Best Waterproof Camera Today?

Of course this is junk! (water getting in…) Don’t get me started on Pentax… No, we’ve moved on but it’s been a couple of years since I’ve bought a new waterproof compact camera and I could use your advice.  What’s working for you these days? Cannon? Fuji? Lumix? Olympus?  Remember what we’re shootin’ for here.  Fits in a PFD pocket, easy to manage with one hand, handles light well and can produce sharp images on lumpy water.. What say you experts?

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17 Responses

  1. I have been using the Panasonic Lumix TS2. It has been great. No problems, good quality photos and 720p movies. Very durable, decent battery life. They just released the TS3 which I may purchase due to the fact that Panasonic added an on board GPS for geo tagging and upped the movie resolution to 1080p. The CMOS also has reportably been upgraded.

    It fits comfortably in my PFD’s front pocket (I have an Astral LDB), I have no problems using it with one hand, and as for low light, it is OK, but remember, it is a waterproof P&S. It is not going to compete with a regular P&S or better, DSLR. Because of the lens cover, it does generate those wavy purple lines from intense bright sunlight, but only in the rare occasion when the light is hitting it just right.

    Check out my blog galleries (especially the Maine trip), most of the on water shots as well as the videos posted were shot with the Lumix:


    Link TS2: http://amzn.to/eIL1R9

    Link TS3: http://amzn.to/e4fJCZ


  2. Third vote, same camera. Mine is Panasonic Lumix TS1 and I think it’s great. Image quality is at the top of P&S bunch, HD video with the current compression format, widest zoom range with 28mm rather than 35mm at the bottom, optical image stabilization — baby has it all.

    However, see Gnarly Dog’s blog where he reports serious problems with salt water corrosion in an unnamed brand camera. I think it’s the Panasonic :(

    1. Roger

      Fourth vote. I also have the TS1. I bought a Pentax and the pics were such low quality I returned it immediately. The Lumix has gone on many trips. It even has a dent in it from one of my kayak expeditions. It still takes excellent pictures. Just buy it.

  3. Greg

    I have been using the TS2 for a while and have had a few small issues but have been quite happy with its performance overall. I virtually live on Lake Ontario and the surrounding bits of water so the camera sees water about once per day at a minimum of one hour and whitewater on a weekly basis. I have had one issue with internal moisture (lens fogging) which was quickly resolved with the camera in large paper envelope and set into a sealed bowl of rice over night. This was actually my fault as I failed to clean a chunky bit out of a seal in my haste to get out on the water.
    Recently I had the opportunity to test out the salt water issue and found that regardless of my meticulous cleaning I found corrosion on the plates. I was informed that this was not a product issue but a user issue by the vendor. I have not pursued the issue with Panasonic as it has not hindered performance.
    I have example images of pretty much every environment if you would like to see image quality and performance.

  4. Richard

    I use a Kodak Underwater Disposable 35mm film camera. Take it to the drugstore for developing and have them burn the images onto a CD. Cheap, simple, no crying if it dies. My Pentax Optio still works, but it has never been submerged. I bought it when everyone else did, but when I heard all the troubles, I couldn’t bring myself to get it wet.

  5. Hi Derrick,
    Almost every Panasoonic I have seen that gets use in salt water corrodes. It’s a shame because it is a nice camera, for what it is. I have a Canon Powershot D10 which is reasonable (all of the images on http://kayakbassstrait.blogspot.com/ were taken with it) but really I am waiting to see what Canon brings out as an update. I am sure it will have HD video and hopefully a wider wide angle. I just wish someone would bring out one of the new 4/3 cameras in a waterproof body :-)

  6. Susan

    My old, OLD olympus stylus that they don’t make anymore – came out before the “tough” ones. The seal leaked – once – after about 3 years of heavy water-based use (mostly fresh, some salt) and the company repaired it for far less than I would’ve paid for a new one. It’s now about 5 years old and has developed a scratch on the lens, so I have a little Photoshop manipulation to do on images with a clear sky. At this rate, I think I’ll just wait ’til it dies before I think about a new one!

  7. deborah

    I too have one of the older Olys – a 550WP I bought refurbished direct from Olympus in summer of 2008. $94 shipped w. 90 day Olympus warranty. Never had an issue.

    Compact, tough, truly waterproof full metal body. Acceptable pix (tune ’em up w. good software), but given the limits of the sensor, still on the grainy side. Also, these older models lacked dual image stabilization which is a big perk for action shots, and their recovery between shots is a little slow. Pretty intuitive menu. Comes w. an actual booklet manual which I take on trips.

    The camera has been dunked, splashed, immersed in my pfd pocket…what a little champ. The thing I didn’t like was it was too easy to accidentally record a video, & if it happened accidentally & went unnoticed, it would drain the battery. I do have extra batteries, but it’s hard to keep them dry so I usually leave them at camp or in the car.

