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Customer Review

81 of 107 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overpriced for the quality and features, April 20, 2011
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This review is from: Pentax Optio WG-1 14 MP Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS and 5xOptical Zoom - Yellow/Green (Electronics)
I bought this camera about 5 months ago and have taken about 1000 jpegs and perhaps 30 minutes of movies with it so far. Some pros and cons include:

Pro:
1) It's waterproof within the limits of their claim. I've taken it where it got quite wet (shooting pictures of a waterfall from close by, and in a heavy downpour while kayaking). Also, went into chest deep water in the ocean and got hit by lots of waves. Once the battery compartment door came wide open thru who knows what means. By sheer luck the compartment stayed dry. That flaw knocks the star rating down to two, now.

Another downside: the lens can get water on it obviously, and so there's a need to keep it dried off to prevent water spots showing up on pictures. That is not so easily done, as I've discovered. Even with the lens dried with a microfiber cloth the left over smears can still show up on the image as bright white hot spots, so it takes considerable attention to really get the lens dry and smudge free when it's raining or otherwise getting wet. I felt a lot more comfortable taking it to such sites than some person I saw who tried holding an umbrella over a very expensive DSLR to keep the water off it, while juggling the focus and what not.

2) It's very lightweight and compact.

3) It's picture quality is adequate. The 14 megapixels aren't all they might suggest. I did a side-by-side-by-side comparison of the Pentax vs. a 5 year old 10 mp point-and-shoot by Canon, vs. my Nikon D90 which has 12 mp's. The Canon is just as good as the Pentax for overall picture quality. The Nikon naturally blows away both of them when it comes to optical sharpness. The sensor size is another factor to consider when buying a camera, and smaller sensors, built in to smaller cameras, reduce the quality of the image. I don't know what size the Nikon's or Canon's sensors are vs. the Pentax's, but camera body size obviously creates limitations for the Pentax.

4) It's easy to use.

5) The macro and super macro are amazingly good and can get up very close (down to 1 cm). I haven't done a side by side comparison against a DSLR's macro lens, but I'm sure it would be tough for the Pentax to compete against that. But, it's still pretty impressive as to how close it can focus and how well.

Cons:
1) The GPS is SLOOOOW to acquire a location from a cold start, taking an average of 10-20 minutes, which is pathetic in my book. Maybe it's my imagination, but turning off the LCD screen at start up seems to allow the GPS acquiring a signal in about 5-10 minutes, which is better, but still pathetic compared to my iPhone which gets a signal in about 10-30 seconds. Turning it off for a short while and then restarting it may require several minutes to get the signal back. I wrote Pentax about this, and asked if it was normal. I never received a reply. So much for customer service.

2) The flash is anemic: 8-12 foot range (tele to wide angle)

3) The camera feels very flimsy, like it's made with cheap plastic. Tradeoffs I guess, for the light weight, but it doesn't inspire confidence. The Canon is 12 oz. vs. the Pentax's 5-6 (without or with the carabiner buckle). But the Canon is build solidly, and has never broken after all these years of getting bounced around in my travels. The Pentax is made in Viet Nam, which also doesn't inspire confidence.

4) The battery life is pathetic; it's mAh capacity is roughly equal to that of a single AAA battery. I went thru most of a charge in 2 hours of shooting, keeping it on for some of that time given how fast it loses the GPS signal, and how slow it reacquires it. My Canon has lasted me a solid week (on AA's, so they're easier and cheaper to swap out than a proprietary battery for the Pentax). I bought an OEM-equivalent battery through a company other than Pentax, which is about 30% bigger in capacity, and just $8. to buy, but I can't say it's noticeably longer lived on a practical level of taking shots.

5) There's no aperture- or shutter-preferred setting, just the idiotic icons ('kids at play' vs. 'sports' vs.... Just what those icons actually do, in terms of what shutter speed or aperture they're setting, is far from clear; the manual is about as un-technical as you can get, and skimps on all such issues.)

6) There's no focus or exposure lock.

7) There's no RAW setting, just jpeg. At the best setting, file sizes are about 4 megabytes, so a little compression/cropping of a picture takes a serious toll on quality very fast.

8) The face detection gadget doesn't work that well, especially if people are at some distance. So the camera may end up focusing on their leg (still ok as to focus, but who knows what it's doing to exposure). Or it focuses on something weird, like a tree in the foreground, throwing the focus off quite a bit.

9) There's no memory buffer, meaning that if you want to shoot several frames per second the only way to do so is by shrinking the size down to 5 megapixels, which makes for a much lower quality photo. You can slow the burst speed down to about one picture every 1-2 seconds and maintain a higher quality, but it won't capture the rapid motion of something happening, like some sports activity.

10) There's no cover over the lens, so that if you're in a wet environment while not using it, water will end up on the lens, and you have to remember to keep it dry before shooting. I assume the lack of a lens cover is to avoid a moving part that would get jammed with sand or whatever. But, it exposes the lens to water, accidental fingerprints, etc. which I've had to clean off repeatedly even in environments which are not hostile.

11) There's no approved way to attach an external filter such as for polarizing. There's a little clip on ring (a stand for the macro function) that has threads for a filter, but Pentax says it's not meant to be used for that. So the only 'filters' that exist are digital ones inside the camera's software, for silly effects like putting flowers around the border of an image.

