Tough Cameras - Shock Test
To test the shockproofing each of the cameras was taken through the paces at the Activity Centre in Brighton's assault course. With a number of different challenges to contend with - including a cargo net, balance beams and drops over 6ft climbing walls - each camera would need to stand up to their claimed drop height without incurring excessive damage and remain functional enough to snap a frame at the end of each stage. Mud and rough-textured surfaces would add to testing these cameras to their very limits. Although none of the models claimed more than 6ft drop-proofing, the fairly soft, muddy ground likely helped to absorb some of the impact.
Each camera model on test has certain obvious physical safeguards against taking damage except perhaps for Sony's TX5 which looks much like a regular compact. Offering up to 1.5m of shock protection (approx. 5ft), the Sony had its work cut out to survive the more considerable drops within the course as its stylish cosmetic exterior isn't as rugged as the competition.
The Olympus mju Tough 8010 had a potential issue with dirt getting trapped behind the sliding lens cover. However, with a claimed 2m of shockproof resistance and crushproof up to 100kg the Tough 8010 is designed to withstand the most hardened of situations while avoiding cosmetic damage.
Where the Sony TX5 requires physical intervention to move its slide-shutter to switch the camera on and the Olympus mju 8010 has a protective-slide that automatically retreats upon the camera's activation, all the other camera models on test have no further lens protection when switched off - potentially exposing them to damage.
The Panasonic Lumix FT2, Fujifilm Finepix XP10, Casio Exilim EX-G1 and Pentax Optio W90 all looked tough enough, apart from the ‘loose' mode dial on the FT2 having the potential to be accidentially knocked into an unusable position too easily.