Best Underwater Camera Group Test 2013 - Verdict

Underwater camera frozen

The demanding tests that we've carried out in this review have highlighted a number of strengths and weaknesses. The camera that we were slightly disappointed by in regard to its image quality performance was the Fujifilm XP60.

 

Fujifilm XP60 front

 

Though the price makes it tempting, the build quality isn't in the same league as the other five. Unfortunately, Fujifilm's flagship tough compact - the XP200 - arrived too late to be included, but after being individually tested, we compared the XP200's results with the XP60 and found image quality and build to be superior - as you would expect for the £85 premium.

 

Pentax WG-3 front

The Pentax WG-3 survived all our testing challenges and produced good levels of detail, but its underwater performance has room for improvement and we noticed that the screen at the rear was susceptible to light scratches.

 

Canon PowerShot D20

Canon's D20 was the winner of our tough compact group test last year, but in that time we've seen new models arrive from the likes of Nikon, Panasonic and Olympus. The D20 produces excellent images both above and below water. Our first review sample failed the freeze test, but we put this down to being a faulty unit; after calling in a second sample it passed the test with flying colours.

 

Nikon COOLPIX AW110

The Nikon AW110 is responsive to use and there's little to fault in regard to its image quality performance. The screen has a subtle green cast and the sensitivity ceiling isn't as high as its rivals, but on the whole it's pleasing to use and manages to shrug off heavy handling, water and cold temperatures. The Wi-fi connectivity will be popular for those who'd like to take advantage of instant image uploading, something which is also available on the Panasonic Lumix FT5.

 

Panasonic Lumix FT5

The key battle in this group test has been between the Olympus TG-2 and Panasonic Lumix FT5. Though the FT5 resolves fractionally more detail from its sensor, the TG-2 produces better images underwater which are richer and more vibrant. There's nothing to separate the two in terms of autofocus speed and both have similar dimensions, although the TG-2's lens is positioned centrally and boasts a faster maximum aperture.

 

Olympus TG-2

In the hand, the FT5 is the more comfortable to hold and the buttons are larger than the TG-2's, making it easier to operate for those with larger hands. The quality of the screen is very important when it's being used to compose shots as well as review images - here, the TG-2's screen offers better clarity and sharpness compared to the FT5's display and we also preferred navigating its darker menu interface.

With only £10 to separate the two, it's extremely difficult to pick a winner when both compacts perform as well as they do and are virtually indestructible. Given that we think the Olympus TG-2 and Panasonic FT5 are as good as each other, we've honoured both with a Gold Award and the Nikon AW110 with a Recommended.