Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality
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Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/26/2013 22:34:48 MDT Print View

Ok guys. This topic appears every so often, but what are the front runners in this area?

I'm looking for a waterproof camera that has good battery life, panoramic mode, and most importantly, fantastic image quality.

Secondly, I would like a good zoom and good HD video.

Overall, I guess I just want a waterproof camera that has the capabilities of taking gorgeous shots. I know that it's also up to the photographer to have the ability to do so also.

The Panasonic DMC-TS5D looks nice.

Edited by T.L. on 03/26/2013 22:41:20 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/26/2013 23:09:21 MDT Print View

Please define 'waterproof'. Do you mean swimming underwater, or do you mean OK in the rain?

I have recently been upgraded to a Canon G15 from a Canon G11 (at a very low cost) when Canon lost my G11 during repairs - very nice ...

Cheers

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Re: Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/27/2013 06:29:15 MDT Print View

Very true that - fully waterproofed for diving seems to come with quite a premium.

I'm very happy with my (~4 year old?) compact weather resistant lumix but mostly because it can sit in my rucksack hip pocket and come out and take decent photos at high speed with the intelligent auto mode etc.

They do OK printed at A3 but obviously there are non trivial limitations from a small lens like that. Really powerful zoom you won't get.

Olympus very likely have a similar sort of model and likely the odd other company by now.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F - M

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 03/27/2013 06:47:06 MDT Print View

deleted

Edited by rOg_w on 06/17/2013 20:07:23 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Rugged waterproof cameras on 03/27/2013 07:43:22 MDT Print View

Well, I don't need one for diving, but should be waterproof enough to be ok if I take a swim while packrafting.

I'd like to keep it below $350.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F - M

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 03/27/2013 08:07:12 MDT Print View

deleted

Edited by rOg_w on 06/17/2013 20:08:21 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Rugged waterproof cameras on 03/27/2013 08:14:24 MDT Print View

Rog, it's my understanding that it's the sensor that makes the most difference in image quality.

Is this true?

If so, and you have two different cameras with equal sized sensors, what are some other specs to look at in regards to image quality?

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Lens on 03/27/2013 09:17:44 MDT Print View

Well the stuff the light comes in through matters too :) Although with anything waterproof that tends to be quite constrained.

One thing to watch might be the time to switch on from cold. That seems fairly important for normal hiking use and when I last looked seemed to vary quite a bit. Maybe it's improved in general now.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Lens on 03/27/2013 10:12:05 MDT Print View

Lens...indeed! :)

Being ignorant about the subject, what are some attributes that make a lens good?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Here's where I'm at on 03/27/2013 10:22:16 MDT Print View

I currently have a Canon PowerShot SX210 IS. I know that a waterproof won't have the optical zoom that mine currently has, but it looks like many of them have better sensors and the ability to be slightly abused. I dropped my camera in the snow this weekend, and while it is fine, accidents happen, things get dropped, people fall out of boats, etc.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/27/2013 14:03:18 MDT Print View

Travis:

Looking for a digital survivor -- no matter how long the soak or how deep the water? Click here and be amazed.

Edited by ben2world on 03/27/2013 14:04:26 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Rugged waterproof cameras on 03/27/2013 18:23:49 MDT Print View

> it's my understanding that it's the sensor that makes the most difference in image quality.
Not so fast. If you stick a crappy lens in front of a superb sensor, you will get superbly registered crappy photo.
You need both sensor and lens.

The whole area of image and lens and camera quality could be the subject of a 27-part series of articles. Not going there! Instead, use existing expert web sites such as
www.dpreview.com
reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras
www.dcresource.com/
photographic-central.blogspot.com.au/
and doubtless many others.

Cheers

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/27/2013 18:57:44 MDT Print View

Travis
All of those WP/shock proof camera use a very small sensor, 1:2.3" , and "folded optics" (like in a periscope) limiting somewhat the size and type of lens used in them.
The sensors themselves can be 12 or 16.4 mp now but in the end is the way the image is processed on board that makes the difference.
That and the lens.
Most have a 4x zoom starting at F2.8, the Olympus TG 2 starts at F2 , that is one stop extra so twice as bright (one extra shutter speed).
Still it does not appear to be all that much better than the Pana in low light and the Pana has a longer long time exposure (60 sec vs the Oly 4 sec)
I would look carefully at both the TS5 and the TG2.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Rugged waterproof cameras on 03/27/2013 21:38:00 MDT Print View

Noted on the quality lens. I'll look into those.

