I’d never considered buying a waterproof camera – at around £200 they’re pretty pricey for a camera with a limited zoom. But since spending a day in fast flowing water, I’ve begun to see their benefits.
Now, I’m not talking to the professional underwater photographers here – if you want great underwater photos you need decent kit. But if you’re only going to take the occasional water shot at the beach, or in my case while travelling downstream in a rubber ring, you might not want to whip out your regular digital camera.
A casing point
I suppose I could get a waterproof case for my old G9, but that would set me back £180 and turn my compact bridge camera into something the size of an SLR. For the same price I could get a waterproof compact and still fit it in my pocket.
Waterproof compacts are shockproof too, so they can take a few knocks and drops – a feature I can see appealing to friends whose kids always want to use their good kit. I’m usually very precious of cameras and keep them in their cases when not snapping, so walking around with an Olympus Tough TG-1 hanging from my wrist was a liberating experience.
There have been many times when I’ve chosen not to take my camera out for fear of damage – you won’t find any photos of an aerial assault course in my album.
I had thought that having a smartphone would encourage me to take more shots when I’m not carrying my camera, but I’m not going to take that up a tree, besides which, I already know that taking a picture one-handed on it is impossible.
Waterproof camera’s casing makes them usable in humid climes not just underwater – and they’re dustproof and freeze-proof, providing even more photo opportunities – although I can tell you now that taking photos with gloves on will be a tough task with some models.
Not a regular camera replacement
Of course, there are downsides to waterproof cameras – not least the limited optical zoom and lack of manual controls – but then there are plenty of regular compact cameras that fall short here too (albeit £100 cheaper ones).
The lack of a viewfinder, as ever, is disappointing, but if I was taking a picture up a tree, on a bike, or in a rubber ring I don’t think I’d be putting the camera up to my eye. I’d adopt the ‘point and hope’ method and switch to a continuous shooting mode to increase my chance of getting at least one decent shot.
I look on waterproof compacts as being an addition to your camera arsenal rather than a replacement. I do, however, find myself wondering whether if I bought one, I’d end up carrying around three cameras – my phone, my good camera and the waterproof one for the rough stuff. My bag is already full enough.