Planning a big adventure and want to make sure you've got the right digital camera to capture all the action, all the beauty and the experience of what you hope will be something to share with the grandkids? The good news is today's digital cameras are being built with amazing features well beyond those days when being waterproof was the only key claim to fame.
Rugged cameras are dust proof, heat proof, crush proof, freeze proof, shock proof and -- on top of all those -- offer a video option, audio recording capabilities, face detection technology and the usual wide range of perspective and landscapes as well as GPS, touch screens and even Wi-Fi. After all, if you can't upload that skydive shot to Instagram or tweet it out as you're in flight, what's the point of having a camera on hand?
While there are literally dozens and dozens of rugged digital cameras to choose from, it's sometimes easiest to zoom in on a few to determine which device to take with you on the adventure. We'll take a look at a few to gain perspective on what features and price points are available today: GoPro Hero4, Ricoh WG-4 GPS and the Nikon 1 AW1.
Keep in mind, as with any tech product, the heftier feature and capability level, the heftier the price point typically can be, and most decent "adventure" digital cameras start in the $200 range and can go well beyond the $1,000 price point. Sometimes that higher price point is the cost of buying a product that bears a known "name" and well-earned product reputation for quality and doesn't automatically mean it blows away lower-priced products.
For example, the Nikon 1 AW1 costs about $750 at a major retailer. It's one of the heavier devices, weighing in at 11 ounces, and offers an interchangeable lens that can go underwater. It also houses a bigger image sensor. So for that particular adventure scenario, it's a great option. If deep sea diving isn't part of the picture, there are a few more cost-efficient cameras to grab off the shelf.
The GoPro Hero series is another one often cited for underwater capabilities, thanks to a 12MP sensor, as well as its efficient form factor design (one review describes it as Lilliputian-size). There's also a 4K video functionality, and it's got the Wi-Fi for image sharing and starts at a reasonable price point of $400 at a major online retailer. The Hero4 is cited in one mainstream tech review as the best GoPro for the money, given frame-rate options and the built-in touchscreen.
Ricoh WG-4 GPS is a good choice for those adventure enthusiasts on a budget and who aren't looking for the latest and greatest photography capabilities. Selling for about $270 at one online retail spot (cheaper if you choose the non-GPS option), the rugged digital camera follows in the heels of the Pentax WG-3 GPS and with a new brand name. Described as a tough cookie by one reviewer, it's no slouch on features, being freeze proof down to -10 degrees and can withstand 100kg of crushing force. There is even sensor-shift shake reduction.
Be it a digital camera for adventuresome times or a mobile computing device for road warrior action, choosing the best product comes down to knowing what features and components are necessary, which ones aren't and determining a price point range.
As any tech device user has learned in the past five or so years, the latest and greatest isn't always the easiest or best performing, and the more expensive doesn't necessarily translate into the best product. The key is figuring out what features are "must-haves" and doing some research given the ever increasing device options hitting the market.