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Top Rugged Cameras 2013

Updated on January 5, 2014

The Best Tough Cameras This Year

Each year, the number of tough cameras on the market increases and the features offered on these models gets even more impressive. In 2013, the top rugged cameras joining the market have higher resolution, quicker response time and more creative control than ever before. You'll be amazed with the features you can get in such a compact body.

Whether you're looking for a waterproof shockproof camera for outdoor adventures or fun around the family pool, there's a tough model designed to meet your needs. Here are some of the best rugged cameras for this year.

(Image compiled by Lisa Howard. Nikon Coolpix AW110 available on Amazon. See link below.)

Tough cameras have a lot of features that you won't find in most compact point-and-shoots. Here are just a few reasons to love an action cam.

  1. Shockproof - Most are shockproof so you don't need to worry about accidental falls.
  2. Waterproof - Watertight design allows them to continue working in rain or underwater.
  3. Compact size - Small, compact bodies make them easy to carry in a pocket, purse or bag.
  4. Designed for action - Take your camera along when participating in your favorite sport.

    (Image of Panasonic Lumix TS4 by Lisa Howard)

Top Rugged Camera for Everyday Use - Nikon Coolpix AW110

The Nikon Coolpix AW110 is the successor to the bestselling AW100, and it promises to be just as popular. The new Nikon waterproof camera has all the features that made the earlier model a winner, but is even better.

This compact rugged camera is now waterproof to 59 feet (compared to 33 feet for the AW100), shockproof to falls from 6.6 feet, freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, dustproof, and able to shoot full HD video. The AW110 still offers GPS, but has now added another great feature for photographers on the go - built-in WiFi. With this new feature, you can control the camera from your smartphone or easily upload images from any hotspot. It's great for traveling!

Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Wi-Fi and Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS (Blue) (OLD MODEL)
Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Wi-Fi and Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS (Blue) (OLD MODEL)
Features: - Waterproof to 40 feet - Full 1920x1080p HD video - 2.7" LCD - Leica lens

Best Waterproof Camera for High Resolution and Fast Shooting - The Sony DSC-TX200v is created for speed

Sony raised the bar on all rugged cameras in 2012 with the introduction of the TX200v. With an 18.2 MP CMOS sensor, the TX200v has the highest resolution currently offered in the "point and shoot" market. It also outclasses other rugged cameras with a 3.3-inch OLED screen and the ability to shoot bursts of 10 frames per second at a full 18.2 megapixels. Although a few other waterproof shockproof digital cameras can claim up to 10fps, none of them does it at such high resolution. Sony also promises "lightning-fast" AutoFocus speeds of approximately 0.13 seconds in daytime and 0.25 seconds in low-light situations.

In addition to the now-typical features of rugged cameras such as being waterproof, dustproof, and able to shoot HD video, Sony throws in some additional goodies, such as face recognition, smile detection, "Natural Flash," background defocus and more. The downside? Sony hasn't made it shockproof.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX200V 18.2 MP Waterproof Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom and 3.3-inch OLED (Silver) (2012 Model)
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX200V 18.2 MP Waterproof Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom and 3.3-inch OLED (Silver) (2012 Model)
Features: - 18.2 megapixels - 5X optical zoom - 3.3-inch OLED - Certified waterproof to 16 feet, dustproof - Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode for blur-free movies

Best Choice for Hands-Free Shooting - GoPro Hero3 is perfect for outdoor athletes

If you want to mount a camera on your bike, surfboard, helmet or other sports gear and go bouncing, speeding and jostling just about anywhere in the great outdoors, the GoPro Hero3 is designed for you. This is the best rugged camera for outdoor enthusiasts who care more about capturing great point-of-view photos and HD video while in motion than taking pretty panoramic images or portraits. There's no fiddling with complicated menus on this model - just turn it on and go! The GoPro Hero3 is extremely popular and comes three editions: Black, Silver and White.

GoPro HERO3: Black Edition
GoPro HERO3: Black Edition
Product features for GoPro Hero3 Black Edition: - Professional 4K Cinema 15 fps / 2.7K cinema 30 fps / 1440p 48 fps / 1080p 60 fps / 960p 100 fps /720p 120 fps and more video capture - Professional quality HD video & 12MP photos with 30 fps burst - Built-in Wi-Fi enables remote control via included Wi-Fi Remote or live video preview and remote control on smartphones and tablets running the free GoPro app. - Compatible with LCD Touch BacPacTM and second generation Battery BacPac - New advanced camera settings: Looping video, Continuous Photo, Manual White Balance control, Protune Mode, allows to shoot photos while recording video and more

Top Rugged Camera for Families on a Budget - Affordable Nikon is designed for use by the whole family

Good budget-priced waterproof cameras are hard to find. There are a few models on the market for under $100, but the low price is reflected in the low-quality photos. The new Nikon S31 is a nice compromise between price and quality. It's not going to take the same quality as their 16 MP Coolpix AW110, but the S31 is priced to appeal to families. And that's who Nikon is targeting, marketing the S31 as a camera that can be used by everyone, from young kids to great grandparents. It's waterproof and shockproof and comes with a host of fun features such as built-in filters, special effects, and in-camera slideshows. All these features make it the best Nikon for kids, but also a great choice for adults who want an inexpensive waterproof camera.

See One in Action! - What can you do with a GoPro HERO3? This video will show you

GoPro calls the GoPro HERO3 Black Edition the "most versatile camera in the world." Take a look at this video and see if you agree.

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I love cameras and writing about photography. Here are some of my other articles you might enjoy.

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Why Choose a Tough Camera?

Rugged cameras are usually waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and dustproof. Some are even crushproof. That makes them perfect for travel and everyday use.

Which of These Cameras Would You Like to Own? - Share your thoughts

Take the poll!

Which model do you like best?

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Thanks for visiting!

Have You Used Any of These Cameras? - Share your comments and reviews

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Compact, Rugged and Light. Easily brought around for travelling or sports! Great lens.

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      8 years ago

      These all looks pretty handy for people who want a hardy camera. Good going.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      8 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I have a Sony PowerShot and it's pretty rugged!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      No, I haven't used any of these, but I am in need of a good camera. Great lens.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image


      8 years ago

      Like the idea of a camera that does not need kids gloves.

    • aksem profile image


      9 years ago

      I vote for Sony DSC-TX200v. I have bought the previous model for my youngest daughter. She is very pleased with it.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This isn't really a true rugged (despite it being marketed as such).

      It's NOT drop-proof & it's encased in *GLASS*.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Cool rugged cameras you've got there, thanks for sharing! =D


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