    Also, some people do not like Olympus’ dependence on XD cards. Not sure why, easy to find at good prices. My 550WP also uses a miniSDHC card w. adapter, USB 2.0 friendly.I have one at 4GB I’ve yet to fill on a week’s trip.

    I looked at Panasonic’s Lumix DMC TX2 but decided I was not gonna buy any “rugged” camera that did not have a protected lens. We live in a world of sand, grit, dust, etc. That goes for the Canon Powershot D-10waterproof, too which is “bulgy” & less compact than either the Olympus or the Lumix.

    by next week I’ll have an Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 to play with. Uses XD and SDHC & can now run on the faster Class 4 cards (or Class 6 or even the pro grade Class 10)Has a setting to tweak for rapidfire shot recovery, and firmware to boost bootup time. And, for me, a dedicated button for 720 HDMI video. Dual stabilization, tap access for different modes, and freezeproof down to 14 degrees F (I plan to take it skiing awa paddling). Its brother the 8010 is alike in all specs except it has a full metal body & so weighs a bit more. It’s MSRP (new)of $399 is about $80 more than a new 6020.

    I again went w. a refurbed model – $155 shipped, 90 days warranty plus the assurance of Amazon – which is less than half the cost of a new Lumix TX2 or Olympus 8010, and ~45% off the cost of a new 6020. I buy Class A refurbs from established camera stores, & throw an inexpensive Square Trade warranty on ’em ($25 for two years after the mfgr warranty ends)

    Derrick – Since Olympus has just released a new generation of waterproof cameras -the TG series, no “Tough” in the name – there are excellent deals going on the Stylus Tough 6020 and 8010.

    Also, if anyone wants to see what kind of great kayaking pix are possible for this camera, go to gnarlydog’s site (google gnarlydog kayak). Damiano says nearly every single pic there was taken with his Olympus Stylus Tough 6020.

  8. I like the Kodak Playsport Camera. Most of the pics on my blog at Paddlingandsailing.blogspot.com are taken with it. I usually paddle a sit on top so most of the time it is sitting between my legs under a couple inches of water. It has no metal to corrode so I expect it will stay waterproof.

  9. Steve

    I don’t know how it rates compared to the Panasonic camera, but I’ve had a Fuji Z33WP for three years now that seems to work reasonably well. Fits easily into my PFD pocket.

  10. I don’t know how image quality compares to other cameras, I just wanted to say that I’m still using my Optio W20 purchased in 2007. It has been underwater repeatedly in pools, lakes, and whitewater with never a problem. My older Optio WP was similarly dunked with no problems. I have heard that others have had problems with the Pentax waterproof cameras, but most of the people I know who have the Pentax cameras have not had the problems that have been reported on the internet. Just for the record. . .

  11. deborah

    Just a followup – my refurbished black Olympus Stylus 6020 arrived this afternoon. Looks absolutely brand new, not a mark/blemish on it, not a scratch on the LCD. In fact, there was a translucent protector sheet on the LCD & all the accessories were in sealed bags.

    One thing I liked is that Olympus puts only one waterproof hatch on the side for everything, and guards that w. a small low profile latch that has to be moved in two directions for it to unlatch.That would make an accidentally open battery/card compartment very unlikely.

    Charging it up right now :)

    Will be playing w. it over the next few days and taking it on the water the last weekend in April. It will get dunked for sure. Takes a while to really know the camera & how good it is, but will try to remember to get back here.

    Having read many dozen reviews of various waterproof cameras (didn’t even consider Pentax) none of them have a consistent rock solid rating for being waterproof and being reliable. Some of that may be user error. Many people just want to point and shoot and not read the manual. Some may be usage over time (the seals on some do get weaker, and it’s ~$150 to replace the seals on an Olympus, for example) and some may be defects.

    FWIW I read in more than one place that the Panasonic Lumix series has thinner seals than some. But I would trust user experience over time more on that.

    Derrick is right: would be useful to have reviews when the camera has been used a lot, or used a year or more. Same goes for kayak reviews :)

    1. Just for what it’s worth, I owned the Olympus 6020 for all of a month and a half last year before I purchased my Lumix Ts2. I used the 6020 frequently in the Atlantic Ocean off the New Jersey shore. At least 2 to three times a week. By the 6th week the lens cover jammed and the camera became unresponsive. It would turn on, make some noises and sit. The menu would show on the screen but the buttons did nothing. This was not due to my negligence either, I washed it according to instructions after every use and kept it in a case when not in use. I am anal with my electronics and babied the camera as if it was a non-rugged P&S.

      For Olympus’s worth, they did fix the camera after I sent it in under warranty. But in the meantime while waiting for the camera to be returned I purchased the Lumix and loved it. When the Olympus finally came back I sold it. The quality of the images from the Lumix were superior to that of the Olympus as well as the video.

      I also do not like the idea of moving parts, the lens cover on the Olympus, on a rugged camera being used in salty, sandy, environments.

      Just my experience and 2 cents.