Q: I want to buy a rugged stills camera that can take the shock of a fall when skiing. I’ve been taking my old iPhone 6 Plus with me as I consider it somewhat expendable, but feel like I am courting disaster and want to get something dedicated to the task. I also imagine such a camera would be easier to operate with gloves on. Price is unimportant, I will be keeping it a long time!
— J.P., Hazleton, Pennsylvania
A: I will start with the suggestion that if you do not have a rugged case for your iPhone 6 Plus, using one will bring you some peace of mind on the slopes. The Otterbox Defender series is a good choice, and they start at $69.99. otterbox.com
Olympus owns the overwhelming market share of the rugged camera market, and for good reason. No one else offers the same combination of ease of use, picture quality, advanced features and bomb-proof construction as the Olympus Tough series cameras. It has been that way for years, and it will likely stay that way into the foreseeable future, especially with Olympus’ support of winter sports and annual sponsorship of the Whistler World Ski and Snowboard Festival. These cameras and those who use them are extremely important to Olympus, and it shows.
The $449 Olympus Tough TG-5 has a fast f/2.0 lens for use in low-light situations, very rare for any compact camera. It is also a fog-free lens, perfect for use in cold weather. Though it is in its element on the slopes, hiking, biking, whitewater rafting and underwater up to 50 feet, the TG-5 is good enough to be your camera for birthday parties and vacations, too. There is far more to the TG-5 than I can discuss in a single column, including 4K video, 20 frame per second shooting and many available accessories, so I suggest a visit to getolympus.com to learn more.
If you do not have an action camera like a GoPro for your outdoor activities, for the price of an Otterbox case you can get a great companion to your Olympus TG-5. At only $69.99, the SJCAM SJ4000 action camera is one of my all-time favorite budget buys and is cheap enough to be an impulse purchase. The SJCAM SJ4000 has a built-in LCD screen for composition and playback, and produces beautiful 1080p footage at 30 frames per second. It is compatible with the GoPro mounting system and includes lots of mounts and accessories.
Counterfeit SJ4000s abound, so I suggest avoiding eBay and Amazon and getting your SJCAM SJ4000 only from bhphotovideo.com.
The open-back Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X headphones have airy, natural, and clean sound quality that is similar to Panasonic Retro headphones, but without the isolation of the Panasonic’s closed-back earcups. Though they list for $169.95 they typically sell online for under $80.