Tough Camera Grouptest 2011 - Water
In order to fully examine how the cameras could be operated underwater we were granted access to the RNLI college in Poole (http://www.rnli.org.uk/what_we_do/training), which has a number of facilities aimed at training numerous types of rescue services from lifeguards to firefighters. With a 4m pool, wave machine and diving platform this allowed for a wide range of tests from impact to depth resistance. In order to give the camera's a full underwater test, and the view of a professional involved in water photography, we invited RNLI Sea Survival Trainer Chris Walker to assist in the testing.
First up is the two depth tests, going down to 4 metres and 1 metre. In both instances a dummy was used as a subject to photograph with each camera switched to underwater mode. Where the 4 metre test was for a prolonged period with full diving gear, the 1 metre test is designed for brief periods diving under the surface. By diving into the water both the impact and sudden change in pressure would expose any faults within the seals. Finally the wave machine would show how simple the camera is to operate while moving.
Throughout the test the main issues to arise centered around the speed of focus and reliability of the camera. The Pentax WG1 turned itself off and failed to take an image in a timely fashion when submerged in both dive tests, although the controls were simple to use. The Sony TX10, although able to take a shot in a short space of time, failed to work correctly when submerged due to the touchscreen. Once again the Panasonic FT3 came through impressively in terms of operation, as did the Olympus, although the latter's image quality was inferior. The Fuji XP30 seemed to work perfectly and, even the shots were a touch below par, didn't cause any major issues when being operated in each of the dive and wave tests.
Pentax Optio WG1 2/5
Looks the part, but unfortunately doesn't quite perform to standard by failing to take photos rapidly enough and powering down midway through the dive test when recording video footage. A shame, as the buttons and build are solid but usable, and the screen visible under the surface.
Sony CyberShot TX10 2/5
The aesthetics again caused issues, with the touchscreen failing to work underwater and the sliding cover moving around after diving in. Image quality was very impressive, showing that on dry land the TX10 can perform very well, but when underwater has issues performing the fundamentals.
Olympus Tough TG-310 3/5
In a similar sense to the Pentax the TG-310 both looked and acted the part, but image quality was a letdown. Most shots were too dark, and the tendency to increase the ISO levels led to an unmanageable amount of noise.
Panasonic Lumix FT3 5/5
Another star performance from the Panasonic, operating as well underwater as it did above ground and taking some impressive images and video as well as surviving the dive test with flying colours. The only slight blemish is some visible damage around the lens, with paint being chipped away.
Fuji Finepix XP30 3/5
A middling performance once more, with the controls and ease-of-use making the XP30 well suited to underwater usage but the image quality being a touch underwhelming at times.
This is especially frustrating when the camera focuses impressively fast, then turns out some soft images.
This article has more pages:
- 1. Tough Camera Grouptest 2011
- 2. Tough Camera Grouptest 2011 - Water
- 3. Tough Camera Grouptest 2011 - Impact
- 4. Tough Camera Grouptest 2011 - Image Quality and Verdict