Franco, when you say "look carefully at both the TS5 and the TG2," does that mean they're both good and competitive with each other, or look carefully because they might not give you what you're looking for?

I was looking at the sensor size and originally thought they were larger/better than my current camera, but I was wrong. Its the same size.



To all: I can pull all of the specs to compare cameras, but not having a lot of experience with cameras, it's hard to translate those specs into real world differences. So, I'm not asking anyone to do my research for me, but can anyone give me any real world comparisons in terms of image quality between my current Canon SX210 and say, the Panasonic TS5? Will I really even notice a difference (besides zoom).

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/27/2013 23:30:32 MDT Print View

Sorry, I meant I would choose out of those two.
So far I have only seen the specs for the new Pana, so I would wait till some comparisons are done between those two or DPReview and the like run another class test.
In the last class test the Pana TS3 came out on top and the TG2 was not out.
The TS5 has a different sensor and processing so it may be better on paper but not as good in reality.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/27/2013 23:34:16 MDT Print View

Thanks for the clarification, Franco.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/28/2013 20:10:15 MDT Print View

This is probably bulkier and more expensive than many of the options you are considering, but the image quality will be far better. Sony RX100 wrapped in a waterproof housing.

Even with the housing it's more compact than many cameras. Remove the housing and its a compact pocketable camera - but no longer waterproof.

Housing

Rx100

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/29/2013 20:58:53 MDT Print View

here is a mini review of the Pana TS5 with some still shots and a couple of video clips :
http://reviews.cnet.co.uk/compact-digital-cameras/panasonic-lumix-dmc-ft5-review-50010564/

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 03/30/2013 17:30:27 MDT Print View

Thanks guys, I'm slowly looking into things.

I just had my camera out last night on an overnight and realized that there are dust particles INSIDE the lens. I'm torn between a camera with a larger sensor ~1.7" vs a worry-free backpacking camera.

joe newton
(holdfast)

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Panasonic FT3 (TS3) on 03/31/2013 00:03:16 MDT Print View

I happily grab my little Panasonic FT3 (TS3 in US) waterproof point-and-shoot for most backpacking, packrafting and bikepacking trips. It swings from my hand or sits in a pocket, always ready to use in an instant while my GH2 has to be lugged around in a separate waterproof, padded bag. "The best camera is the one you have with you" and for outdoor trips that to me means the camera that's in my hand or pocket, not cosseted deep in my pack from the elements :)

How good the image quality has to be comes down to your aspirations. Me, I just want some images to help jolt my memories on occasion or share some impressions of my trips with my friends. If you're looking for commercial quality then there are obviously other, more expensive options.

https://vimeo.com/62787813

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Panasonic GPS on 04/02/2013 07:03:16 MDT Print View

Does the camera actually display your location on internal maps, or does it simply log your location?

In other words, can the camera be used as a gps like a smartphone?

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - M

Locale: 40°N,-105°W-ish
Re: Panasonic GPS on 04/02/2013 07:06:40 MDT Print View

Uh-oh, I hear feature creep entering the artist formerly known as T-Funk's wishlist.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Panasonic GPS on 04/02/2013 07:19:47 MDT Print View

LOL! :)

I know not ever to 100% rely on such features, but it'd be a nice thing to have.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Think of the battery! on 04/02/2013 08:36:25 MDT Print View

I'm not sure if it would be :) Grid refs for emergency maybe. Some of the specs seem to mention a compass....

I'm basically very much with Joe, except using (I believe) an FT1 as that's what there was when I broke my previous one. That was an noticeable upgrade, as I'd imagine whatever I get when this one finally dies probably will be.

I've been sticking all my photos, good/bad/repeated due to laziness!, up on picassa so here's a couple of representative albums of point and shoot with this sort of camera on intelligent auto mode:
https://picasaweb.google.com/117787604334097197723/LakesOct2012
https://picasaweb.google.com/117787604334097197723/TindaleFellSept2012

That Lake District trip was the sort of changable weather (very heavy, quite frequent, very short showers) that makes some sort of water resistant camera rather useful.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Got the TG-2 on 04/05/2013 20:16:01 MDT Print View

So I picked up the Olympus TG-2. Mostly because I'm impatient. :)

I've been comparing images with my Canon SX210, and I must say, the Oly is putting out much better photos. Everything is clear, crisp, and colors are rich, but not over saturated. It doesn't have the zoom that the Canon does, but the macro is ridiculous, the low light capabilites are much better, and the high speed video (240 fps) is cool to play with. Want a clear, slow motion video? This will do it.

