By Andrew Liszewski
Finding a water-resistant digital camera or camcorder that can survive the occasional splash or light rain is not that difficult, but finding one that can actually be submerged for some cool underwater photography is a different story. In the past you either had to settle for an expensive underwater housing, or go the ziploc bag/duct tape/fingers crossed route. But not anymore thanks to Panasonic’s SDR-SW20 digital camcorder. It uses SD or SDHC memory cards instead of tape or a compact hard drive which not only makes it light and compact, but also able to survive drops from about 4 feet.
In terms of image quality you’re only looking at 640×480 JPEG stills, and I assume the same resolution when it comes to video. (It captures directly to “DVD Quality” MPEG2 clips says the Panasonic website.) But it is completely sealed making it dustproof and more importantly waterproof to a depth of up to 5 feet. You won’t be shooting any shipwrecks with it, but for a shallow coral reef or just wacky antics in the backyard pool it’s more than adequate. It also features a 10X optical zoom and a fast power up feature which allows you to start shooting as quickly as 0.6 seconds after you open the LCD viewfinder.