What is the point of owning a camera if you can’t take it with you everywhere to capture those truly special moments? You know the ones we’re talking about. When you’re surfing a gnarly wave, climbing up a steep cliff or just relaxing on the beach. Even if you’re not doing all that crazy stuff, wouldn’t you just like a camera that can survive a fall into the pool, or an accidental drop to the ground? Most cameras can’t handle that kind of abuse, however.
It’s not that you’d necessarily want to beat up your expensive camera, but sometimes things happen. It’s better to have a durable, reliable piece of tech that won’t fold at the first sign of pressure, especially when you’re carrying it on you all the time.
That’s where durable and rugged point-and-shoot cameras come into play. They have been designed for use in extreme conditions, and most of the time they can even capture better quality photos than your smartphone. That, of course, depends on the quality of your smartphones camera sensor vs the one in the digital camera, but we digress.
We’re going to explore the 5 best rugged, point-and-shoot digital cameras.
5. Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX30
Sony offers a remarkably slim and sexy-looking durable camera called the Cyber-Shot DSC-TX30. It measures only a half-inch thick, small enough to slip into your pocket. It’s waterproof up to 33 feet, freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof up to 5 feet, and air and dust resistant. You can take it virtually anywhere with you.
For camera specs, it’s packing an 18.2MP CMOS sensor and can handle 5x optical magnification. On the rear is a 3.3-inch OLED touchscreen display to interact with the device and preview your shots. It also has 8GB of internal flash storage, which can hold up to 3 hours and 10 minutes of recorded video. Don’t worry, a microSD slot will allow you to expand your storage options if you want more.
A front sliding cover can be opened to reveal the lens and flash, and closed again when you’re done to protect the goods underneath. It may not be the absolute best on the market, but it is still a great camera and remarkably affordable.
Retail price is about $270, but you can find it for less.
4. Nikon Coolpix AW130
The Coolpix AW130 has a unique style, as it comes in either a yellow, orange, black, or blue finish. But who cares what it looks like, it’s what this thing can handle that matters most. It can withstand being underwater at depths of up to 100 feet, in temperatures as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and is shockproof up to 7 feet.
It’s powered by a 16MP CMOS sensor with low-light support and a 5x optical zoom lens. A 3.0-inch OLED display on the rear replaces the viewfinder and an SD slot provides ample opportunity for external storage. Conveniently, it includes Wi-Fi built-in to the device so you can sync up photos and media wirelessly. That’s not including a ton of other neat features like the option to turn on location tracking for each photo you capture or the Nikon Snapbridge software. Did we mention it has NFC — near-field communication — built-in too?
You can buy the AW130 for about $300.
3. Canon PowerShot D30
You didn’t think Canon would stay out of this whole rugged and durable camera business, did you? They have the PowerShot series, with the most recent entry being the D30. It can be submerged underwater at a depth of up to 82 feet, can withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and is shockproof up to 6.5 feet.
It’s packing a 12.1MP CMOS sensor and a 4x digital zoom lens. A 3-inch TFT color display on the back replaces the viewfinder, and can be seen even in direct sunlight — which is a feature you won’t find in most digital cameras.
The PowerShot D30 is $300 if purchased through Canon.
2. Olympus Stylus TG-3
The Olympus TG-3 is the epitome of rugged and tough cameras. It can be submerged underwater up to a depth of 50 feet, is shockproof up to 6.9 feet, can handle temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and is even crushproof up to 220 pound-force (lbf). You won’t be able to break this thing anytime soon, even if you try.
Plus, the camera lens and OLED monitor have been coated with a unique finish that protects from rain, condensation, dirt, sand and dust.
It features a 16MP CMOS sensor and 4x optical zoom lens. A 3.0-inch OLED display allows you to preview and edit photos on the go. Sadly, there is no internal memory to store photos (only 36MB) but you can install an SD card. Integrated Wi-Fi means you can share your media from anywhere provided you have internet access.
If you want one, it will cost $349.99 through Olympus. You might be able to find it for cheaper than that elsewhere. It’s available in two colors including pink and black.
1. Ricoh WG-4 GPS
As the name implies, the Ricoh WG-4 is equipped with a GPS radio which means you can track your current location and include that info in your pics. That makes it the ideal choice for sports and outdoor activities.
Of course, the WG-4 is just as durable as the other cameras on this list. It’s waterproof and can be submerged up to a depth of 45 feet, can handle temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, is shockproof up to 6.6 feet, and can handle 220 pounds-force (lbf) of crushing weight. It’s also dust and wind resistant if you happen to be in an environment where that’s a problem.
As a camera, it’s equipped with a 16MP CMOS sensor and 4x optical zoom lens. Six LEDs around that lens allow it to illuminate close objects when you activate the Digital Microscope mode — which is pretty neat. You can also turn on the LEDs if you need some light, so it doubles as a torch.
Furthermore, if you’re into biking or kayaking there are accessories available that will allow you to mount the camera to your equipment for safe-keeping.
You can pick up the Ricoh WG-4 GPS on Amazon for about $270.