Whether you’re a casual family shutterbug or a serious photo hobbyist, a camera that can stand up to the elements lets you take pictures in the rainy, splashy, sandy, dirty world where the best pictures are waiting to be taken. Here are my choices for the best cameras that you don’t have to be afraid to take almost anywhere…
Truly waterproof cameras can be fully submerged and still function perfectly. You can take them in the pool or even snorkeling or scuba diving. Two great choices…
• Olympus Tough TG-5 is a rugged point-and-shoot camera that can take photos at a blistering 20 frames per second (fps). It’s waterproof up to depths of 50 feet, shockproof for drops up to seven feet and freezeproof to 14ºF. It also shoots ultra-HD 4K video and full HD 120 fps high-speed video for slow-motion playback effects and features a 4x optical zoom lens. Cost: Around $400.
• Nikon CoolPix W100 is a budget-conscious point-and-shoot waterproof camera that sells for about $140. Although it’s simple enough for kids to operate, the W100 is submersible to 33 feet and has shock- and freeze-resistance features only slightly less impressive than more expensive models. It features a 3x optical zoom lens.
If you are a little more “serious” about your photography, consider a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) or digital single-lens mirrorless (DSLM) camera that is weather-resistant, also called “weather-sealed.” These types of cameras are not submersible, but they can laugh off rain, snow, splashes from pools and the ocean, and sand from the beach.
You can get superior-quality photos from DSLRs and DSLMs, especially in low-light situations, largely because their sensors—the light-sensitive chips that record images—are much larger than those of more basic cameras…and because they accept a variety of different lenses. My two favorites…
• Pentax K70 is a weather-sealed DSLR that comes standard with a versatile 18mm to 55mm (wide-angle to short telephoto) lens that also is weather-sealed. Many people enjoy taking pictures with DSLRs because when you look through the viewfinder, you are looking through the lens itself at your subjects in real life—not at a tiny electronic screen, as with most cameras these days. The main downside of the K70—it’s on the heavy side at about two pounds with the lens. It can be found for about $750.
• Panasonic Lumix G85 is a DSLM camera that’s weather-sealed, easy to use and can produce stunning photos. Its viewfinder uses an electronic screen—but that makes for lighter packaging. The camera, along with its standard 12mm to 60mm lens, weighs about one pound less than the Pentax above. Typical price for camera and lens: Just under $1,000.