Which Waterproof Camera to Choose?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Botanical Photog, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. Botanical Photog

    Botanical Photog TPF Noob!

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    I am an academic researcher in the market for a new camera for professional use. I just took a Sony DSC-717 out into the field and basically ruined it by exposing it to sand and dust. OK, so it was 5 years old and I know SONY isn't a serious camera, but it did have a very nice macro lens (which was the reason I bought it in the first place) and performed admirably given the way I abused it. This last trip was especially hard on the camera and I've sent it off for an estimate on cleaning, which I'm really not sure is worth it.

    Anyway, it's time to replace the camera. I've been looking at waterproof cameras (Pentax Optio W30 and W60, and Olympus SW850) and have read conflicting reviews on photo quality out of the water. I am interested in people's experience with waterproof cameras and their performance on land. My budget is in the $500 range.

    Some background:
    I will mostly take macro photos of plants. Desert plants. Underwater photography isn't an issue for me. My interest is in the dustproof/sandproof quality of the waterproof cameras.
    I need a very good macro function and am looking at 10 megapixels or thereabouts so that I can crop with excellent quality.
    I do a lot of hiking across beaches, dunes, and rocky terrain; the shockproof function IS attractive to me.

    I did have major problems with the Sony camera. First, it couldn't handle true red colors. It blew them out. Second, nearly all pictures had this heavy blue tinge that had to be fixed in photoshop. Third, it had a slow lag time between pics. Made capturing pictures of pollinators nearly impossible. Fourth, it was a behemoth. I want something smaller, if possible.

    This is not a camera I would be using for taking casual snapshots of family picnics. I need something that will produce a high quality image. Can anyone out there provide me with some informed advice?

    Many thanks to all who respond.
     
  2. Buszaj

    Buszaj TPF Noob!

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    Knowing your budget will help greatly. If you've got a big one, then you could consider a dSLR with a good macro lens...
     
  3. Botanical Photog

    Botanical Photog TPF Noob!

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    My budget is in the $500 range. I really just need a good camera for rigorous, backcountry field work. I may consider a separate dSLR with a macro lens for less demanding trips, but here, I'm specifically looking for information on dustproof/sandproof models. I don't want to take an expensive SLR out in the filed where it will be jolted and subject to severe environmental conditions, dust, sand and the like. At the same time, I have need of high quality images for publication in scientific journals, presentations, etc.

    That said, if you can recommend a dSLR that would meet my non-field requirement needs, that would be equally as appreciated! My budget for that would be in the $800 range, excluding the macro lens. Somewhere around here I have a Canon macro lens that I need to pull out and take a look at issues of compatibility. Thanks.
     
  4. passerby

    passerby TPF Noob!

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  5. alcina

    alcina TPF Noob!

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    Unfortunately, the waterproof and shockproof cameras sacrifice image quality to get the benefits. I don't really know why, but these cameras do not produce what I consider to be good results for your needs.

    Although bulkier, you may want to consider something like the Canon A series cameras in their Canon housings if you must have dust and water proof.

    I have the Olympus SW series and work with these cameras from all brands on a regular basis. The more I use my Olympus, the more I dislike the lack of image quality from it.

    If you are willing to sacrifice a little protection, your budget would let you get a backup camera, just in case the unthinkable happened to camera #1. I have four Canon A series cameras, live in a harsh climate and have never had a problem with them when used out of their cases.

    I often throw one unproteced in a backpack or pocket then climb over dunes and through brush vegetation. I also take them to the beach and along the water's edge. Just a touch of care and these cameras are still going strong.

    The Canon G9 is also a great camera for macro work, but it is bulkier again.

    Just some ideas for you.
     
  6. Botanical Photog

    Botanical Photog TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I know nothing of the Canon A series, but I'll look into it.

    I'm considering taking the leap and getting a Nikon D80 with a good macro lens. But that price! Egad! Then I could use a cheaper point and shoot under the rigorous conditions.
     
  7. amba

    amba TPF Noob!

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    here

    Agree with the comments made earlier, Olympus cameras are very robust, but sacrifice image quality.

    Haven't really heard of < $400 weather protected camera that gives good photographic results (i.e. comes close to canon's SD or A series cameras, or to Sony's point and shoot Cybershots, I usually use these two p&s families as example to set the bar for good p&s...)

    Good luck
     

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