Weatherproof Digital Cameras for Less Than $300

Published On February 6, 2013 | Electronics

Outdoor photographers need a beastly camera, but they don’t want to sacrifice quality for toughness. These three cameras offer everything from dust proof exteriors to freeze resistance and crush protection. They also have some pretty amazing features for the modern photographer like built-in GPS location tagging and tap buttons for those who like a bit of simplicity. The best part is that all of these cameras are less than $300. 

Fujifilm’s FinePix XP50-

If you loved the point and shoot style of Fujifilm’s FinePix Z33WP, then you’ll get a boost of energy and robustness from the XP50. This is the rugged model with resistance to drops, shocks, weather, water and a variety of other things you can throw at it — or throw it at. This is a favorite camera for outdoor enthusiasts who love getting in the snow or work around water, but who also go on extreme hikes or kayak adventures. It’s also dust-proof for those who like to get a little dirty or for those unforgettable shots on the beach.

However, the features are a bit lacking even for a 14-megapixel camera. While compact, it has an internal periscopic lens with a 5x zoom and a lacking battery life. The design isn’t all that friendly with a shutter that is rather hard to press, sometimes making it difficult to capture shots.

With no manual modes, the camera still manages to put out a great photo. It has a 2.7-inch antireflective TFT-LCD screen that lets you view photos clearly, even under water. Not only does the camera have panorama mode, but it also has burst mode, which captures multiple shots in rapid succession with a single click of the shutter. This feature is particularly useful when taking photos of subjects in motion. For less than $200, it’s a great camera to take pictures with, but it won’t provide the sharpest image or best battery life.

Image via Flickr, by cb6379

Olympus Tough TG-820-

This camera is stylish and a bit unique for the rugged camera category. The Tough TG-820 is designed to withstand drops, shocks and water, but it’s also crush proof up to 100 kilograms and freeze proof to -10 degrees Celsius.

This camera provides amazing performance for those mountain hikes and skiing adventures, but it’s also a tough camera for sports photographers, snorkelers and thrill seekers. With a bright and clear LCD, better than average image quality at low ISO levels and a 12-megapixel lens, it’s a better option for those who need a tough little camera and don’t mind sacrificing some sharpness for the tough features.

The Olympus Tough TG-820 offers a 3-inch LCD display with CMOS optical scensor and 5x zoom. The camera also comes with creative artistic effects like pop art, pin hole, fish-eye, drawing, soft focus, punk, sparkle, watercolor and reflection for those who like to get a little artsy with their photography. It also comes with a micro-HDMI output and USB connection that is helpful for charging the battery with an adapter. The camera has some small buttons but offers tap control, which allows users to tap the sides of the camera to activate a few functions. It lacks in Wi-Fi connectivity and wireless image transfer. However, for about $250, it’s a rather heavy duty camera with some robust features and high image quality.

Nikon Coolpix AW100-

Overall, the Coolpix AW100 is a spunky camera that has some great resistances for drops, shocks and water. For photographers who love taking shots of animals, rambunctious kids on the beach, or for those snow trips and long hikes in the mountains, the Coolpix AW100 captures shots in all types of weather and conditions.

The camera also offers GPS functions and is fairly easy to use. With a 16-megapixel lens, users expect a bit more from the image quality. However, it has a rather slow lens that needs a higher ISO setting or it results in slow shutter speeds. Because of the heavy duty waterproofing, the buttons don’t always respond as quickly as desired and it can be difficult to grip the camera at times. For around $300, the Coolpix AW100 comes with a 4x digital zoom, Expeed C2 processor, a variety of different shooting moods, max shutter speed of 1/1500 per sec and built-in flash. The camera also has built-in GPS, 1080p full movie video recording, USB 2.0 ports, 3-inch LCD display, HDMI output and external adapter for the battery, which means you’ll need an extra battery for longer trips.

Whether snorkeling in the ocean, swimming in the backyard, hiking a mountain or playing in the snow, any of these options make for great cameras.

If you need a more rugged device that can keep up with your needs, consider investing in an extreme sports camera like the GoPro HERO3, Sony Action Cam, Contour+2 or Contour ROAM2.

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