Getting myself and my camera heavily sprayed by a wave this morning whilst taking photos of the harbour of Chania during a storm reminded me to consider getting a small waterproof compact at some point. Expecting some salt spray I’d been taking the precaution to put a neutral filter on the front of my lens (dry salt on a lens front element is really hard to clean as the crystals may scratch it) but I was not expecting a wave to spray me whilst climbing to the little turret at the top of the Firkas fortress. I mean, that thing is quite high above the sea! Needless to say I didn’t insist and made a hasty retreat.
But that little adventure revived my interest in small waterproof cameras. In the last couple of years there have been quite a few decent waterproof compact cameras appearing on the market. Of course they are not at all in the same range as a quality DSLR but they could probably produce decent snapshots and good enough web size images. More to the point, if I’d had one I could have taken some interesting photos from up there instead of having to turn back because I didn’t want to wreck my expensive gear.
These little rugged cameras are good to consider for any sort of water sport (sailing, kayaking) or simply for taking to the beach where any normal camera is at risk because of sand. Waterproof means sandproof (just wash it under the tap! what a lovely concept) and they are also generally sold as shockproof and are supposed to function in very low and high temperatures. They even have a GPS (to remind you of where exactly you got lost) and shoot videos.
They are also supposed to work underwater but I am not sure how well they will in practical terms because you need good light down there. But they might do OK in the clear Mediterranean waters.
So all in all, they could be of interest if you go on holiday. Probably best as a second camera.
I did a bit of research this afternoon and ended with a very short list of three that I might consider for myself:
- Panasonic Lumix FT3 Waterproof and Shockproof Digital Camera – Blue (12.1MP, 4.6x Optical Zoom with GPS)
- Panasonic DMC-FT4EB-A Rugged Compact Camera – Blue (12.1MP, 4.6x Optical Zoom) 2.7 inch LCD
- Nikon Coolpix AW100 Digital Camera – Black (16MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD
The second Panasonic model seems to be a newer iteration of the slightly older FT3. A little more expensive but probably not a whole lot better.
The Nikon looks nice and with good specs (5x optical zoom and 3 inch LCD) but I am a little bit hesitant about 16 Megapixels on such a small sensor.
I think that if I get anything it will be the Panasonic.