To evaluate the real-world image quality of the four rugged cameras we took the same photo of Seattle's iconic Space Needle, with the Olympic mountains in the background. 

The initial view gives you a quick look at the sharpness of each of the four (well, three) lenses used by the Canon PowerShot D30, Nikon Coolpix AW120, Olympus Tough TG-3, and Pentax WG-4. The D30 and WG-4 are looking the best here, and the Olympus - which uses the same lens as the WG-4 - is just a bit softer, likely due to image processing.

The difference in noise reduction techniques becomes quite apparent when you look at the Canon and Nikon side-by-side. Canon is relatively conservative - hence the luminance noise - while Nikon has chosen to crush all noise, which gives image a soft, watercolor-like appearance. Even if you reduce the image size, you can still see that the Canon and Pentax have a slight advantage.