12) Maybe it's my imagination, or my being inattentive, but it seems to be cropping the resulting picture a bit from what I saw in the viewfinder, so that the tops of people's heads are getting cut off on close up shots. I've never had this problem with other cameras I've used, so I'm thinking the Pentax is at fault, and that it's not my imagination. This has happened numerous times already.

13) The non-glare LCD screen is better than a standard screen, but it's far from good. It still easily washes out to a large extent. It also gets fingerprints on it with absurd ease which exacerbates seeing anything with clarity. It's also small, and not that well detailed (ok, I've been spoiled by the incredible sharpness and size of the Nikon's) so that going by it leaves something to be desired.

14) Common sense says that the seals will dry out after a few years at which point it'll become a $400. hunk of junk.

15) I'm not up on all the different formats that pictures can be taken in and the pros and cons of each, but the video uses m4v and not avi, and when I've shared movies not everyone can open them up. So, I may end up having to get a video file converter program to get around this problem.

Bottom line: it would be a decent value if the camera cost ~$150. $400. is too much. I'm planning on keeping it, because I like the waterproof/sandproof function (I live near the beach, and go kayaking, and so it's practical to have that functionality). But, I don't rate the camera more than as 'okay.' After using it for five months, I've decided that I'm going to go back to using the Canon for non-waterproof shooting, such as of portraits.

I started off as a serious amateur photographer with a Pentax Spotmatic 40 years ago, and that camera lasted me twenty years, and was a great model that served me well. I have much lower expectations for this one.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 27, 2011 8:29:30 PM PDT
ScottM says:
Great review, thank you. I'm curious to learn more about the GPS. Does it just geo-tag photos? Or would it be helpful for navigation in any way? Can't find much on Pentax site. I need a waterproof camera. Would prefer smaller/lighter (Sony) but the GPS and style of the Pentax is intriguing me.

Posted on May 2, 2011 1:41:34 PM PDT
WO1 Smith says:
This review is pathetic at best. It's a Point-N-Shoot camera, not a DSLR, and shouldn't be compared to one. With comments like Con #11, "There's no approved way to attach an external filter such as for polarizing" you kidding? How many Point-N-Shoot cameras have this functionality? again its not a DSLR!

Posted on May 7, 2011 5:18:04 PM PDT
Pentax also told me it wasn't meant for filters. I would think they would promote it. I have 3 plus a lens cover that screw right into the 46mm threads.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 12:45:07 PM PDT
Mista Bumpy says:
Good review. Good point about the longevity of the camera and esp. the waterproof seals - all true enuf, esp. the part about the Spotmatic! I still have mine (bought in Japan b/4 it was available here) and the only complaint I ever had about it was that damn battey cover on the bottom - once you ruined it trying to unscrew it, that was it for changing the battery.

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 12:45:11 PM PDT
Mista Bumpy says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jul 24, 2011 9:30:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 24, 2011 9:36:06 PM PDT
M.Fet says:
Honestly, why would you compare a point and shoot camera to a digital SLR? Of course it's going to look terrible when you do that. Its not geared towards professional photographers. Its geared towards adventurous people who want to take their camera everywhere and not worry about destroying it with a splash of water. You paid $400 for a waterproof camera that has great features. You should have closely read the specifications and asked around if you wanted a camera with RAW and the ability to have external filters. This post is ridiculous. The only helpful thing from it is the information about the GPS feature and with the way you're whining, I can't even believe thats entirely true. If you started off 40 years ago, I would think you would know what to look for in a camera and the difference between a point and shoot and a D-SLR. You should have bought a waterproof housing for your D90 instead of a point and shoot camera. You aimed those expectations WAY TOO high and this camera's review suffered from it. Learn your hobby dude.

Posted on Sep 15, 2011 10:37:29 AM PDT
It's pretty obvious this is not a DSLR.

Posted on Oct 23, 2011 11:27:52 AM PDT
Mista Bumpy says:
Isn't it amazing that a trendsetter like the Spotmatic is still going strong in some camera collections (analog ones, of course!) and cameras like the one here will end up on the shelf at the local Goodwill store, if that, in just a few years? And the comments about the seals going and having to be replaced was a good one. If you want a diving camera, by any camera that can be fitted with a diving case and don't waste your time with these gadgets. Yes, the cases are expensive and don't fit all good cameras, but there's only one seal to worry about - the main one (usually a cheap o-ring, easy to refit) which is owner-replaceable. They can also be tested b/4 use, which is not possible with the "waterproof" cameras without possibly ruining the equipment. This is a serious problem with these cameras. They're not truly water-proof, but only water resistant, like watches. If you want a diving watch, pony up the bread and buy one, but don't think "water resistant" is going to work at even 20' of depth for very long, or the seals last more than maybe one season b/4 they dry out and leak. Same thing with cameras, same reason. The difference is, watch makers were required to stop advertising water resistant watches as "water proof" years ago. Maybe it's time for similar rules to be applied to the camera industry, as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2012 2:05:43 PM PST
GC0110 says:
Just saw your comment now.

No, the gps is not good for navigation. It doesn't tell you direction to go, and unless you know the gps coordinates of your destination and are good with math in your head, it won't tell you the distance you have to travel. It's only value is identifying where the shot was taken, if it's acquired a fix when you take the picture.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2012 2:08:40 PM PST
GC0110 says:
My Canon point and shoot can attach external filters, to answer your question. I also used the Canon to shoot several weddings and got DSLR quality pics out of it. I'm a good photographer and I expect good quality out of any camera especially when it costs $400.
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