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Pentax Optio WP
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John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Pentax Optio WP on 08/27/2005 21:20:23 MDT Print View

The Pentax camera mentioned on the home page intrigues me; however, I am concerned about the lack of an optical viewfinder with this camera. With my current digital camera, a Kodak CX7430(highly rated by Consumer Reports by the way), I normally turn off the LCD screen while outside and use the optical viewfinder. I find glare on the screen makes it almost unusable outside and use of the screen runs down the battery faster in any case. Perhaps Pentax has improved on this situation with their new model. I do like the fact that the Pentax camera is waterproof, which my camera is not, although so far that has not been a problem for me in the field. I simply keep my camera in a waterproof case when not in use and try to shield it from the elements at other times.

yep on 08/27/2005 23:05:22 MDT Print View

seems like it needs the Sunlight-readable display with 256-color transreflective TFT display found on the garmin 60 cs.

John Chan
Pentax Optio alternatives on 08/28/2005 10:47:28 MDT Print View

At the moment, I have an old Canon Digital Elph S110 (2.1 mp) that I use for "webshots" or whenever I plan on prints in the 4x6" size. Personally, I'm not inclined to upgrade because the tool fits the job.

However, having said that if I were fortunate enough to come into the ~$500 CDN or so needed for a compact digital upgrade the Pentax Optio WP wouldn't be my first choice. I handled one at Black's this weekend and already I can see that the camera (despite the WP designation) will have to be "babied" because of the scratch-prone plastic window in front of the lens. Preliminary reviews on aren't too promising either. I think a much better camera (in terms of durability, image quality, features) in the same weight range is the Canon Elph SD 400. Its about the same price, NOT waterproof (if that's important to you), but has a more intuitive menu system, better optics, and a crude viewfinder if you want to maximize battery life.

It does however, weigh about 3/4 oz MORE than the Pentax... if you're into counting "luxury grams"...

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Pentax Optio WP on 08/28/2005 15:47:55 MDT Print View

I bought an Optio WP a few months ago. I like it. It starts up and shuts down quickly, weighs 5.0oz (including battery, card and strap), and takes good pictures. I haven't missed the viewfinder at all; the large LCD works fine for me. I got rained on for four days solid and it was nice to take pictures without worrying about moisture or carrying a case. Battery life isn't quite what I'd like (it took about 100 full-rez shots, many with flash), especially when it gets cold, so I'm going to buy a spare battery (0.6oz).

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Raising the bar a tad on 08/28/2005 17:40:34 MDT Print View

Heaven help me, I think I want one of these (if I decide to make the leap to a digicam, that is).

It reminds me a lot of my favorite "real" camera, the Contax G2. Now that the line is kaput, I can give up on a digital body for it :-(

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Optio WP "Skin" available on 08/28/2005 18:20:36 MDT Print View

For owners who'd like a little more protection for their Optios, Pentax now sells a wrapper of sorts for this model:

"Golden, CO. (August 25, 2005)...PENTAX Imaging Company announced today the limited availability of a protective, silicone Skin for the OptioWP digital camera. Custom- made to protect the popular waterproof camera, the PENTAX OptioWP Skin helps prevent surface scratches and dents, offers a non-slip surface and retains the compact, elegant shape of the camera. The translucent, non-toxic, versatile Skin material will stretch and give to fit snugly around the camera and offer an anti-static finish to further repel moisture and dust. Made of high-quality, flexible and durable silicone, PENTAX OptioWP Skins will be available exclusively online from PENTAX Imaging Company at a cost of $19.95 USD beginning September 1, 2005."

See the website here:

John Chan
Re: Raising the bar a tad on 08/28/2005 19:17:00 MDT Print View

Yea, I looked at that option too.

Turns out its a Panasonic badged Leica Digilux 2 (which is great because you don't pay an extra $400 for the snobbery factor)

Actually, I shouldn't say anything since I recently traded in a M3 (and it wasn't a family heirloom).

I'm sticking with the Rollei (for now).

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Raising the bar a tad on 08/29/2005 10:46:24 MDT Print View

Hi John,

I enjoyed your Rollei review--great, quirky little cameras of which the SE is the one to own. My main backpacking camera is the T3, which I've learned to tame despite all the automated features. The results can be stellar.

The better-performing small digicams seem to have all dispensed with a viewfinder, which eliminates them for me. User interfaces and menu systems are pretty much all hopeless as well. Somebody needs to throw out the cookbook and design one with photographers in mind.

But I could learn to live with the pound-and-a-half Lumix :-)

Bill Law
(williamlaw) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Re: Raising the bar a tad on 08/29/2005 12:47:49 MDT Print View

>The better-performing small digicams
>seem to have all dispensed with a

I think *all* the Canon Powershots have optical viewfinder. Certainly they fall into the "better-performing small digicams" category (if not the "best-performing").

I think lots of cameras plus a ziplock might be better options than the WP.

Bill Law

Mark Regalia
(markr) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz
Take a look at Casio's line on 08/29/2005 13:19:29 MDT Print View

I just went through the whole effort of picking a very small camera. I admit weight wasn't a major factor. I ended up with the Casio Exilim EX-Z750. It was between that and the Canon SD500. Once I settled on what was important to me the Canon fell out.

I had definite criteria. I wanted an optical viewfinder both because of the problem in sunlight and fact that my close up vision isn't all that great.

