An underwater camera comes in handy when you want to capture exciting memories from your next island vacation. CHERYL LEONG tests seven.

Product review: Underwater cameras 

(L-R): Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3, Samsung W200 pocket camcorder,
Speedo Aquashot and Nikon Coolpix AW100.

Great Find
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FT3

$649, from major electrical stores
SPECIFICATIONS 12.1 megapixels, 2.7-inch screen, 28-128mm lens, 4.6X optical zoom, waterproof up to 12m
WHAT I LIKED Navigating the menu was intuitive. The display was sharp and bright, and the buttons were ergonomically positioned. The camera allowed a good grip, despite its smooth aluminium body. Starting up was brisk; the camera was quick in between shots.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER One of the heavier models.
VERDICT Intuitive with a good depth tolerance, suitable even for divers.
SCORE 7.5

SAMSUNG W200 POCKET CAMCORDER
$299, from major electrical stores

SPECIFICATIONS 5 megapixels, 2.3-inch screen, 3X digital zoom (no optical zoom), waterproof up to 3m
WHAT I LIKED More like a phone than a camera, this pocket camcorder-cum-camera was easy to hold and shoot. The sides were ridged, making it slip-free when it was wet. The buttons were clearly labelled. It was easy to switch from photo to video mode with its dedicated button. The image quality was decent, with nicely balanced colours.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER There no effects.
VERDICT Handy and simple to use.
SCORE 7

SPEEDO AQUASHOT
$279, from selected Royal Sporting House outlets and Tangs Orchard
SPECIFICATIONS
9 megapixels, 2.4-inch screen, 4X digital zoom (no optical zoom), waterproof up to 3m
WHAT I LIKED The only camera out of those tested that could float! The buttons were chunky but easy to press in the water. Shots taken out of the water were grainy, but underwater pictures were bright and clear.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
Looking at images on the small screen was hard on the eyes. I could not half-press the shutter button to focus. Close-ups turned out blur.
VERDICT Hardy, basic, and hard to lose.
SCORE 6.5

Great Find
NIKON COOLPIX AW100

$529, from major electrical stores
SPECIFICATIONS
16 megapixels, 3-inch screen, 28-140mm lens, 5X optical zoom, waterproof up to 10m
WHAT I LIKED Light and easy to hold. The shutter button was easy to press when wet. Images were sharp and bright. A long button on the side allowed me to press, hold and scroll through modes by shaking the camera – very handy.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER The small buttons were easier to press with my nails than with my thumb.
VERDICT Big but light, with a unique motion-control feature.
SCORE 8.5

 

Product review: underwater cameras

(L-R): Sony DSC-TX 10, Olympus TG-810 and Fujifilm Finepix XP30.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Morven Koh, ART DIRECTION: Sherry Leung

Editor’s Rave
SONY DSC-TX 10
$499, from major electrical stores

SPECIFICATIONS
16.2 megapixels, 3-inch screen, 25-100mm lens, 4X optical zoom, waterproof up to 5m
WHAT I LIKED The images were the sharpest and brightest. It was the only one with a big touch screen. One of the most compact, it was comfortable in my hands. The zoom toggle around the top-right corner of the camera was easy to push.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER The touch screen didn’t work as well underwater.
VERDICT Big and sharp touch screen; vibrant images.
SCORE 9

Best Value
FUJIFILM FINEPIX XP30
$369, from major electrical stores

SPECIFICATIONS 14.2 megapixels, 2.7-inch LCD screen, 28-140mm lens, 5X optical zoom, waterproof up to 5m
WHAT I LIKED This camera’s unique asymmetrical shape fitted in my hand snugly. It was easy to use and images were sharp. It had a good range of shooting modes, including Natural+flash which captured pictures with and without flash simultaneously.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER The zoom toggle was a challenge when underwater. Deleting pictures got tedious as the images faded out slowly.
VERDICT Well-designed with some useful features.
SCORE 7.5

OLYMPUS TG-810
$598, from major electrical stores

SPECIFICATIONS 14 megapixels, 3-inch screen, 28-140mm lens, 5X optical zoom,  waterproof up to 10m
WHAT I LIKED Images taken both on land and underwater were bright. I could also create pop art or pin hole effects. The exposure compensation mode was useful when I took pictures against the bright sky.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER This was the heaviest and bulkiest camera.
VERDICT Solidly built with the most features, but not the most user-friendly.
SCORE 7


This article was originally published in Simply Her Jan 2012.

All product and pricing information was correct at the time of the magazine’s publication. We advise readers to check with the store for the latest availability and pricing information.