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The Best Waterproof Digital Cameras for 2014

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Mason Resnick is the editor of the Adorama Learning Center and a lifetime photography enthusiast.

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The Best Waterproof Digital Cameras for 2014

Digital cameras have never been more rugged than they are now

Are you the adventurous type? Like to be one with the mud? Want to get great underwater snorkel shots? Don't mind getting wet, gritty, dusty, and dirty? These ruggedized, waterproof digital cameras are designed for you.



A new generation of ruggedized, submergable digital cameras of all shapes and sizes has hit the market. In addition to being splashproof, these models can be submerged in anywhere from 10 to over 80 feet of water, can be used in extreme cold, and in many cases can be dropped or crushed without being damaged. Meet the new generation of more-than waterproof digital cameras!

Here's a quick look at our eight current favorites. Prices and availability are accurate as of August 6, 2014:

Camera/RuggedSpecs

(Listed least to most expensive)

Bell & Howell WP10


Fujifilm XP70

 

Ricoh WG-4

Panasonic TS5

Waterproof down to 10 ft. 33 feet 45.9 feet 43 ft
Shockproof Yes 5.5 6.5 feet 6.6 ft
Coldproof to No 14 degrees F 14 degrees f 14 degres F
Dust/Sandproof? No Yes Yes (JIS 6) Yes IPX8, IPX6
Crushproof? No No 220 LbF 220 LbF
Lens 38mm f/2.8 28-140mm 25-100mm 28-128mm
Resolution 12MP 16MP 16MP 16MP
LCD 2.4 in 3 in/920k 3 in/460k 3 in/460k
Video VGA 1080i/60fps 1080p/30fps 1080p
Closest Focus 4.3 in 3.5 in 0.33 in 3 in
Extras Low price WiFi, in-camera movie editing LED lights around lens; GPS on some models GPS, Compass, Altimeter
Adorama Price $56.07 $185-$188 $276.95-$326.95 $347.99
Camera/Rugged Specs

Olympus TG3

Canon Powershot D30

Nikon Coolpix AW120

Nikon 1 AW1

Waterproof down to 50 ft 82 ft 59 ft 49 ft
Shockproof drops 7.2 ft 6.5 ft 6.6 ft 6.6 ft
Coldproof to 14 degrees F 14-104 degrees F 14 degrees F 14 degrees F
Dust/Sandproof? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Crushproof? 220 LbF No No No
Lens 25-100mm f/2 TBA 24-120mm f/2.8-4.9 Interchangeable 1 Nikkor AW
Resolution 16MP 12MP 16MP 14MP
LCD 3 in/610k 3 in/461k 3 in/921k LCD
Video 1080p 1080p 1080/30p 1080/60i
Closest Focus 1/2 in 1/2 in 1/2 in depends on lens
Extras Fisheye, Ultrawide lenses avail, WiFi GPS, World's most submergable camera. Mapping, Elect. Compass, POI World's first interchangeable lens underwater MILC
Adorama Price $349 $329 $289 $796.95 w/kit lens


Now, let's take a deep dive into each of these cameras' features!

Bell & Howell WP10
Adorama price: $56.07


Summary: Let’s say you’re not ready to spend hundreds to submerse yourself in underwater photography, but are rather looking for a pool/beach camera so you can just get your feet wet. Bell & Howell makes several cameras that can be submerged to pool depths (around 10 feet) for well under $100. The Bell & Howell WP10 is a bare-bones affair, with a 12MP resolution sensor and a smallish 2.4-inch LCD monitor, a fixed wide-angle f/2.8 lens and a built-in flash. It also shoots VGA-quality videos. It’s a great first camera for a kid, or a good knock-around pocket camera for water parks, canoeing, skiing and so forth. Want to get more serious? The cameras below have a fuller feature set and offer better quality.

Fujifilm XP70
Adorama price: $185-188

Available in Yellow, Red, and Blue
(Price depends on color; hint: red is the least expensive!)


Summary: With Fujifilm XP70 has expanded underwater and cold-weather tolerances, and is sealed against dust and drops. Its 1/2.3-inch 16MP CMOS sensor captures 1080p full HD movies (with in-camera movie editing) and up to 10fps for quick bursts of nine frames at a time. It is also packed with Wireless Image Transfer via WiFi, which lets you brows images on the camera via your smart phone or tablet and to uplodad up to 30 images at a time to YouTube and Facebook. The camera has a 28-140mm optical built-in periscope-type zoom, 10 creative filters, including Pop Color, Toy Camera, Miniature, Partial Color (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple), High-Key, Low-Key, Dynamic Tone, Fisheye, Soft Focus and Cross Screen. Motion Panorama 360 allows you to record expansive views up to 360 degrees.

