"Waterproof" cameras

I just returned from a weekend trip and my Panasonic “waterproof to 40’” camera did not survive. There is water behind the lens, even though the battery compartment seems dry. Yes, the door was closed and locked, yes, the seal was clean, and no, I didn’t take it below 40’. In fact, it stayed at the surface with me during a few swims. Of course, I had owned it for 2 years and the warranty was 1 year.

I just purchased the new Pentax (I’ve had good luck with the previous Pentax cameras I’ve owned - both broke but both entirely my fault and under conditions that would break most things). It looks like a children’s toy, but hopefully it will hold up to field conditions. I’ll let you know how this one works out.

What advice did you want?
Sometimes hot cameras in humiditiy develop condensation behind the lens when dunked and that can show up as points of water.

I would dry it thoroughly before jettisoning it. It’s happened to me a few times in hot humid weather. The cameras are fine.

I concur
I agree with Kayamedic. Open the camera up and put it in a bag of dry (uncooked) white rice. It’s a wonderful desiccant and it’s cheap.

Deep in the fine print for some
waterproof cameras, one may find that the manufacturer expects the camera’s gaskets to be tested and replaced at intervals as short as a year.

The gaskets on most waterproof cameras are small and complex in shape. Ideally, a waterproof prototype might be tested for at least a couple of years, but you know they don’t do that in a fast changing market.

Because I’ve wanted better specifications than are available on waterproof cameras, I’ve purchased Canon cameras with good specs, and then I’ve bought (costly) waterproof Lexan cases which protect the camera and allow nearly all camera functions to be managed by gasketed controls. All the gaskets are larger, simpler. These cases are rated to 130 ft. If a case were to leak, chances are I would see water appearing in the case before it had a chance to damage the camera. But these cases add weight and bulk. As a weighty, bulky person, I find the camera in case to be easier to hold steady, but your mileage may vary.

You may have noticed that some waterproof camera makers offer Lexan or similar cases to protect the camera if it is used at a significant depth. That might tell you something.

Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS
I have one of these and I am very satisfied with the video and still quality (considering the compact size) Had the camera in the water a few times and the seals work perfectly…I always have it on my SOT kayak…rain or shine…

Hmmm, Look At Olympus
I have an old Olympus 850 SW that’s survived several swims, numerous drops, 1/2 a tree and a chainsaw falling on it. Despite the USB port door being secured with tape, it took a few more decent pics on the river today. It doesn’t have the best zoom for wildlife shots, but the macro is excellent. My nice Canon, non-waterproof camera can’t take a flower picture that would hold a candle to the waterproof Olympus. Heck, I’ve had several P.net “Photo of the Week” or runner-ups with this camera. I’m certain the newer Olympus waterproof cameras are probably even better than my old “Workhorse,” but for now it’s like the Ever Ready bunny; it keeps going, and going, and going…

my WP philosophy
…is that I don’t expect that even the best or most expensive consumer grade WP camera will function as long as I believe it should. (No, I’m not going to be changing the gaskets every year.)

When I buy one, it’s a gamble on what is essentially a disposable electronic device, unfortunately. I do not trust that the mfgr will honor a warranty for water incursion, though I might try to pursue that, if it failed within the warranty period, and I was sure I had taken care of the gaskets.

So, I try to buy a superceded and/or non-top-tier model, on sale. For the past year, I’ve had good luck with my Oly TG-820. Bad luck with another Oly before that.

My camera could quit tomorrow. But, at least I didn’t spend $400 on it. And, I expect that the photos will need more attention in editing than those from a quality, non-WP consumer camera.

A guy I paddle with has been using a relatively cheap WP Fuji for several years. It did not get great reviews, but, I’ve found photos from it to be very nice, with no editing, as long as the light is good.

another who concurs
I also concur. I had a Pentax Optio camera get foggy on the inside after about 6 days of living in a wet PFD on a trip. I left it win the sun with the hatch open, and it dried out. Camera still is fine, even though it is almost 10 years old now.

I also leave all my waterproof electronics with battery hatches open when they are at home and not in use. Gives a chance for any moisture to escape.

