Panasonic's scaled-down version of their rugged camera is easy on the wallet, pricing out at just $179.99 at first release. Of course, to get down to that price, the camera trims down a few features--does it offer enough to make it worth a purchase?
The TS30 keeps the 16.1 megapixel 1/2.3" sensor of the pricer TS6, but axes a few of the extras like wi-fi and GPS. The TS30 is also not quite as tough as it's big brother, waterproof to 23 feet instead of 43 and shockproof to 5 feet instead of 6.6. Video quality remains the same. While the TS30 is the lighter option out of the two, it also looses on quite a bit of battery life.
In keeping with the tradition of the budget camera, the speed on the TS30 is quite a bit slower. Where the TS6 has an excellent 10 fps burst speed great for action, the TS30 sits at a slow 1.3 fps. If you plan to use the rugged camera to shoot action, the TS6 is a much better option.
If budget is an ultimate consideration, the TS30 will be sufficient for a lot of uses, but if you can swing a little more cash, the Olympus TG-3 will get you brighter photos underwater, or the TS6 will help you capture more of the action.