- - Array of functions
- - Great image quality
- - Excellent in low-lighting
- - Bright lens
- - Quick autofocus
Best Waterproof Camera of 2014
Have you ever wondered whether there could exist a cameras so technically and aesthetically beautiful; something so intricately and delicately made, with complex, brilliant features that includes a Wi-Fi-enabled camera, the ability to shoot HD videos and high-resolution photographs … but which is also tough, rugged, robust, and able handle extreme conditions? Well, meet Olympus’ Tough TG-3 Waterproof 16 MP Digital Camera. It is a marvellous combination of whimsical beauty, technical ingenuity and hardened endurance.
When considering which waterproof camera to buy, you have a few options to size up. From the camera you want:
- A good ability to withstand water, shock and freezing conditions
- An array of functions and features you come to expect from typical land cameras
- Good image quality
- Excellent low-light shooting ability
This product provides all four – and more besides. For anyone who shoots outdoors, they know that a rugged camera can often compromise a little on image quality. It’s just the way things are. Typically, you will be scouring the Internet for a waterproof camera because you need something to shoot outdoors with, so you need it to be as resilient and as tough as possible. But what you don’t want to compromise on is either:
- The product’s image quality
- The price
Olympus’s Tough TG-3 means you don’t have to compromise on either. It can withstand shock if dropped from up to around 8 feet in height, can go 50 feet deep in water without being damaged, and it can handle freezing conditions up to around fourteen degrees Fahrenheit. Its ability to shoot in low-light is a cause for praise and comment, too, as shooting outdoors invariably means that we can be hampered by poor lighting. It comes with a super bright f.20 lens that is superb in low-light, and it comes with four modes for macro shooting, which ultimately means you can adjust so that you can incorporate some nice scenery into your wide shots, whilst the quality of the zoom means you can get as close to your subjects as you want.
But let’s make one thing clear; you don’t necessarily buy a rugged, waterproof camera for its image quality rather than its ruggedness and ability to withstand shock. People shooting outdoors often create an element of risk and danger, and for this reason it is important that they’re accompanied by a camera that can endure some hefty bumps and scrapes. But the Olympus Tough TG-3 is arguably the pick of the ‘tough’ outdoors cameras when it comes to image quality. It has a 16-megapixel, 1/2.3” CMOS sensor, as well as the aforementioned macro lens option, which range from 25-100mm. With its aperture peaking at f.20 its iris has a fairly good scope for letting in a decent amount of light that ultimately means you can shoot in poor lighting without worrying what the shot will turn out like.
The product also comes with ridiculously quick autofocus (perfect for a point and shoot camera, and perfect for when you quickly need to focus on a moving object, be it an insect, a bird et cetera), and its video can record at 1080p at 30fps. Olympus have also listened to their customers and improved the battery life, though your battery will invariably take a hit if you use too much Wi-Fi.
Why You Would Need A Waterproof Camera
Whether we’re professionally involved in photography, whether we’re studying it, or whether it is simply a passion, it goes without saying that image quality is of intrinsic importance to us all. But it is often the case that – like with anything in life – there is a trade-off in the camera world. If a cameras image quality is of the highest resolution, the body itself may be super delicate, and it may suffer considerable damage the first time you drop it. Likewise, if you have a waterproof camera, it may be the case that it is rugged, tough and able to resist shock and water damage – but instead it may suffer from slightly inferior image quality.
- Because Ordinary Digital Camera’s Just Don’t Cut It In Extreme Weather: Waterproof cameras are designed to work in all conditions, and can operate and survive at temperatures that sink to around -10 degrees Celsius. They are essential comrades on outdoor shoots, so if you’re thinking of shooting nature, and if you anticipate that you will be getting rather wet, a waterproof camera has to be the first thing in your kit bag.
- You Can Get Closer To What Matters: Any nature photographer will invariably want to get as close as possible to their subject. Whether you are shooting wildlife, fishes, sharks, or even waterfalls, you don’t want to be restricted by your rugged location, or the worry that you might do your camera some damage. A waterproof camera, which is also shock proof, allows you to concentrate on getting the best shot possible without worrying what might happen if you fumble and drop your equipment – or expose it to too much water.
