If you spend a lot of time outside, a durable or POV camera may very well be on your holiday wish list. We’ve sifted through critical assessments and customer reviews to bring you this list of some of the best, outdoor-friendly cameras on the market. Did we forget to include your favorite model? Drop us a line and tell us what’s great about it.
GoPro Hero 3+ ($399.99)
As tough goes, GoPro pretty much sets the standard with bomber housings that have held cameras in falls from outer space, on mountain bikers hucking backflips over canyons and on divers in the ocean deep. We’re testing the Hero 3+ for a full review, but so far can tell it does improve upon the best-selling POV camera. It is 20% smaller and lighter than its predecessor and delivers improved image quality with SuperView video wide angle perspective and Auto Low Light mode to adjust frame rate for improved low-light performance. Other improvements include a 30% longer battery life, faster Wi-Fi, a sharper lens and compatibility with all GoPro mounts and accessories. A remote control makes it easier to turn on and off when mounted on your ski helmet.
Garmin VIRB ($399.99)
Water-resistance, intuitive design with a very useable LCD screen make the Garmin VIRB a solid choice among POV cameras. We’ve been testing it and like it’s simple user interface. It has a great battery, shooting 1080p HD for up to three hours on a charge, is waterproof down to one meter without any case (an optional housing takes it to 50 meters) and can be used with mounts from Garmin or GoPro. Lots of video options include wide, medium and narrow zooms and shooting speeds ranging from 120fps at 480p to time-lapse 1080p. A 16 megapixel CMOS sensor takes great still photos, too, which are easily framed using the 1.4 inch LCD. The camera is ANT+ compatible, meaning other devices can be linked to measure stats like heart rate and speed from other devices.
Canon Powershot D20 ($299.99)
Canon introduced its first Powershot camera four years ago, and the D20 is the latest incarnation in the series. It improves on previous Powershot models in terms of sensitivity, zoom capabilities, and LCD quality; the D20 is also the first Powershot to feature GPS and video recording functions. The camera can be submerged in water up to a depth of 10 meters, and is shock resistant when dropped from 1.5 meters or less.
Fujifilm FinePix XP60 ($199.95)
This model comes equipped with 5x optical zoom, HD video recording, internal zooming lens (28-140mm) and other features that outdoorsy folks can appreciate; some models additionally enable Wi-Fi access and Geotagging. The FinePix is also shockproof up to five feet, waterproof up to 20 feet, freezeproof to 14°F (-10°C), and sand/dustproof.
Nikon Coolpix AW110 ($279.95)
This model allows you to take high-quality pictures wherever you go, making it perfect for everyday shooting ? but is waterproof up to 59 feet, shockproof up to 6.6 feet, freeze-proof up to 14°F (-10°C), and sand/dust-proof. Light and compact (merely 4.4 inches x 2.6 inches), the camera has Wi-Fi access, GPS Geotagging, 1080-pixel HD video with stereo-quality sound, and 19 different modes.
Olympus Tough TG-2 ($379)
As its name implies, this is one tough camera. The TG-2 can be submerged in water up to 15 meters and is crushproof up to a weight of 100 kilograms. The model’s GPS functionality is also quite diverse; in addition to Geotagging, it features a compass, manometer, and activity log. Other goodies include video recording with stereo-quality sound, conversion lens compatibility, and a 4x optical zoom.
Sony RX100 II ($749.99)
It ain’t cheap, but this Sony model is considered by many to be at the top of its class. Stellar features include the Carl Zeiss lens with an aperture of f/1.8, an Exmor high-speed CMOS sensor that provides razor-sharp resolution, and Wi-Fi access capabilities. It’s also highly durable ? but just in case, the camera comes with a one-year warranty.