You already have a great camera in your smartphone. But is it also suitable for all your sports activities and do you really want to expose the expensive phone to the risk of damage in wind and weather? For outdoor use, outdoor and action cams offer the robustness that matters – and useful additional functions. Here you can find out which weatherproof cameras are recommended.
Robust outdoor camera or action cam?
Which type of camera is more suitable for you depends on the activities and what you want to use the camera for.
Outdoor cameras are usually normal compact cameras, but they are specially designed for use in adverse weather and on rough terrain and can withstand splashing water, dust and the odd blow or two unscathed. As a rule, the robust devices also record videos, but their main purpose is to take photos. Some of the zoom lenses are cleverly and elaborately integrated into the protected interior of the camera.
Action cams are small, light, very robust and primarily designed for video recording in (extreme) sports. That is why there are usually special fastening systems and a corresponding number of accessories for them. High-resolution movie functions with high frame rates of 120 FPS (frames per second) and more allow breathtaking slow-motion videos. Action cams usually only have a fixed wide-angle focal length, and you usually won't find a zoom. Ease of use is also often limited, not least because of the small housing dimensions. "Roll and go" ("let it roll and let's go") is the motto.
Our recommendation (outdoor camera): Olympus Tough TG-6
Not cheap, but good and extremely durable: the Olympus Tough TG-6. Image: © Philips 2022
The name says it all: the Olympus Tough TG-6 photo camera can take a lot. It is dust-proof, waterproof to a depth of 15 m, should withstand falls from a height of 2.10 m, is frost-proof down to minus 10 degrees and, according to the manufacturer, withstands a pressure of 100 kg.
The 12-megapixel sensor does not deliver photos in record-breaking resolution, but scores with less disturbing image noise in poor light. Action fans are also happy about the insanely fast continuous frame rate of 20 frames per second that is possible. Advanced users and professionals can tease out a significantly higher image quality from the RAW format, which the camera can record, in processing on the computer than is the case with the usual JPEG format, which is also available. For activities that make it difficult to keep the camera still and when shooting in dark conditions, an image stabilizer supports the sensor so that the camera still captures crisp images.
The zoom lens integrated into the housing offers both wide-angle and a slight telephoto. This enables not only full-frame shots in narrow spaces and wide landscapes, but also images of distant subjects and portraits with more natural reproduction of facial proportions.
The numerous sensors make it clear that this camera was developed for outdoor enthusiasts. The GPS location data can be saved with the recordings and the data from the altimeter, compass, accelerometer and thermometer can also be viewed at any time.
The camera is primarily intended for taking photos, but there is also a video function. The image stabilizer helps enormously here to produce film recordings without constant shaking. The resolution reaches up to 4K with 30 FPS. If Full HD resolution is sufficient for your videos, you can even record up to 60 FPS on the chip and thus realize moderate slow-motion recordings.
The only disadvantage of the Olympus Tough TG-6 is that the pure image quality cannot always keep up with very good smartphones and their software tricks. The greater flexibility due to the equipment and, above all, the robustness easily make up for this shortcoming.
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Robust & also for children: Easypix Aquapix W3048 Edge
Very cheap underwater camera: the Easypix Aquapix W3048 Edge. Image: © Philips 2022
The Easypix Aquapix 3048 Edge certainly doesn't fight for the high-end throne, but scores with other advantages, especially the very low price. It can also be used as a photo camera for children or as an inexpensive, replaceable device for use where there is a higher risk of damage. Even if you need several cameras, for example for a trekking group, you will be happy about the low price.
Similar to most smartphones, the Aquapix W3048 Edge does not have an optical zoom, but only takes wide-angle shots. Although it offers a digital zoom, it significantly degrades the image quality. That is why the camera is particularly suitable for selfies and rather wide-ranging landscape shots. The focus on self-portraits can also be seen in the second display, which is located on the front.
Of course, for the low price you can't expect the same high-quality features and quality that cameras offer for many times the money. You have to accept compromises in terms of video resolution and lens. There is no image stabilizer, which is a major disadvantage for outdoor use, but is to be expected given the price.
Nevertheless, the Aquapix W3048 Edge is an outdoor camera that is particularly suitable for underwater use at a maximum depth of 3 m and is dust and shock resistant.