Ricoh WG4

Adorama price: $276.95 ($326.95 with GPS)

GPS available in Blue and Black versions. Yellow and Silver versions are non-GPS.

The Pentax WG series, one of the longest-running underwater compact lines, now sails under the Ricoh flag with the Ricoh WG-4. Most distinguishing feature: an array of 6 LED lights surrounding the lens for shadowless illumination. The 16MP 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS sensor is housed in a rugged water-, shock-, crush-, cold- and crushproof body. At its widest setting the 25-100mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom lens opens to a wide f/2, great for low light. 12-24fps burst at low resolution is possible, and sensor-shift Shake Reduction is backed up by Pixel Track, which further reduces shake digitally. In-camera HDR expands the camera's tonal range.  There are 11 effect filters that can be previewed on the 3-inch, 460 dot LCD monitor. Available in GPS and non-GPS versions.


Panasonic DMC-TS5
Adorama price: $347.99



Summary: Featuring a Leica 4.6x zoom lens that starts at 28mm (35mm equivalent), the 16MP Panasonic DMC TS5 is a ruggedized camera designed for active outdoor and underwater use and is the first ruggedized Panasonic camera to offer Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity so you can upload and share your shots directly from the camera. In addition to GPS, it has a compass, altimeter and barometer to record altitude, barometric pressure and orientation (the barometer also indicates how deep you're diving). Other features include 1080p HD video in AVCHD format, an LED light for low-light video recording, macro focusing down to about 3 inches, ISO range 100-6400, and a 3-inch, 460k dot resolution LCD monitor. Available in blue, orange, and silver.

Olympus Tough TG-3
Adorama price: $349

(Recent $50 price drop!)


Summary: The Olympus Tough TG3 is unique among underwater cameras: It is a system camera! Its fast 25-100mm (35mm equivalent) f/2-4.9 lens can be augmented via an adapter (Adorama price: $20) with a 2x tele extender, which increases its equivalent focal length to 200mm (Adorama price: $99), and a 12mm equivalent fisheye lens (Adorama price: $99). Since fisheye and ultrawide lenses are the optics of choice for many underwater photographers, this makes a lot of sense. Other features include a 12MP CMOS sensor whose lower pixel density holds the promise of better image quality; built-in GPS, a 3-inch, 610k dot resolution LCD monitor, contrast-detection autofocus, quick start-up, 3-way image stabilization, 1080p HD video capture at 30 fps, ISO range of 100-6400, HDR and backlight HDR, a "Microscopic Macro Mode", improved image stabilization, and an amazing 30fps burst rate at full resolution. Wi-Fi is now onboard as well. Available in Black and Red

Canon Powershot D30
Adorama price: $299


Summary: The world's deepest waterproof camera, the Canon PowerShot D30 can be submerged down to 82 feet—the deepest of any compact digital camera. OTher features include Movie Digest, which records a movie clip every time you shoot a still, then combines a day's worth into a single video, as well as Fisheye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, and Smart Shutter, which is when the camera automatically takes a photo when someone smiles, winks, or gets into the frame. The camera has built-in GPS, a Sunlight LCD mode so you can see what's going on, and a top ISO of 3200.

Nikon Coolpix AW120
Adorama price: $296.95


Summary: The deep-diving Nikon Coolpix AW120 is records full 1080p video with stereo sound and slow motion, making it ideally suited for both still and video action photography in extreme situations in snow, surf, and under the sea. It has built-in mapping and an electronic compass as well as POI (Points of Interest) to show nearby photo ops, lookouts, and landmarks. The AW120 can be controlled via a smartphone or tablet via built-in WiFi. Hybrid vibration reduction and Target Finding AF help keep the camera steady while finding moving subjects. The Nikon Coolpix AW120 is available in Blue, Camo, Black, and Orange.

Nikon 1 AW1
Adorama price: $746.95
with 11-27mm kit lens


Worlds' First Underwater MILC; Even specific lenses are water-sealed!



Summary: Meet the world’s first waterproof MILC! The Nikon 1 AW1 is the first interchangeable-lens compact digital camera that can not only be dunked, it can be used in dives. It is rated for use at underwater depths down to 49 feet—without a bulky protective housing—and is ruggedized against cold, drops and dust.  Wi-Fi compatible using a WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter (not waterproof, but how many hotspots are there at 49 feet down?), the AW1 lets you share images on iOS and Android devices. While the Nikon 1 AW1 will work under normal shooting with the full lineup of Nikon 1-series lenses, Nikon has also announced two lenses (the 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens and wide-angle 1 Nikkor AW 10mm f/2.8) that are also waterproofed specifically for use with the AW1. Mount either lens and it creates a tight, protective seal. Quick autofocus, extensive 1080p HD video and 15fps rapid sequence still shooting make this a great action camera when you’re part of the action. Available in SilverWhite and Black.

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