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tough, waterproof, shockproof compact fixed lens cameras


  • this niche of the compact digital camera world was initiated by Olympus and the combination of compact size, price, waterproof, shockproofing is now one of the few reasons to buy a compact digital instead of a much higher image quality, large sensor mirrorless camera systems camera such as a Micro Four Thirds system.
  • the image quality from these cameras is reasonable in good light at low ISO but their small sensors will limit printing quality to perhaps 11“ x 14” size.
  • these cameras are fantastic for travel to camera-unfriendly places such as the beach, humid environments, loose in backpacks with drink bottles which may leak, and are also great for those who don't take great care of their cameras and are prone to dropping them.
  • they can be awesome for underwater shots
  • but they do have their limitations, particularly for low light situations
  • they will lack some of the high end features and the much better image quality and versatility of slightly larger Micro Four Thirds system cameras

important features to look for

  • the latest models generally have reasonable image quality and functionality
  • ignore megapixels anything over 8 megapixels will be fine - too many pixels and low light capability is compromised - perhaps aim for 12mp
  • much more important is the brightest aperture of the lens as the brighter it is, the more it can be used in low light such as indoors or evenings - an aperture of f/2.0 allows almost 4x as much light in a f/3.9 and thus one should buy an f/2.0 lens if possible
  • another important lens feature is the zoom range, although perhaps more important still is how wide it can get as on travel snapshots, wide is generally used far more often than telephoto. If you can get a lens that is wider than 28mm (in 35mm camera equivalence), then all the better.
  • sensor based image stabiliser is important to help minimise camera shake
  • GPS can be useful for travel photography
  • predictive capture or “Pro-Capture” mode can automatically record a burst of images PRIOR to shutter release if the shutter is half-pressed first - this gives you a better chance of capturing the perfect timed action shot
  • 4K video
  • timelapse
  • high frame rate video for slo-mo video
  • field sensors can add to the experience - record air temperature, camera direction, barometer as well as GPS tracking
  • WiFi smartphone connectivity can be very nice to have for travel when you are not likely to have a laptop handy, although most smartphones allow SD memory cards to be directly attached and the photos transferred without WiFi.
  • WiFi smartphone apps can sometimes be used to control the camera which can be handy

2020 cameras

  • Ricoh WG-70
    • 16mp 1/2.3” sensor; 1080P;
    • 28–140mm 35mm-equivalent focal length, has an aperture range of F3.5-F5.5
    • $US280

2019 cameras

  • Olympus TOUGH TG-6
    • same as TG-5 except
      • 1mdot LCD instead of 460k dots but still scratches easily
      • added an anti-reflective coating to the glass
      • improved microscope mode - ability to enlarge the subject by over 44x while at its minimum focus distance of 1cm (0.2“)
      • improved focus stacking options
      • new underwater microscope modes
      • new white balance options for shallow, midrange and deep water shooting
      • New accessories include the FCON-T02 fisheye lens and a new lens barrier (LB-T01)
      • $US449
  • Sony RX0 II
    • 15mp 1” sensor; 4K 30p video internal recording with no pixel binning;
    • 24mm (in FF eq) f/4 lens;
    • 1/32,000th sec 16fps electronic shutter
    • flip up LCD screen;
    • $US698
  • Ricoh WG-6:
    • 20mp 1/2.3″ sensor and 28-140mm (FF eq) zoom
    • 4K video; built-in ring light around lens; GPS, compass;
    • waterproof to 20m for 2hrs; no EVF;
    • $US399

2018 cameras

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7/FT7
    • 1st rugged camera to have built-in EVF, albeit, a small one.
    • 20.4MP, 1/2.3“ BSI CMOS sensor with 49pt CDAF
    • F3.3-5.9, 28-128mm equiv. lens
    • 4K video 24/30p; 1080HD 60p; 720 120p;
    • 4K Photo feature, which allows for 'Post Focus' and 8MP still extraction
    • 10fps burst; WiFi;
    • $US449

