Flash Off • Auto Flash • Fill-in Flash • Red-eye Reduction Flash
With LCD Panel
LCD Panel Size
LCD Screen Resolution
2 Sec. • 10 Sec.
Mp3 Built In
With Built-in Microphone
Apple Mac OS 9 • Apple Mac OS X • Microsoft Windows 2000 • Microsoft Windows 98 • Microsoft Windows 98SE • Microsoft Windows ME • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Software • USB Cable • Video Cable • Lithium Battery • Battery Charger • AC Power Adapter • Strap
Amphibious, elegant digital you’ll take everywhere. This latest 5 megapixel, Pentax digital delivers both on land and in the sea with a faster .6 second start up, a quick .05 second shutter release, movie mode and a generous 2.0 inch monitor.
The Pentax Optio WP is a 5-megapixel compact digital camera with a JIS Class 8 waterproof rating. It was designed for active outdoor people to take it boating, fishing, to the beach, or anywhere else a camera will be exposed to wet, muddy, or dusty conditions.
The Pentax OptioWP is the only waterproof compact digital camera that I'm aware of. It's really in a class by itself and I've wanted to try it for a long time. It's not just weatherproof - you can actually dunk the OptioWP. Because I mountain bike in all kinds of weather, and I like to carry a camera when I ride, a waterproof digicam seems like a good idea to me.
Aside from being waterproof, the OptioWP is a fairly standard 5-megapixel compact digital camera. It's got a reasonable optical zoom range, medium resolution, and standard ISO range, white balance controls, and point-and-shoot exposure controls.
Pentax OptioWP Key Features
JIS Class 8 waterproof protection
5-megapixel CCD sensor2-inch LCD w. live histogram
Pentax scene modes
6.3-18mm 3x Pentax optical zoom lens
Pentax OptioWP Features and Design Camera design and features blur in the Optio WP. The main feature of the camera - it's waterproofing, is also its main design element. The OptioWP's JIS Class 8 waterproof rating means that it's certified to be waterproof to 1.5m/5ft. for 30 minutes. Form follows function and waterproofing dictates a sturdy, compact design with a non-telescoping lens and rubber gaskets on the battery/memory compartment door. It's important to use the lock lever and make sure the battery/card cover gasket is clean if you're going to be using the camera in the water. The first time I took the camera in the water I was scared. But everything turned out ok.
The Optio WP has a nice, big LCD with an optional live histogram. Since the WP doesn't have an optical viewfinder the LCD size and quality is more important. The display is bright, sharp, and has doesn't have any significant lag, as LCD's on digital cameras of a few years so often did. This means you can reasonably use the LCD for panning and other action photos. I still prefer an optical viewfinder for panning. But the optical viewfinder on smaller compact digital cameras are so small it's probably just as well that we just replace them with better quality LCD displays.
The camera control placement is pretty good, with all of the controls on the right side of the back of the camera where most people can easily access them. The WP is a pretty pure point-and-shoot camera. Exposure control is done via the camera's 15 scene modes or, if you want more control, with the exposure compensation available in Program mode. The scene modes help the photographer best photograph a type of subject by changing the exposure settings for best results. Descriptions for each scene mode are available by pushing the "Green Button" on the back of the camera. I played with the scene modes but mostly used the Program mode because I like to have a little more control.
The WP has a couple of very useful tools hidden in the menus. One is a "Memory" setting, which preserves settings when you turn the camera off and on. So if you usually have the flash off and exposure compensation set to -1, when you turn off the camera it will save those settings. I would prefer more customizable "Memory" controls that allow the photographer to program specific settings for start-up, rather than just preserving the last settings used. However, it does offer more control and most point-and-shoot photographers will appreciate the Memory feature as-is.
It took me a while to discover it, but the "Green Button" can be programmed to control various functions. I set it to access exposure compensation so that I can access it with the push of one button, without going into the menu settings.
Pentax OptioWP playback display, with histogram
Pentax OptioWP main menu
Pentax OptioWP Capture mode palette
Landscape Capture mode explanation
Camera Experience Aside from its underwater capability, the OptioWP is not an outstanding performer. Image quality is decent, shutter-lag is reasonable for a compact camera, battery life is on the short side, exposure controls are minimal, and the flash is weak. The camera worked best for me when I used it as a simple point-and-shoot. However… If you want a camera that will work well in all conditions, in the outdoors, or the hot tub, there's nothing else that compares. I took it on one huge mountain bike ride, one near-freezing, rainy mountain bike ride, and as a final test - to the hot tub and water slides! To really test the WP's waterproofing - taking the plunge, so to speak - I tossed it right into the hot tub. It sank four feet, right to the bottom, and came up shooting. Success! After I started taking pictures in the tub any complaints I'd had before were quickly forgotten. This camera is so fun in the water it really makes up for its other shortcomings!
