Two thirds of the planet is covered in water, yet the vast majority of cameras won't thank you for taking them into it. This bunch of waterproof wonders are right at home capturing subaquatic scenes though, and will let you dive as deep as 25 metres to fish out the perfect shot. They're all shock and freezeproof too, and some wont mind if you give them a crushing either.
The fun doesn't stop there, as you'll also find many rugged cameras come packed with features such as GPS location tagging, Wi-Fi connectivity and even action-orientated extras like a compass or altimeter.
Pick the right camera, and image quality will also give a typical land-loving compact a run for its money. The only compromise you'll need to make for the ability to shoot during some rough and tumble is a below-average zoom range.
So don't let your camera hold you back, as any of these strengthened snappers will relish life off the beaten track.
Olympus Stylus TG-3
Sensor: 16.1MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS | Lens: 4x optical zoom (25-100mm equivalent) | Screen: 3-inch, 460k-dot LCD | Continuous shooting: 5fps (25 frames) | Video: 1080p HD
Most rugged cameras sound pretty tough on paper, but few can match the TG-3's exceptional build quality and confidence-inspiring rugged feel. It'll survive drops from 2.1 metres, a -10° freeze, 100kg of crushing force and 15-metre deep underwater excursions. That's not quite the deepest waterproof rating in the class, but otherwise the TG-3 is built to survive pretty much anything you could throw at it, literally.
A chunky, ergonomic design and well-designed controls make the TG-3 a pleasure to use in any weather. It's also packed with useful features for when you're off the beaten track, such as an easy to use GPS system, electronic compass, depth and pressure gauges. Wi-Fi connectivity makes image sharing a breeze and the camera's revised 460k-dot LCD monitor trumps the competition with its superb brightness and viewing angles.
Image quality from the 16MP CMOS sensor isn't quite as impressive. Shots taken in good light are easy on the eye, but by ISO800 noise there's plenty of image noise and detail smearing.
The bright, f/2.0 lens with its 4x optical zoom range is hard to fault though, and it has no trouble focusing as close as 1cm from a subject, letting you create stunning macro shots.
- Read our full Olympus Stylus TG-3 review.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5
Sensor: 16.1MP 1/2.33-inch MOS | Lens: 4.6x optical zoom (28-128mm equivalent) | Screen: 3-inch, 460k-dot LCD | Continuous shooting: 10fps (7 frames) | Video: 1080p HD
Panasonic's Lumix FT5 may be getting a bit long in the tooth now, but it can still cut it against the best of today's waterproof compacts.
Image capture is taken care of by a 16.1MP sensor that manages to avoid smudging fine detail to the extent of some rival cameras and maintains impressively clarity as high as ISO1600 sensitivity.
A 4.6x Leica lens provides a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 28-128mm and is optically stabilised to smooth out camera shake. However, a 5cm minimum focusing distance does fall short of the 1cm macro modes offered by many competitors.
The FT5 also trails the pack in terms of waterproofing, with its 13-metre rating being the shallowest of our group. Its other toughness credentials are none too shabby though, as you can subject the FT5 to two-metre drops, -10° freezes and a 100kg crushing.
An impressively bright LCD monitor makes it easy to compose your shots, while the swift and reliable autofocus system and accurate exposure metering ensure images turn out how you'd planned, whether you're above or below water.
Factor in extras like GPS, Wi-Fi with remote camera control and NFC pairing for easy image sharing, and the FT5 shapes up as a great all-rounder.