Product Reviews

The 5 Best Rugged Cameras That Can Take A Beating

Mihir Patkar 17-12-2013

When you want to capture life around you, you don’t want to be thinking about whether it’s raining, what will happen if you lose your grip on the camera or any such disasters. If your mind is at ease, you can concentrate all your energy on the perfect shot. And that’s what rugged cameras offer: a stress-free photo experience.


Along with the most rugged Bluetooth speakers 7 Rugged Bluetooth Speakers To Bring On Your Next Outdoor Adventure Most Bluetooth speakers are designed to sit on a night stand rather than a fallen tree. There are, however, some portable Bluetooth speakers that can meet the challenge of the great outdoors. Read More , here are the best rugged cameras to take on your next adventure.

All-Rounder: Panasonic Lumix TS5 ($304)


The Panasonic Lumix TS5 offers “5-Proof Protection”: waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, freezeproof and pressure resistance. Of all the point-and-shoot rugged cameras, reviewers reckon this one has the best image quality, especially in colour reproduction. Another thing you need in these cameras is good autofocus and an intelligent auto mode — two areas in which the TS5 delivers in spades. And the icing on the cake is the video quality, where it far excels any of the current crop of point-and-shoot rugged cameras, with some reviewers reckoning it beats even the GoPro Hero 3 Black.

  • 16.1 megapixel MOS sensor
  • 4.6X optical zoom lens (F3.3-5.9, 28-128 mm)
  • ‘Power OIS’ optical image stabilization
  • 1080 FullHD video recording at 60 fps
  • 3-inch LCD (460K)
  • Built-in GPS with compass
  • Wi-Fi
  • NFC
  • Waterproof up to 13 metres / 43 feet
  • Shockproof from 2 metres / 6.5 feet
  • Crushproof up to 100 kg / 220 pounds
  • Freezeproof to -10 degrees Celsius / 14 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Dustproof

Manual & Low-Light: Olympus TG-2 iHS ($329)


The Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 iHS is a worthy alternative to the Lumix TS5, granted a few caveats. The TG-2 has an aperture of f/2.0, far exceeding any other rugged point-and-shoot and making it the best performer for shots in low-light environments. It’s also got fantastic manual controls, has detachable fisheye and telephoto lenses as add-ons, and a Microscopic Macro Mode that lets you take photographs as close as 1 centimeter away from your subject. If you’re interested in that, you should definitely read Bakari’s great guide on getting started with macro photography How To Get Started With Macro Photography Read More . But the TG-2 falters majorly in video recording, with grainy, choppy images and bad audio recording. Also, the colours it reproduces are not as true as what you get with the Lumix TS5. Plus, there’s no Wi-Fi or NFC in this one.

  • 12 megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor
  • 4x optical zoom (F2.0-4.9, 25-100 mm)
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • 3-inch OLED screen (610K)
  • Built-in GPS with compass
  • 1080p FullHD video recording at 30 fps
  • Waterproof up to 15 metres / 50 feet
  • Shockproof from 2.1 metres / 7 feet
  • Crushproof up to 100 kg / 220 pounds
  • Freezeproof to -10 degrees Celsius / 14 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Dustproof

Budget Buy: Fujifilm FinePix XP60 ($139)


If you don’t want to spend a lot of money but still want a rugged camera, the Fujifilm FinePix XP60 is your best bet. It isn’t as robust as the Panasonic Lumix TS5 or the Olympus TG-2, but it gets the job done. And it’s surprising how much it packs for its price: a macro mode for close-up shots, HDR mode, and a burst mode of 10 fps. However, it comes at the cost of where things matter most. The image quality is good, although not great, and the built-in flash is extremely poor. At high ISO ranges, image noise is a major issue. It also runs out of battery faster than the others. And the lack of GPS is jarring.

  • 16 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 5x optical zoom (F3.9-4.9, 28-140 mm)
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • 2.7-inch LCD screen (230K)
  • 1080p FullHD video recording at 60 fps
  • Waterproof up to 6 metres / 20 feet
  • Shockproof up to 1.5 metres / 5 feet
  • Freezeproof to -10 degrees Celsius / 14 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Dustproof

Style Solution: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 ($239)


Most rugged cameras look like big, clunky devices with no finesse; they place functionality above form. But if you want a looker that’s resilient, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 is the way to go. This toughie looks sleek and sharp, while taking decent images and video — the Magnifying Glass Plus macro mode with the built-in LED lamp is particularly cool–but be ready for out-of-focus photos. Its big problem though is the touchscreen on the back. The lack of buttons gives you a larger screen, but at the cost of one that simply does not work underwater, rendering its waterproof protection useless for marine shots.

  • 18.2 megapixel ‘Exmor R’ BSI-CMOS sensor
  • 5x optical zoom (F3.5-4.8, 26-130 mm)
  • Optical image stabilization
  • 3.3-inch OLED touchscreen (1229K)
  • 1080p FullHD video recording at 60 fps
  • Waterproof up to 10 metres / 33 feet
  • Shockproof up to 1.5 metres / 5 feet
  • Freezeproof to -10 degrees Celsius / 14 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Dustproof

Mirrorless: Nikon 1 AW1 ($799)


Mirrorless cameras are all the rage now, offering the convenience of a point-and-shoot with the quality of a DSLR. And the Nikon 1 AW1 throws in a rugged body into the mix. Its biggest advantage over point-and-shoots is the shutter speed and quick autofocus: it shoots at 15 fps with continuous autofocus or 60 fps with fixed autofocus. There’s no worry about image or video quality here. Additionally, you get interchangeable lenses, of which Nikon has two in the rugged variety right now. Non-rugged lenses work too, and you should check out Lens Hero The Best DSLR Camera for Your Money in 2017 Although cell phone cameras get better every year, nothing beats a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera. DSLR cameras deliver top-tier photo quality, versatility, and longevity. But what's the best DSLR for your money? Read More to find out more. Unfortunately, all the rugged coating makes it much bulkier than standard mirrorless cameras, losing the “compact” charm. Also, it does not have a built-in image stabilizer and its battery life is weak. And man, check out that price tag! Phew!

  • 14 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 11-27.5 mm NIKKOR kit lens (f/3.5-5.6)
  • 3-inch LCD screen (921K)
  • FullHD 1080p video at 60 fps
  • Built-in GPS with compass
  • Waterproof up to 15 metres / 49 feet
  • Shockproof up to 2 metres / 6.6 feet
  • Freezeproof to -10 degrees Celsius / 14 degrees Fahrenheit

Tough Choice

All of these rugged cameras have their own pros and cons and it can be hard to choose, so I suggest you read through Joshua’s 8 tips before buying a camera 8 Tips You Should Know Before Buying Your Next Digital Camera There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all camera. Buying a digital camera is a big deal, so we've made it much easier to understand the kinds of cameras out there. Read More . Which of the above caught your eye? Are there any other rugged shooters you have used and loved?

Related topics: Buying Tips, Digital Camera.

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