Image Quality I think the image quality of the OptioWP is in line with other 5-megapixel compact digital cameras. That would make it poor at anything other than the camera's lowest sensitivity setting of ISO 50. Noise is noticeable at all ISO settings as is haloing in high-contrast sections of photos (see Pacifica power line image). And noise quickly becomes unacceptable if you go higher than ISO 50. ISO 100 is fine for large subjects where details aren't important. But for landscape photos or anything else where detail is important, I wouldn't go above ISO 50.
Exposure and white balance are fine, although I think a lot of consumers might find the images from this camera a bit on the cool side if they stick with the auto white balance setting.
The lens exhibits obvious falloff and softness on the edges. Again, traditional camera performance is not the Optio WP's strongpoint. A little softness on the edges of an image is a fair trade when you're successfully taking pictures on a whitewater rafting trip and you don't have to worry about ruining your camera.
Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.
Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.
Conclusion The Optio WP's image quality and performance are nothing special. But that's not what this camera is about. If you're spend a lot of time outdoors in the rain, snow, or dusty conditions, there's nothing like it. The camera is easy to carry, the 5-megapixel CCD has plenty of resolution, and the image quality will generally be fine for prints up to 8x10 inches. Any problems I encountered were more than outweighed by the camera's main feature - waterproofing. It would be nice to have more advanced exposure controls and better image quality. Pentax does have a 6-megapixel model, the Optio Wpi. It may prove to be a more capable camera and might be a better buy. But my final judgement on the Optio WP is that the waterproofing makes it a good buy. It's a fun camera and I recommend it to anyone who gets things wet.
Who Should Buy The Pentax OptioWP The Pentax Optio WP is a great choice for anyone who wants a pocket-sized outdoor camera. If image quality or camera controls are your most important camera criteria then you should look elsewhere. But people who spend a lot of time outdoors in questionable conditions and don't want to worry about ruining their camera can't find a better choice (except its big brother, the Pentax Optio Wpi). Take it in the kayak, the canoe, the snowmobile, or the shower - it's not going to let you down.
Weaknesses: Small sensor = grain
Manual exposure controls limited (too many "modes", no straightforward shutter speed/aperture setting)
Proprietary battery (though they are cheap and very small, so not entirely a bad thing)
I've had a WP for a year and a half now, which means this review is already ancient history. But if you're still reading it's probably because you're considering one of the successor models (WPi, W10, etc.), and you wonder if the waterproofness really works.
In short, yes, it does, even after 18 months of abuse. In fact, the waterproofing works so well I'm happy to overlook the camera's flaws and rank it among the best photography purchases of my life.
I have a collection of amazing photos of my daughter the fish, whose smile is apparently magnified out of all reasonable proportion by being underwater. I had no idea how happy she was when she was swimming and diving until I got this camera. I've also managed to get some truly wonderful skiing and biking pictures, ones which only happened because I was willing to throw this little indestructable camera in my pocket since I new it was impervious to rain and snow. Of course, for both kinds of photos it is the combination of waterproofing and extremely compact size that made the opportunities possible.
Now, the flaws are definitely many: no viewfinder, small and proprietary battery, grainy photos in anything less than strong light, and a slow and none-too-impressive autofocus. But most of these problems can be circumvented (shoot from the hip and crop later, carry a spare battery, force the ISO low and use the flash, use manual focus and trust the depth of field you get with the small form factor), and all of these problems are easily ignored when you get that first amazing picture from in the waves or on the side of a soaking mountain, the one that you simply wouldn't have had a chance at with any other camera because the camera would have been in your pack (or trunk, or office).
Sorry if I've skimped on the technical assessment here, but all the specs are out there, and there are plenty of sample photos to examine (hint: search Flickr to see the kind of results real users are getting in the real world). And as I said, this model has already been superceded by newer ones which probably have slightly fewer (well, different anyway) limitations. But the core feature, the ability to take, and use, the camera literally anywhere without worry of water damage, well, that feature is priceless, and I'll never have another point and shoot without it.
Strengths: -small and light
-water and weatherproof (if that weather happens to involve water:-)
-easy to use
-large viewing screen
-easy to customize settings
-easy to clean
Weaknesses: -horrible AF in low light conditions
-no optical view finder
-shots can appear grainy
-proprietary battery, no AA's here
Not a bad camera, not a great camera, but it's durability, size, and water/weatherproofness made it a wise choice for a field geologist. The ratio of great shots to forgetable shots isn't as good as other cameras I've used.
A good second camera for when the going gets tough. Great for myself since I'm a field geologist and find myself in foul weather often and still like to shoot.