Monday, January 18, 2010

Are You Looking for a Waterproof (Shockproof, Freezeproof, Dustproof, Kidproof, Does Your Dishes.....) Digital Camera?

Than you’re in the position I was about two weeks ago.  It took quite a bit of time researching and comparing the all the best options and to save you the trouble I've listed what I found out below.  Also, be careful! There were a couple real stinkers out there (leaky cases, poor photo quality etc.).  In the end I bought the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 and I'm really happy with it.  Hope this all helps.

The Best Rugged, Waterproof Cameras of 2010 for under $300 Reviewed:
My previous digital camera bit the dust (literally) when it slipped off my lap, fell 4 inches and died on the spot.  You may have had a similar experience - it's total b*&ls*#t!!  And that's why I wanted a tougher camera - even though it costed a more.  My kids have had a hoot with the DMC-TS1 down at the beach - taking underwater video is a lot of fun!  Many of these cameras are also sandproof.

#1.) Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 Review

Quick Overview:

  • 12 Megapixels (enough detail for photo-quality poster-size prints)
  • 4.6x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom
  • Waterproof to 10 ft, shockproof from 5 ft, dustproof
  • Records HD Video
  • Winner - CNET Editor’s Choice Award
  • Price: $379.95 (Although I bought it on for $280.95 and got free shipping)

Here's what I liked most:
  1. It's small, and looks like a normal camera (not like a fish out of water).
  2. Takes excellent quality pictures.
  3. Shoots HD Video.

The DMC-TS1 looks sweet and it's small enough to fit nicely in your pocket.  The brushed aluminum construction, gives it a nice solid heft.  The 2.7-inch LCD screen is a good size - and it's still visible in direct sun.  But the best characteristic of the Lumix is it's topnotch image quality - more than suitable for my needs (My digital SLR now just collects dust in the cupboard).
Features include: beach/surf, self-portrait, underwater, aerial photo, baby, panorama assist, and hi-speed burst mode, to name a few. The burst mode has been great for action ski shots (it can fire off 10 shoots a second).  Also there is a mini processor called iA (intelligent auto), which powers a bunch of other features that I haven’t tinkered with yet.  If that interest you, you can read more about those feature in the excellent product review on
The HD Video is very smooth and looks great on the TV, especially when you consider the size of the camera and lens.  For under $10 you can buy an HDMI cable to plug the Panasonic into your HDTV to watch your movies in true high definition.

Sample footage filmed with the Lumix DMC-TS1:

Panasonic DMC-TS1 Pros:

  • Allows optical zoom while shooting video
  • Wide-angle lens (28mm) good for filming underwater where movement is restricted
  • Capture images and video to SD/SDHC memory cards (they are inexpensive, common)
Panasonic DMC-TS1 Cons:
Overall Comments:
This is a great camera and I highly recommend it for someone who wants a tough camera that doesn’t look (or act) like a fish out of water.  Its waterproof, shockproof, has great image quality and shoots HD Video, what more can I say?

Note: If you’re mostly looking for a camera to use underwater the Cannon D10 (see the next review) is a great option. 

Suggested Extras:

#2.) Canon Powershot D10 Review: 

Quick Overview:

  • 12.1 Megapixels
  • 3x Optical Zoom
  • Waterproof to 33 ft, shockproof to 4 ft, freezeproof from 14°F (-10°C)
  • Price: $329.99 ($294.95 on

I went down to BestBuy to check this baby out.  It was somewhat less bulky than I imagined (but still just as alien looking).  One thing that really struck me was the lightness of the Canon Powershot D10 (it's made of plastic) and although I’m sure it’s very sturdy, this was a little off-putting.  I’ve owned Canon Powershot’s in the past, and there is no doubt they take great pics.  Also I loved the features on this camera.

I chose not to go with this camera because I wanted a camera that could do the double duty of being waterproof and an everyday compact camera.  The Canon is too bulky (because of its gigantic waterproofing) to be a reasonable everyday camera.  But, if you are looking for a primarily underwater camera, this one is the best of the bunch.

Whereas the Panasonic Lumix DMC TS1 is only waterproof to 10ft and shouldn’t be submerged for more than an hour, the D10 is rated down to 33ft - almost a real dive camera.
Another great feature of the D10 is the available chest strap accessory that frees up your hands - especially useful in the water (See the chest strap attached to the sides of the D10 in the below picture).

