Active lifestyle cameras boasting waterproof, dustproof and often shockproof, freezeproof construction have been around for well over a decade, pioneered by such successful entries as the Olympus Tough and Pentax Optio W series. But over the past year, this expanding market sector has seen a remarkable transformation, with new or seriously updated models from virtually every major camera maker, including Nikon, Canon, Fujifilm, Pentax, Panasonic, Olympus and Sony, plus a couple of cool waterproof camcorders from Panasonic and Samsung.
The latest models covered here pack an amazing complement of high-tech features, including Full HD 1080p video capability, into fashionably rugged looking or stylishly slim packages designed to appeal to hikers, travelers, boaters, beach babies and the outdoorsy set.
Positioned at the intersection of high style, high adventure and cutting-edge technology, these cameras deliver a satisfying combination of high-end performance and shooting flexibility that makes them a value proposition for consumers who want to go anywhere, in any weather, and create memorable images along the way.
To give dealers a timely heads-up, here’s a compendium of the latest, most enticing active-lifestyle models your customers will be comparing before they swipe their credit cards.
Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS. Claimed to be the first waterproof adventure camera with a fast f/2.0 lens (a 4x, 25-100mm equivalent f/2.0-4.9 zoom), this ruggedly handsome, 12 megapixel flagship of the Tough line is waterproof to 40 feet, shockproof to 6.6 feet, crushproof to 220 pounds and freezeproof to 14º F—as well as dustproof! It also features: a 12MP backlit CMOS sensor; a “DSLR-quality” image processor; a 3.0-inch OLED screen; Full HD 1080p video capability at 60 fps; super sport mode with full-res burst capability of 5 fps (60 fps at 3MP); built-in GPS; four underwater modes, including macro; and system expandability with a lens converter adapter. $399.99. olympusamerica.com
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4. This indestructible-looking dude is waterproof to 40 feet, dustproof, freezeproof to 14º F and built to survive a 6.6-foot drop. It incorporates: a 12.1MP Hi-Speed CCD sensor; a 4.6x, 28-128mm equivalent Leica DC Vario-Elmar optical zoom lens; a 2.7-inch AR-coated LCD; Power OIS (optical image stabilization); 3D photo mode; and autofocus claimed to be 28% faster. It captures Full HD 1,920×1,080 video in AVCHD/MP4 format, and its quad indicator includes GPS, compass, altimeter and barometer functions, with the barometer indicating depth when underwater! And, an LED light helps record videos in dusky underwater environments or at night—automatically turning on when ambient light becomes dim. $399.99. panasonic.com
Nikon Coolpix AW100. Sleekly stylish but tough looking, the AW100 is waterproof to 33 feet and will withstand a drop of 5 feet. It features a 16MP CMOS sensor, a 3.0-inch 460k-dot LCD and a 5x, 28-140mm equivalent zoom lens. The AW100 provides built-in GPS and electronic compass functions, and even has a built-in map displayed on the LCD. Other niceties include Full HD 1080p video capture with stereo sound, 20 scene modes, including easy auto and underwater scene, and a unique action control feature that lets uses control selected camera functions one-handed by shaking the camera. $349.95. nikonusa.com
Fujifilm FinePix XP170. Distinctively designed with a cool contemporary style, this brand spanking new 14MP entry from Fujifilm is waterproof to 33 feet, shockproof to 6.5 feet, freezeproof down to 14º F and dustproof. For on-the-go sharing, a wireless image transfer function lets users connect it to a smartphone or tablet and upload images to social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook in seconds. It’s claimed to shoot bursts up to a blistering 10 fps, provides a 2.7-inch antireflective LCD and has a Fujinon 5x, 28-140mm equivalent optical zoom lens with a hardened glass lens barrier and water-repellent coating. Other features: Full HD 30-fps 1080p video capability; advanced image stabilization; tracking AF; and auto scene recognition. $279.95. fujifilmusa.com
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20. Fashionably svelte and slim with a thickness of only 0.70 inch and weighing in at a mere 4.2 ounces, this pocketsize gem with a sliding protective lens cover is waterproof to 16 feet, dustproof and shockproof for falls up to 5 feet. It provides a 16.2MP Exmor BSI sensor, a 3.0-inch touch-screen LCD and a 4x, 25-100mm Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom lens. It can capture Full HD 1,920×1,080 AVCHD video at 60i and full-res still bursts at 10 fps. Other features: face, blink and smile detection; clear image zoom for lossless doubling of focal length; 3D photo and panorama capture; and 16 scene modes. $329.99. sony.com
Canon PowerShot D20. Canon’s new, ergonomically contoured 12.1MP entry into the adventure-camera sweepstakes is waterproof to 33 feet and temperature resistant from 14º to 104º F. It features a 5x, 28-140mm equivalent lens, a 3.0-inch Pure Color LCD with a delta dot pattern for enhanced performance, intelligent image stabilization (IS) and built-in GPS. The D20 can shoot Full HD 1080p video at a cinematic 24 fps, and has a wind filter feature and optical zoom while shooting for maximum movie flexibility. It can capture 280 shots or play back five hours of video per battery charge. $349.99. usa.canon.com
Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS. The latest iteration of Pentax’s very successful, uniquely styled WG line features built-in GPS in addition to being waterproof to 40 feet, shockproof up to a 5-foot drop, crushproof to 220 pounds and freezeproof down to 14º F. This 16MP classic has a 5x, 28-140mm equivalent optical zoom lens that provides up to 36x zoom when combined with digital zoom, a 3.0-inch 460k-dot LCD, and it captures Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps. In digital microscope mode it uses six macro LEDs positioned around the lens to deliver soft, even macro lighting for subjects as close as 1 cm. It also offers manual focus with focus lock and extensive capture modes. $399.95. pentaximaging.com
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX200V. With classic minimalist styling and a sleek glass-panel face, this wafer-thin (0.63 inch) masterpiece is dustproof and submersible to 16 feet. Its Exmor sensor provides class-leading 18.2MP resolution, and it includes an ultra-high-res 3.3-inch touch-screen OLED, a 5x, 28-140mm equivalent Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens that gets out to 10x using lossless Clear Image digital zoom, ISO settings from 64-12,800, and Full HD 1080/60p video capture. It also features Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with active mode and face, smile and blink detection. $499.99. sony.com
Dynamic Surfside Duo: Submersible Camcorders
Panasonic HX-WA2 Dual Camcorder. Resembling a snub-nosed pistol with its vertical handgrip for one-handed shooting, this cute critter captures Full HD video or 14MP still images at depths of 9.8 feet. Its 15x intelligent zoom is claimed to deliver crisp images over the entire zoom range without image degradation even in dimly lit places, and its electrical image stabilizer (EIS) is said to eliminate blur in handheld shooting. Other cool features include: intelligent auto mode with intelligent scene selector; a 2.6-inch widescreen LCD; and easy web uploading to YouTube or Facebook using the included HD Writer VE 2.0 software for Windows. $279.99. panasonic.com
Samsung HMX-W300 Pocket Camcorder. This slim, waterproof (15 feet), shockproof (6 feet) and dustproof cutie shoots Full HD 1,920×1,080 video as well as 5.5MP still images. Its 2.3-inch, 230k-dot LCD makes it easy to compose and review, and its 29.6mm-equivalent prime lens with 3x digital zoom lets videographers get close to the subject. Other features include a record/pause mode, auto aqua mode, a built-in USB port for charging and transferring files, Smart Background Music 2.0 and built-in Intelli-Studio editing software to enhance creative options. $159.99. samsung.com