I bought a waterproof camera a while back with the vague hope that having the right equipment would spur me on to take up a more water-bound lifestyle. I pictured myself paddling down the Colorado River, surfing off the California coast and diving the Great Barrier Reef; all manly, bronzed and rippling.
In reality though, the Pentax Optio W has been brilliant at surviving in the rain-filled pocket of my bike jacket, at the bottom of a drybag with a week’s worth of damp socks and being dropped into a pint of Black Sheep Ale after one too many pints of Black Sheep Ale. By the wife, I may add.
What you get for your money with the Optio W range (I should add that I own a WP, and a W90 is on my wishlist but I played with one) is a full-featured compact camera which just happens to be waterproof and shockproof. I can’t see anywhere where there’s a noticeable compromise in the features or usability of the camera over one of a similar price which lacks the robustness. Sure, you can get greater Megapixels and a better sensor, but will it make a difference to your photos? Probably not.
The W90 (newest model) features a 5x optical zoom, for those moments at the pool when you really want to get close in to the action and the ability to withstand -10C, should you wish to capture what goes on when your fridge door closes and that little light goes off.
My WP has been around the world without a case or regard for its safety. It’s covered in scratches, dinks and has lost most of its print but it still works just fine. What better review can I give it than that.
SUMMARY: If you’re wet, cold or clumsy and in need of a small compact camera to record your adventures, then the Pentax Optio is well worth a look. It isn’t the fullest-featured camera in its price range, but a superb all-rounder for the outdoors lifestyle. You’re not going to become the lovechild of David Bailey and Jacques Cousteau overnight, but if that’s what floats your boat then you’re probably reading the wrong blog!
Price: W90 £220-£270
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