Waterproof camera reviews - six waterproof cameras tested
Whether it’s the beach, the pool, the ski slope or some other exotic climb, some places are just far too dangerous to risk your DSLR, normal compact or even your smartphone. You could buy an expensive enclosure for your DSLR, or you could just buy one of the increasing number 'tough' compact style cameras.
Question is: which one should you buy? We put six tough, waterproof cameras to the test to see which one is the best pick.
Watch the waterpoof camera video review from What? Digital Camera:
How we test waterproof cameras
While all of the cameras have slightly different camera specs, they are all waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof to varying degrees, and with only small differences in the distances and depths that can withstand. All are freezeproof down to -10 degrees C, for example, and most are shockproof from a height of two metres or so.
To test these claims, each camera was:
- Left overnight in a freezer and a block of ice
- Dropped onto a hard floor from the height specified by the manufacturer
- Used underwater in a swimming pool with underwater mode with no flash
Read on for all the details on the first three of our six waterproof cameras review.
Canon PowerShot D20, £260
The Canon PowerShot D20, like a few of the compact cameras in this group, inherits a host of its imaging tools from its non-tough (in this case PowerShot) stablemates. Its 12.1MP sensor is combined with Canon's DIGIC 4 processor and as such should deliver good image quality at the higher end of the 100 – 3,200 ISO range.
It's waterproof to a depth of 10 metres, which puts towards the bottom of our group, and shockproof from 1.5 metres.
Despite having a non-protruding lens – as is the case with all the compacts on test – the Canon PowerShot D20 has a 5x optical zoom that covers a focal range of 28-140mm in 35mm equivalent terms. There’s an Intelligent IS stabilisation system that will no doubt come in handy when sliding down the slopes or splashing in the surf, too.
Although it might not have as many gadgets and gizmos as some of the other cameras in this group it does still feature GPS functionality, as well as full HD video capture at a rate of 24fps.
It’s well-designed for use in the water and in difficult shooting conditions, as the ergonomically designed body sits comfortably in the hand and allows a secure grip. The large, bright buttons are easy to locate and press when needed, too.
The 3-inch LCD screen is crisp and clear, even in challenging conditions, and benefits from active display technology that allows you to operate it with either a tap or a tilt; great for when you can't quite reach the buttons.
Fujifilm FinePix XP60, £150
The Fujifilm FinePix XP60 is by some way the most affordable of our six contenders. This shows in the fact it's only waterproof to a depth of six metres, less than half the depth of all but one of the cameras on test. That's good enough for the pool, however, and it's shockproof from 1.5 metres.
At its core sits a 16.4MP CMOS sensor, which is paired with a non-protruding 5x optical zoon. The zoom covers a focal range of 28-140mm in equivalent terms and benefits from the presence of sensor-shift image stabilisation.
At 2.7-inches and with a 230k-dot resolution, the XP60’s screen is the lowest-specified out of the group and doesn't have either the sharpness or the clarity to match some of its competitors. There’s no GPS, either.
The XP60 does have a few more highlights, however, including full HD image capture along with a headline continuous shooting speed of 10fps, while in macro mode the camera can focus as close as 9cm.
The XP60 is one of the smallest and most lightweight out of the group and as such feels as much like a traditional compact. One of the trade-offs of the more compact body is that it doesn't necessarily feel as robust as some of the other models, although it does feature the full repertoire of locks and tough features needed for such a compact.
Nikon Coolpix AW110, £270
Nikon was a relative latecomer to the tough camera market when it launched the Coolpix AW100 in 2011. The AW110 picks up where the AW100 left off, both in design and features. Much like the Canon PowerShot D20, the AW110 is similar to Nikon’s compact cameras, and as such ought to perform just as well.
It goes the deepest of all those on test, 18 metres to be precise. If you're a serious diver this could be your best bet. It's shockproof from two metres, too.
The AW110 has a 16MP CMOS sensor and 5x optical zoom, covering a focal range of 28-140mm in equivalent terms that’s somewhat familiar to this group. On the rear of the AW110 sits an impressive LCD screen that measures in at 3in and has a 614k-dot resolution, and is very sharp as a result.
It has GPS and Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi functionality not only allows for the wireless transfer of images between the camera and a smartphone, it also allows for the wireless control of the camera through either a smartphone or a tablet.
The AW110 is one of the more ruggedly built of the cameras on test, too. Its heavy body suggests that it can more than withstand the demands that a tough compact is sure to face. The buttons are nicely pronounced and are easy to operate with cold or wet hands.
In use the AW110 generally performs well, with a good operational speed and general shooting performance. The model's HD video mode is particularly pleasing, offering 30fps at full HD resolution.