While action cameras might be trending, the rough-and-tumble compact camera is alive and well. These point-and-shoot models first came to light when Olympus introduced its “Tough” line of cameras. These cameras are weatherproof/waterproof, shock-and-drop proof and guaranteed to work in subfreezing temperatures.
This class of “adventure” cameras is great for photographers and snapshooters who spend time outdoors—whether hiking to capture fall and winter landscapes or recording a day at the beach or on the boat. Given their rugged builds, these cameras are also good for all members of the family. This is especially true for teens or youngsters who might be less concerned about the outside elements wreaking havoc with a camera’s electronics than getting the shot. Most are available in a range of fun colors, too.
Rough & Tumble Compact Cameras
Canon PowerShot D30
The third iteration of Canon’s entry in the adventure category, the D30 is a good option for underwater snapshots, given its depth rating of 82 feet. Basic open-water SCUBA certification limits divers to 60-foot dives, so there’s plenty of leeway here. It’s shockproof to withstand a 6.5-foot fall and operates in extreme temperatures—from a subfreezing 14ºF to a sweltering 104ºF.
In addition to Full HD video capture, the D30 can record several seconds of video prior to taking a photo. It uses the video to create a “movie digest,” combining still and video for an overview of the day’s shooting. It also employs the Canon HS system that helps provide low-light performance. Built around a 12 megapixel sensor, the camera’s 4x digital zoom augments its 5x optical zoom lens with a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 28–140mm. This is perfect for wide-angle underwater shots or capturing a relatively distant subject on land at the telephoto end. And its 3-inch LCD offers a wide viewing angle. There’s even an underwater macro mode that focuses as close as 0.4 inch. This mode is great for taking pictures of small underwater creatures. The D30 comes in bright blue. $300. usa.canon.com
Fujifilm FinePix XP90
One of the newest everything-proof cameras, the XP90 utilizes a 16MP BSI sensor to capture still and Full HD (1080p/60fps) video. Easy to use, the XP90 sports a 28mm, 5x optical zoom lens with optical sensor-shift image stabilization. The lens is complemented by a 10x intelligent digital zoom function. Waterproof to 50 feet, the XP90 offers standard and macro underwater modes that compensate for color shifts that occur when shooting at depths. It’s also built to survive a fall of 5.8 feet, is dustproof and operates at temperatures as low as 14ºF.
The camera is fast, too, reaching continuous shooting speeds of 10 frames per sec at full resolution or 60 fps at lower resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio. Interval-capture and time-lapse movie modes offer creative options, along with slow motion video mode, motion panorama and 11 special effects filters (many can be used for video, too). Add a long list of scene modes to the mix, as well as a 3-inch monitor with antireflective coating, and the XP90 offers a lot of value-added features. It’s Wi-Fi equipped, and the free Camera Remote app enables users to view, share and operate the camera from a mobile device. There’s also a second app that automatically saves still and video files to a computer wirelessly. The XP90 comes in yellow, blue, green and orange. $179. fujifilmusa.com
Leica X-U (Typ 113)
With the waterproof, shock-resistant (4 feet), dustproof and winterized Leica X-U, the company has taken the concept of tough cameras up a notch in class (and price). It’s rated to a depth of 49 feet for SCUBA divers who are looking for a high-end, amphibious camera to accompany them on underwater adventures.
Built around a 16.2 megapixel, APS-C-size sensor, the X-U is equipped with a fast, 23mm f/1.7 Asph (35mm in full-frame terms) lens and a special protective filter. There’s no viewfinder, but its 3-inch LCD is large enough to give divers and outdoor adventurers a broad enough view for composing and reviewing still images or Full HD video. It also features 5-fps continuous shooting, sensitivity settings to ISO 12,500, full manual and semi-manual exposure control and RAW shooting. The X-U is comparatively heavy at 1.4 pounds. But it sports an anti-slip rubber exterior that makes handling more secure. $3,295. us.leica-camera.com
Nikon Coolpix AW120
Great for outdoor adventures as well as travel, the Coolpix AW120 offers all the tough features needed. It’s waterproof to depths of 59 feet with shockproof (6.6 feet) and freezeproof operation. At its core, you’ll find a 16MP CMOS sensor with ISO sensitivity from 125–6,400 (the latter in auto mode). A 5x, f/2.8–4.9 zoom Nikkor lens covers a broad range of 24–120mm (equivalent) and features lens shift and electronic image stabilization for still images.
The camera comes with a long list of scene modes, provides in-camera editing and shoots Full HD 1080p video. Its 3-inch LCD monitor has an antireflective coating and five levels of brightness adjustment. The camera is Wi-Fi equipped for sharing and shooting from mobile devices. Plus built-in GPS provides mapping and an electronic compass. In addition, for traveling to new places, it provides points-of-interest information for discovering the best photo ops. The Coolpix AW120 comes in orange, black, blue and camouflage versions. $250. nikonusa.com
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-870
From the company that started the “tough” movement, the 16 megapixel Olympus TG-870 is dustproof, shockproof (7 feet), crushproof (220 pound-force), freezeproof (14ºF) and waterproof (to 50 feet). This little camera’s 21mm ultrawide lens is perfect for capturing close-up underwater shots. And, it’s equipped with a 3-inch, 180º flip LCD for flexibility when shooting overhead, from low angles or even selfies.
Special shooting modes cover underwater, land-based and even nighttime shots—including start trails. Action modes for sports, Full HD video, slow motion, time-lapse and burst modes round out the TG-870’s shooting features. Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, combined with the free OI Share app, provide a full complement of transfer, sharing and remote operation from smart devices. It’s offered in black/red, white/blue and green/black versions. $280. olympusamerica.com
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS30
This sleek compact is waterproof to 26 feet, shockproof enough to handle a 5-foot fall, dustproof and freezeproof to 14ºF. It has a 16.1MP CCD sensor and a bright, 2.7-inch, LCD for composition and image review. Its Lumix DC Vario 4x, 25–100mm (equivalent) zoom lens with 5-way Mega optical image stabilization captures blur-free images and videos even in low light. A digital intelligent zoom function extends the reach of the lens to 8x.
A 23-zone AF system plus quick AF combine to deliver fast, precise autofocus for a variety of subjects. Other features include an intelligent auto mode that automatically selects the optimum scene mode and an 8-fps maximum burst rate. Creative control mode enables time-lapse sequences in standard and panorama formats, while an underwater mode compensates for lost red tones. The TS30 also records 720p HD video. The sporty-looking compact comes in a choice of blue, red or black. $140. panasonic.com