2014-15 Waterproof Camera Roundup
Two of our favorite rugged cameras from our 2013 waterproof roundup are still be available (at much lower prices, no less) and are worth considering. And they are...
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5/FT5 ($249/£249)
The Lumix DMC-TS5 was a runner-up in 2013 and at its new lower price, it's a very tempting option. It features a 16.1MP CMOS sensor, F3.3-5.9 28-128mm equiv. lens, 3" LCD with excellent outdoor visibility, Wi-Fi with NFC, and 1080/60p video. Manual exposure control is a nice bonus.
The TS5's build quality is excellent, and the camera is waterproof to 13m/43ft, shockproof from 2m/6.6ft, crushproof to 100kgf/220lbf, and freezeproof to the usual -10C/+14F. Its GPS tools are top-notch, with an e-compass, manometer, and landmark database.
Image quality is typical for a compact. Color and exposure are fine, but there's not a lot of detail when you zoom in closely. Some downsides of the TS5 include its slower-than-average lens, weak flash, and poor Wi-Fi reception.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 ($199)
The Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 is an ultra-thin waterproof camera that goes for style over toughness. It's not a camera you'd go diving with, as its otherwise gorgeous touchscreen LCD becomes unusable when it gets wet. That said, it works as a camera that can get splashed or dropped from 1.5m/5ft.
The TX30 has a nice 26-130mm equiv. focal length, though its maximum aperture range of F3.5-4.8 doesn't stand out. Ergonomically the camera is a bit of a mess (and not just because of the underwater issue), with no place to rest your thumb and a fiddly zoom controller. Some of its point-and-shoot modes, such as Superior Auto and HDR, are very well done. In terms of movies, the TX30 can record 1080/60i video with stereo sound.
The TX30 captures colorful images with less highlight clipping than some of its peers, but when viewed close-up you'll find a lot of detail smudging. Some other issues we encountered include a weak flash, lack of GPS, and middling battery life.