as many still photos and videos as you can shoot and fit on your memory card. There’s a reason film cameras were made obsolete by digital ones. And when you start looking at the price of single-use waterproof cameras, it quickly becomes obvious why they aren’t the best value for your money. If you can’t afford to buy a good digital camera, you’ll still get more value by renting or getting a cheap waterproof case rather than purchasing multiple throwaway cameras.