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Best waterproof rugged cameras and camcorders compared

Whether you're just lounging by the pool or headed into the wilderness, there's a rugged camera or camcorder here to meet your needs.

The number of waterproof rugged cameras has exploded over the past few years. The segment was basically owned by Pentax and Olympus, but now all of the major compact camera manufacturers have a rugged model, if not two or three.

The upside to that is there is something for just about everyone at various price points, starting at just more than $100. The more money you spend, the tougher the camera, though, so make sure you get something that meets your needs.

And if you're more interested in shooting video than photos, check out the two minicamcorders that follow the camera list.

Editors' note: This post was originally published May 4, 2012, but is updated frequently. It was updated July 3, 2012, to include the Nikon Coolpix AW100.
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Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS
Olympus has long had some of the most rugged compacts available, but with other manufacturers getting in on this niche market, its Tough line was falling behind in other areas. That all changes with the TG-1 iHS. Read the full review.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4
If you already have 2011's TS3, there are only a couple reasons to upgrade and they don't have much to do with better picture quality or performance (though those are very good from the TS4). Read the full review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20
The TX20 is the rugged camera that no one would know is rugged; it's more for urban and suburban adventurers. Read the full review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Pentax Optio WG-2
One of the most rugged point-and-shoots you can get, the WG-2 (available with GPS or without) is water-, dust-, freeze-, shock-, and crushproof. Read the full review.

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Nikon Coolpix S30
With giant buttons and simplified menus, the S30 can be used by just about anyone. Plus, it runs on AA batteries. Read the full review.

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Samsung HMX-W300
Though for video quality it's no better than a higher-end smartphone, you don't have to worry about killing your battery or get nervous about handing shooting duties off to your friends and family. Read the full review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Kodak PlaySport Zx5
The last of Kodak's excellent rugged minicamcorders is still available and at an impulse-friendly sub-$90 price, no less. Read the full review.

Looking for more recommendations? Check out our always-current lists of the best compact cameras or the best cameras overall.