Unlike most digital cameras, these ruggedized compacts can take a real beating. All of the following cameras are waterproof to at least ten feet, drop-proof to five, freeze-proof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and sealed from dust. Image quality and usability don't compare to similarly-priced compacts, but outdoorsy types looking for a camera that won't quit until you do should read on.
A word of caution: While these cameras should last for a long time, we do see occasional reports of water leakage at some point during the camera's lifetime. We strongly recommend purchasing a protection plan with a waterproof camera.
Nikon's popular 1 J3 only with housing-free underwater capabilities
As the only waterproof interchangeable lens camera on the shelves, the Nikon 1 AW1 is a clear winner in the all-weather category. It can head underwater up to 49 feet without extra housing and can withstand drops of about six feet. Since it's a mirrorless model, the AW1 has manual models for more control over the images than any other waterproof model. The AW1 is also fast, with an excellent 15 fps burst mode for capturing action. Of course, the versatility comes at a much higher price, but if you can afford the AW1, it's definitely the top choice.
The most sophisticated rugged point-and-shoot on the market,
the Olympus TG-2 iHS was designed with the serious photographer in
mind. In addition to its Shockproof (7.1ft/2m), Crushproof
(220lbf/100kgf), Freezeproof (14 DegreeF/-10 DegreeC), Dustproof design,
the TG-2 iHS dives deeper than ever before with an astounding
waterproof depth rating of 50 feet (15m) without a housing.
Nikon's AW120 received two big upgrades over the previous model--a better battery, and most importantly, a brighter lens. When shooting underwater, lighting is limited, so a bright lens is a must. The f2.8 lens is a big improvement over the AW110, though still not quite as good as the Olympus TG-2's. It's capable of diving down to 59 feet and has a good rugged exterior.