We put three rugged cameras through the paces. Here are the results.
The SeaLife Mini II camera
Can rugged digital cameras really take a beating and still take great pictures? To find out, we doused three new cameras with water, dropped them on concrete, and even drove over one of them with a 1,700-pound utility-terrain vehicle.
Fujifilm FinePix XP20 The 14-megapixel FinePix, which also shoots 720p HD video, took the sharpest photos during our test, even after we covered it in mud and ice, sprayed it with a hose, doused it with a bucket of water, and threw a rock at the lens. (We did notice some dents after dropping it on concrete.) The camera has a 2.7-inch LCD screen, 10MB of internal memory, and a slot for an SD memory card. Cost: $200
Pentax Optio WG-1 This 14-megapixel camera kept on clicking after we covered it in mud and ice and pounded it with a rock, though the casing got scuffed when we dropped it. The camera, which has a 2.7-inch LCD screen, has a variety of cool features, including a setting that lets you automatically shoot several photos in a row using different exposures. It has 97MB of memory and an SD card slot. Cost: $350
SeaLife Mini II The Mini II lacks fancy features, but it was the toughest model we tested. We covered it with ice and mud, doused it with water, and drove over it with a 1,700-pound Polaris Ranger UTV. It emerged without a scratch. Photo quality was so-so: Outdoor shots looked crisp and colorful, but indoor shots were blurry. The camera has a 2.4-inch LCD screen, 28MB of memory, and an SD card slot. Cost: $260