Gear Review: Waterpoof Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Dec 3, 2012

Gear Review:  Waterpoof Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Taking stunning photos and video on a river trip is easier than ever when you pick the right tool. I went out into the field with three top travel-ready, waterproof point-and-shoot cameras to help you choose.  Here’s how they stacked up:

 

The Winner:  Olympus Tough TG-1

 

Definitely the best of the bunch. It is a little bit heavier than the other two. Feels really solid. Has a fast lens at f2.0 and 3 inch OLED screen which was the easiest to read in bright sunlight. Waterproof to 40ft and drop proof to 6.6 feet. It also has an exchangeable lens system, so you can add a fisheye or telephoto. Photos look great and it does well in low light. It also has some fun special effects…if you’re into that kind of thing. For me specifically, the pinhole and miniature effects. Best lasting battery of the bunch. The only negative thing I can say is the video quality did not seem that great. A bit grainy.

Olympus Tough TG-1 Specs:
Price: $400
Image: 3968 x 2976
Sensor: 12MP 1/2.3” BSI-CMOS
Sensor Video: Up to 1920 X 1080 30FPS
Aperture: f/2.0 – f/4.9
Screen: 3.0” OLED display 610K dots

 

Runner-up:  Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4

A close second. Beautiful colors both above and below water. Probably the best image quality of the three. This one is waterproof to 40 feet, and dropproof to 6.6 feet. It has a hard, light aluminum body, a 2.7-inch screen, and well-defined physical control buttons on the back. Its lens is from Leica. There is a 4.6x optical zoom, and it shoots at 12.1 megapixels. This camera did not do as well in low light and ate up battery life way too quickly.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 Specs:
Price: $400
Image: 4000×3000
Sensor: 12.1MP 1/2.33-inch CCD
Sensor Video: Up to 1920 X 1080 30FPS
Aperture: f/3.3 – f/5.9
Screen: 2.7” TFT-LCD display 230K dots

 

Third Place:  Nikon Coolpix AW100

3-inch screen, and like the other two, has GPS. Waterproof to 33 feet, and can take a drop from up to five feet. It has Nikkor glass with a 5x optical zoom. 16 megapixel stills and takes up to 1080p/30fps video. Largest image files of the three. Where this camera stands out is the video. Stereo mic is also on the front of the camera, so the audio is also the best of the lot. Nikon also has a locking metal knob for the battery and SD card, which is more foolproof than the other two. Battery life works great. Unfortunately, the images look a bit more flat and washed out than the other two and it also does not do as well in low light.

Nikon Coolpix AW100 Specs
Price: $350
Image: 4608 x 3456
Sensor: 16MP 1/2.3” CMOS
Sensor Video: Up to 1920 X 1080 30FPS
Aperture: f/3.9 – f/4.8
Screen: 3.0” LCD display 460K dots

 

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Justin Bailie
Justin Bailie works as a freelance commercial, editorial and fine art photographer specializing in outdoor adventure, lifestyle, environmental and food subjects — and currently has an incurable slant towards his homeland and all things Pacific Northwest. View more of his work at: http://www.justinbailie.com.