- Consumer Electronics & Personal Gadgets»
- Portable Electronics
5 Best Ruggedized Compact P&S Digital Cameras for Travel Adventures
Live Young! Live Free!
Are you a traveler? Do you like adventure? If you're going hiking, diving or caving, you may need one of these to capture your beautiful memories.
These are the best waterproof, dustproof, freezeproof and shockproof compact cameras you can find in the market. Yet all of them have their pros and cons. Choose the best according to your need.
#5 Fujifilm FinePix XP30
At just $169, the XP30 is quite a bargain for the ruggedness but can it be worthy in terms of image quality?
FinePix XP30’s design is not so cute but enough rugged to sustain extreme weather conditions. The GPS function is pretty nice, useful and fast. Unfortunately, the rear LCD is not as impressive as I expected. Screen resolution is poor and brightness is not enough making it hard to view in sunlight.
Speaking of image quality, this one does not have the potency to compete with others in the list. Same goes for the underwater shots too.
But the video quality is good enough. XP30’s low light videography is better than many others in this list.
For $169, you only get the ruggedness and not a quality camera. Those who are focusing on ruggedness, GPS and underwater videos can consider this.
Fujifilm FinePix XP50 Digital Camera
- Fast accurate GPS
- High quality low light videos
- Poor image quality
- Poor underwater performance
- Poor LCD screen
#4 Nikon COOLPIX AW120
Nikon, an industry veteran, has come up with the Coolpix AW series to compete in the rugged P&S camera world. These shockproof and waterproof cameras can do wonders in enduring impact.
The AW120 is an upgrade to AW110, their previous hit in the series. However, Nikon has tried to rectify almost all the problems that caused AW110’s popularity to decline. Higher ISO sensitivity, improved battery life, an increase in heft etc are examples.
The AW120 is available in red, black, blue and a camouflage edition with toughened plastic enclosure just like in AW110. Unlike Sony CyberShot DSC TX10, this one is heavy weighing 213g. It is not as easy as TX10 to ‘swing n shoot’.
The 3 inch OLED screen is anti-reflective and performs well in sunlight. You can see the picture you are going to take clearly and almost exact. The built in WiFi feature helps you to transfer files to Android and iPhone easily.
The CoolPix AW120 is waterproof up to 18m and shock proof up to 2m height. It is freeze proof up to -10 degrees also. It features a 16 MP 1/ 2.3 inch CMOS sensor which is fairly basic for a point and shoot. But it has a wider aperture of f/2.8 and a focal length of 4.3-21.5mm.
It performs excellent in taking macro mode images and underwater shots. The camera starts up fast and is quick in taking pictures too. Higher ISO performance is not good as expected but auto mode is fine. When it comes to the image and video quality, Sony’s TX10 and Panasonic’s TS-5 outperforms Nikon AW120.
Nikon Coolpix AW120
- Truly rugged construction
- Macro images are excellent
- Battery life is good
- Poor low-light performance
#3 Olympus Stylus TG-3
Olympus Stylus TG-3 is one of the best rugged underwater compact cameras of their Stylus Tough series. Besides the toughness, this one is excellent in taking underwater photos too.
The TG-3 is ruggedized in a way that it is waterproof down to 50 feet, drop proof up to 7 feet and crush proof up to 220 pounds. It has a built in GPS, electronic compass and can endure as cold as 14 degree F.
TG-3 is the third iteration of the TG series and it looks similar to the predecessors TG-1 and TG-2. TG-3 weighs 8.7 pounds only and all of these are pocketable too. It has aperture ratings of f/2.0 wide and f/4.9 tele. There is an LED illuminator also with the flash which makes the images brighter. The 3 inch LED 460k-dot display is not as good as TG-2’s 610k-dot display and it is the main drawback of TG-3. The LCD screen does not perform well in the outside conditions.
