“Summer” is short for “let’s get out of the house and hit the shore, the trails, or anywhere else one can get out and enjoy those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…” and don’t forget the camera. But before you start wrapping your digital camera in bubble wrap to protect it from the ravages of surf and turf, you might want to check out the dozens of waterproof, crushproof and shockproof pocket cameras we stock at B&H.
Since the first Olympus Tough series digital cameras arrived a few years ago, it seems as if everybody has gotten into the tough-guy act. Not to be outdone, Panasonic, Canon, Fujifilm, Pentax and Sony have all released their own waterproof, shockproof, freeze proof and dustproof “bang-abouts,” each of which is designed to capture the sunny days of summer no matter where you’re heading.
Features each of these digital cameras share include having waterproof (10' to 40'), shockproof (5' to 10' drops), dustproof and heat and freeze proof (14-104°F, -10-40°C) camera housings with 4x to 5x zooms that feature glass portals rather than the flimsy, easy-to-trash sliding panels commonly used on standard issue point-and-shoot digital cameras.
Olympus has four metal-clad toughies to choose from, starting with the Olympus Stylus Tough 8010, which is available in black, blue and silver. The Tough 8010 is waterproof down to 33', shockproof to 6.6', and crushproof under as much as 220 lb. Other features include a 14MP (1/2.3") CCD, a 5x zoom (28-140mm equivalent) containing 4 aspheric surfaces that focus down to 1.2”, a 2.7" (230,000-dot) LCD, Tap Control that allows you to tap the top and sides of the camera body to engage a selection of basic functions, dual image stabilization systems, a three-shot in camera panorama mode, 2GB of internal memory and 1080p HD video.
A bit more compact is the Olympus TG-310, which in addition to the same 14MP (1/2.3") CCD and 2.7" (230,000-dot) LCD found on the Tough 8010, features a 3.6x (28-100mm equivalent) zoom with close-focusing down to 0.8", is waterproof down to 10' and shockproof from 5' spills. In addition to JPEG stills, the Olympus TG-310 can also record 720p HD video, is SDXC and Eye-Fi compatible and has a 3D imaging mode. The Olympus TG-310 is available in orange, blue, silver, white and red.
Equally compact but a deeper diver is the Olympus TG-610, which shares the same 14MP CCD as its siblings, but has a higher-resolution 3.0" LCD (960,000-dot) and a 5x zoom (28-140mm equivalent) that focuses down to 1.2". The Olympus TG-610 is waterproof down to 16', shockproof from 5', has a dual image stabilization system, can capture 3D imagery and is available in black, silver and red.
Last from Olympus is the Olympus TG-810 (black only), which is basically a TG-610 with a built-in GPS, a compass and depth/altitude meter for those who wish to know precisely how lost they are when diving in caves and meandering about the wilderness or the southern tip of Manhattan Island.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 is one of the slimmer, less “über-looking” dunkable point and shoots we carry. Available in a choice of black, silver, green, blue and pink, the Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 sports a 16MP Exmor R CMOS sensor, a 4x, 25-100mm equivalent zoom and a 3.0" touch-screen LCD that features, among other tricks, touch-focus control. Waterproof down to 16', shockproof from 5', dustproof and freeze proof, the DSC-TX10 can record 1080i HD video as well as full-res JPEGs at speeds of up to 10 frames per second. Other features found on Sony’s TX10 include HDR capture, background de-focus, 3D capture and Sony’s very cool Intelligent Panorama mode.
Panasonic offers two choices of tough pocket cameras, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 and Lumix DMC-TS10. The Lumix DMC-TS3 is the brawnier of the two and can be submerged down to 40' and dropped from heights of up to 6.6'. In addition to a 12.1MP CCD and a 4.6x (28-128mm equivalent) Leica-designed zoom lens, the Lumix DMC-TS3 (available in orange, blue, silver and red) also features full 1080p HD video, a GPS, compass, altimeter and barometer. The only thing it doesn’t have is a wind sock.
The lighter-duty Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS10 (available in black, blue, red and silver) contains a 14.1MP CCD, a 2.7" LCD, a 4x (35-140mm equivalent) zoom, is waterproof to 10' and drop proof from heights of up to 5'.
Still making waves (and waterproof down to 33' below them) after about two years on the market is Canon’s PowerShot D10. Shaped like a blue and silver bar of round-cornered soap with a lens portal screwed onto the front, the PowerShot D10 features a 3x (38-114mm equivalent) zoom lens, a 12.1MP (1/2.3") CCD, a 2.5" (230,000-dot) LCD, and a Smart Exposure system. It’s the oddest looking of the batch, but in practice it fits securely in the palm of your hand, especially underwater or when wearing gloves.
Fujifilm’s FinePix XP30 (black, green and orange) is probably the sleekest dunkable pocket camera available. Rounded on all ends with a glass-enclosed 28-140mm equivalent zoom lens, peering out like the eye of a squid, the FinePix XP30 can shoot stills and 720p video 16' underwater and can take a hit from a 5' drop. The FinePix XP30 also features a Motion Panorama mode and GPS Geo-tagging capabilities.
At first glance the Pentax Optio WG-1 and its GPS-enabled twin, the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS resembles a “soap-on-a-rope” for the more adventurous among us. With a cinched-waist design complemented by a color-coded carabiner, the Pentax Optio WG-1 and the WG-1 GPS both feature a 14MP imaging sensor, 720p HD video capture, a 5x zoom lens (28-140mm equivalent) featuring 5 aspheric surfaces, dunkability down to 33', shock resistance to falls from 5', and it’s crushproof to 100-kilogram forces.
One feature that’s both unique and uniquely useful is the WG-1’s Enhanced Digital Microscope, which consists of 5 daylight-balanced LEDs that surround the lens, making it possible to capture shadowless close-ups above or below the waves—stills or video—from as close as 1cm from the front of the lens.
The least expensive—and rather cute—is the Kodak EasyShare Sport C123. Available in a choice of red, gray and blue, the Sport C123 has a 12MP CCD, a fixed 35mm-equivalent lens with 5x digital zoom and can be used down to 10' deep in the water. The Kodak EasyShare Sport C123 allows you to share your pix with others using Kodak’s Easy 3-Step Sharing, and it’s powered by a pair of AA batteries.
The last of our waterproof wonders is the Ricoh PX. Available in green, silver and black, the Ricoh PX features a 16MP CCD, a 5x (28-140mm equivalent) zoom lens, a 2.7" LCD, 720p HD video capture, is dunkable down to 9.8' and offers shock resistance to falls from heights up to 4.9'.