They’re now all in stock. The new generation of underwater digital cameras, that is. I know this is a hotly debated issue on the Aus Seakayak Forum so I am looking forward to adding fuel to a thread that is now many pages long. As a camera specialist, I am in the lucky position of knowing what’s coming long before the public and then being the first to play with them. Here’s the list of new stuff:
- Olympus mju 8010
- Olympus mju 3000
- Panasonic DMC-FT2
- Sony DSC-TX5
- Fujiflm XP-10
Here’s an overview:
A pointless increase to 14mp only worsens the worst image quality in the category and additional features don’t save a now hopeless range. It is well known I have a strong regard for Olympus SLRs but the compact range just lags further and further behind the pack in image quality. Even Samsung are making better cameras now. I recently bought a mju 6010 which is rubbish. You can see the dreadful video in the previous post. In Olympus’s favour though is good build quality and general reliability. The mju 8010 certainly feels tough but the 3000 feels a little trashy.
The FT1 was an excellent camera with image quality surpassed only by the Canon D10. The Pana’s video, however, was best of breed. The FT2 takes the FT1 to 10m rating but increases to 14mp which is a waste of time. It shoots the same as the FT1 fortunately. I think, failing Canon’s commitment to a new camera, this one will be the pick for overall ability.
The TX5 is the least tough looking camera of the lot. It is decidedly girly looking with a sliding front. A Sony manager once told me the T series is meant for Asian girls and the TX5 look like it’s upholding tradition. Image quality is excellent as is video but I don’t get the touch screen controls on an underwater camera. Apparently it works great. I’ll get back to you on that one. Sensibly, Sony have gone back to a 10mp sensor. It’s Exmor R so it delivers outstanding low noise results and as quick as 10 frames/second. It also has the handy sweep panorama mode that would be great for kayaking. Actually, once I trial this thing, I suspect it might be a brilliant kayakers camera. It’s a bit dear, though, as is usual with new Sony offerings but this will drop when Sony realize they aren’t selling any although I did sell one today at $599! Go figure.
This is my favourite. At $249 it is staggering value for money. It is a 12mp, 5x zoom with 720p HD movie. The previous model, the Z33, was a neat little unit that sold under $200 and did an OK job so the XP10 improves in all areas. Image quality is better than Olympus but video is not as good as the Panas. The Z series controls have mercifully been replaced with a conventional D pad and buttons. Fuji are giving me one of these so I will no doubt use it over the mju 6010 for paddling photography.
I don’t have the new Samsung yet and am unlikely to get the Pentax or Casio. I don’t think I’m missing much here. I really hope Canon bring out a new camera with HD movie and longer zoom. The D10 was the winner of the last generation so by going last they should have the goods. Eventually.
My initial thoughts are that for kayakers, the FT1 is still the best overall as the FT2 only offers 10m and is a bit tougher. If you’ve got money to burn, the Sony could be the ultimate paddlers camera but my concern is the interface. If this proves satisfactory, it will be magic. Avoid the Olys. Period. The Fuji gives the budget conscious paddler or the disinterested paddler a cheap and pretty good access to boat-borne photography.
As my experience with all these grows, I will add detail on performance here or on the Seakayak forum. If anyone has feedback already, add a comment.