Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20
1/2.33in 15.9-megapixel sensor, 4.0x zoom (25-100mm equivalent), 142g
Rugged, waterproof cameras aren't just for water-sports enthusiasts. They're also well suited to the beach, hikes, ski slopes and even just being casually thrown into a bag, ready to capture a shot at a moment's notice. Panasonic has a fine history of rugged cameras, but while previous models have cost around £300, the FT20 is considerably more affordable.
It's built to withstand drops from 1.5m, submersion to 5m, temperatures down to -10 degrees centigrade and dust. Its blocky shape looks suitably butch, while the orange brushed metal finish adds bit of bling to proceedings. Bright red or blue finishes are available too, along with a more conservative black. The button labels are tricky to see, though, with some engraved onto the metal buttons and others in white against the orange body. You might have to memorise their functions when taking the camera into inhospitable environments.
The screen is a bigger disappointment, with heavily skewed colours when viewed from above or below. Considering that this camera is likely to be used in unusual locations, we'd hope for better visibility when shooting at awkward angles.
The 4x zoom range is modest but the wide-angle 25mm (equivalent) minimum focal length is ideal for capturing sweeping landscapes and precarious views down the sides of rock faces. It's not the brightest of lenses, though, with an f/3.9 aperture at its wide-angle setting. That's about half the light-gathering ability of an f/2.8 lens. The sensor doesn't inspire much confidence either. Its 16-megapixel rating is needlessly high, and clearly designed to appeal to witless shoppers who are impressed by big numbers; it's telling that Panasonic fits a 12-megapixel sensor in the more expensive FT4, launched at the same time.