by Leo Jakobson | May 22, 2013
Now that more people own smartphones with built-in cameras and camcorders, they have grown accustomed to documenting every facet of their lives. However, people with active lifestyles have learned the hard - and expensive - way that their smartphones and everyday digital cameras just aren't up to documenting sports like snowboarding, mountain biking, surfing, and scuba diving. To fill this niche, a number of camera makers have come up with products that can face the elements.

Sony's palm-sized Action Cam (HDR-AS15) is powerful enough to record in full 1080p high definition (HD) at 60 frames per second (fps), and ships with a rugged housing that is waterproof to 197 feet and impermeable to dirt, dust, and mud. It is small and light enough to be barely noticeable when attached (with the included mount) to a bike helmet or scuba mask. Features include Wi-Fi connectivity and a built-in stereo mic. $269.99 with Wi-Fi and $199.99 without.

Fujifilm's rugged FinePix XP200 digital point-and-shoot camera is waterproof up to 50 feet, shockproof from a height of 6.6 feet, dustproof, usable down to 14 degrees, and has Wi-Fi connectivity. The 16-megapixel camera can take 1080i HD movies - above or below water - with sound at up to 360 fps, and the ultra high speed enables you to freeze the image without distortion. $299.95.

The Contour+2 action camcorder is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, yet tough enough to attach to a mountain bike frame or ski helmet. It can take full HD at 30 fps or high-speed footage at 120 fps. The included waterproof case is rated to 197 feet, and built-in GPS tells you speed, elevation, distance and location of footage. A built-in laser alignment tool helps photographers get the right shot, and a wide variety of mounts is also available. $399.99.

Canon's 12-megapixel PowerShot D20 is waterproof up to 33 feet, temperature-resistant from 14 degrees to 104 degrees, shockproof to five feet, and equipped with a GPS tracker. Its buttons are designed to be operable with gloved hands. It also features an underwater macro setting for coral close-ups. $349.99.

Nikon's new 16-megapixel COOLPIX AW110 point-and-shoot is waterproof up to 59 feet, shockproof to 6.7 feet, and freeze-proof to 14 degrees. Its GPS allows it to track where every shot or video is taken, while Wi-Fi allows for instant image transfer to a laptop, smartphone, or social media site. $349.95.

Vivitar's DVR 984 HD Pro Action Camcorder has one unique feature that sets it apart from other sports-action camcorders: live streaming of video as the action takes place. It films in full 1080p HD and comes with an underwater housing that is waterproof up to approximately 197 feet. It will be available in June for $420.