Tough Cameras - Seawater Test
Seawater is an obvious nemesis to a digital camera, being that it's full of small, corrosive salt particles as well as the water itself not being any electronic device's best friend. As all six compact cameras claim an amount of waterproofing, a trip to the seaside offered not only buckets of seawater in abundance, but plenty of sand and rocks to test the cameras' hardiness too.
After the assault course trial, the majority of the cameras were showing damage, from the Sony TX5's paint chips to the Panasonic FT2's screen scratches. None had failed to operate though, and any issues created by layers of protection being worn away by the damage incurred would quickly be exposed within the cold waters. Although many of the cameras advertised impressive depths to descend to, without the correct diving apparatus to measure the exact distance as to when the cameras failed it would be impossible to accurately determine this.
Instead each model would be given a thorough splashing and soaking in shallower waters, and would need to not just operate but shoot while submerged too. The screens would come under scrutiny in these conditions, as lower-quality options would be harder to use with the added obstruction of water. Although being underwater would not be as rigorous as getting thrown across an assault course, a number of specific challenges was leveled at the cameras to test their aquatic-resistance skills.
Firstly each of the cameras was dipped into the water to ensure they still functioned. Unlike the drop test in which the camera was tested directly after impact, each compact would be used underwater prior to retrieval.
Low-light performance also came into consideration, as the murky conditions restricted the amount of illumination filtering through to the sensor. Having a high ISO range doesn't always make this a foregone conclusion, as image quality can easily be disrupted by image noise. Because of this a wide and fast lens would be preferable to get the best possible shots when submerged.