Have you ever been just too afraid of wrecking your precious pieces of gear due to water and other outdoorsy messy stuff? Admit it, we all have suffered from the panic of that happening to our photographic devices at least once. Yes, there are weather-sealed options, which work amazingly, but they simply aren't that rugged for you to feel totally confident about their resistance to some heavy mistreating.
And sure, there are water cases too, but the truly protective ones are mighty expensive and quite odd to use. Especially when being outside deep waters... Fortunately for us, there are some decently accessible options in the market that will allow us to worry about the shot and nothing else beyond that!
Today we'll quickly mention and briefly overview some of the best waterproof (and of course mighty rugged) cameras on the market today.
Olympus Tough TG-6 - $379.00
With the notoriously tough design, the TG-6 camera could be your any-situation camera of choice. Red is quite popular on it, but you can also pick a more discrete all-black version too. And don't let that standard point-and-shoot look fool you.
The camera features a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor with a TruePic VIII image processor. It also offers an impressive ISO range that reaches up to ISO 12800, and it is capable of recording 4K video at 30 fps, and fully HD at 120 fps. When it comes to stills, the camera can shoot a continuous burst of 20 frames per second, and it comes with a quite fun lens with a zooming range of 25-100mm (35mm equivalent). Which is also very well protected with a double-pane glass seal to prevent condensation and fogging. And last but not least, a variable aperture with a maximum value of f/2.
But those specs are quite standard, don't you think? Of course, they are! Let's check out the fun part of this rugged camera.
The underwater usage has been rated for a maximum depth of 50'/15m, which is a very decent range for its price. The camera has been tested to the limits, and it is able to withstand a beating, and the hermetic sealing will put up a fight to the smallest and meanest particles of dust out there. The camera is able to continue to operate before reaching a freeze point of 14°F/-10°C, and it can resist a fall of 7'/2.1m high. And last but not least, it can also resist a crushing force of 220lb/100kg of pressure.
The Olympus Tough TG-6 digital camera has been designed to allow direct operation while wearing thick gloves thanks to its convenient dial control. And if you like outdoorsy gadgets, the camera comes with a built-in field sensor system which incorporates a GPS, a compass, a pressure gauge and a thermometer for precise environmental recordings.
SeaLife ReefMaster RM-4K Ultra Compact Digital Underwater Camera - $299.00
Alright, this one is a very specialized camera, and is not your regular to carry around piece of gear. Unless you find its tiny size convenient for your craft.
The SeaLife RM-4K has been designed for capturing the beauties of the aquatic world in a stunning image quality. It can be submerged as deeply as 130'/40m, and it comes with a generous Panasonic CMOS image sensor so you can record sea life at Ultra-HD 4K at 30 fps video or Full HD 1080p at 60 fps. Also, it can shoot sharply detailed 14 megapixels photographs.
One of the coolest feature we will* being found in this camera is the ReefMaster's wide-angle fisheye lens, which will allow us to capture nature in all its glory. And the best part, is that the camera will automatically correct the barrel distortion, avoiding funny looks due to the wide optic on it. The camera offers a minimum focusing distance of 12"/30cm, which is a perfect spot between being too close, and allowing nature to remain still.
* The SeaLife RM-4K is expected to be launched in November 2020.
The camera comes with a microSDHC bay, and it can handle sizes of up to 128GB. Also, it comes with an impressive 2.0" color LCD screen, so you won't miss a shot, and it comes with built-in WiFi for pairing it with your favorite Android or iOS devices.
GoPro Hero8 Black - $329.99
Not all rugged cameras are capable of withstanding action like a GoPro, and when it comes to pushing imagery to the limits, the Hero 8 Black can surely deliver. With an unquestionable legacy at its back, this camera has been designed to produce smooth movement at all its supported frame rates. The result is smooth gimbal-like footage for any footage you can imagine.
It shoots Ultra-HD 4K video, beautiful time-lapses, and up to 1080p 240 fps for slow and super- slow-motion videos. And if you want to shoot stills with it, you can record up to 30 frames per second at 12 megapixels, and if you want to get creative with them, it comes with a built-in updated SuperPhoto with HDR support for images that will blow your mind.
And as expected to be, this GoPro is quite smaller than previous models, and it has a more streamlined design. The camera comes with a more intuitive and easier to control user interface, as well as a mighty crisp LCD screen. Also important, the lens is twice as resistant as it was in previous models, and it features Night-lapse and LiveBurst support. And if you are planning on diving deep, take into account that despite being waterproof, it is designed to resist maximum immersions of 33'/10m deep without the need of an additional housing.
Fujifilm Finepix XP140 - $229.00
This is a bold looking camera with a craving for mistreatment! The XP140 is a tough piece of gear that will give you both creative freedom and high quality image files. It comes with an impressive 16.4MP CMOS sensor for both its price and size, enabling high-res shooting capabilities in both video and photo. And with an ISO range of 100-12,800, you'll never miss a single shot.