No, it's not DSLR quality, and it probably isn't on par with other point and shoots with larger sensors (example: Canon S110), but this is a very noticeable step up from my current camera, and I don't have to worry about the elements, especially on my packrafting trips.

The stronger GPS capabilities of the Panasonic TS5 still intrigue me (apparently you can see your location on a map on the camera). I've got 15 days to return the Oly... ;)

Daniel Fish
(daniel@fishfamilypdx.com)

Locale: PDX
... on 05/28/2013 07:41:12 MDT Print View

...

Edited by daniel@fishfamilypdx.com on 06/08/2013 19:03:16 MDT.

Daniel Collins
(Diablo-V)

Locale: Orlando FL
reviews on 09/10/2013 21:41:00 MDT Print View

If you trust DPReview they just did a big comparison of the top Rugged waterproof cameras, and they panned the image quality on virtually every one of them.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/2013-waterproof-roundup

I'm in agreement that the lens quality matters most. Big megapixels is marketing mostly.
You can't have a quality lens on a tiny camera. No free lunch.

The Olympus OM body is weatherproof but not submersible, not light weight, and not cheap.
But the image quality is there, with proper lens selection for the occasion.

Edited by Diablo-V on 09/11/2013 05:41:32 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: reviews on 09/11/2013 09:52:48 MDT Print View

Of course the Oly is submersible. To 15 meters.

Daniel Collins
(Diablo-V)

Locale: Orlando FL
Olympus on 09/11/2013 10:36:51 MDT Print View

" Of course the Oly is submersible. To 15 meters."
I did not see submersible anywhere for the OM-D E-M5 in the specs.
It is water/splashproof, but perhaps we were not thinking of the same camera.
It is 15+ oz without the lens and has an available 12-50mm weather sealed lens available. $900 body only or about 1300 with that lens.
It would take pro-level shots, but so would a few other models in that weight category.
I have a Lumix G2 which is not waterproof so if I upgrade I will have to stick with the Leica lenses and get the GH3 body which is weather sealed (and VERY expensive).
Then I would need the special weather sealed wide angle lens at about $899.
Still too heavy though, which is why I went down this same road as the OP -looking for a good pocket cam to save weight.

If you are not trying to get 8X10 enlargements with high detail, if you will be doing mostly snapshot, facebook, smaller prints , then get the Panasonic TS5D.

http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-TS5D-Digital-Camera-Intelligent/dp/B00ATE7UUK

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
TG-2 on 09/11/2013 10:43:00 MDT Print View

The Olympus TG-2 is their waterproof tough camera, not the OM.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Olympus on 09/11/2013 23:01:28 MDT Print View

I thought you were talking about the TG-2, sorry.

I own the OM-D, and you're right, it is not submersible. But it does great in the rain and as long as you have one of the weatherproofed lenses, it does well getting wet. It wasn't meant to be submersed. (unless you get the waterproof housing)

And for what it can do, I don't think it is expensive at all. It's basically a high quality DSLR equivalent with micro-four thirds sensor. A pocket cam doesn't even remotely compare in quality of images or control. It may not be as light as a pocket cam, but it is half the weight of a typical DSLR, very compact, and gives you similar quality to a DSLR. After all the different digital cameras I've used over the years after my earlier love affair with manual film cameras, it is the first camera that has brought back the joy of getting out there and losing yourself in taking photos. I hated the slow focusing, slow reading, terrible low-light abilities, fast battery drain, LED screen viewing, clumsiness of all my compact digicams (though I still very much love my Ricoh GXR, in terms of stunning image quality and absolutely beautiful UI). The size and ability of the OM-D is the perfect compromise.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 09/12/2013 11:39:46 MDT Print View

Haven't followed this thread, but did anyone mention using a fully waterproof case with a high-quality camera? I just purchased a Sony RX-100 and hope to get a waterproof case when the prices drops (currently over $300, I'm willing to spend $150).

(Edit: I now see the Meikon for as low as $170...getting close...)

Edited by ewolin on 09/13/2013 11:16:22 MDT.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: RE: Rugged waterproof cameras with excellent image quality on 09/12/2013 11:51:05 MDT Print View

" I just purchased a Sony RX-100 and hope to get a waterproof case"

I have that camera and purchased a Chinese made case marked Meikon (or something similar). Was skeptical when ordering, but it has been excellent. It's well made and all the functions work well - though I mainly just set the camera in automatic mode when snorkeling with it.

Obviously it's quite a bit bulkier than the RX100 w/out a case, but you have a fully waterproof set up at about the same size as a DSLR.

For images on par with the ruggedized point and shoot cameras I just wrap my iphone in a lifeproof case.