Previous page Next page

2013 Waterproof Camera Roundup

August 2013 | By Jeff Keller

One of the fastest growing segments in the digital camera market is compact, rugged cameras. Five years ago you had just two manufacturers selling waterproof cameras (Olympus and Pentax). In 2013, every major manufacturer is now producing at least one waterproof/rugged model.

That makes choosing the right rugged camera a bit of challenge. To aid in your search, we recently tested six cameras in this class, and we'll summarize the results in this article. The contenders include the Canon PowerShot D20, Nikon Coolpix AW110, Olympus TG-2, Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5/FT5, Pentax WG-3 GPS, and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30.

The following chart will give you a quick overview of how these six cameras compare in terms of features and specs:

  Canon D20 Nikon AW110 Olympus TG-2 Panasonic TS5 Pentax WG-3 Sony TX30
Price $295/£263 $279/£263 $329/£275 $359/£276 $292/£264 $348/£321
Resolution 12.1 MP 16.0 MP 12.0 MP 16.1 MP 16.0 MP 18.2 MP
Max aperture F3.9-4.8 F3.9-4.8 F2.0-4.9 F3.3-5.9 F2.0-4.9 F3.5-4.8
Focal range 28-140mm 28-140mm 25-100mm 28-128mm 25-100mm 26-130mm
Screen size 3" 3" 3" 3" 3" 3.3"
Screen res 461k dot 610k dot 610k dot 460k dot 460k dot 1.23M dot
Max depth 10 m 18 m 15 m 13 m 14 m 10 m
Shockproof 1.5 m 2 m 2.1 m 2 m 2 m 1.5 m
Crushproof No No 100 kgf 100 kgf 100 kgf No
Flash range
(ISO 400)
0.9 m 1.3 m 2.0 m 1.4 m 2.6 m 0.8 m
Manual exposure No No Yes (Av) Yes (M) No No
GPS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Landmarks No Yes Yes Yes No No
Maps No Yes Yes No No No
Pressure No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Wi-Fi No Yes No Yes No No
Movie mode 1080/24p 1080/30p 1080/30p 1080/60p 1080/30p 1080/60i
Battery life 280 shots 250 shots 350 shots 370 shots 240 shots 250 shots
Dimensions
(mm)
112x71x28 110x65x25 112x67x29 109x67x29mm 125x65x32mm 96x59x15mm
Weight
(loaded)
228 g 193 g 230 g 214 g 239 g 140 g

As you can see, no camera has 'everything', but some come pretty close. While none of the cameras really 'wowed' us, there are a couple worth considering.

This article will give you a quick overview of each camera and how they performed, followed up by our final thoughts and recommendations. Head on to the next page to begin!


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision Optical at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

Previous page Next page
15
I own it
7
I want it
6
I had it
Discuss in the forums
3
I own it
7
I want it
0
I had it
Discuss in the forums
14
I own it
5
I want it
5
I had it
Discuss in the forums
77
I own it
10
I want it
3
I had it
Discuss in the forums
84
I own it
31
I want it
3
I had it
Discuss in the forums
85
I own it
8
I want it
0
I had it
Discuss in the forums
43
I own it
8
I want it
1
I had it
Discuss in the forums

Comments

Total comments: 123
12
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Aug 10, 2013)

From this lineup, Lumix and Nikon are about the only ones you would not be ashamed of being seen as a user.

There rest are just Comedy Central.

.

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Aug 10, 2013)

not even...
Nikon: Not good for: Frequent shooting in bright light, pixel peepers, or those who want long battery life
Panasonic Lumix: "Photo quality is typical for this class. Fine details are often smudged and chromatic aberrations can be strong at times." Not good for: Low light

0 upvotes
tommy leong
By tommy leong (Aug 10, 2013)

does GoPro and Astac 7200 fit into this category ?

0 upvotes
Rod McD
By Rod McD (Aug 10, 2013)

Hi DPR, thanks for your review.

People buy these things because there's no alternative other than a bigger camera and a housing. I'd like to see a manufacturer opt for a new approach. Year after year your reviews (and others) comment on their small sensors and poor IQ. The internet is also littered with leak complaints and poor company response on guarantees.

There seems to be a view that wilderness/outdoor/water sport followers don't value better IQ, which is absolutely untrue. And that serious photographers should have a D4 in a housing. Try stuffing one of those in your life jacket. The middle ground - the old Nikonos - is gone.

We need a manufacturer to make a robust, WR, direct light path camera with an APSC sensor, a fixed 24-85eq zoom (or primes) and real "O" rings. One 25mm "O" ring cover could give access to an SD card, a shaped battery and USB plug. Add a decent grip. And useable with gloves please.

Yes it would be bigger and cost more. But worth every cent.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
Treeshade
By Treeshade (Aug 10, 2013)

Most of these cameras are not only water-proof but also shock-proof - they are not just for diving, but also for skiing, skating, mountain-biking, etc.. It would be really difficult to shock-proof an APSC standard zoom.

Imagine the thickness of a 58mm fliter that would not break when dropped to the ground with a 1kg body crushing it.