Canon D10,Waterproof Camera

Heres what people are saying about the Canon D10 underwater camera:

This is by far the best compact waterproof camera I've ever used (and I'm a photographer). Blows the Olympus out of the water...”
-Amazon customer

It powers on quickly, has almost no delay in taking photos (like the Olympus), takes GREAT photos and videos both below AND above the water (the Olympus is virtually useless above water), and we took it well below the 33 foot rating (to 45 feet) with no negative effects at all. “
-Amazon customer

Sample footage taken with the Canon D10:

Canon Powershot D10 Pros:
  • Freezeproof (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 is not)
  • Chest strap (sold separately)
  • Easy to handle underwater, big buttons
  • SD/SDHC Compatible
  • LCD has a one-touch brightness boost
  • Very good picture quality
Canon Powershot D10 Cons:
  • Doesn’t shoot HD Video
  • The microphone picks up finger movement (difficult to capture movies without some unwanted camera noise)
  • Somewhat flimsy battery compartment

Suggested Extras:

#3.) Olympus Stylus Tough-8000 Waterproof Digital Camera Review:

Quick Overview:

  • 12 Mega Pixels
  • 3.6x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom
  • Waterproof to 33 ft, shockproof to 6.6 ft, freezeproof to 14°F (-10°C), crushproof (220LBF).
  • Records HD Video
  • Price: 379.95 ($296.95 on with free shipping)

This is the toughest of the waterproof point and shoot cameras.  Unfortunately picture quality was sacrificed for toughness.

A few interesting features of the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000:
  • Beauty Mode - smoothes a person’s complexion, there is also "Dramatic Eye" which emphasizes a person’s eyes, and "Sparkle Eye" which brightens/enhances the contrast of the iris and pupils.
  • Tap Control – Control the camera with a tap on the top, back or sides of the camera
  • In-Camera Panorama –it can stitch photos (up to 3) automatically in-camera

Olympus Stylus Tough 8000 Pros:

  • Compact, sleek looking, has a nice heft to it
  • Very durable: Shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof, crushproof and shakeproof
Olympus Stylus Tough 8000 Cons:
  • Image quality is average for a point-and-shoot camera (lacks sharpness)
  • Flash is too bright (there doesn't appear to be a way to adjust it)
  • Poor sound quality in movies
  • Doesn’t focus well, especially in low light

Sample footage taken with the Olympus Stylus 8000:

In summary, the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000 is really only good for someone who demands a tough product over everything else including picture quality.

#4.) Pentax Optio W80 Review:

Quick Overview
  • 12.1-Megapixels
  • 5x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom
  • Waterproof to 16 ft, shockproof to 3 ft, coldproof to 14°F (-10°C) and dustproof
  • Records HD Video
  • Price: $299.95 ($188.95 on with free shipping)
I really wanted to like this camera…

The Pentax Optio W80 is waterproof up to 16 feet, has a 5x wide-angle zoom (28mm lens), shoots HD Video, and Pentax is a good brand.  But this camera is total crap, and I cannot recommend it. 

If your looking for the best all-around rugged camera (that also shoots HD Video) than I would suggest the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1.  If your looking for an underwater specific camera, or don’t mind the bulk above water the Canon D10 is your best weapon.  And if your looking for the toughest of the bunch, and are willing to sacrifice some picture quality than the Olympus Stylus Tough-8000 is a good choice.

Pentax Optio W80 Pros:
  • Shoots HD Video
  • Takes SD/SDHC memory cards
  • 5x wide angle zoom (28mm lens)
Pentax Optio W80 Cons:
  • Terrible picture quality, indoors and outdoors (graininess and blurriness)
  • Image stabilization does not work well
  • Poor sound quality
  • People who buy it generally hate it
Sample footage taken with the Pentax Optio W80:

Ok that's all.  I did mention “top 10” and than there were only 4 reviews.  That because  there was only 4 waterproof cameras in this class!  The only other waterproof point and shoot worth mentioning is the Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP.  I didn’t include this one because it’s a little less expensive at $132.95.  But it'll still get the job done. 

Hope this is helpful to you in finding the right waterproof/shockproof camera.

P.S. Please let me know how it goes, please leave a comment below.