If you’re off on holiday, the chances are you’re going to get close to some water, whether it’s a hotel pool or the deep blue sea. It’s also likely you’ll want to capture some snaps of your aquatic adventures – and most cameras won’t thank you for taking them anywhere near water.
However, this bunch of waterproof wonders are right at home capturing subaquatic scenes, and will let you dive as deep as 30 metres to fish out the perfect shot. They’re all shock-proof and freeze-proof too, and some are even crush-proof.
The fun doesn’t stop there, as you’ll also find many rugged cameras come packed with features such as GPS location tagging, Wi-Fi connectivity and even action-orientated extras like a compass or altimeter.
Pick the right camera, and image quality will also give a typical land-loving compact a run for its money. The only compromise you’ll need to make in exchange for the ability to shoot during some rough and tumble is a below-average zoom range.
If you want a camera for holiday with a longer zoom range, take a look at our pick of travel zoom compacts.
So don’t let your camera hold you back – all of these waterproof and rugged snappers are cut out for the wet and wild life.
Few rugged cameras can match the TG-5’s exceptional build quality and confidence-inspiring rugged feel. Certainly, from our time using it, the TG-5 is built to survive pretty much anything you could throw at it, literally. A chunky, ergonomic design and well-designed controls make the TG-5 a pleasure to use in any weather. Olympus has taken the unusual step of actually dropping the pixel count from 16MP on the TG-4 to 12MP on the TG-5, which while resolution drops a bit, it means the pixels are not quite as densely packed in, delivering a better noise performance. The TG-5 borrows the built-in Field Sensor System we’ve seen on the TG Tracker, which consists of a GPS sensor, pressure, compass and temperature sensor. The data gathered can be displayed with images and videos using the Olympus Image Track app. It also gets the latest TruePic VIII processor found in the E-M1 Mark II, and can now capture 4K video at 30p or high speed footage at 120p in Full HD. Our pick of the bunch.
Panasonic’s FT5 (called the TS5 in the US) may be getting a bit long in the tooth now, but it can still cut it against the best of today’s waterproof compacts. A 4.6x optical zoom lens provides a focal range of 28-128mm and is optically stabilised to smooth out camera shake. However, a 5cm minimum focusing distance does fall short of the 1cm macro modes offered by many competitors. An impressively bright LCD monitor makes it easy to compose your shots, while the swift and reliable autofocus system and accurate exposure metering ensure images turn out how you’d planned, whether you’re above or below water. Factor in extras like GPS, Wi-Fi with remote camera control and NFC pairing for easy image sharing, and the FT5 shapes up as a great all-rounder.
The AW130 comes fully-loaded with a host of features – there’s a terrific GPS system for starters, interactive world map and Wi-Fi connectivity, plus an altimeter and underwater depth gauge to boot. The AW130 also offers a high resolution, 921k dot OLED monitor, but perhaps most impressive of all is that the AW130 can function down to a depth of 30 metres – as far as an Advanced Open Water diving certificate will get you.
The D30’s design features oversized controls that makes the camera exceptionally easy to operate, even when underwater as we found or while wearing gloves. The D30 is certainly a pleasure to use, but it’s let down by underwhelming image quality. Its 12.1MP sensor and DIGIC 4 processor are starting to show their age, and are prone to generating noticeable levels of noise at ISO 400 and above. At least detail levels are relatively high and there’s little evidence of smearing. The D30 features GPS location tagging, but doesn’t record altitude or depth data, while their is no Wi-Fi connectivity either. There’s no doubt that the PowerShot D30 is a waterproof wonder, going down to 25 metres, but aside from this and it ergonomic benefits, its been surpassed by the competition.
Compared to ultra-rugged competition, the XP120 doesn’t have quite the same credentials. That means that it might not be quite up to some of the more active users, but still more than up to the job of a family beach or skiing holiday. There are a host of fun filters included, and Wi-Fi connectivity, but no GPS. Simple to use, this is a great option if you’re after a durable point-and-shoot compact camera for family use.
By Phil Hall
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