Pentax Optio 43WR Review

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Pentax Optio 43WR

Steve's Conclusion

The Optio 43WR represents the second generation of Pentax WR (Water Resistant) series cameras. It's a point-n-shoot camera that features 4.0 megapixels of resolution, a 2.8x optical zoom lens, and offers an automatic Program mode as well as a wide variety of pre-programmed scene modes. In addition to still image and movie modes (selectable 640x480, 320x240 or 160x120), the Optio 43WR also offers a Time-Lapse recording feature, which lets you set the time to start shooting, the duration of the interval between shots, and the number of frames - the camera will then begin operating unattended. We used this feature to capture a storm "rolling in", the camera was set to take 30 frames at 20 second intervals, you can see the example on our Sample Photos page. One of the most noticeable features of this camera is its water resistance, this enables you to take pictures in conditions that normally would not allow you to capture that special moment.

The shooting performance of the Optio 43WR was average. From power up to first image captured measured about 2.7 seconds. Using the "Quick Start-up" feature, power up to first image captured measured about 2.1 seconds. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was 1/10 second when pre-focused and 7/10 second including autofocus time. The Optio43WR has a "Snap" scene mode that is claimed by Pentax to reduce autofocus time; using it, autofocus shutter lag improved to 5/10 of a second. Shot-to-shot delay averaged about 2.5 seconds without the use of the flash and about 3 to 4 seconds with the flash.

The Optio43WR offers two continuous shooting modes: Multiple Continuous, which captures 4 1024x768 images in a single frame in about 1.5 seconds, and Continuous, which captured 5 full-size 2288x1712 images in about 7.5 seconds. When using either of these modes, the LCD viewfinder blanks during image capture so you'll want to use the optical viewfinder to follow moving subjects. These timings were obtained using a Sandisk Ultra II 512MB SD memory card, image size/quality set at 2288x1712/*** (Best), flash off (unless otherwise noted), with all other settings at default. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.

Its 2.8X optical zoom lens produces sharp results throughout its range, but with noticeable barrel distortion at full wide angle and slight pincushioning at full telephoto. The operation of the optical zoom is smooth and quiet, but not continuous; it moves through its 37-104mm range in 12 distinct steps, more than adequate for composing most shots.

Outdoors, the Optio 43WR produces good results, our sample images were well exposed and colors were nicely saturated. The 2.8X optical zoom lens has enough range (37-104mm in 35mm equivalence) to provide flexibility in composing your shots, which helps reduce the time spent on cropping an image in a digital image editor. The LCD was usable outdoors in normal afternoon lighting, but because there is no anti-reflective coating, it can be difficult to use on the brightest of days. In these circumstances, it would be a good choice to use the zoom-coupled optical viewfinder, but remember it only covers about 85% of the captured image, so you will always capture a bit more than you actually see.

Indoors, you will have to work within the limited flash range (about 9.5 ft.) and 37mm wide angle focal length, you'll achieve the best indoor results when shooting portraits of individuals or small groups, illuminating a large open room is beyond the 43WR's capability. You'll be able to include yourself in group portraits, thanks to its tripod socket and self-timer. The majority of our indoor samples were well exposed and skin tones were pleasing. I did notice an average amount of red-eye in our portraits, even when using the red-eye reduction flash mode. Although it has no focus-assist lamp, the autofocus system was quite effective in low ambient light, as was the LCD viewfinder, it "gains up" to brighten your subject, which helps when framing a shot in these conditions. The camera was also very effective at throttling down its flash during macro-photography.

Bottom line - the Optio 43WR is a good choice for anyone who wants a compact, easy to use camera, that can take pictures almost anywhere (the beach, by the pool, in the rain, etc.) Its 4.0-megapixel images have more than enough resolution to create up to 8x10-inch photo- quality prints. With a JIS Class 7 water resistance rating (it's NOT an underwater camera but it will survive a drop in shallow water), numerous shooting modes, and street price of $350 or less, the Optio 43WR makes a perfect outdoor-vacation/sports camera.

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Sample Photos

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