We took four of the toughest compacts around on a one-day adventure challenge to see who would survive
Sony Cyber-shot TX10
I'll admit that I probably looked a little funny using Sony's latest rugged cam on the Tough Mudder course. Not many people expect to see a sizable, bearded man covered in mud holding a petit pink camera. And while I probably won't be bringing this camera along on next year's Tough Mudder adventure, I did find a lot to like in that little pink body.
Along with the Fujifilm, the Sony isn't quite as bomb-proof as the Olympus and Pentax. They're waterproof to 16-feet instead of 33 and can survive drops from 1.5-meters (about 4.9 feet).
The TX10 is by far the smallest and lightest camera of the four. In fact, I was actually able to fit it comfortably into the small fifth pocket of my jeans. Yeah, that's small.
Like the Olympus, the Sony covers up its lens -- as well as the flash and microphone -- when not in use. It uses a sliding faceplate that should be pretty familiar to anyone with experience in the Cyber-shot world. That cuts down on fog and dirt.
Photographically speaking, the Sony actually has a few distinct advantages. At 16.2-megapixels, its back-illuminated Exmor sensor is the most powerful in the bunch. It's also the only one that can handle 1080 video at 60i.
The back of the camera is totally dominated by a widescreen 3-inch touchscreen, leaving absolutely no room for buttons. It's not quite the ultra-responsive touchscreen you might be used to if you have a big, fancy touch phone, but Sony makes much better use of the widescreen format than Pentax, filling the black bars on the side of the image with touch controls.
That same sliding face that protects the lens and flash also tends to collect dirt and grime. After the first use out on the course, the sliding action picked up a decidedly gritty feeling. Flipping it up and down a few times dislodged most of it, but it's a reminder as to why moving parts on a camera like this can be a bad idea.
The touchscreen also gets more difficult to use as it gets wet. This should come as no surprise, since all touch screens have trouble once liquid comes into the equation. And when I was wearing gloves, well, forget about it.
While it has a dedicated video button, it's incredibly small and both the shutter and the zoom toggle switch follow suit. It's worth noting that they're all still very usable. I just would have preferred a little more space with which to work. If you have small hands, this might not be an issue for you at all.
When recording video, I had a bit of a problem with stand by mode taking too long to actually start capturing, meaning that I missed a few shots I would otherwise have gotten.
The Sony is the only camera in the test to lack GPS, but it does have a couple of familiar Sony goodies like their sweep panorama mode and a separate panorama mode meant specifically for getting under water shots.
The high-speed capture mode is also nice, allowing you to grab 10 full-resolution images in a single second. That kind of rapid-fire shooting comes in extremely handy when trying to grab fast action.
Waterproof: To a depth of 16-feet
Shockproof: From a height of up to 4.9-feet
Freezeproof: To a temperature of 14-degrees F
Megapixels: 16.2 (Best in test)
Screen size: 3-inches (touchscreen)
Screen Resolution: 920,000 dots
Optical Zoom: 4x (27-108mm equivalent)