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Pentax OptioWP 4 to 5 Megapixel

3.5 star rating
                      3.5 / 5 (2 Reviews)
MSRP : $399.00

  • Image Sensor TypeCCD
    Resolution5.19 Megapixel
    Optical Zoom3x
    Camera TypeCompact
    Interchangeable LensNot Interchangeable Lenses
    35mm Zoom Lens38 - 114 mm
    Digital Zoom4x
    Focus TypeAutofocus & Manual Focus
    Focus Range15.72 in. to Infinity (w)
    Macro Focus Range0.4 - 24 in. (w) / 19.7 - 24 in. (t)
    Focal Length6.3 - 18.9 mm
    Camera Resolution5.19 Megapixel
    Image Resolutions640 x 480 • 2560 x 1920 • 2304 x 1728 • 2048 x 1536 • 1600 x 1200 • 1024 x 768
    Video Resolutions320 x 240 (QVGA) • 160 x 120
    Video Speed30 fps
    Max Movie LengthWithout Limit (Depends on the camera free memory size)
    Video FormatQuickTime
    Aperture Rangef3.3/f4 (w/t)
    Shutter Speed4 - 1/2000 sec
    White BalanceAuto • Manual • Daylight / Sunny (Preset) • Fluorescent (Preset) • Tungsten (Preset) • Shade (Preset)
    Frames Per Second3 Frames
    Memory TypeBuilt-in • SD Card
    Built-in Memory Size10.5 MB
    Compression ModesFine • SuperFine • Normal
    Compression TypeJPEG
    File Size (High Res.)3.46 MB (37 images on 128MB card)
    File Size (Low Res.)0.15 MB (about 853 images on 128MB card)
    ISO SpeedsAuto • 50 • 100 • 200 • 400
    Flash TypeBuilt-In
    Flash FunctionsFlash Off • Auto Flash • Fill-in Flash • Red-eye Reduction Flash
    ViewfinderWithout Viewfinder
    LCD PanelWith LCD Panel
    LCD Panel Size2 in.
    LCD Screen Resolution85,000 pixels
    Interface TypeUSB
    Video InterfaceVideo Out
    Battery TypeProprietary Lithium
    Self Timer2 Sec. • 10 Sec.
    Mp3 Built In
    Built-in MicrophoneWith Built-in Microphone
    Operating SystemApple 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
    Width4 in.
    Depth0.9 in.
    Height2 in.
    Weight0.26 lb.
    Included AccessoriesSoftware • USB Cable • Video Cable • Lithium Battery • Battery Charger • AC Power Adapter • Strap
    Release DateMarch, 2005
    Product ID23480238

Product Description

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.

by Photo-John

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.

Price: $300 US

Pentax OptioWP Pros and Cons
  • Waterproof to 1.5m/5 feet deep!
  • Reasonably compact
  • Non-telescoping, protected lens
  • Pentax scene modes
  • Noticeable noise at all ISO settings
  • Color shift at higher ISO settings
  • Slow access to exposure controls
  • No optical viewfinder
  • Focus problems in low light
Pentax OptioWP Studio Test Images
Pentax OptioWP Studio SamplesISO 50 Sample >>
ISO 100 Sample >>
ISO 200 Sample >>
ISO 400 Sample >>

More Pentax OptioWP Resources
All Pentax OptioWP Photos >>
Owner-posted Pentax Optio WP reviews >>
Write a Review >>
Pentax Web site >>

Pentax OptioWP - front and back

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.

    Pentax OptioWP waterproof lens and battery/memory card cover
    Left: Pentax 6.3–18.9mm sealed, non-telescoping optical zoom lens
    Right: Waterproof Pentax OptioWP battery/memory card cover gasket

    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
    Pentax OptioWP playback display, with histogram

    Pentax OptioWP main menu
    Pentax OptioWP main menu
    Pentax OptioWP Capture mode palette Pentax OptioWP Capture mode palette
    Capture mode explanation
    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.

    Pentax OptioWP - Underwater Party Pentax OptioWP Santa Cruz Mountains Pentax OptioWP Pacifica Power Line
    Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.

    Pentax OptioWP Kanasakis Country samples Pentax OptioWP Cold and Wet Pentax OptioWP Kootenay Fall
    Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.
    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.


    Contents of the Pentax OptioWP.

    • Pentax OptioWP Digital Camera
    • Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery D-L18
    • Battery Charger D-BC8 (A)
    • AC Plug Cord D-CO2U
    • AV Cable I-AVC7 (B)
    • USB Cable I-USB7
    • Software (CD ROM)
    • Strap O-ST20
    • Operating Manual
    • Serial Number Card
    • Service Network Directory
    Other Resources:
    Pentax OptioWP User Reviews >>
    Write a Pentax OptioWP Review >>
    Pentax OptioWP Sample Gallery >>
    Pentax Web site >>

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    More Resources:
    Pentax OptioWP Amphibious Digital Camera Press Release

    Professional Reviews:
    Pentax OptioWP Review at Imaging Resource

    Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating

    Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

    User Reviews

    Overall Rating:4
    Value Rating:4
    Submitted by bellsy a Intermediate

    Date Reviewed: November 9, 2006

    Strengths:    Waterproof

    Weaknesses:    Small sensor = grain
    No viewfinder
    Slow autofocus
    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)

    Bottom Line:   
    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.

    Expand full review >>

    Duration Product Used:   21+ years

    Price Paid:    $305.00

    Purchased At:   Cord Camera

    Type of photography:   Other

    Overall Rating:3
    Value Rating:4
    Submitted by Rob a Intermediate

    Date Reviewed: August 26, 2006

    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

    Bottom Line:   
    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.

    Expand full review >>

    Duration Product Used:   2-5 years

    Price Paid:    $300.00

    Purchased At:   Future Shop

    Similar Products Used:   -Sony DSC-P71
    -Several different point-shoot Canons

    Type of photography:   Outdoor

    Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

    Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating

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