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Outdoor leisure pursuits such as hiking, climbing, canoeing or skiing are great fun and healthy exercise, but present a big problem for photographers. Most such activities involve exposure to water, cold temperatures and the risk of occasional bumps and shocks, any of which can easily ruin most cameras. If you need a camera that can survive your active lifestyle then your choices are limited. There are several models in the Olympus mju SW range, including the mju 850 SW (£149), and Pentax makes the excellent Optio W60 (£184), but while both of them boast excellent waterproof, cold-proof and in the case of the mju SW shockproof credentials, they both look slightly fragile when compared to the armoured behemoth that is the Ricoh G600, which looks like it could be used to smash them both to bits and then take photos of the remains.
Under the armour, the G600 is a 10-megapixel camera featuring a 5x zoom internal lens with a wide-angle end equivalent to 28mm, a 2.7-in 230k LCD monitor and digital image stabilisation, a similar specification to both the Pentax W60 and the Olympus mju 1030 SW (£213). However the G600 also features a super-powerful built-in flash with a range of 10m, as well as an external flash hot-shoe. It's an impressive looking camera, but it is expensive. The G600 is currently selling for around £300.
Ricoh's website makes much of the various international and military standards to which the G600 has been built, but the upshot is that it is designed to be waterproof to a depth of 1m, survive falls of 1.5 metres, and operate at temperatures down to minus 10 centigrade. In fact both the Pentax W60 and all of the recent Olympus mju SW models make greater claims for shooting depth, at 4m and 10m respectively, but in any case the actual survivable depth would depend on many factors, so it's all a bit hypothetical anyway.
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