When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Rugged

Carrie Sylvester
May 11, 2012

Cameras are facing tough competition from ever-present camera phones. It can be difficult for a new point & shoot camera to attract attention in a sea of smartphone and tablet introductions. Fortunately, digital camera vendors can stand out by introducing new models with sought-after features like rugged, go-anywhere construction, and connectivity. In the InfoTrends’ 2011 Digital Camera End-User Study, respondents were presented with current and futuristic camera features and asked to rank the importance of each feature. Connectivity and waterproof capabilities were two of the more interesting features that respondents cited. This week, Olympus and Fujifilm introduced new camera models that address these demands.

Olympus introduced its Tough TG-1 iHS, a 12 MP compact point & shoot camera priced at $400. The specifications include waterproof to 40

Tough TG-1 (shown with attached lens)

feet, shockproof to 6.6 feet, freeze-proof to 14°F, and crushproof to a weight of 220 pounds. This is one rugged camera–it might even survive real-life situations like a backpack or woman’s purse!

The Tough TG-1 iHS also has other advanced features, including an f2.0 lens (faster than many DSLR lenses out there) and DSLR-like attachable lenses. A fisheye converter lens (25-100mm) or a tele-converter lens are attached via an optional converter ring ($20+). Both converter lenses are also waterproof to 40 feet. If 40 feet is not deep enough, an underwater housing is available that will take the camera to 135 feet for $300.

Since the TG-1 costs $400 and the lenses are an additional $110-$120, its price tag will seem steep to casual photographers. Nevertheless, it will have an appeal for hobbyist photographers seeking an advanced point & shoot alternative or a DSLR backup that can withstand most weather situations.

Fujifilm has also addressed the waterproof feature with its FinePix XP170. This camera also offers Wi-Fi connectivity, and the combination makes this a great take-anywhere camera that enables users to immediately share photos to an Android or Apple mobile device.

FinePix XP170 — Front/Rear View

Priced at $280, the FinePix XP170 camera has some impressively rugged specifications–waterproof to 33 feet, shockproof to 6.5 feet, and freeze-proof to 14°F. This camera also has a Wireless Image Transfer function that enables users to connect to an Android or Apple mobile device for online sharing. Other camera specifications include a 14 MP CMOS sensor, 5x optical zoom, and the ability to capture full 1080p HD video (at 30fps). This camera will be available in blue or orange and is expected to be released in June.

InfoTrends’ Opinion

To compete for consumers’ spending dollars in an uncertain economy, camera vendors must continue to introduce models with more features like the ones discussed here. If digital camera vendors hope to persuade consumers to carry their cameras with them more frequently (like they do their mobile phones), these cameras must be able to withstand an active lifestyle. In addition, connectivity (primarily through Wi-Fi) offers the convenience of sharing photos while in the moment. InfoTrends hopes that more of these reasonably-priced innovations will make their way to consumers throughout the year!

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