I wanted manual control, especially shutter priority for action shots.
It had to be among the fastest shot-to-shot cameras available. And it had to be small and have a 3x optical zoom.
Pretty much that reduced it to choice among the Casio's.
I am delighted with it. It is my third digital camera. It is the first one I have used that is almost as convenient as a film camera. The important settings are easy to access and you can custom configure the controls. The pictures are good and it is fast-for a digital. The LCD is a full 2.5", which is very nice.
If you do a lot flash it is probably not a good choice. The flash is weak, though it does have a good compensation setting. It also won't zoom in quite as close some other cameras.
It isn't water proof, but it will fit into a snack size ziplock bag.

Oh it also has 7.1 Megapixels, though that wasn't a big criteria for me.

Of course when they start designing cameras for the 133X SD cards maybe the shot-to-shot time will get below 1 second. Now that would be nice.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Small digicams on 08/29/2005 13:23:37 MDT Print View

I concur w/ Mr. Law about the Canons. Small,reliable, easy menus. I carry this everyday and usually on fast and light backpacks. No problems using in the rain and when not in use it get stored in an Aloksak. It will not appease the art photographer (having been one until I moved to design work and painting) but it will work for even many advanced amateurs. Perfect as my documentary camera--an optical notebook for future non-photographic work. My SD-400, however, could not capture at 200 yds. a mountain lion stalking an elk herd last week in the Wallowas!

Some things require a long lens and a way to supress camera shake. Canon, Oympus, Nikon, Pentax all make fine equipment meeting these needs. The above mentioned Panasonic will not be as workable as a comperable Canon G-6 (don't get misty eyed over Leica optics-- they have been surpassed for some time by the better Japanese competition) or as versatile as Digital SLRs.

Incidentally, the only film based cameras I now use are medium format Hasselblads and large format Linhofs, which at these film sizes I still see advantages for film. I see very little reason to use a 35mm film camera anymore and believe me I was a film based holdout longer than most.

When looking for a small digicam, maximum megapixals does not always = better picture quality. The sensor/lens combinations that are employed will often be mismatched and even lead to poorer results. Do use as a prime resource before plunking down the plastic.

Edited by kdesign on 08/29/2005 15:14:54 MDT.

John Chan
Re: Re: Raising the bar a tad on 08/29/2005 13:40:51 MDT Print View

Thanks Rick. Here's an example of what the Rollei can do (at f4.0)


I concur with you... I've been at this photography business so long that the best evaluative meter I have is the one thats behind my cornea. I'd also like to see a MINI digicam with full manual control but I'm not holding my breath.


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Full manual comtrol/WP on 08/30/2005 04:27:05 MDT Print View

John,I just had a test drive today of the new Panasonic LX1, small, 4x zoom,lovely Leica lens AND full manual control, go to for details.
Back to the Pentax WP, not the smallest,not the sharpest,not the longest lasting battery,not the strongest, not the most water-proof but in my opinion the best compromise so far of all compact digital cameras for the lightweight backpacker.
I happen to work in a specialist shop that sells over 1000 cameras a month and yes we test and play with them all day long and get a lot of customer feed-back.BTW the silicone skin is a great addition that will solve the "slippery when wet" problem.
With my test camera I have taken over 180 shots, about a third with flash, over a two months period.
Keep in mind that Pentax is not my pet brand, we stock 13 different brands, about 70 different models.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Rollei 35S on 08/30/2005 04:35:51 MDT Print View

For John, again
I have owned and used 2 Rollei 35S, so I am familiar with the quality of your camera, one was stolen and the other was flodded by a water bottle in my pack. What I call user error or tremendous stupidos in pig Latin.
For the digital camera users, always buy and carry a spare battery (charge it first...)

William Mitchell
(FlyBy) - F
Pentax Optio 33/43 WR on 08/31/2005 15:21:52 MDT Print View

If an optical viewfinder is important to you, then you may be better served by a Pentax Optio 33/43 WR. These are 3 and 4 megapixel cameras that are water resistant. They will take a dunking, but you can't take underwater photos with them (although I've heard of folks using the self-timer to take underwater pics). I've had one for a year or so and carry it with me while flyfishing. I keep it in my chest pocket and don't have to worry about it getting wet, unlike my previous camera, a Nikon Coolpix. I don't think Pentax is making these anymore, but you can still find them for sale and usually get a good deal on one.

Edited by FlyBy on 08/31/2005 15:23:52 MDT.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Optio WP "Skin" available on 09/11/2005 10:45:19 MDT Print View

>"PENTAX Imaging Company announced today the limited availability of a protective, silicone Skin for the OptioWP digital camera."

The Skin weighs 0.7 oz.

Mark Lynch
(lostorfound) - F
Re: Full manual comtrol/WP on 09/18/2005 16:19:58 MDT Print View

Hey Franco;
Interesting comments about the Pentax WP & WPi as best compromise backpacking camera.
What took the Fuji F10 out of contention? Or, put another way, what are your honorable mentions.
Straight talk from behind the counter is always welcome.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Re: Re: Full manual comtrol/WP on 09/20/2005 04:15:10 MDT Print View

Hi Mark,
A workmate has just come back from the Cook Islands where he used the Fujifilm F10, we just finished printing some A4 and A3 size prints and they are amazing.Sharp, great colours,almost no noise even on night shots ( Venus and Saturn with palm trees in the foreground)So the picture quality is far better than the Pentax, however the WP is waterproof, smaller and lighter. Your choice.

Edited by Franco on 09/20/2005 04:19:07 MDT.