EASYPIX Aquapix W3048 Edge underwater camera yellow Buy it now at
Our recommendation (action cam): GoPro Hero11
Takes everything, holds everything: the GoPro Hero11. Image: © Philips 2022
With the Hero11 , action cam specialist GoPro offers a modern high-end solution that leaves nothing to be desired. Videos in up to 5.2K resolution can be captured on the chip at 60 FPS. The more widespread 4K format can be recorded in 120 FPS and thus allows great slow-motion recordings with enormous sharpness of detail. If a resolution of 2.7K is enough for you, you can even set 240 FPS, which results in slow motion that is ten times slower.
The fact that the Hero11 is incredibly small and robust hardly needs to be mentioned for a GoPro. The extensive range of accessories for the GoPro cameras allows them to be securely attached to almost anything, be it a helmet, a bicycle, a skateboard or any smooth surface with a suction cup. If you use a selfie stick, you can see what you are taking on the second display on the front of the Hero11. Dives to a depth of 10 m are also no problem.
As with most action cams, the main purpose is video recording, but photos can also be taken with the Hero11 – in a resolution of 27 megapixels. The built-in sensor is larger than most wide-angle smartphone cameras, resulting in better image quality.
It is operated almost exclusively via the menus on the small touchscreen, but the tiny camera is not always comfortable to hold. Since there is also no optical image stabilization in photo mode, other cameras are better suited for photo enthusiasts. More interesting is the ability to extract 24.7 megapixel photos from videos recorded in full resolution.
An absolutely unique selling point of the Hero11 is the "horizon lock". This adds a feature to the already incredibly good and sophisticated digital video stabilization that keeps the image section upright and straight, no matter how you hold the camera. Even 360-degree rotations around its own axis are possible with a completely stable image.
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Inexpensive action cam alternative: Rollei Action One
Inexpensive and still good: the Rollei Action One. Image: © Philips 2022
The Rollei Action One does not achieve the performance range of the Hero11, but it is cheaper and is offered in a set with various brackets and a housing that is waterproof to a depth of 30 m. Without that, the cam is waterproof to a depth of 5 m.
The video functions, the main argument for such a camera, are extensive despite the low price: 4K videos in 60 FPS are possible as well as 120 FPS in Full HD and even 240 FPS in 720p. So you can also take breathtaking slow-motion shots with this action cam, as long as you are willing to make a few compromises in terms of resolution.
You are supported during video recording by a well-functioning digital image stabilizer, which only has to admit defeat to the GoPro in terms of functionality and flexibility.
If you want to use the Action One as a camera, you can take pictures with a resolution of up to 12 megapixels. An additional display on the front of the Rollei is also helpful for selfies, whether as a photo or video.
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The very special action cam: DJI Pocket 2
Stable for film and photo: the DJI Pocket 2. Image: © DJI 2022
The DJI Pocket 2 is a very special type of action cam. While small cubes such as the GoPro and Rollei are designed primarily for use in adverse conditions and as wide-angle observers close to the person, the Pocket 2 is all about cinematic camera pans without compromises.
The actual camera sits at the end of a gimbal, i.e. a handle equipped with controls and motors, which can always move the camera smoothly and quickly thanks to various integrated sensors. This creates incredibly smooth video recordings from any position with just one hand. Disadvantages such as loss of resolution and artefacts, which digital stabilizers often have, do not exist.
You can also select an object in the picture, which the camera will then follow smoothly by rotating with it.
This perfect stabilization is a pleasure, especially with slow-motion shots from the hand, which the camera can record in Full HD with up to 240 FPS, i.e. eight times the slowdown. If you prefer to record high-resolution 4K, the DJI can do it with up to 60 FPS and thus up to around two and a half times slow motion.
A small touchscreen for image control is integrated in the handle, but it only becomes really comfortable when you connect the DJI Pocket 2 to a smartphone or additional video monitor. Incidentally, there is no need for a second screen or contortions for video and photo selfies: at the push of a button, the camera simply turns to face you in a flash.
This makes the DJI Pocket 2 particularly suitable for vloggers and for recording professional-looking recordings of (sports) activities of other people, where you can and want to concentrate entirely on filming.
As a still camera, the Pocket 2 isn't the most obvious choice, but it offers surprisingly clever features. So you can save RAWs and get more out of images with some post-processing. In a special mode, the gimbal also allows the creation of very high-resolution 64-megapixel images through rapid motor movements of the camera, provided the subject is calm. In other modes, the sensor only has a resolution of 16 megapixels.
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