To anyone who’s grown up in even the 90’s, the thought of taking a standard issue electronic device into the pool can only be a little unsettling – even when they get a camera that was made to laugh at the water. But such ability is exactly what a growing line of high quality cameras is bringing you today. They come from every major manufacturer – Fuji, Pentax, Lumix, Canon and everyone else. These aren’t like the waterproof digital camera models that we used to put up with before either – these are tiny, cosmetically completely pleasing, full-featured, and in possession of quality that would have looked completely at home on an SLR even 10 years ago.
The first thing you need to know about these cameras is that today, “waterproof digital camera”doesn’t really mean just “waterproof” – it means dustproof, shockproof and freeze proof (not because you could leave it in the freezer, but because you could accidentally drop it in the snow on a ski trip, and leave it there for a couple of minutes).
My favorite waterproof digital camera to date is the Lumix TS2. It has a feature that I’ve longed for on even reeegular digital cameras but never got. It has a dedicated video record button (for 720p high-definition) and you can use its zoom to your heart’s content. It used to be that if you wanted to shoot video on a still camera, you would have to make do with the zoom level you started out with when he pressed Record. I love its wide-angle 28mm Leica lens, and the fact that it is absolutely life -proof. You can drop it on concrete and not even get a scratch, leave alone, a crack. Other completely competent cameras in this category include the Sony TX5, although I feel they have a problem with image quality – the edges on the images are quite smudged on this one.
But picking the right waterproof digital camera isn’t the only thing you need to think of when the wet and wild fun begins. You will need to think of the ways in which you will use your brand-new toy in the water. To begin with, your pictures can be quite sharp and bright; the fact that the activities you’ll be indulging in the water – fun and frolic and an unstable footing or an absolute lack of one- are hardly conducive to great sharp pictures. Traditionally, cameras intended for water have had very fast sensors to make up for the constant motion that is to be expected in these circumstances; but then a very fast picture will also be a grainy one. The latest models do a very good job though.
Most waterproof digital camera models are not sink-proof though. If you’re in the ocean and you accidentally let go of one, it absolutely will sink to the bottom of the ocean. They need to make sure that that wrist strap is completely dependable. When your family’s adventures take you to the beach, you need to make sure that sand doesn’t get in the camera. A particle of sand can easily lance a rubber seal, and compromise the integrity of the camera’s waterproof qualities. And finally, a word of advice in using deigital cameras near the water – make sure you turn the flash off when you’re aiming something on the water. The water will flash your light right back at you, and ruin your shot.