In the olden days, when women dragged the laundry down to the river and men struggled to make their VCR’s stop blinking “12:00:00″, anyone who wanted to take pictures underwater would either have to buy a disposable analog camera (and hope they wouldn’t need more than 24 tries to capture those wily fish), or get a pricy underwater case for their regular digital camera. The underwater cases worked well enough, as long as you kept them properly lubricated and didn’t intend to take land pictures between dives, and didn’t mind the extra bulk.

Fast-forward to 2011 when you can get digital cameras that you can actually take underwater with you. Crazy, right? But I can tell you firsthand that they work and take decent pictures both under and over water with no more maintenance than a rinse and towel-dry.

You can look here and here for some reviews of these cameras, and pay attention to the difference in the specifications. Some of these can be taken as far as 15 feet underwater (plenty for a snorkeler like me), while others can go to about 30 feet. Beyond that, you would need more sophisticated equipment.

For my own needs, I chose the FujiFilm XP 30, and it did an admirable job, as you can see here, but don’t take this as an endorsement. Check out the various options and decide which one works best for you.

The beach at the Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia

Some fish who live near St. Lucia

(Note that these images were first run through filters in Photoshop Elements 8 before posting here.)

[Written by Kem Tekinay]