I have been saving up for a digital camera that I can bring on camp-outs. I have been looking for a while but am not sure what to buy and what I will really need. If I were to buy a camera it would need to be capable of going underwater and capable of falling and taking a beating. I am looking forward to doing more advanced things in Scouts but want to be able to show my family and friends. I have been struggling with this for a while and came to you since I know you will point me in the right direction.
—Sean the Shutterbug, Madison, NJ
A: Hey Sean. First off, you’re not alone: There are so many cool new digital cameras on the market these days it can be overwhelming indeed.
So before you buy, start by taking a look at our Gear Guy buyers guide here.
From what you told me in your email—especially the bit about needing a camera that’s capable of going underwater—you’ve really narrowed down your choices.
A good option is the new Pentax Optio W30 ($300; 1-800-877-0155 or www.h20camera.com). It has a 7.1-megapixel resolution, lots of cool automatic photo modes, and it’ll handle a dunking down to a depth of 10 feet. It’s also small enough to tuck in your pocket while hiking, and sturdy enough to handle a beating—especially when you protect it with the optional slip-on rubber cover.
If $300 is out of your budget, check out the Optio W20—it’s basically the same camera, just an older model. One of my buddies is a professional photographer and it’s the camera he uses when he doesn’t want to lug around all of his camera gear. You can find it at sites like Amazon.com for about $240.