It looks like 2012 is going to be a big year for rugged, waterproof point-and-shoot cameras. In the past few months all of the major camera makers have introduced a new waterproof camera. The most recent announcement is the new Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS camera. I lost count quite a while ago but Pentax says the WG-2 is their 13th waterproof digital point-and-shoot camera since they introduced the Optio WP in 2005. There are two versions of the new camera, the Optio WG-2 and the Optio WG-2 GPS, which, obviously, has built-in GPS. Among the improvements to the new camera is a faster GPS system with more features and the depth rating has been increased from 30 feet to 40 feet. Pentax also moved to a 16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and a new image processing engine. That allowed them to upgrade the video to 1920 x 1080 full HD and should also mean better image quality.
Pentax Optio WG-2 & WG-2 GPS Key Features and Specs:
- 16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
- 5x 28-140mm (equivalent) optical zoom lens
- Triple Shake Reduction (SR) (all digital)
- 1920 x 1080 full HD video
- High-speed (640 x 4180) and Interval video modes
- 3-inch 460k-dot LCD display
- Sensitivity: ISO 125 to 6400
- Digital Microscope mode
- 10 frames per second high-speed burst (reduced resolution)
- Waterproof to 40 feet / 12.2m
- Shockproof from 5 feet / 1.5m
- Crushproof to 220 pounds
- Freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit / 10 C
Moving to a backlit CMOS sensor was a good decision. BSI CMOS censors have become the standard for high-end compact cameras and the new sensor should make a noticeable difference – especially in low light. Pentax says, “the WG-2 models deliver clear, sharp images with less noise than previous models…” and the, “new imaging engine also applies the latest super-resolution technology to image processing operations to further ensure sharp, clear, high-resolution images. ” Image quality has been the Achilles heel of rugged point-and-shoot cameras and I’m pleased to see all the camera makers making an effort to give the waterproof cameras more competitive image quality.
The image quality, video and waterproofing improvements are all cool but the thing I am most excited about is the new SportMount Chest Harness accessory Pentax made to go with the WG-2 cameras. Point-of-view (POV) video is huge in the action sports community. There are tons of ski, snowboard, mountain bike, kayak and motorcycle POV videos on YouTube, Vimeo and other video hosting sites. The only reason people haven’t been using more traditional cameras for POV video is the lack of proper mounting systems. Because rugged point-and-shoot cameras like the WG-2 offer real optical zoom lenses and much better still photo quality than dedicated POV cameras, they’re arguably a better choice – or an excellent complement to a POV camera. The chest mount harness is perfect for skiing and mountain biking and so I need to get a WG-2 and SportMount Chest Harness for testing ASAP!
The Pentax Optio WG-2 and WG-2 GPS should be available online and in stores in March. The suggested retail price for the WG-2 is $249.95 and it will be available in “Vermillion” red and tough guy black. The Optio WG-2 GPS will set you back another $50, at $299.95. It will come in “Shiny” orange and “Gloss” white – otherwise known as the Stormtrooper model. No wait – the 10 Mountain Division model. Yeah, I like that better. The SportMount Chest Harness is supposed to be available later in the spring or early in the summer. It will sell for $49.95. I want one now!