This year has seen a number of different durable, vacation-friendly cameras released. We've previously reviewed the Panasonic TS1, and have a review of the Olympus TOUGH 8000 in the works. The 12.1-megapixel Canon D10, while similar to those two cameras, still manages to stand out in the crowd. The Olympus 8000 and Panasonic TS1 are both very rectangular, sleek-looking ultracompacts. They're so slick that you might not guess that they're capable of plunging underwater or resisting damage from dust and dirt. The Canon D10, however, goes in the opposite direction. Its unique appearance is meant to clearly convey its purpose and strengths, and also to appeal to a more family-oriented audience. The Canon D10 isn't just about endurance in the way the TS1 and TOUGH 8000 are; it's about fun. It's about not having to worry about your camera so you can freely enjoy the sand and the waves.
That won't appeal to everyone. It is, frankly, a little goofy looking, and in many ways, is overly simple. Nevertheless, it's a very consistent, powerful Canon camera that provides excellent photos and peace of mind.
A Durable Beach Buddy
The Canon Powershot D10 is a very thick, bulbous camera. It has a very rounded body that is secured by several visible bolts. The lens itself is encased in a tightly-sealed enclosure, ensuring that no dust or debris can get in there and scratch it. The lens does not extend outside of the body of the camera; in essence, the D10 is preemptively encased in an underwater housing that cannot be removed.
The D10 claims to be waterproof to a depth of 33 feet. That's not enough for a SCUBA dive, but plenty if you're playing in the surf, snorking, or having fun in a pool. It's also shockproof from a height of four feet. That means you can knock the D10 off of a table or out of a bag and expect it to survive without serious problems. Dropping it from eye-height (5 to 6 feet) probably won't kill the D10 (manufacturers tend to build in a buffer to these ratings), but the likelihood of damage is definitely increased.
Furthermore, it's important to remember that if you drop the camera, even if the internal mechanisms survive, the waterproof housing could be cracked or damaged. Thoroughly check the body of the camera after any serious drops before you decide to take it underwater.
With its durable, waterproof, dust/sand-resistant design, the D10 is ready to take on beaches and other vacation destinations that would otherwise spell doom for traditional, unprotected digital cameras.
As mentioned, the design of the D10 is a little unusual. It's oddly shaped, almost like an egg. Every aspect of the camera's layout and design keeps the camera's intended use in mind, for better or for worse.
Nowhere is this clearer than with the buttons. The buttons on the camera's top and back are crafted to not allow any water or debris inside, which means they are very thick and fit tightly in their seats. This snug fit often makes for a frustrating experience, as buttons can get stuck or put up more resistance than the shooter is expecting. It's most noticeable on the shutter button, as it can sometimes interfere with snapping a photo. A minor quibble, but worth noting.
The D10's battery door has a similar issue. It's secured with a thick, rubberized gasket to keep water out, which is great. Opening it can be very difficult, however. Not that you'll need to open it very often. Certainly it's better to have greater security from water than it is to have an easy door release.
On each of the D10's four corners, users will find a large, circular clip for the camera's lanyard. The lanyard has a big, rounded peg that sits in these clips and, when turned clockwise, locks into place. It's a clever bit of engineering, though it's not clear why it's more advantageous than the simple knot method of securing a lanyard or strap to a digital camera. In any case, once the lanyard is locked in, it's not coming out. Then it's up to you to keep your hand on it underwater.
The Canon D10 has a 12.1-megapixel sensor and 3x optical zoom lens, making it fairly average compared to its peers. For a camera of this size and bulk, one would probably expect a longer zoom, however it's clearly been sacrificed for the durable body. The Panasonic TS1 has a 4.6x zoom, and the Olympus 8000 has a 3.6x lens.
The D10 is fairly limited in what it can do. It's not intended to accept subtle refinements or modifications, it's a primarily automatic digital camera meant for shooters who don't want to concern themselves with minutiae. It has only four modes: auto, program AE, scene, and movie.
The auto mode is "intelligent," meaning it will automatically adjust settings to accommodate the environment it detects. Program AE lets shooters make simple adjustments to focus, flash, brightness, and light sensitivity. Scene mode includes a selection of presets to be used at night, on the beach, or indoors.
Despite some softness in our test photos, they were generally good. Canon has a knack for making good cameras with consistent performance, and the D10's photos are satisfying. It's not the highest-quality camera I've ever tested, but it's good enough, especially considering that it's meant to take such photos under unprecedented levels of abuse.
Head to head, it probably falls just short of the Panasonic TS1's image quality. It definitely lacks the style of the TS1 (though they are assuredly intended for different audiences). That said, the D10 beats the TS1 in its waterproof abilities. The TS1 can only go down about ten feet, a third of the D10's range.
Shockproof and Waterproof Tests
We tested the D10's abilities by knocking it off some tables and drenching it in the sink.
Check out these videos to see how they held up.
As a digital camera, the D10 performs fine. As a waterproof, shockproof digital camera, it's very good. Is it the best waterproof, shockproof model out there right now? If I had to choose, I'd probably still go with the Panasonic TS1. However, the cuteness and simplicity of the D10 would make it a great choice for families heading out on vacation, especially if they'd like to hand off the camera to the kids every once in a while without worrying that it's going to get broken.