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CruzinGirl
06-26-2006, 04:21 PM
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Drop, Dunk, Point, And Shoot

By Adam AstonMon Jun 26, 8:08 AM ET


No matter how sleek or high-res today's digital cameras are, a surprising number fail when faced with nature's sloppier side. Sand at the beach can wreak havoc with delicate mechanics; even the mysterious lens-fogging that comes after a rainy outing can stymie tiny micro-circuits. In my case, a fall in slushy snow last winter ruined my second digi-camera in as many years.
In such cases, repair is often not an option. Too late, I was told that my warranty considered such seemingly normal use to be unreasonable. Next, as many iPod owners have been chagrined to realize, I discovered the $200-plus cost of a major repair was just about equal to the price of a replacement. It was then that I resolved to find a new camera that was waterproof and rugged enough to take a knock.
Just two point-and-shoot cameras fit the bill. My favorite is Olympus' impressively engineered Stylus 720SW ($370), which can be dunked down to 10 feet for up to an hour and is "drop proof" up to five feet. For about $120 less, you can snorkel down to five feet for as long as 30 minutes with Pentax' Optio W10. Just don't bang it on the coral -- it is not shock-proof. I also tried a one-time-use underwater film camera ($9) from FujiFilm that offers an affordable, if just-adequate alternative.
Trade-Offs Watertight models get their advantages thanks to beefier construction and better seals at key junctions. The on-board shooting software is customized for everything from X Games-style action to dinner parties. Action-friendly modes, such as underwater, sport, or snow settings, change exposure and shutter speed to make the best of demanding lighting situations.
To get these rugged features, you'll have to accept some trade-offs. To eliminate an opening in the camera body, both digital units lack a see-through viewfinder. The photo quality can be excellent but doesn't match cameras in this price range designed for great optical quality. And both come at a premium to their hydro-phobic peers. Strip away the watertight features, and you can pick up a similarly capable Olympus Stylus 710 for $150 less. Waterproofing adds weight, too. At 5.3 oz., the Olympus is nearly 50% heavier than its landlocked sibling.
The Olympus' heft comes partly from its body, which is milled from finger-pleasing stainless steel. The case wraps around a 2.5-inch LCD that was plenty visible in all but the brightest sun. The camera shoots up to 7.1 megapixels and includes a helpful automatic sliding lens cover. It has an almost-overwhelming 28 preset shooting modes, including even a "cuisine" setting, presumably optimized to capture that special dish at Cipriani.
Although clad in plastic, Pentax' 6-megapixel Optio W10 weighs a bit more than the Olympus. It has 25 shooting modes, and the interface is easier to navigate than Olympus'. I also prefer the Pentax' ergonomics: a longer body and a big shutter button make it easy to handle even with sweaty fingers.
The lower price means some sacrifice. The W10's plastic body feels more breakable, and its 2.5-inch screen washes out more easily. For a model meant to be at home in sloppy settings, the lack of a lens cover is a problem. One consolation: You can rinse it off.
If you're not ready to take the plunge with one of these digital models, a one-time-use underwater camera can do in a pinch. You need not fear ruining FujiFilm's $9 QuickSnap 800, a chunky plastic-cased unit. Shooting in harshly lit snow fields, the camera delivered rich prints. But if you want to e-mail photos, you'll have to develop and transfer the negatives to a CD, at up to $20 per roll.
All three units offer the peace of mind that they won't fail when the going gets wet. I recommend the Olympus 720SW for its superior ruggedness and design. For two-thirds of the price, Pentax' W10 can go to the same places. But it's less likely to survive one of the all-too-common bumps or bangs of outdoor life.

CruzinGirl
06-26-2006, 04:22 PM
In my search for a high quality point and shoot to have on hand when circumstances aren't suited for carrying my 1D, this caught my eye.

zacker
06-26-2006, 04:43 PM
well ithink its just terrible that for the $$$ we pay, ALL cans arent at least weatherproof.. I mean, canon can weatherproof a pro body, why not a prosumer grade body? rubber seals and gaskets? gimmie a break! Lenses too, the L lenses are weather proof...supposedly, why not the non L versions? i mean, cant they use the same barrels on a few? I dunno maybe it me but.. even a $500.00, a lens should be weatherproof..im not talking water proof.. no can will survive a good dunking but we shouldnt have to worry about dust and moisture now should we?
-zacker-

convergent
06-26-2006, 05:11 PM
well ithink its just terrible that for the $$$ we pay, ALL cans arent at least weatherproof.. I mean, canon can weatherproof a pro body, why not a prosumer grade body? rubber seals and gaskets? gimmie a break! Lenses too, the L lenses are weather proof...supposedly, why not the non L versions? i mean, cant they use the same barrels on a few? I dunno maybe it me but.. even a $500.00, a lens should be weatherproof..im not talking water proof.. no can will survive a good dunking but we shouldnt have to worry about dust and moisture now should we?
-zacker-

Its not as easy as you might think. Pop-up flashes, for example, are inherently going to be hard to weatherproof. A lot of lenses are not sealed, because to do so makes them more expensive or much bigger. Anything that is not internal focusing, isn't going to be weathersealed because the air has to get out when the mechanism moves in and out. All L Series lenses aren't weatherproof, for this very reason.

Orgnoi1
06-26-2006, 05:17 PM
Yup as Mike said... anything push pull... the 100-400L isnt water-resistant, neither is the 28-300L or 35-350L...

convergent
06-26-2006, 05:34 PM
Or the 24-70L.

I think the 70-200L f/2.8 IS is though. I'm not sure about all the big whites. I think the IS versions are, but the older ones may not be. Not sure how that happens with the filter insert cover.

Orgnoi1
06-26-2006, 05:39 PM
the 24-70L is a strange bird... I think as long as you run the hood you dont stand much chance of it taking on moisture... it does have a rubber weather collar... but yea I forgot all about that... it has QUITE the extension when you go down to 24mm

convergent
06-26-2006, 05:47 PM
And I've had problems with the zoom mechanism on it. If you turn it, it feels like it has a pretty long throw to get itself out there. Some engineer probably won all kinds of awards for designing that thing to slide out into the hood and allow the hood to work for zoom and wide.

zacker
06-26-2006, 06:33 PM
lol... One would think... like all other things that are mass produced, once youre set up to run it, its not that expensive... id love to get a tour of canons lens plant. As for the pop up flash, I cant think of a single person who'd miss it if it was done away with. Personally, i hate it. freaking thing allways scares me when it pops up.. prolly why i like full manual mode the most. Seriously, do you think its that much more $$ to run gaskets and seals on all their bodies? I just cant imagin it would be...but thrn again..who the hell am i? Just some hack with a 30D...lol i still will shoot in the rain.. unless its really pouring like the last three days ov my vacation...
-zacker-

Orgnoi1
06-26-2006, 06:33 PM
I agree... in fact I thought something was wrong when I got it... we had travelled to Adorama in the city for the day... I almost felt like it was backwards and they had given me a lemon...LOL

Orgnoi1
06-26-2006, 06:37 PM
freaking thing allways scares me when it pops up..
-zacker-

You dont get like *jumpy scared* do ya??? :scared :D


As for the pop up flash, I cant think of a single person who'd miss it if it was done away with.
-zacker-

There actually are a lot of people that do use it though...but I agree... its ok in a pinch... but after the first time you run an external flash you would never want to go back...

zacker
06-26-2006, 06:42 PM
*jumpy scared*:scared


yeah, thats about it!
lol
-zacker-