Waterproof cameras

I class myself as a snapper not a photographer. I like to take lots of shots (in the hope that a few look good!). Hence, all I want out of a camera is simplicity, good auto settings and modest size. It is also handy if the camera is weatherproof, preferably waterproof. For a short period I used an Olympus mju770SW. It was OK but I found the exposure a bit variable. Then I bought a Lumix TZ5, which I found to be vastly superior in most respects, although it isn’t waterproof and is a bit heavier and bulkier. However, it has a superb auto setting and the camera shake reduction is excellent.

I was very impressed by Bob’s video on his waterproof Lumix FT3. He also sent me a couple of sample photos. I had given my mju770SW to my daughter but she’s progressed to a budget DSLR. So I decided to give the mju770SW another go on my recent trip to the Lakes. The results are on my Picasa album. However, this doesn’t give an accurate view of the picture quality as I had to do a bit of processing. Some pictures were seriously under exposed. Nearly all benefited from a bit of “sharpening”.

I hardly ever do any processing with the pictures from my TZ5. It nearly always chooses the right exposure. Very rarely is camera shake an issue. It really is a snapper’s dream. Now it is somewhat unfair to compare the Olympus with the Lumix as the TZ5 was more expensive. Crucially, it has a much larger lens. It also has a much better screen. The small screen on the Olympus, made composition difficult. I also found the press button on/off switch was easier to switch on accidentally than the slider on the TZ5.

I was tempted to go for a newer waterproof camera, but I think they will all suffer (to a lesser degree) from the problems I (re)encountered with the mju770SW. I have been tempted by the Canon S95 (not a weatherproof camera), which gets great reviews and is smaller and more compact than the TZ5. I might wait until the next model comes out and see if I pick up one cheap. Alternatively I might wait another year or two until compact cameras become even better. The rate of progress is amazing. I don’t want to step up to anything larger and certainly not a DSLR as it doesn’t suit my style of snapography.

Here’s some shots from the Olympus to show you what I mean.

Underexposure par excellence

A blue tinge in shadow

Overexposure

Without stabilisation

With stabilisation

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5 thoughts on “Waterproof cameras”

  1. Hi Robin, the successor to the S95 has been announced and will be the S100 – wont be available until late spring 2012.
    How about the precursor to the S95 – the S90? The only real difference between the 2 models is lack of HD recording on the S90. It is the model I ended up buying when looking for a lightweight camera earlier this year, and I’m very fussy when it comes to my images.

    1. Thanks, David. The S100 looks very interesting. For a snapper like me, a decent grip is important. I see they’ve added a front strip and a thumb pad to the S100. It’s a small thing, but the the TZ5 also has a good grip (whereas the mju770SW doesn’t). I like the compactness of the S range. The TZs are about as large as I would want to carry. I presume that the Canon takes good photos on its automatic mode. I’ve been very impressed with the TZ5. It rarely gets fooled.

      Some lovely photos on your Cape Wrath Trail walk (taken with your S90?). Sore knees: try a bioskin knee support and long term take cod liver oil every day. 15 years ago I suffered. Taking cod liver oil every day for the last 15 years, over the last ten or so years, I’ve had no problems. It’s worth trying mid boots or shoes as well. Personally I like mids and if they fit, it’s difficult to beat Salomon Fastpackers.

  2. I have to admit I’ve never tried the automatic setting – one of the key factors in getting this camera was its full manual mode and ability to shoot RAW. From reading other reviews though, its more than capable of very good automatic shots.
    There are 3rd party grip add-ons; http://www.kleptography.com/rf/#camera_s90 or you can make your own with Sugru.

    yeah, all pics from the Cape Wrath walk were taken with the S90.
    thanks for the tips re knee pain. I’ve been taking cod liver oil daily now for a couple of years and made the switch to trail runners earlier this year. Never had any knee pain since the switch but I wanted the boots for the long distance walk. Will be sticking to the shoes from now on though.

    1. Thanks. The grip looks very good. I couldn’t see the S90 is any cheaper than the S95 but I will keep looking. My inclination is to wait and see the full reviews for the S100. The S series might make me more inclined to have a go at trying the manual features.

      Glad the cod liver oil is working. Can’t do any harm! Flexible Mids/shoes make a huge difference. I’ve found Superfeet insoles also help, although some others have found otherwise.

  3. I use a Panasonic FT3 and I’m pretty impressed. Like you Robin, I’m primarily a “point and press” man but after reading David’s pages I’m starting to understand and play with the real settings. The Auto-bracket feature is well handy, taking 3 shots at the two ends of the exposure settings and one in the middle. Needless to say that with my rather wet outdoor pursuits I use the camera to it’s full waterproof capability although just having a camera that doesn’t mind if it gets a wet in the rain is very handy!

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