Q:

Where can I find a rugged digital camera that can be charged with solar power?

I need a camera that’s water resistant (or waterproof), can withstand being banged around a bit, has a bit of zoom, and can be charged using a 12V solar power system. Lots of cameras out there seem to have a couple of these features, but not all of them. Do you have any suggestions? Rachael Springtown, Pennsylvania

Jun 11, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Olympus Stylus 770 SW

Stylus 770 SW

A:

The only hard part is the charger. Olympus has staked its reputation on several tough, water-resistant (and even waterproof) cameras. The Stylus 770 SW ($380; olympusamerica.com), for instance, can be submerged to 33 feet, is rated to take a five-foot drop, has been “winterized" to 14 degrees F, and can withstand 220 pounds of pressure. It also is compact, offers 7.1-megapixel resolution, and has a 3:1 zoom lens. Pretty good!

But there’s this: It takes a proprietary battery. Lots of cameras these days take AA batteries, which are available nearly anywhere and can be used with most 12V solar chargers. Other devices—wireless phones, for instance—can be charged by connecting the solar charger to the phone’s car-charge cord.

The Olympus is trickier, but you are not out of luck. Look into a charger from Sundance Solar (store.sundancesolar.com). They sell chargers that can charge most batteries for popular cameras, including those from Olympus, and should have what you need. Price will be between $100-$150, depending on what model you get, and charging times will run around four hours.

Now, if only other camera makers would compete a little more effectively with Olympus in the tough-camera arena, and do so with cameras that take AA batteries.

You’ve seen our picks for 2007 Gear of the Year, and now the entire Outside Summer Buyer’s Guide is online. Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including digital cameras.

Filed To: Digital Cameras

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