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Gear Guy

What camera is tough enough to take an outdoor beating?

When I went to Europe I took along a $30 point-and-shoot camera. While the pictures ce out fine, the camera itself got trashed, returning home held together with tape. I was wondering if there's a durable camera out there, one that can be dropped and beaten. Water-resistant or waterproof would also be a plus. I don't really need something that focuses, but something that can take a beating outdoors. Jared Boise, Idaho

A: Cameras are somewhat delicate things, Jared—they really aren't made to be knocked around. Some can withstand a little dirt and moisture by virtue of having good seals, but even that abuse should be limited.

Optio 33WR

In film-based cameras, one of the better bets is the Olympus Stylus 100 Wide (around $200 street price;, which is a nice little 35-mill camera, complete with zoom lens, a weatherproof design, and a pretty rugged shell. But drop it and beat it? Maybe not the brightest idea. On the digital side of things, Pentax's Optio 33WR (in the $300 to $350 range; offers similar waterproof capability but, given its high-tech innards, is probably even more delicate from a smackdown perspective.

Alternatively, you could purchase a waterproof diving case for a camera, and let that take the pounding while the camera is (relatively) safe. Ewa-Marine makes a range of camera housings that are 100-percent waterproof. Price is around $150 to $200 each, depending on the model of camera that you use ( The camera of course is extra, so you're in the $400-plus range at that point, which certainly sounds a step-up from your Euro photographic dabblings.

So, Jared, let me offer you this simple gearly advice: Be a little more gentle with the camera. In the long run, you'll be money ahead, plus you'll be getting pictures long after a dropped-and-beaten camera has lost the will to live.

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Lead Photo: courtesy, Pentax