Pentax Optio W80 Waterproof Digital Camera

Pentax Optio W80 Waterproof Digital Camera

Pentax Optio W80Pentax introduced the first waterproof digital camera in 2005 - the 5-megapixel Pentax Optio WP. Five Optio W cameras later, Pentax announces their latest and greatest – the Pentax Optio W80. The Optio W80 increases resolution to 12 megapixels and adds shock resistance, cold resistance, a 5x wide-angle zoom lens and waterproofing has been increased to handle depths up to 16 feet (5 meters).

This is the year of the waterproof digital camera - everybody’s doing it. We’ve gone from two manufacturers and a couple of waterproof digital cameras per year to five new waterproof cameras and three new players (Canon, Fujifilm and Panasonic) at PMA this spring. It’s not enough for these cameras to just be waterproof now, either. To really kick some booty, a camera needs to be shockproof as well as waterproof.

Pentax Optio W80 waterproof and shockproof digital camera - front

Frankly, Pentax was starting to lag a little behind with their waterproof camera features - until now. The new Optio W80 is droppable, dunkable, and freezable. It can capture 720p HD video and the 5x optical zoom lens (28-140mm equivalent) offers more zoom range than any other waterproof digital camera. Spec-wise, the W80 is waterproof to 16 feet (5 meters), shockproof from 3.3 feet (1 meter) and it will operate in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius). The 28mm wide end of the zoom is even a real wide-angle – not something you get with every underwater digital camera. The W80 also has Face Detection, Auto Picture mode, Auto Macro, AF Assist, and D-Range to protect highlight and shadow detail. To help keep photos sharp, Pentax has the Pixel Track SR mode. This is a different image stabilization strategy than the traditional optical or sensor-shift solutions. It’s also different than digital image stabilization modes that increase camera sensitivity for faster shutter speeds that can freeze action. Instead, Pixel Track SR uses a dedicated processor to analyze images at the pixel level and correct for camera shake. The W80 also has High-Sensitivity SR and Movie SR modes. I haven’t seen the Pixel Track SR system in action so I can’t say how well it works. But I’m very curious and look forward to testing it.

Pentax Optio W80 waterproof and shockproof digital camera - rear LCD

Performance is number one and we need to see how the new Pentax W80 holds up in the water as well as what the image quality is like. Image quality is the main area where underwater digital cameras really have room to improve. I have yet to use one that impressed me with its image quality. For some reason, the camera makers always compromise on image quality with waterproof cameras. It’s been a while since we’ve tested one of the Pentax Optio cameras and I’m curious about the image quality from the W80’s 12-megapixel sensor. Maybe the new Pentax W80 will be the first point-and-shoot digital camera to finally offer a rugged, waterproof build with great image quality. I hope we get one soon so we can find out if this is the one.

(Via Photography Review Blog.)

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