Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
WG-2 w Strap (Red) LR.jpg
  • 16-Megapixel Backside Illuminated CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch Extra Wide LCD Screen
  • 5x Optical zoom lens: 28-140mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Pixel Track, Digital, and Movie Shake Reduction
  • Auto Shooting mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Built-in GPS on GPS labeled models
  • Waterproof to 40ft.
  • Dustproof
  • Can survive drops from 5 ft.
  • FreezeProof to 14°F
  • CrushProof up to 220lbs.
  • Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible

Pros
  • Tough built, will survive anything within set parameters 
  • Easy to handle and operate in any situation
  • "Tough" features: Waterproof, Dustproof, Shockproof and Freezeproof protect the camera
  • Great image quality 
  • Nice, Bright 3.0-inch LCD is easy to see all the time
  • Great Macro and Underwater AF
  • 6 LED lights provide excellent light for Macro Images
  • Good shooting performance
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • Very weak battery life
  • Some noise in all images, more than should be seen at all ISO settings
  • Screen can be hard to see underwater if not looking straight on
  • No Dedicated video recording button
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.0 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 3/10 to 4/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.74 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 3.56 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  0.76fps 
  • High Speed Burst = 10fps up to 30 frames 5M
  • All tests were taken using an PNY Pro Class 10, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Pentax Optio WG-2 is as tough of a camera as you will find. Sporting a slew of useful features and shooting modes, such as underwater modes and a 16-Megapixel CMOS imaging sensor, you will find everything you are looking for. The only drawbacks are noise in your images and short battery life.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a "tough" camera that is great around pools and kids and also competitively priced. It is also reliable enough to put into just about any situation, no matter how tough on the camera.
Pentax's newest "lifeproof" camera, the Optio WG-2 both looks and feels the part of a tough camera. With a very rugged exterior; the metal, plastic and rubber provides a great feel that you will be comfortable with in an extreme situation. This body allows the camera to survive extreme shooting conditions like going underwater up to 40ft, falls from up to 5 ft, temperatures as low as 14°F, as much as 220lbs without being crushed, and is completely dustproof when sealed up. These features are as good, if not better than with any other camera with these features. This is also the only camera that comes with a carabiner strap instead of a normal camera strap, providing both additional strength and security to the camera while you are on an adventure. The WG-2 comes in two configurations, both are identical with the exception of color combinations and the inclusion of built-in GPS. The models that offer built-in GPS allow you to record coordinates while shooting, as well as automatically setting the camera's clock.

The insides of the camera are just as good. Sporting a 16-Megapixel backside Illuminated CMOS imaging sensor, built-in GPS, LED ring light, 3-inch LCD and full 1080p HD video capture, the WG-2 gives you all the features that you look for in a digicam. This fully automatic camera comes loaded with shooting modes for both above and below water, an HDR imitation feature, a digital microscope for extreme close-ups and several face detection features; all of which make it easy to show your creative side. This camera is available in a slew of color combinations, just be sure you look closely as some are the GPS model, and some are not.

Handling the camera is a pleasure. With its longer, thinner body, it is really easy to handle and operate with just one hand, while two-handed shooting is just as comfortable and much steadier. All of the controls on the outside of the camera are small, but very easy to find and use; and all have very distinct button clicks, so you know when you press one. This makes it a little easier to navigate the already simple menu system. Finally on the back we have the extra-wide 3.0-inch, 460,000 dot LCD that is great for viewing and composing your images. Its 7 levels of brightness allow you to easily see it in just about any lighting condition. 

The image quality of our outdoor images leaves a little to be desired with the amount of image noise that is present; even at the lowest ISO setting (ISO-125). This amount of noise takes away some of the sharpness from the entire image that is needed to really make your images pop. We also noticed several areas in some of the images that were overexposed, including our cannon shot.

Framing and composing your images is accomplished with the camera's 5x internal optical zoom lens. This internal lens allows the camera to zoom while staying completely waterproof. Its 35mm equivalent of 28-140mm is great for close to mid-ranged situations as well as vast landscapes. 

Our indoor samples show the same high levels of image noise throughout the ISO range, which softens the image. It is incredibly noticeable when looking at the text on the left side as well as in blue areas both from our indoor and outdoor images. By the time you reach ISO 800, all of the sharp lines and details within the image have disappeared. Any settings above that are unacceptable. Assisting with your low-light images is a small, built-in flash unit with a range of up to 18ft. (W) at ISO auto. This range will shrink drastically when the ISO is set to an acceptable level, or if you are shooting underwater. This is something to consider if you will be using the flash often.

With the WG-2 in portrait mode, the camera detects and follows any faces within the frame very well. This face detection software also makes it possible for the camera's Smile Capture and Blink Detection modes, helping to make sure your portrait shots are the best possible;  even if you are not ready. Our sample images came out very nice, with the two faces perfectly in focus and with great exposure. Using the camera's built-in flash for fill, we did not see any redness in the eyes of either of our subjects. If you look closely at the image, you do see the noise again and how it completely takes away the texture from the skin of both subjects.

Underwater, the WG-2 offered a very enjoyable experience. Whether you are shooting in a pool or at the beach, the LCD is easy to see most of the time. The camera also handles these situations very well, adjusting for color and light sensitivity when using the preset "underwater" shooting mode. Even face detection worked fairly well, detecting faces underwater; including faces that had goggles on. The only unfortunate issue is the much higher ISO settings, causing a huge increase in noise vs. what the same shot would be out of the water. 

The Pentax WG-2 allows you to capture full 1080p HD videos at 30fps with sound instead of just still images if the need should arise. It is lacking a dedicated video recording button, meaning you will have to take time to set the camera to movie mode before you can record. Once the camera is in movie mode, you still have a long lag of approx. 1.2 seconds before the camera starts to record after you press the shutter release. Once recording you have a movie limit of up to 25 minutes, no matter what size memory card you are recording to. Our recorded video plays back perfectly on the camera and on an HDTV via HDMI cable. On the computer, the full 1080p movie is a little choppy and the audio is a little off sync.

Powering the WG-2 is a 3.7V, 925mAh Li-Ion rechargeable battery that is not near enough power for this camera with the GPS. Pentax claims that this battery is capable of supplying enough power to capture up to 260 images on a single charge, but during our tests while using the GPS we were only able to capture 80 images (no movies) before we had to recharge the battery. This is very disappointing, especially if you are out somewhere that you can't stop to recharge or if you are on vacation and want to record where your images come from; which is the point of having GPS built-in If this is what you want from this camera, you will need to carry several spare batteries with you. Charging them will not be too bad with the external quick charger, if you plan ahead.  

Bottom Line - The Pentax Optio WG-2 is a very hardy digicam, designed to survive anything that you can throw at it - or throw it at. This "lifeproof" camera features a 16-Megapixel imaging sensor, 5x internal optical zoom lens, LED macro ring lights, 3-inch LCD and built-in GPS, giving you a little more than you would find a standard point-n-shoot. While it is stylish and versatile, there is a lot of noise within the images and the battery life is atrocious. With a MSRP of $299.95 USD for the non-GPS model or $349.95 USD, the price falls in line with the other "lifeproof" cameras that we have seen. You might also want to check out the Canon PowerShot D20 or the Panasonic Lumix TS-20 if you're in the market for a lifeproof camera. 


Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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