2017 cameras

  • Olympus TOUGH TG-5
    • 12mp 4x zoom 4.5mm -18.0mm (25mm - 100mm) f/2.0-4.9 lens with anti-fog dual-pane protective glass
    • waterproof 15m, freezeproof -10degC, crushproof 100kg, shockproof 2.1m drop
    • super macro to 1cm
    • 2.5EV sensor shift IS
    • 25pt CDAF; shutter 1/2 to 1/2000th sec + Night mode up to 4 sec (Live Composite option);
    • 5 frame Pro Capture at 10fps
    • 5/10/20fps burst
    • built-in flash + 1 channel, 1 group RC remote flash
    • intervalometer
    • 4K 30/25p video
    • 1080FHD 60/50/30/25p plus 120fps
    • timelapse movie 4K 5fps 1080FHD 5-15fps
    • field sensors which can be switched on to record: GPS data, air temp, barometer, compass, acceleration
    • WiFi
  • Sony RX0
    • ultra compact 2.38×1.63×1.19″ (61×40.6×30.5mm) and weighs only 3.9 oz (110.6 g)
    • 15mp 1” sensor with ZEISS Tessar T* 24mm f/4 lens
    • electronic shutter to 1/32000 with an Anti-Distortion Shutter at 16fps (fixed focus and exposure)
    • 1080p60 video internally, or 4K clean HDMI out when paired with an external recorder
    • the Sony FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander can trigger up to 15 RX0 cameras at the same time
    • Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app lets you trigger 5 at the same time using a smartphone or tablet

2016 cameras

2014 cameras

  • Olympus TOUGH TG-850 iHS:
    • super wide-angle 21-105mm F3.5 - F5.7 5x optical zoom lens
    • 180° flip 460K dot LCD monitor - you don't need to put your head underwater now!
    • 16mp back-lit CMOS sensor and True-Pic VII processor
    • waterproof down to 33 feet (10m), shockproof from seven feet (2.1m) (if LCD screen closed), crushproof up to 220 pounds (100kgf), freezeproof down to 14° F (-10°C) and dustproof
    • 1080 60p video plus 120fps at 640×480, or 240fps at 320×240
    • 7.1 fps sequential shooting
    • 1/2 - 1/2000th sec shutter
    • built-in flash
    • 11 ART filters
    • intervalometer up to 99 frames at preset intervals from 10 seconds to 60 minutes
    • transfer to smartphone via optional Toshiba FlashAir™ SDHC card
    • 218g
    • 110 x 64 x 28 mm (4.33 x 2.52 x 1.09″)
    • RRP $249

2013 cameras

  • Olympus TOUGH TG-2 iHS:
    • 4x zoom (25-100mm), GPS, sensor-based image stabiliser, 1/2.3” 12mp sensor
    • shutter 4sec to 1/2000th; widest aperture f/2.0 allows almost 4x as much light in at wide angle - great for indoors without a flash!
    • 230g; 111 x 67 x 29 mm
    • RRP $400
  • Nikon Coolpix AW110:
    • 5x zoom (28-140mm), GPS, WiFi smartphone connectivity, sensor-based image stabiliser, 1/2.3“ 16mp sensor
    • shutter 4sec to 1/1500th; widest aperture f/3.9
    • 193g; 110 x 65 x 25 mm
    • RRP $350

2012 cameras

  • Olympus TOUGH TG-830:
    • 5x zoom (28-140mm), GPS, sensor-based image stabiliser, 1/2.3” 16mp
    • shutter 4sec to 1/2000th; widest aperture f/3.9; 11.5fps burst; 60fps 3mp 1sec burst;
    • WiFi only via Wi-Fi capable cards such as those from Eye-Fi and Toshiba's FlashAir line
    • 1080 30p video
    • 214g; 110 x 67 x 28 mm
    • RRP $280

2011 cameras

    • best cameras in their review in order starting at best:
      • Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 / DMC-FT3
      • Sony Cyber-shot TX10
      • Olympus TG-810 (poor high ISO)
        • NB. Olympus has an updated model, the TG-820, with f/3.9-5.9 5x zoom
        • in April 2012, a leak of a new high end model, the TG-1 iHS TOUGH camwera, was released, and specs show a nice f/2.0-4.9 4x zoom lens with super-macro mode and 12mp 1/2.3“ 3fps sensor with a lovely 3” OLED screen
      • Ricoh PX (poor underwater images)
photo/compact_tough.txt · Last modified: 2020/02/05 18:29 by gary1

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