The first thing to point out with this group of tough compacts is just how far the category has come. It wasn’t too long ago that a waterproof camera for £150 was unthinkable.
As our test proves, however, spending that bit extra ensures an improvement in performance, and in this instance the cheapest camera of the six is the most disappointing. Although the Fujifilm XP60 isn’t without merit, issues with the build quality and its poor underwater image quality count it out.
There's a huge difference between the best and the worst underwater shots
Both the Canon PowerShot D20 and Nikon COOLPIX AW110 take decent photos, but they’re not without their flaws. The D20 is a few years old now and could do with updating, while the Nikon AW110’s screen is a little disappointing. While the AW110 goes the deepest of all here, we wager the 15 metres of the Olympus Tough TG-2 should be enough for most people.
The Pentax WG3 offers all of the physical characteristics that you could want from a tough camera and certainly feels like it would stand the test of time. Unfortunately, it’s another of the group to be let down by poor image quality – its underwater shots are only marginally better than the XP60, despite the WG-3’s much higher price tag.
That leaves just two cameras; namely the Panasonic Lumix FT5 and the Olympus Tough TG-2. Both are equally tough and take excellent photos. While the Lumix FT5 benefits from NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity, the Olympus Tough TG-2 has a better OLED screen and more impressive lens performance thanks to its f/2 maximum aperture.
This is a competitive group of tough compact cameras - most models have their merits. However, if you’re looking for the very best in both performance and image quality, the Olympus Tough TG-2 and Panasonic Lumix FT5 get the nod. The FT5 takes the brightest underwater shots, but colours look a little washed out. The TG-2 has a faster auto-focus and a better screen. Neither will disappoint you.