This camera mask review will help you decide if getting one the Liquid Image camera masks is a good idea. These are also marketed as the Sharper Image Digital Camera Swim Mask.
The idea does seem great at first, not having a camera in your hand. But the trade off you get for that convenience is very poor picture quality, and a number of other issues.
You should also know up front that the company markets it's products in a very misleading way. For example, they advertise different masks as 8mp or 12mp interpolated resolution cameras, but they are both really 5mp cameras. Did you see the word interpolated? Basically that means the megapixels are expanded with software, which gives poor results. Most camera manufacturers have abandoned this tricky marketing tactic.
This product may still be the right choice for some snorkelers, because of the benefits it offers, just so long as you are aware of the drawbacks as well.
No More Camera In Your Hand While Snorkeling
The best thing about this camera is that it frees your hands. Look at what you want and reach up and push a button. Done! But there are other ways to get the camera out of your hand that we mention at the bottom of this page.
Really it is a pretty good deal. You get a good quality mask (so long as it fits right), and a waterproof camera, for $121. Bargain!
Poor Image Quality
The biggest problem with the camera mask is that the image quality is fairly poor, even compared to very inexpensive point and shoot cameras, because of a low quality lens. If you look at some sample pictures you will see that only the center of the picture is sharp, and the edges are very soft and out of focus.
The sensor size is 1/3.2", which is normally used in a cell phone. Most compact camera sensors are nearly twice as large. Larger sensors give better image quality and perform better in low light (like underwater).
Low Megapixel Sensor
The true megapixels of all of these cameras is 5mp, even the ones they advertise as 8mp or 12mp. Combine the low 5mp with how small the sensor is and you will not get much detail in your pictures compared to most other cameras.
Sluggish Shooting Speeds
We have read reports that the camera has slow shutter response speeds. That means you push the button, and the camera has a delay before it actually takes the picture. Goodbye fish!
Lack Of Controls
This camera is completely automatic. You get no zoom lens, no white balance controls, and no other camera setting options. You also don't get a view screen to playback your pictures, which is very useful to make sure everything is working right in the water.
If The Mask Does Not Fit Perfectly It's Worthless
By all accounts the quality of these masks is good. And they offer them in two different sizes. If one of those sizes fits perfectly, you are good. But if it does not, then absolutely don't consider it. Normally it takes trying on lots of different masks in different shapes to find a good fit for your face. Read our mask fitting tips to learn more.
The mask is a bit bulky and could contribute to fatigue because of added drag in the water during a long swim.
Composition Is Difficult
Having the camera by your face is not great for composing pictures. A camera in your hand is much more versatile. You can get it closer to fish, or angle it in different ways, like under a ledge.
Can't Tell If It's On
Another camera mask review said that the LED lights in the mask were impossible to see in bright conditions. These lights indicate if the camera is on, and if you have taken a picture or if video is on. That was described as being very frustrating.
If the mask fits you perfectly, and if being hands free is the most important thing, then the camera mask might be a good option for you. There are lots of people who do like them. But you can probably tell from this camera mask review that we don't really recommend them. Just know that the picture quality will not be great.
If getting the camera out of your hand is the main interest, then you can wear a belt, and attach a camera to it when you don't need it. There are retracting cords that you could use for this, like the one at right.
Or, consider getting a GoPro camera. They are tiny cameras but the image and movie quality of their new model is excellent. It is so small that if you put it on a wrist strap you will barely notice it when you let it go, or use it with a belt retractor.
Read all of our Top Snorkeling Camera suggestions here.