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5 Extreme Cameras That Are Leading the Pack

Updated on August 26, 2013

Extreme Cameras Are Changing the Way We Take Photos

For the average person, taking photos underwater or capturing a close-up shot of a bird 100 feet away was virtually impossible just a few years ago. It required special (and very expensive!) equipment, and without it, you were out of luck. Likewise, taking photos of yourself participating in sports such as rock climbing, kayaking or motocross racing was out of the question.

Traditionally, cameras didn't play well with the elements and when it came to action sports, they were relegated (literally) to the sidelines.

But, as Bob Dylan says, the times, they are a changin'. Extreme cameras are going where no cameras have gone before and changing the way we take photos. Here are five cameras leading the way.

1. Sony DSC-RX1

The RX1 is making waves as the first compact camera with a full-frame sensor. What's that mean for consumers? It means extreme photo resolution in a much smaller body.

Historically, if you wanted better quality photos, you had to use a bigger camera. In the days of film, for instance, this meant choosing 35mm over 110 film. In the digital age, it's meant choosing a DSLR with a full-frame sensor or APS-C sensor over a compact with a smaller sensor.

Mirrorless ILC cameras have made advances in putting larger, APS-C-sized sensors in smaller bodies, but these still don't match the sensors found in professional-level DSLRs such as the Canon 5D Mark III or the Nikon D800. Those, known as full-frame sensors, are equivalent in size to 35mm film.

Now Sony is changing the game by putting a full-frame 24 MP sensor in a compact camera. It's the world's first fixed-lens 35mm digital camera, bringing extreme resolution to shutterbugs who want top-notch quality but don't want the bulk of a professional DSLR. Unfortunately, the price of Sony's new RX1 will be comparable to pro models offered by top brands such as Canon and Nikon.

Extreme First-Person POV

2. GoPro Hero3

If you want a versatile, easy-to-use camera to capture extreme sports, GoPro is the leader of the pack.

GoPro's popular HERO line of mountable/wearable cameras has been responsible for capturing first-person point-of-view (POV) video and photos from professional and amateur athletes engaged in just about every type of sport imaginable. They've even recorded daring feats in space. In 2012, when Felix Baumgartner made his world record skydive from 24 miles (127,852 feet) above earth, five GoPro cameras recorded the entire event.

GoPro's ability to capture extreme points of view has changed the way we look at sports. Now almost anyone can capture amazing footage of their downhill skiing adventure or snorkeling trip.

What makes the GoPro Hero3 and other sports cams different from most other photographic gear on the market is that they're made to work hands-free. You simply strap it on your body or mount it to your gear, and the GoPro Hero3 starts recording video or clicking time-lapse images. Now athletes no longer have to debate between taking photos from the sidelines or participating in the sport. Now they can do both at the same time.

3. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70

Extreme telephoto lenses for DSLRs have always come with extreme price tags. A 600mm f/4 lens for a Canon or Nikon will set you back over $10,000 for the lens alone. So getting a 1200mm focal length in a compact camera for less than $500 is a pretty amazing feat.

Panasonic's new Lumix DMC-FZ70 sports a 60x optical zoom with the equivalent 35mm focal range of 20mm - 1200mm. Canon and Sony also offer 50x superzoom compacts that have a 1200mm reach, but they don't have as much wide angle coverage. At 20mm, the DMC-FZ70 captures nearly 140% wider angle of view compared to a 24mm equivalent.

That makes the FZ70 a great camera for both landscape photography as well as close-up shots of wildlife, sports or distant subjects.

Extreme Connectivity


4. Samsung Galaxy NX

The Samsung Galaxy NX will be the world's first interchangeable lens camera running the Android operating system and offering 3G/4G and Wi-Fi connectivity. That means it will have all the the functionality of a smartphone with the features of a more traditional camera.

Android isn't the only impressive feature of the Galaxy NX. It will also have a huge 4.8-inch HD touchscreen to control most camera functions, and an impressive 20.3 MP APS-C CMOS sensor to capture high resolution images. Add that to a top shutter speed of 1/6000, continuous shooting at 8.6 fps, built-in GPS, the ability to shoot RAW images and HD video, and you've got a camera that is sure to make people take notice. If Samsung does well, it's probably only a matter of time before other manufacturers start taking advantage of the Android system to add more features to their own camera lines.

Samsung announced the Galaxy NX in June 2013. So far, they haven't provided any details on a specific release date, but watch for a late summer or early fall release.

5. Olympus Stylus TG-2 iHS

If you've ever worried about having your camera exposed to dust, snow, rain or accidental falls, the Olympus Stylus TG-2 iHS may be the camera you've dreamed of. It's one of a growing number of "rugged" models that are waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof.

Some, such as the TG-2, are even crushproof. It's built to withstand 220 pounds (110 kg) of force. So if for some reason you accidentally end up standing on your camera, it should be no worse for the wear. (As long as you don't weigh more than 220 pounds!)

In addition to its tough design, the Olympus boasts the only high-speed f/2.0 lens among the rugged models on the market, meaning better performance in low light and the ability to capture fast action shots. It sports a 12 MP sensor, can shoot 1080p full HD video, and is capable of bursts of 60 frames per second. It's also equipped with GPS and an ecompass, making it a great traveling companion.

If you're looking for an extreme rugged camera, this maybe the one for you.

Which of these cameras would you most like to own?

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very useful information. I'm in the market for a new camera and this is very helpful.