Beyond a generous 28-140mm equivalent lens, the camera is capable of being by your side while diving as long as you maintain yourself above 82'/25m deep in the water. It is also being designed to resist 5.9'/1.8m shocks, and has an operative freezing-point of 14°F/-10°C. Handling it is quite intuitive thanks to its sweet ergonomic design taught for one-hand controlling, and don't let that price fool you, it comes with a 3.0" 920k-dot LCD monitor which features an anti reflective coating for a comfortable viewing experience even under the harshest light situations.
The most impressive feature of a camera like this one, is that it comes with a back-illuminated sensor, so don't you worry about cranking up that ISO! This fine feature is present in several high- end cameras, but is quite an innovation to find it here in a, technically, point and shoot camera. Having a backed illuminated sensor allows the camera to digest more light, a perfect thing for low- noise images when shooting at high sensitivities of course.
Oh, and if you plan on using it for capturing marine life, we are sure you'll find a nice time shooting lots of interesting findings thanks to its underwater macro mode, which helps in keeping everything, color-wise, as true as possible.
Insta360 One R - $479.99
Are you a 360-degree content lover? Then you'll love this! This is an ingenious solution for having a 360° underwater camera, and it works thanks to its modular design. Cool, but how's that possible?
Well, we should allow them to explain the concept rather than us, but technically speaking, they are offering us a revolutionary way in which we can shoot video and photos via three different choices:
Dual lens 360: it shoots with a two-lens sided module, allowing you to capture impossible shots you could only dreamed of.
4K Wide Angle: basically what one could expect from a high quality action camera with some seriously smooth results of 60 Frames per second and 8x slow motion.
1" Wide Angle Mod: which is co-engineered with Leica, and well, it looks insane! Having a 1" sensor in such a small device is madness.
The camera module is flexible and it allows its users not only to change mods but also to reverse the screen and more! The camera alone is 16.4'/5m waterproof, not that impressive when compared to other overseen cameras here, but none of those were as versatile as this one. So, if you aren't planning on deep dives, then this camera might be the one for you.
The specs on this camera are insane, and honestly, this is a clear example of something that makes your own creativity be the only limit to yourselves.
Ricoh G900 - $799.95
You know something is going to be tough when it comes with a label stating it is "Chemical Resistance for Industrial Use".
So, what can we expect from an almost $800 point-and-shoot camera? Well, a lot of stuff actually. This camera has been designed to cope with the working-lifestyle of tough people, from civil engineers to disaster relief volunteers, as well as indoor and outdoor requirements from manufacturing and industrial sites.
More than a creative tool, this camera is a precision visual registering gadget featuring a 20MP BSI CMOS sensor which allows UHD 4K30 video recording, and stills with ISO 125-25600 for any lighting situation. And if that wasn't enough, you can always give your shots an extra kick thanks to an already icon from Ricoh tough cameras, the omnipresent LED ring light. Which in this camera, is also used for barcode scanning purposes. What? Yup, this camera is very versatile indeed.
From wide angle (28mm equivalent) to telephoto (140mm equivalent), the internal 5x Zoom Lens on this camera will suit all your needs, and after that "chemical resistant" disclaimer, it won't raise any eye-brows to know that it is also water, crush*, shock, freeze and dust proof.
* With a crushing pressure limit of 220lbf/100kgf, only this piece of gear seems a bit different from other cameras mentioned here so far
Nikon Coolpix W300 - $386.95
This camera has been designed for the people who want to share the adrenalinic experiences of their highly active life with the world. It is basically a Point-and-Shoot, as several of the cameras we've discussed so far in this post, but with a couple of notorious distinctions like the 1 2/3" 16.0 MP Low-light CMOS sensor, which allows the camera to deliver 4K UHD 3840x2160 at 30/25p. Or the dustproof, freezeproof, shockproof and waterproof housing, which comes in vibrant yellow and orange (fine, it also comes in black, but good luck with finding it in case dropping it while swimming).
The Coolpix W300 also features a large 3" LCD screen with anti-reflect coating, 5x optical zoom lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, and a very interesting mode which allows you to hide or reveal flowers, plants, insects and more when shooting in Macro Mode. And the thing that we like the most about this camera, is the side grip. No other point-and-shoot we've handled felt so safe in our bit-clumsy hands. Operating it is easy, and no extra stuff is needed for it to feel comfortable, even in the largest hands. And if you are planning on jumping off from a plane, make sure to activate the Onboard GPS, eCompass, Altimeter, and Depth Gauge indicators on your screen!
Pretty much all of the rugged and waterproof cameras available in the market have been obviously designed for tough usages. But who said that you can't benefit from having such a strong design for your candid and street photography? Beyond the adventurous profiling made by these brands, we truly think that anyone can have fun with any of these cameras.
Some are cheap, and some others aren't. Pick yours, and overcome that creative block!