- You Can Go Underwater: It’s self-explanatory. With a waterproof camera, you can now enter environments that were previously cut off, getting closer to the action and snapping breathtaking shots of life under the sea. A waterproof camera is built so that it can handle the strong pressure of the water, and they are designed to absorb shock.
Types of Waterproof Cameras
Underwater Housing Camera
An underwater housing camera is simply an ordinary digital camera that is housed in protective casing – a shell, so to speak – that makes it waterproof and watertight, thus making it ready to be used underwater. The advantages of this kind of waterproof camera are myriad. Because there is such a wide range of ‘land cameras’ available, your choice regarding which to use is great. Moreover, an underwater housing is relatively inexpensive yet it performs an excellent job. You will be more used to a land camera than another kind of waterproof one, and you will also have better image quality. The biggest disadvantage with an underwater housing camera, however, is whether the appropriate casing can accommodate the lenses you wish to use.
Amphibious cameras have less operating depth than housed land cameras, but they are fantastic for macro shots. As a lot of nature photographers – and particularly those taking pictures underwater – will wish to get up close to their subjects, this is a huge positive. Unlike the housed cameras, an amphibious camera already has a protective shell, but their bulky nature can make them slightly more expensive than ordinary land cameras. Amphibious cameras are tough and rugged, and are designed to resist shock, but their biggest downfall may be the fact that there aren’t a wide variety of them available on the market.
Advantages Of A Waterproof Camera
Waterproof cameras come at a little higher cost than ordinary digital camera, owing to their robustness that prevents them being easily damaged. But the pros far outweigh the cons. They can perform many of the functions that a typical land camera can, reaching up to 18 megapixels and with the added bonus of being capable of shooting 10 images per second in a bid to capture that perfect action shot. They are constantly being refined and improved upon and here are some of their advantages:
- Ideal for all weather conditions
- Perfect for action shots
- Can be used underwater
- Have resale value
- Generally compact and less bulky than DSLRs
- Remarkably aesthetically pleasing despite their functionality
- In-built colour filters and white balancers to counter the discolouring created by water
- Huge apertures to counter dim lighting
Top Five Waterproof Cameras
Nikon’s 1 AW1 is, in simple terms, an absolute modern beast that has the look of a vintage beauty. It is tough, resilient, hardened yet stunning to look at. It is to the camera world what Don Corleone was to the movies; suave, sophisticated, elegant – but utterly uncompromising when it matters. It looks classically minimal, subtle, with an unspoken silkiness, but it comes with a tough functionality that makes it perfect for outdoor photographers.
- Easy to handle
- Easy to operate
- Perfect for shooting HD movies (1080p)
Moreover, it comes with accomplished technical refinements that will have most photography enthusiasts drooling from the mouth. It comes with phase-detection AF (autofocus) which means you can capture moving objects at high speeds without losing any quality. Such speed when it comes to autofocus is important for outdoors photographers, but precision is important too, and with the AW1 Nikon have worked hard to refine phase detect, developing a high precision calibration system that irons out messy deviations in the process that can damage the chances of autofocus working properly.
The camera is compatible with the latest NIKKOR 1 lenses, including zoom lenses and wide-angle lenses that are also waterproof and shockproof.
As the name suggests, Olympus’ TG-830 is as tough as they come. Moreover, it’s compact enough to fit in your pocket, thus being an adequate substitute for those bulky DSLR’s that you don’t wish to carry around with you on your outdoor adventures. It also comes with underwater housing which makes the camera pressure-proof for up to 45m deep in the water.
A lot of us know that it is difficult photographing underwater. Not only do we have to contend with the fact that our equipment might get damaged, but we also have to deal with the issue of the water filtering our colours so that nothing looks as realistic or as stylistic as we would like. But with the TG-830 you have an Advanced Underwater White Balance which seeks to address such issues by delivering natural colours in spite of the watery lighting circumstances. Moreover, if creative filters are what you’re looking for, Olympus have here added 11 in-camera ‘magic filters’ – including ‘Pop Art’ ‘Punk’ and ‘Watercolour’ – that allow you to transform your images as you work.
