kja wrote in post #14784135
Housing a camera is great but has quite a few downsides if you aren't going to dive/snorkel etc a lot:
Best bang for buck imho is the Panny TS3 or 4 (which is on sale at BH Photo, I noticed). It goes anywhere, does an awesome job underwater and still fits in your pocket (I actually stick mine in my bikini as I walk along the beach since I have no pockets. could not do that with a housed system
Yes, for most people, "underwater" use amounts to a 3-4 ft below surface (e.g. in the pool) or simply a wet environment (where the camera stays above water surface but gets splashed).
For those people, a "tough" P&S camera indeed makes a lot of sense, particularly if they don't already have a specific point-and-shoot camera they want to keep using.
But that doesn't mean a "tough P&S" is always the best way to go. I know some of the earlier models can end up with sticky buttons/dials (particularly with salt water exposure). Not sure if the newer ones are better.
Perhaps more importantly, even the toughest ones can only go down to 30-40 ft. That may be plenty for snorkling, but nowhere near enough for scuba-diving. Even the most beginner scuba divers can go down to 60 ft.
Also, most tough P&S cameras don't have large sensors or RAW capabilities. For someone who has a specific camera in mind (like S95/S100/LX5/LX7), a underwater housing is the only way to go.
Of course, serious UW photographers want to add things like wet lenses and strobes, which not all housings support. That is why there are not one, not two, but a bunch of manufacturers making UW housings, some of which cost 2-4x that of the cameras they house. (E.g. RecSea and FIX housings for the S100 costs almost $900 each. Housings for DSLRs can cost over $3000.)
Different strokes for different folks.