Just like the TG-1 and TG-2, this one here is also a great performer in taking photos. The TG-3 has 16 MP 1/ 2.3 inch CMOS sensor. However it only captures JPEGs. The only downside is that you cannot change the shutter speed or auto focus variations. Well, it’s a point and shoot camera. It offers 25mm wide angle view. Video capturing is also great with TG-3. You get full HD 30fps videos.
The TG-3 is extremely useful for hikers and mountain bikers as it have inbuilt GPS with eCompass, barometer and altitude, latitude and longitude readings. It has WiFi connectivity via Olympus Image Share app. You can pair your smart phone easily.
Overall, TG-3 is a good rugged point and shoot camera especially for underwater shooting. However, the LCD screen is quite a disappointment and you will find it difficult to use it on a sunny day.
- Ruggedized for every conditions
- Superior under water images
Super macro mode
- LCD screen, low brightness, low resolution
- Poor high ISO performance
#2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
Panasonic’s high-end rugged compact camera, the 16 MP colorful Lumix DMC-TS5 can go as deep as 43 feet underwater and can withstand up to 6.6 feet drop. The design is similar to any rugged cameras; the size is pretty standard and weighs 6.6 pounds. Made with tough metal, Lumix DMC-TS5 comes in different colors. One difference compared to other rugged cameras is that it’s internally zooming lens is located in the corner of the camera and not at the center.
The 4.6x optical zoom lens covers 35mm equivalent range of 28-128mm which is sufficient for normal photography, but you may need a little wider angle for underwater photography. The Olympus TG-3 is much better in this aspect.
The controls and buttons are neat and not clunky as we have seen in many other models. The rear LCD is 3 inches and features a 460k-dot resolution. Although this display is sufficiently good for outdoor conditions and has adjustable brightness, still the 610k-dot OLED display of Olympus TG-2 stands out.
The WiFi here has many advantages like shooting control from smart phone, easy connectivity and data transfer to iphone and android and NFC support.
TS5 is fast and user friendly camera and is one of the best performers in the industry. Sharpness is great just like the image quality. But the low light photography is not up to the expectation. There was 2.8 percent noise at ISO 800. There are better alternatives for night photography.
Video recording is excellent as it can capture up to 1080p. Connectivity and storage options are also in plenty. There is a USB connector and a micro HDMI port for data transfer and supports SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. Panasonic includes a battery charger in the package so you won’t run out of battery.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 is a fast operating rugged camera with average image quality, better video quality and useful WiFi options.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
- WiFi with NFC
- 1080p60 video quality
- Multiple burst shooting
- Fast lens
- Poor low light performance
- Poor underwater performance
#1 Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX10
This waterproof and shock proof compact digital camera is one of the classy looking rugged gears out there. It is light weight and slips into pocket easily. A perfect companion for a perfect adventure.
This minimalist design is further enhanced by the touch screen feature avoiding all those clunky dials. The 3 inch 921k-dot LCD is superior than most of TX10’s rivals. It outperforms Olympus TG-3 and Panasonic TS-5 on a ‘sunny day’. If you own a 3D equipped TV, you can view the images in 3D mode, Sony calls it 3D still image mode.
When it comes to performance, Sony has some major advantages over the others. The subject recognizing Intelligent Auto and Image enhancing Superior Auto modes are great. You can continuously shoot up to 10 frames per second at 16.2 resolution. You can shoot the ‘blurred background’ type pics efficiently and easily with TX10.
TX10 has wider angle than most of the 25mm, high ISO range and great low light performance. Speaking of video quality, the silent zoom along with full HD and HQ sound is the real steal. It utilizes a 1/ 2.3 back illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor for the purpose.
TX10 is less rugged compared to others but the image quality is superior. It is waterproof down to 5 metres and shock proof up to 1.5 metres. It is dust proof and freeze proof also.
Sony DSC TX10 is a perfect companion for your travel adventures if you love sleek design and compactness.
- Sleek and slim, light weight, attractive design
- Great low light performance, reduced noise levels
- Above average video quality
- Sliding lens cover often traps sand and grit
- Few manual features