Monday, 20 July 2009

Waterproof cameras - Overview

Fun in the Sun

We look at seven waterproof digitial cameras for your next outdoor adventure

by Shawn Barnett
Posted: 07/17/09

Today's point and shoot digital cameras are easier to use than ever, with face detection, smart exposure modes, and image-stabilized optics that compensate for camera movement. But get caught out in the rain with any of them, or take them out for a water-bound adventure, and you'll either need to stash them in a jacket pocket or buy a dry bag just to take them along.

Before 2009, only two major companies made waterproof digital cameras: Olympus and Pentax. For 2009, Panasonic, Fujifilm, and Canon have joined the fray, each offering a single waterproof camera, two of which are also rugged, meaning they can take a drop to concrete from a specified height.

What they all have. All seven of the digital cameras in this roundup are competent cameras that will capture usable images, bringing back memories that other cameras would miss. They each have one crucial element that makes them valuable: their ability to play in the water right along with you.

They're also all easy to use, generally speaking, defaulting to full Auto modes that make sure you get the shot more often than not. They all shoot movies with sound, as well as stills, and they all have internal optics, meaning that their lenses are all concealed inside the body of the camera, so you have little need to worry about damage to protruding lens elements.

You'll find sealed doors that you have to learn how to care for, and they all use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, so you'll have to remember to bring the charger along on longer trips. If you're shooting video more than stills, you'll need an additional battery.

Note also that none of these waterproof cameras has an optical viewfinder, so how the LCD performs in direct sunlight is also important.

Where they differ. Along with image quality, a camera's responsiveness and interface are important. More responsive cameras, especially those with faster shutter lag, are going to get the shot more often than the slower models. So if action is your thing, you're going to want to pay attention to the shutter lag numbers, as well as whether the cameras helped or hindered while getting the shot.


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