NikonCoolpix AW100Waterproof digital cameras are tagged as ‘rugged’ or ‘tough’ because of several specific features. For example, water depth and if the camera is considered ‘shockproof.’  This is dictated by how deep the camera can be taken underwater or if dropped from a certain height will it malfunction. The drop considered is usually anywhere from 5 to 6.6 feet.

Some of the notable manufacturers of the tough or rugged waterproof cameras include Panasonic, Olympus and Pentax. Nikon and Canon recently joined the fray by offering their version of waterproof cameras. The industry was dominated by Olympus and Pentax before Panasonic introduced their first rugged-style waterproof camera, the Lumix TS1 and now currently the Lumix DMC-TS25. On each upgrade of these types of cameras, each manufacturer makes every attempt to ensure that the current camera on the market is better than the last.

For consumers with active lives, Sony in 2010 introduced their stylish waterproof CyberShot cameras. Even then their first camera came with the tough features of being waterproof and more. These cameras soon became known for targeting consumers who enjoyed outdoor lifestyles. For those that needed a camera to be able to catch the action and their experiences while participating in the water, skiing, boating or hiking.

If you notice, Sony has continued to produce slick, stylish, feature full and colorful cameras. The Sony CyberShot waterproof camera models are attractive, thin, lightweight and usually contain features designed to solicit the consumer WOW factor. These cameras along with waterproof cameras from other manufacturers are designed for those with an active outdoor lifestyle where the camera can be used in any environment or situation.

Each manufacturer’s waterproof camera can be distinguished by the exterior design, features, and toughness quotients and like with the Nikon and Olympus cameras both can be operated by Tap Control or Action Control respectively. This means the cameras can be operated if the user is wearing gloves and won’t be able to access the camera’s functions via the buttons. The user can either tap on top of the camera which is the case for the Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 and Olympus TG-1iHS. The Nikon Coolpix AW100 which is Nikon’s first waterproof camera allows users unable to access the camera buttons to shake it in order to get to the menu and other features. Olympus and Nikon are the only two manufacturers that have this option.

Olympus had ruled the tough waterproof camera market until the other manufacturers entered the marketplace with unique features where they gained a leg up on Olympus and while their brand also gained in popularity. Olympus in trying to maintain their hold on the industry had to unveil a camera that would be able to compete with the newer models entering the market. The camera getting the most attention for Olympus is the TG-1iHS which has some awesome features.

The Pentax line of tough waterproof cameras are designated as the most rugged of the cameras offered because not only do they have all the toughness criteria for these types of cameras and more, but the Pentax cameras are also crushproof up to 220 pounds. Even the exterior design of the camera indicates ruggedness because of the material it is made from and the design of the camera which allows gripping with wet or gloved hands because of the camera’s rubber sides. The current model, the Pentax Optio WG-2 is the thirteenth generation of adventure type cameras from Pentax who has been making this type of cameras since 2003.

Pentax has an interesting history that dates back to World War I where it was known first as a lens maker and became known as Asahi Optical. In the second half of the 20th century, Asahi would use the Pentax name and subsequently became well known as a photographic equipment maker. Asahi eventually changed its name to Pentax in 2002, and then became a subsidiary of Hoya, an optical product manufacturer in 2007. In 2011, Hoya sold Pentax Ricoh to another camera manufacturer.

Researchers state this history about Pentax is important because it helps one to understand the development of the new line of rugged cameras from the previous versions. There is a question of whether Ricoh or Pentax came up with the design for the current Option WG camera series. However, since Ricoh had an expertise in industrial quality optical gear and equipment, the belief is that Ricoh came up with the current exterior design of the Optio WG series of tough cameras while Pentax may have had a hand in the camera controls because they resemble earlier all weather Pentax models.

It’s a given the Pentax cameras had a definitive look to them while their competitors have opted for more stylish and trendy colorful designs. The features of most waterproof cameras have attempted to keep in step with the wishes and needs of consumers by offering them some of the most desired features. Such as, GPS geo-tagging, higher megapixels and optical zoom, extended battery life, HD video and some unique colors that complement each brand of waterproof camera.

Each camera has something for everyone, but as with anything it comes down to your needs and what you plan to do with the photos and videos you take and record. Most people enjoy recording video in the pool or while snorkeling or diving. Photos of course can be taken either on land or in water. To enjoy the flexibility of this type of camera you have to make sure it has all the features you want and can afford.

Filed under: Waterproof Camera Buying Tips

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