What's the best waterproof camera?
January 9, 2011 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a good waterproof camera, and confused by conflicting reviews online.

I'll be out and about a fair bit this year and want to get a rugged camera to accompany me. The features I'm most interested in are:
- waterproof (though I don't intend to go very deep)
- hard wearing
- good image quality
- quick to focus

At the moment I'm looking at the Panasonic TS10, which seems like it ticks all the boxes and is on Newegg for $163. I'm also tempted by the Sony Cybershot TX5, which has a range of features that sound useful (sweep panorama, intelligent image stabilisation etc.), but it's $330.

The trouble is, with both of these (and other models) I keep coming across various reviews that seem to contradict each other - some praise the image quality, others say it's sub-par. Some claim the waterproofing is wonderful, others say they leak within weeks. Some say they're rugged, others say bits fall off and aren't covered by warranty. Some say the lens fogs up all the time, others claim it's never happened.

Suffice to say, I'm confused. I know there'll always be a range of experiences, but I'm finding the reviews so wide-ranging as to be useless. Does anyone have experience with either of these cameras, or with a reliable review site? I'm open to other models if they're amazing, and am aiming at around $200 - $250, but am willing to shell out a little more if it'll be a better investment in the long run.

posted by twirlypen to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This article on Digital Photography Review talks about several waterproof cameras. It's a bit dated, though. The site often has exhaustive reviews of good digital cameras.

You could always get a waterproof case for a non-waterproof camera. The popular Canon S90, for example, has such cases available (though they're expensive).
posted by Thoughtcrime at 4:24 PM on January 9, 2011

Well, people rarely review when things go right but always review when things go wrong. So the existence of negative reviews isn't terrible if they are balanced by positive ones.
posted by delmoi at 4:27 PM on January 9, 2011

+1 to waterproof cases, or even the ziplock-like bags with hard lenses, rather than cameras. Waterproof cameras are both a 'fringe' product which companies like Canon and Nikon don't throw their full weight behind, and something where the price difference likely outweighs the actual cost.
posted by tmcw at 5:00 PM on January 9, 2011

A friend has a Canon Powershot D10 that they're happy with. You can check out the photo quality on Flickr.
posted by dws at 5:10 PM on January 9, 2011

I recently got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 and have been quite happy with it. My family played with it a lot in the pool and my husband got some good pix while snorkeling in the ocean.
posted by mogget at 7:03 PM on January 9, 2011

I don't know anything about cameras, really, but you might want to check out the waterproof camera mentioned in this FPP, the GoPro Surf HD.
posted by axiom at 7:46 PM on January 9, 2011

I was happy with my Pentax Optio W90 I got in July. You can look in my flickr stream for picture quality, underwater and above (go to the summer vacation and camping trips sets). $189 on Amazon so in the same range as the Panasonic.

I chose that camera because I wanted something generally rugged as well as waterproof to take on outings, while biking, skiing, etc. As an added bonus it also has an interesting macro mode (sample) as well as a bunch of other features I was looking forward to trying out. No, the image quality is not better than my wife's DSLR, but it is as good as other point-and-shoots in that price range. This sunflower pic has some nice detail.

Unfortunately, it is not waterproof if you neglect to close the battery latch fully, put it in your swim trunks pocket and go into Sebago Lake. So I have been without a camera since then. But that was no fault of the camera. In fact I may eventually replace it with the same model.
posted by mikepop at 5:53 AM on January 10, 2011

My husband has really enjoyed the Canon Powershot G10. Photos and videos here.
posted by killy willy at 10:28 AM on January 10, 2011

Response by poster: For future searchers: I bought the Sony TX5, and so far it's treating me very well, though the touch-screen menu has a slight delay which can be mildly irritating. The smart panorama thing is fantastic though.
posted by twirlypen at 7:56 PM on February 14, 2011

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