The ultimate tagline from Olympus with this product is that you get to embark upon ‘worry-free picture taking.’ And this is certainly true. Because the camera is crushproof, you get to concentrate fully on your compositions. With a TruePic VI image processor and CMOS sensor, your pictures will be as good as you want them to be, all as a result of Olympus’ dedication to optical engineering. In short, the product is intelligent, rugged, the menus are easy to operate, and it’s overall well worth the money.
The DMC-FT5 is as tough a cookie as they come, with a shock resistance that means it can be dropped from a height of around 2.0 metres without being damaged. Moreover, it can survive in temperatures that sink to as low as -10 degrees Celsius, whilst it has a pressure resistance of 100kgf.
Panasonic continually listen to their customers and the market when it comes to their cameras, and each year they refine them so as to keep up with the shifting demands. With the Lumix, they have added an underwater shooting mode that basically acts as an automatic colour corrector, adding the missing reds that have been removed from your pictures by the water (water acts as a colour filter). Moreover, they have improved the Fast Focus, with the Lumix focusing quicker than ever – 0.1 seconds. Such rapid speed is perfect for underwater or nature photographers who literally have split seconds to catch the perfect shots of a lifetime.
The Lumix has the ability to shoot at 10 fps, meaning you can take a sequence of pictures at high speed that are crisp and in focus. This gives you greater control over your subject, particularly animals moving rapidly. When it looks like they may move out of the frame, the high speed burst shooting ability of the camera will help to keep them in it, shooting up to ten images in a second.
It also comes with built-in Wi-Fi, which means you can operate remote browsing and remote sharing – perfect for photographers for whom timing is everything. You can also transfer and back-up the pictures wirelessly.
This camera certainly looks like something a little different. Its complex design and somewhat awkward aesthetics betray the fact that it is remarkably easy-to-hold owing to its significant non-slip design, which is something of a hallmark of Ricoh’s cameras. Some might suggest that its appearance is ‘state of the art’, but what we can certainly all agree on is that its features are very much deserving of such a moniker. Coming with a huge aperture that makes it perfect for underwater photography, as well as outdoor photography in dim lighting, it also has a back-illuminated CMOS image sensor that creates distinctly low-noise images wherever you are, whatever the conditions. This is exactly what you want from a waterproof camera.
Ricoh are certainly building towards something grand and exciting, and the WG-4 is an improvement on past models in that it now has even faster Autofocus as well as a USER mode which can instantly recall a user’s ‘favourite’ settings. But they have also added other things to get excited about, including 29 different shooting modes. Small wonder, then, that the USER mode has been added!
This is the perfect companion to take with you on your adventures. Shock and water proof, it can barely be beaten for image quality and with six LED macro lights attached to the lens barrel, you now have the advantage of fine-tuning your breathtaking compositions beforehand with the camera’s LCD monitor that allows you a magnified view of the surrounding area. Simply, it is a rewarding and exciting camera.
This camera is incredibly small (the size and shape of a matchbox) but it’s built to last and to resist the tests that the great outdoors throw at it. Its metal exterior is freeze proof, shock proof and waterproof, with the body itself weighing in at 680 grams. It comes with an 18 megapixel CMOS sensor and has a built-in 26mm wide angle lens.
Sony have become renowned for their SteadyShot image stabilisation technology, and such technology is implemented to great effect here. SteadyShot compensates for the fact that the camera is hand-held operated, and thus at the mercy of our jerkiness. With such an optical stabiliser, you can be sure that the camera produces a more stable image. Furthermore, Sony claim that their SteadyShot is now thirteen time more effective than ever.
Unlike some of its more expensive competitors, it doesn’t have Wi-Fi. But with that said, it comes at a lower price, has longer battery life, and can record HD videos at 1080p. You are essentially paying for the quality of the image, as well as its ability to withstand impact, water and extreme weather conditions. For its size and versatility (it’s also worth mentioning that it can record ten images per second), the price feels almost like a real coup.