The Rugged Bunch: 5 Top-Notch Tough Cameras

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Sand and water get everywhere. Anyone who has vacationed at the beach knows that. Also, not surprising is that these are the two worst possible things to get into electronics, since a single drop of water or grain of sand can quickly cause absurd amounts of damage. Enter the tough camera and its flexing muscles, demonstrating that not only is a little water not a problem—you can try to crush it, go diving, or even drop it and it will keep on kicking. Here are five of the best rugged options currently out there.

Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7

The Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 became the first tough camera to offer an integrated EVF, an interesting development that makes it better suited for everyday carry, in addition to your more dangerous adventures. Besides the very impressive addition of a 1.17m-dot EVF, the TS7 is one of the most capable tough cameras currently available, with a 28-128mm equivalent zoom lens, 20.4MP resolution, and UHD 4K video at up to 30p. A lot of this is thanks to Panasonic’s underlying tech and processing, helping to deliver high-quality shots. Also, it has built-in Wi-Fi, POWER O.I.S., 10 fps continuous shooting, 4K PHOTO, and more, to help you make the best of it. As for the toughness aspect, the TS7 is rated to be waterproof to 101.7', shock proof from 6.6', freeze proof to 14°F, and pressure resistant to 220 lbf.

Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 Digital Camera

Olympus Tough TG-6

Almost a classic in this field, the TG-6, from Olympus, offers a smattering of new functions that make it a solid pick if you need a reliable and durable camera. The biggest change comes in its upgraded LCD, which now has 1.04m-dot resolution as opposed to the predecessor’s 460k. It is also the only tough camera with a zoom lens on this list that can capture raw-format images, so if you absolutely need some extra latitude in post, the TG-6 is the way to go. It works with a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor and TruePic VIII processor to create your images, and can even work at speeds of up to 20 fps in raw or 4K video at 30p. A versatile 25-100mm equivalent f/2-4.9 lens is present for working in a range of environments, and there are four macro modes that will let us get super close. Additionally, it has a Field Sensor System with GPS, monometer, compass, and temperature sensors all built in. And now for the “Tough” in the name: it’s waterproof to 50', freeze proof to 14°F, shock proof from 7', crush proof to 220 lbf, and has an IP6X dust-proof rating.

Olympus Tough TG-6 Digital Camera

Nikon COOLPIX W300

Nikon has been a reliable brand for decades, and the COOLPIX W300 is its solid tough camera offering. It uses a 16MP 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor and a NIKKOR 24-120mm equivalent optical zoom lens to capture great imagery in a ruggedized package. The durability is among the best in this lineup with 100' of waterproofing, the ability to withstand drops from 7.9', and freezeproofing to 14ºF. It’s also dustproof. Other benefits are the ability to record UHD 4K video at up to 30 fps and use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect to your mobile devices for instant sharing and GPS to geotag your images.

Nikon COOLPIX W300 Digital Camera

Fujifilm FinePix XP140

Another standard option, the XP140 is Fujifilm’s latest offering in the tough arena, and a nice option, with its 16.4MP BSI CMOS sensor and Fujinon 28-140mm equivalent zoom lens. Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE make it possible to share and geotag images quickly and easily, and double exposure and interval shooting allow users to create some fun and creative images. Ruggedness is still key here, which is why the XP140 is dust proof, waterproof to 82', shock proof from 5.9', and freeze proof to 14°F.

FUJIFILM FinePix XP140 Digital Camera

Sony RX0 II

Hovering just in between tough camera and action cam, I like having the RX0 II on this list due to its use of a relatively large 20.1MP 1" CMOS sensor that produces spectacular image quality and can deliver sharp video, including internally recorded UHD 4K with S-Log2. Generation two even brings a 1.5" 180º tilting LCD that make it awesome for vlogging now, too! One of the largest benefits of the RX0 II is still the size—it is tiny, meaning if you want to carry something extra along with your normal camera kit, it is an outstanding secondary option. There is a fixed 24mm equivalent f/4 lens to capture wide-angle shots and there is the added versatility brought by its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for control from the PlayMemories app, and it can be synced up with other RX0 II units. As for durability, the RX0 II is waterproof to 33', shock proof from 6.5', and crush proof to 440 lbf. I loved it when I took it out for review and you can read all about my hands-on experience with the RX0 II.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX0 II Digital Camera

Everyone wants to take photos on their summer trips and adventures and, to do this the best way, you need the right tools. Make sure you can find the ideal tough camera to stuff in your pocket or backpack and bring along on your next challenge.

Which camera was most appealing to you? Why? Let us know in the Comments section, below!

Be sure to check back on B&H Explora for more of Adventure Week—and don't forget to follow B&H on Twitter @BHPhotoVideo for up-to-the-minute #adventureweek news.

2 Comments

After shooting in Hawaii with a GoPro Session 5, I am really interested in shooting RAW (the GoPro only shoots JPG). I have an X-T2 and compare these options to the price of a UW housing. Surprised the Fuji option does not offer RAW. Thanks for the info! 

It is an interesting choice that many manufacturers have made. Part of it is likely that the smaller sensor and lenses found in these cameras require a bit of in-camera processing to get them to look their best and raw would just overcomplicate things for many people. For an underwater camera that does shoot raw you could go with the Olympus TG-5 or Sony RX0.

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