But I agree that it would be fantastic be have, for example, a weatherproof tough X100s.

1 upvote
breth
By breth (Aug 10, 2013)

Agree with Rod. I can't be completely sure, but I believe there is a good market out there for a WR aps-c sensor serious compact. Not only would it be the backpacker's ultimate camera for convenience, I think that perhaps it would also interest streetshooters who like to get photos in the rain, or other less than perfect conditions.
If Ricoh-Pentax would use their expertise in designing cameras like this, I see no reason why a serious WR compact would not be a hit. A WR Ricoh GR would perhaps not have to be much bigger than it already is - and even if it would be, it still would be very attractive to a lot of backpackers.

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Aug 10, 2013)

I'd settle for a waterproof RX100.

it would seem like a reasonable compromise.

2 upvotes
KonstantinosK
By KonstantinosK (Aug 10, 2013)

I'd even be happy with a waterproof DMC LX7. But even this seems highly unlikely to happen...

2 upvotes
monkeybrain
By monkeybrain (Aug 10, 2013)

I completely agree with all these comments. A waterproof and ruggedized Ricoh GR or Nikon Coolpix A would be a great outdoor sport camera. Also, Nikon wants to revitalise the Nikon 1? Bring out a fully waterproof and shockproof model with a couple similarly toughened primes to match. It's already got the great autofocus that would be good for skiing etc. Nikonos reborn!

2 upvotes
LaFonte
By LaFonte (Aug 10, 2013)

It is extremely expensive to make waterproof "real" camera that would withstand more than a year of use. On all professional equipment you have to regularly change the o-rings and take pretty good care of the housing. A grain of sand can make waterproof camera no longer waterproof.
All of those small wp cameras are basically with planned 1 year obsolescence. They are cheap inside so if they start leaking, then you throw it away and get new one. Many of those would leak after some time, some even after first dip :-)
You definitely don't want a wp expensive camera like rx100 or x100 and nobody will make it. If you need wp you will buy a marina case that is probably more expensive than the camera itself, but it will protect your equipment.

0 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (Aug 10, 2013)

Sony rx100 option here below.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/909217-REG/Ikelite_6116_10_Housing_For_Sony.html

0 upvotes
tiberius_dinu
By tiberius_dinu (Aug 10, 2013)

I have bought the Lumix TS5 and I'm very pleased with it. The image quality is as good as it can be in this class but would not care more about. I do shoot Canon 6D but I can not take in the water or running or snorkeling. The video is as advertised and it looks awesome and that was one of te reasons I opted for TS5. I had no issues with the wifi and it connects smoothly to my ipad, iPhone and the LG android I'm using. Neat to be able to control the zoom and the settings in the camera remotely.

Thanks for the reviews I did follow them and it did help me.

Cheers

T

2 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (Aug 10, 2013)

Would have liked to have seen some mention/discussion of options out there using dedicated or aftermarket housings in conjunction with standard compact cameras. Ie. Can u get a better performing camera + housing for not much price difference?

1 upvote
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (Aug 10, 2013)

This is the review you should have made to begin with instead of giving every single rugged camera its own review. Why do you assign these cameras for review rather than the many mirrorless cameras you have skipped or may be about to skip over like the GF5, G5, GF6, G6, E-PL5, NEX-5R, NEX-3N, just off the top of my head. Not a single one of your six individual rugged reviews got even 100 comments. I guarantee you that any one of the cameras I mentioned would get more than 100 comments if it was still the current model.

5 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 10, 2013)

We don't judge success by comments - if we did, every other news story would be about Adobe Creative Cloud.

16 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (Aug 10, 2013)

Simon Joinson himself said that you judge success by traffic and I'm sure there's a strong correlation between number of comments and number of page views.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Aug 10, 2013)

bah! come on!
no harm was done.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (Aug 10, 2013)

We're talking about cameras that should have been reviewed and weren't, not whatever your definition of "harm" is.

0 upvotes
monkeybrain
By monkeybrain (Aug 10, 2013)

I doubt there is a correlation between comments and page views. Most page views surely come from people who are not registered members of the site. DPReview reviews cameras that will generate more page hits, so why budget DSLRs are reviewed in a timely fashion and also consumer friendly cams like these rugged cameras (summer's almost over though, these are a bit late I'd say).

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (Aug 10, 2013)

If you honestly think that a review with 50 comments and a preview with 700 comments are equally likely to have the most page views between the two, you are completely delusional. More likely is that you just don't understand correlation very well.

2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Aug 11, 2013)

Barney makes a good point. A doorstop from Nikon will generate 10 times more comments than an unusual or outstanding camera from a small fry like Ricoh.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (Aug 11, 2013)

Nikon Coolpix AW110 Review: 77 comments
Ricoh GR Review: 214 comments
Panasonic GX7 First Impressions Review: 702 comments (and counting)

Want to try again?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 29 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 12, 2013)

Mikhail - please stop it.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (Aug 12, 2013)

Can you be more specific? What I've done here is to refute people's factually inaccurate statements, is that not allowed? Or if I have myself said anything inaccurate in this chain of replies, please explain that as well. Thank you.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 123
12