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The Gearboat Chronicles

Broken Digital Waterproof Camera Review

I didn’t take a picture the other day because my camera broke. The picture would have been worth about nine hundred words, not quite the whole thousand. Finding out I broke my camera was worth about twenty-six words. But they were short. Not many letters.

So rather than share a stunning image of sunrise over the Imnaha Canyon taken with my Pentax Optio W80 shock + waterproof point and shoot with an optical 5x zoom, we’ll do a review of rugged, adventure-oriented cameras if you’re thinking you’d like to capture photos of your rafting and various other outdoor activities.

Here’s what a sunrise over the Imnaha from atop Blackhorse Ridge doesn’t look anything like:

Imagine lots of pretty canyon rims and stuff, with sunlight streaming through some grandeur. As opposed to this busted screen.

I’m a believer in these underwater cameras. I beat the megapixels out of this thing for a couple years and it hung in there with the rough treatment until it didn’t. For rafting, the great thing about these things is you can put it in the pocket of your life jacket and not worry about it.

Then you forget about it, get to camp and fling your life jacket onto the rocks and remember your camera is in the pocket just about the time your life jacket is beginning its descent onto the rocks. I did that at least once and the camera survived, so I thought it was invincible. Not true.

For having little tiny seals on the compartments, the waterproofness was impressive. You can take fish pictures like this.

You can take pictures of your niece swimming in Hawaii like this.

You can take half-underwater pictures of your friends eating lunch on the Salmon River.

I took half-underwater pictures a lot, just because it seems like magic you can put a camera underwater.

I’d buy another one of these Optio W80s if they weren’t selling for a jillion dollars now. I bought mine for about $150 bucks, but the scarcity principle or something kicked in and now they’re going for twice that or more.

The original factory settings were set to crappy or blurry, depending on lighting. But my brother-in-law Erik is smart about things with wires and adjusted the settings to snazzy and clear. So if you do buy a digital camera I strongly recommend starting a fire with the owners manual and having my brother-in-law do the adjustments for you. It’s way less confusing and he’s nice about it.

Technical tips for purchasing a waterproof camera include buying one in a bright color because then it’s easier to see when you leave it sitting on a rock or your raft. That’s handy. Also it helps if you don’t break it.

Here’s my buyer’s guide for rugged digital cameras: the internet has a wealth of confusing information I don’t understand and one review will say a camera is great and you’re ready to buy it and then the next review says don’t waste your money, so just give up after a while and choose one at random. Then don’t break it.

Hope this was helpful. Now get out there and capture some waterproof rafting, fishing and hiking memories. And if you happen to have a photo of sunrise over the Imnaha canyon earlier this week, I’m in the market for one.