We pit six of the finest tough compacts up against one another to establish which is the most durable when they’re subjected to a series of brutal tests
The stringent tests we’ve carried out in this review have revealed that of the six tough compacts tested, some perform better in one area than another.
Take the Fujifilm XP80 as an example. Although it performed third best underwater and offers useful features such as Wi-fi and USB charging, its image quality is a let down, particularly at high ISOs.
Canon’s D30 produces superior image quality and performed well in our freeze test, however its auto white balance system didn’t produce the most neutral colour underwater and it’s lacking a few key features such as Wi-fi connectivity, fast continuous shooting and the facility of USB charging.
The Panasonic Lumix FT5 was our joint winner of the tough compacts two years ago, but is now starting to show its age up against its new rivals. It still offers some great features – 10fps continuous shooting, Wi-fi and NFC just to name a few, but images lack vibrancy underwater and its autofocus response has nothing on the TG-4.
The Nikon AW130 didn’t fair best in our underwater or freeze tests. It comes well equipped with a strong set of features and resolves a good level of detail in its images, but we would have liked manual control of aperture and the option to shoot continuously at up to 7fps in its underwater mode.
Like the Canon D30, the Ricoh WG-5’s continuous burst (1.5fps) is disappointingly slow, its menus and icons appear rather dated, and the zoom doesn’t operate quickly across its range. That said, the images it produces are excellent – particularly underwater – and a good range of optional accessories are available.
Olympus has a strong heritage in the tough compact market and the TG-4 is the clear overall winner. It has all the features you want, including a fast lens and mode dial. It backs this up with a snappy operational performance, great handling and produced the best images straight out of the camera both above and below the water. The best feature of all is its ability to shoot in Raw and offer unsurpassed control at the editing stage, not forgetting the excellent range of converters, lights, covers and cases that are available too for those who want to get even more adventurous. It may be the most expensive, but if you’re after the best of the best it’s a price you’ll be happy to pay.
Winner: Olympus Stylus TOUGH TG-4
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