“as long as the light is good.” Yes,
that’s the key. Back about '90 I bought a Minolta Weathermatic 35. Fastest shutter speed 1/350. Lens f3.5. If the day was very cloudy, I might as well have left it in the car. But with sunny conditions, I got dozens and dozens of great photos. Those I took in Slickrock Canyon of the Dolores are as good as I could do with my new Canon G15.

My Olympus 1030
My 5 year old Olympus 1030 seems to be Tommyproof.

It swims rapids regularly, salt water too, bangs on gunnels, thwarts, and rocks, plays in the mud and generally gets used and abused.

So far I’ve had no problems with it.

Picture quality is OK. Yeah it’s better when the light is good.

Wish I could find a superzoom that was Tommyproof!

Ol’ Pentax Optio Wpi working fine
Love Pentax and have beat the snot out of my camera

since it first came out. Still taking great shots.

I use a StickyPod kayak mount for hands free.


Cheap WP cameras
I bought a used Olympus Stylus Tough 6000 camera that had the USB access door snapped off it. I filled in the missing part with Goop and the camera lasted for thousands of photos on the water.

When that died I bought an Pentax Optio that had been sitting unused in a box for years. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/trhamiter/9281766634/ for a decent wildlife photo I took with it recently.

Another WP camera I’ve used a lot for the last couple of years is a Kodak EasyShare Sport that I bought used with a broken flash. (I almost always use a WP camera in daylight, so a broken flash isn’t a hardship.)

Photo quality can be good with each of these, each has been treated as though it were water-resistant instead of waterproof (although I think each one was dragged under the boat on its leash at least once), each has idiosyncrasies and annoying limitations, and each of these cost $30 or less.

I suppose if I had the budget I’d get an expensive camera with a diving case and use that.

Nice scrounging.
That’s the way to beat the system.

I’ve had good luck with Pentax Optio
I’ve had a WG-1 for a couple of years. It has taken plenty of swims, and I have never had a problem. Pictures are OK (much better since I started using a good photo editor - Aperture for Mac). Video is great for a small camera. I agree that you really don’t need to buy the “latest and greatest” - you can save a few bucks by buying an older version.

Been through many
I’ve been through a number and have come to regard them almost as disposables. The early Optios served well but along came competitors that I felt were better. I’ve had the best luck with Panasonic and Olympus. Not so much with the Nikon.

I paddle a lot of cold mountain whitewater streams and fogging is always an issue. It helps somewhat to dehumidify the inside by sealing the camera in a container with a desiccant with all ports open ahead of time.

Yeah, I’ve abused our Kodak H2O Sport
a ton for a few years. I keep expecting it to fail, but it continues to take great underwater photos.

I gave up on “waterproof” cameras…
and now use my iphone5 in a Lifeproof case. It takes great photos and videos and so far seems completely waterproof. I also like that the now waterproof phone also is my mapping GPS, my emergency strobe, and even has bluewater charts installed, and I never have to worry about forgetting it since it is always with me.

How about Fuji Finepix XP60?
Anybody tried one?

I impulse bought one for $139 today after a $70 off special that ended today. I haven’t opened it yet - will check reviews first. I have 90 days to return it to Sam’s.

bought one a month ago.

– Last Updated: Jul-22-13 9:13 AM EST –

I like it. Pictures are good. Zooms fast. Battery seems to last a long time and mine is a nice blue color. Bright LED screen. My first waterproof camera. I had housings in the past.

I keep a zip-lock bag with me. For me, the camera is one that I use from my kayak but not underwater. Its supposed to be good to 30 ft. Nothing is waterproof for long and I don't want to test it. I got mine on sale at K-mart for $149. It sits in my PFD pocket but If I think it will get soaked, I will put it in the zip-lock. Maybe it defeats the purpose but I have no need to soak it with salt water. So far so good.
I read the reviews and it seemed good and picture quality was 3 out of 4 stars. I find the color and pics fine. I've seen much worse with the early Pentax models which held me from getting a waterproof pocket camera. You can't go wrong for the price.

Here's a photo from yesterday. No Photoshop etc. I just reduced it to 72dpi x 8 in for the web. The out of the camera is 42" wide at 72 dpi and much tighter. Auto-dummy settings on the camera.


Thanks for the feedback.
You got a picture of my weekend home :slight_smile: