Underwater cameras were once an expensive and specialised rarity, but here are six that are designed to be just as happy in the water as you are.

cameras

They're not huge, armoured monstrosities, either, but regular compact cameras that don't cost that much more than their landbased equivalents.

Water isn't the only potentially hostile environment for cameras, of course.

Come that winter skiing holiday, you'll need a camera that can keep shooting well below freezing point as well as keeping out the snow. Or if scrambling in the Cairngorms is more your thing, you'll want something that can survive some knocks and bangs, too.

And how about keeping out the sand on the beach?

That's the great thing about these cameras: they're not just waterproof, they're also 'ruggedised' (with the exception of the Fujifilm). Whether you're into extreme sports or you just want a camera you don't have to mollycoddle, these items are perfect.

Underwater cameras explained

.

First, underwater cameras are depth-rated. Water pressure increases with depth, and these cameras can only withstand so much. The depth rating tells you just how far down they can go.

Second, shock-proofing is measured as the vertical height from which the camera can be dropped, but only under the makers' precise testing conditions. These won't necessarily reflect real-world conditions, and the makers don't offer a guarantee against accidental breakage.

Third, 'freeze proofing' indicates the lowest temperature at which the camera is guaranteed to operate. But while the camera may be functional, that's not to say the battery will be.

Lithium-ion cells are more tolerant than other types, but their capacity is still substantially reduced at these temperatures.

ON TEST