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by w.hrybok

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I'm looking for a reasonably cheap point-and-shoot camera that can take a lot of abuse. Think rain, mud, occasional falls from head height, etc.

To make it easier, I really don't care too much about special features, zoom, or the quality of the photo. As long as it's reasonably viewable at the end, that's good enough for me.

I'm aware of the Olympus µ cameras, but they still try to pack in the features and that drives up the price.

Any suggestions?

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A holiday gift for a child, perhaps? :) –  pkaeding Dec 1 '10 at 4:04
    
Haha, actually far less innocent than that - warriordash.com :) Great alternative suggestion though! –  Damovisa Dec 1 '10 at 4:08
    
Oh, I heard about that. It looks like fun! –  pkaeding Dec 1 '10 at 16:58

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

All of the major brands make a rugged camera, but since I'm a Pentax shooter, I might suggest the Pentax Optio W90. A quick Google search on it will turn up a number of reviews, but spec wise it's pretty good and it's designed to take abuse.

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Good suggestion - I have a Optio W60 and I'm pretty pleased with it. –  Chris Betterton Dec 1 '10 at 8:36
    
+1: designed to take abuse :) –  Stormenet Dec 1 '10 at 9:53

To follow up on Genius' reply, DP Review had a Waterproof Camera Group Test last year. It tells you a bit more than just the comparison page, and from there you can easily check how the new models since then have improved.

I've quickly skimmed the article, and it appears that John Cavan's suggestion of an Optio is quite a good one - the W60 is the runner up in the bunch (the review is biased towards picture quality, and not ruggedness), and the W90 is supposed to be a lot more durable. However, they warn that the W80 is actually performing worse than the W60 when it comes to the pictures, so take note to check how important pixel perfection is to you.

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  1. open DPreview Compare (or any similar digital camera comparison page)
  2. fill the form with:
    • Format = "Compact" or "Waterproof"
    • Live View = "Yes" ()
    • Image Stabilization = "Yes" (even if photo quality doesn't matter for you)
    • Only current = "Don't mind"
  3. choose your one (there should be a few pages of comparison). Prices are listed there also.

I heard that Ricoh GR Digital Series (1-2-3) cameras are strong and good, but these are little bit expensive.

All opinions like "Choose this one: YYY" or "Better to buy KKK camera" I see useless, since you'll get tons of suggestions and anyway final choice will be something else. Good luck!

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Check out the Go Pro cameras. They're marketed as wearable/mountable (e.g. on a surfboard, helmet, car, boat), waterproof sports cameras.

A friend just got one for a trip to Antartica (I can let you know in about 3 weeks when he gets back if it survived ;). He's used it successfully in the surf and on a kayak and is generally pretty happy with it.

They are technically limited in that they have a fixed focal length (170º FOV fisheye) fixed aperture (f/2.8) and fixed focus (0.6m to infinity). Sensor is 5 MP and it takes SD cards.

So if you want a more technically capable camera to get longer zooms and give you larger prints, then check out the usual brand-name water/shock resistant point & shoots.

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I got my young daughter a cheap Olympus Stylus Tough 6000. It wins on cheapness (I paid $115, I believe) and on ruggedness, but the optics and sensor leave a lot to be desired. I'd rate the photo quality somewhere around "camera phone".

I don't know about recent Pentax models, but (although I love my Pentax DSLR!) Pentax's record with P&S cameras has been lackluster. The one I used a few years ago was shockingly slow, and none to impressive with the results. Maybe newer models are better. If I cared about image quality, I think I'd spend a little more and get a Panasonic DMC-TS2.

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