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
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!
Olympus Stylus 770 SW
Stylus 770 SW
But theres 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 deviceswireless phones, for instancecan be charged by connecting the solar charger to the phones 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.