The Canon PowerShot D10 is a waterproof, drop-proof, dustproof and cold-proof digital camera.

Canon has got a lot of things right with the ruggedised Canon PowerShot D10 digital camera. It is a great feat considering it is the company's first attempt at building cameras for adventurous users.

The Canon PowerShot D10 is waterproof to 10m, dustproof, can survive drops up to 1m and temperatures as low as -10 Celsius. And its bright LCD screen can be viewed even in direct sunlight. Its competitors include the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT1, the Olympus Mju Tough 8000, and the Olympus Mju Tough 6000.

Unlike the Olympus and Panasonic cameras, the Canon PowerShot D10 is chubby, with a lens that sticks out from the body but protected by hardened glass and a round frame. This makes the camera easy to hold steady: you can grip it properly with your left hand without obscuring the lens (a problem with the Panasonic DMC-FT1).

Button layout is simple, making the Canon PowerShot D10 easy to use. We liked in particular the big buttons across the top for power and shutter; three buttons above the screen to change mode; and the use of buttons instead of a slider to change the zoom. The shutter button is round and easy to press even if you are wearing gloves.

The absence of a dial for changing mode means you don't have to fiddle when you go from auto to video mode, for example, and also means that dirt can't get in. The use of buttons for zooming instead of a slider means that zoom movements can be made more precisely and again you don't have to worry about dirt getting into the slider.

We dropped the Canon PowerShot D10 off tables onto carpet and concrete, even played office soccer with it - and it survived. It worked perfectly after being left in the fridge for an hour; took photos capably from the bottom of bathtubs, sinks and alcoholic beverages. The hardened cover in front of the lens also withstood prodding and scratches from a pocket knife.

These rugged features are designed to the protect the Canon PowerShot D10's components, which include a 12.1Mp sensor, Canon's DIGIC4 image processor, and a 3x optical zoom lens with a focal range of 35-105mm (35mm equivalent).

At its widest point, the lens aperture is f/2.8 and it closes to f/4.9 when zoomed all the way. Because it's largely a point-and-shoot camera, you can't change the aperture or the shutter speed, but you can change the white balance, metering and ISO speed.

In bright conditions, the Canon PowerShot D10 did its best to regulate the exposure settings, but it can't perform magic. The camera also has a setting called i-Contrast, which tends to lighten images a lot, but even with i-Contrast disabled images were still too light. This was noticeable in shadowed areas and means that many photos lack adequate contrast and look a little too pale.

Colours were rendered a little brighter than expected and looked neutral overall. Noise was not a concern for many shots until ISO exceeded 400.

Chromatic aberration was not a problem in our tests shots; high-contrast areas had well-defined edges without purple fringing. We could only notice chromatic aberration when shooting silhouettes with the sun directly behind our subject.

Because the lens has such a wide angle, barrel distortion will be noticeable when you shoot straight lines. It is prevalent on horizontal and vertical lines, and will skew the lines of buildings and other straight objects when shooting at the widest angle.

For photos of people and sea life this won't be a problem. The quality of the lens is very good and our images were crisp and well detailed. You can zoom all the way in to your photos and they won't suffer from blotchiness or overly softened edges.

There are four shooting modes: auto, program, scene, and video. It's a relatively quick camera; when you press the power button it switches on and is instantly ready to shoot, and its shot-to-shot performance is not overly sluggish.

However, if you take photos at ISO 400 or higher there will be a slight delay as the camera processes the image. We also noticed a delay when the camera tried to read images off a full SD card and play them back.

Other features of the Canon PowerShot D10 include optical image stabilisation, face detection, scene detection, blink detection, and motion detection.

Overall, we think the design of the Canon PowerShot D10 is spot-on for a ruggedised camera. It feels good to use and, most importantly, it's very easy to use. We also like the clear pictures it takes, but we wish it rendered images with more contrast.

By default it captures images that look too pale. However, that's something that can be fixed during post-processing. So if you're after a ruggedised camera for snorkelling, or just to use while you hang around the pool, the Canon PowerShot D10 is worth considering.

OUR VERDICT

The design of the Canon PowerShot D10 is spot-on for a ruggedised camera. It feels good to use and, most importantly, it’s very easy to use. It takes clear photos but we’d have liked more contrast. Pick it up if you’re after a ruggedised camera for the outdoors.