Unlike some of the more frail waterproof cameras out there, Canon integrated a certain level of toughness and rigidity into its D10. Indeed, the company markets this as an "adventure cam," and that's exactly what we went on with this by our side. Designed to be waterproof, freezeproof and shockproof, we were able to sufficiently test all but the middle quality down in Central America, and we have to admit that we're pretty impressed.
Just to give you an idea of what our PowerShot D10 survived, here's a quick rundown: hours upon hours in salty Pacific Ocean waters, numerous drops in the sand, countless button mashes from moist fingertips, a wild ride down Class II / III rapids, a snorkel tour with eels and puffer fish, lawless monkeys grabbing for shiny gadgets, a dodgy border crossing in the pouring rain and a few dips in the pool. And that's just the half of it. In other words, we sought to really see if Canon's D10 would live up to its own claims, and now that we're back -- nursing sunburned patches and mulling the decision to unpack or simply live out of a suitcase for the next month -- we figured it prudent to share our experience.
As a overall camera, the D10 will definitely suffice as your primary point and shoot if you're kosher with toting around a rather large (comparatively speaking) device. We always thought our SD850 IS
was pudgy, but the protruding lens on the D10 makes this one even less convenient to tote around. Still, as an adventure camera, it's plenty small. If you're trekking through Nairobi or surfing on the North Shore of O'ahu, you can definitely make room in your backpack or cargo pocket for this. Weight wise, it's perfectly acceptable, and the brilliant decision by Canon to build in four accessory posts around the edges was one we learned to adore. Our D10 shipped with a small accessory kit, which included a trio of colorful face plates and a number of cables that can be affixed to any corner of the camera. The thick, braided cable with twin carabiners on the end proved invaluable in keeping the camera attached to our person while in rafts and getting tossed around like a rag doll in the mighty Pacific. If you're planning on using this in any kind of precarious situation, we'd highly recommend forking out the extra for it. Granted, we would've loved for at least one serious cable to come bundled in (a short wrist strap is all that ships with the unit itself), but hey, you can't have it all.
In most respects, the D10 looks and feels just like a normal camera. Sure, a few of the buttons are rubberized and there are nice internal seals on all of the port openings, but we were yelled at on numerous occasions from onlookers who thought we just accidentally ruined our regular camera by dunking it underwater. In fact, the bottom opening (where the rechargeable battery and SD / SDHC card is slotted) was so traditional that we were legitimately frightened that water would rush in as soon as we plunged in. Thankfully, not a drop of liquid managed to squeak into any port over a solid week of abuse and countless hours under water.
Features and performance
Of note, the rear LCD was truly a gem. Even in broad daylight, we never had an issue seeing the images on-screen. The button layout was also well designed, and Canon Digital Elph users will be particularly at home. The only major differences were the zoom mechanism -- which is handled by two rubber buttons to the right of the LCD -- and the movie mode, which is triggered by a button atop the LCD. Generally speaking, we had no issues navigating the UI, switching from movie mode to still mode (or vice versa) or zooming.
Start up was snappy (well under a second), and all of the buttons were well placed and easy to operate, even while submerged. Unfortunately, the actual shutter and autofocus performance didn't follow suit. In most cases, the camera focused quickly enough for us to capture whatever action was in front of us, but there were a few occasions where we missed out due to sluggish shutter response. It's hardly worse than the average non-waterproof point-and-shoot, but you best be on top of your game if you're hoping to snap that perfect shot before a wave eats you alive.
Toughness and battery life
So, now that we've ran you through the basics, let's talk toughness. Canon advertises this shooter as one that's cut out for adventure, and after surviving more adventures in a week than we've faced in the entire year prior, we'd have to say it really delivers here. The camera didn't flinch after being drug through sand, shoved under salty waters for hours on end or banged up against a surfboard. It even managed to go mano-e-mano with a number of slippery rocks during a white water rafting tour, and it somehow escaped with only minor scratches. Frankly, we were shocked at how well the PowerShot D10 managed to handle abuse, and at the end of the week, everything still functioned like new.
Speaking of battery life, we were able to squeeze out around 45 minutes of VGA video along with a couple hundred snapshots before the battery warning indicator popped up. And, mind you, that's 40 minutes of having the rear LCD flipped on. Outside of that, we never once took enough shots to drain it completely in a day. We didn't go about any formal battery life testing, but overall we were mighty impressed by just how long the rechargeable cell held out. Unless you plan on firing off a thousands shots with flash, battery life shouldn't be a concern.