Sat - August 2, 2008

Waterproof Digital Cameras for Paddling and Water Sports - A Shopping Guide



This is an update of the article originally posted in August 2007.

What is the best camera for paddling? There is no simple answer to this question. With a proper care and protection you can use almost any photographic gear when paddling a kayak or canoe. However, as a casual paddling photographer I would like a digital camera which is

kayaking and photographing in Colorado
 kayak paddling Boyd Lake
  • compact, so it can be carried in a pocket of my life jacket and is easy accessible
  • waterproof to survive splashes, rain, eskimo roll, but I am not going to dive
  • capable to shoot video in addition to decent quality still pictures,
  • relatively inexpensive, so I can deal with a risk of loosing or damaging it

I have assembled a shopping guide for available cameras which seems to fit into the above criteria:

  1. Pentax Optio "W" models
  2. Olympus Stylus "SW" models
  3. GoPro Digital Hero 3
  4. Sanyo Xacti VPC-E1 camcorder
For each camera I listed related articles or reviews from Paddling with a Camera blog.

Of course, these are not only options available for a paddler. I have not covered here any point and shoot camera available with waterproof cases like many Canonmodels. However, these cameras are typically more bulky and more expensive than Pentax Optio or Olympus Stylus discussed here.

It seems that all weather or splashproof cameras offered, e.g., by Olympus are less popular than waterproof models. There are also other video options including waterproof bullet cameras connected to a camcorder protected by a waterproof box or simpler devices like Oregon Scientific Action Cam.

GoPro Digitial Hero is the simplest camera listed here. It is not known for high quality pictures, but it can produce a decent video comparable (or better according to some owners) with Pentax Optio W cameras. It is available with different mounts including a helmet mount and a suction cup mount which may be pretty useful for paddlers.

There are also inexpensive cameras designed for scuba diving like Vivitar VIVICAM-6200W or SeaLife SL321 ECOshot which can be used deeper underwater than Pentax or Olympus, but do not provide comparable image quality and have no zoom lens.

I am providing my referral links to amazon.com for all cameras listed below. It is where I am buying all photo gear, GPS, other electronic gadgets, and, of course, books. You can usually find the best prices there and you can choose free shipping for items above $25 shipped directly from amazon (third party items available through amazon may be cheaper, but shipping is not usually free).


Poll: Your Paddling Camera

What a digital compact camera do you use for paddling?

Pentax Optio W60 silver
Pentax Optio W30

camera floating strap

Pentax Optio W10, W20, W30, W60

Pentax Optio WP was the first compact waterproof digital camera on the market in 2003, W30 is the 4th model in this this line. Good still pictures and video. Relatively inexpensive $200-270. The newest model, W60, is coming in Auugust.

Pentax Optio W60 see it at Amazon Pentax Optio W60
Pentax Optio W30 see it at Amazon Pentax Optio W30
Pentax Optio W20 see it at Amazon Pentax Optio W20
Pentax Optio W10 see it at Amazon Pentax Optio W10
Sandisk SD memory cards 1 Gb, 2 Gb, 4 Gb
Related posts:

waterproof olympus stylus 1030sw silver

waterproof olympus stylus 1030sw black

waterproof olympus stylus 1030sw green

Olympus Stylus SW 720, 770, 790, 1030, and 1050

Similar features to Pentax cameras, advertised as shockproof, good pictures, lower quality video (15 fps vs 30 fps in Pentax, the new Stylus 790SW features 30 fps), more expensive $230-370. The video clip time is limited even in the newest Stylus SW 850 and 1030 models, but the firmware update fixes the movie problem in 1030SW camera.

Olympus Stylus 1050SW see it at Amazon Olympus Stylus 1050SW
Olympus Stylus 1030SW see it at Amazon Olympus Stylus 1030SW
Olympus Stylus 850SW see it at Amazon Olympus Stylus 850SW
Olympus Stylus 790SW see it at Amazon Olympus Stylus 790SW
Olympus Stylus 770SW see it at Amazon Olympus Stylus 770SW
Olympus Stylus SW 720 see it at Amazon Olympus Stylus 720SW
Related posts:

GoPro Digital Hero wrist camera

GoPro Digital Hero 3

A simple wrist mounted camera in a waterproof case. Good video (better than from Pentax in some opinions), poor still pictures. Not so cheap at ~$140,. Helmet and deck mount kits available.

GoPro Digital Hero 3 wrist camera GoPro Digital Hero 3
GoPro Digital Hero 3 with helmet mounts GoPro Helmet Digital Hero 3
Sandisk SD memory cards 1 Gb, 2 Gb
Related posts:

Sanyo Xacti VPC-E1  Waterproof MPEG4 Camcorder

Sanyo Xacti VPC-E1 Waterproof Camcorder

Waterproof flash card camcorder, very good video, 6 MP still pictures (I havent' seen a reliable review of that feature yet). Expensive: ~$450.

Sanyo Xacti VPC-E1 see it at Amazon Sanyo Xacti VPC-E1
Sandisk SD memory cards 1 Gb, 2 Gb, 4 Gb
SanDisk SDHC memory card 4 Gb
Related posts:

suction cup camera mount on kayak
Sticky Pod Camera Mounts

Related posts - tips for kayak photography:

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