Pentax W10 Review

 
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Pentax Optio W10 Design

Though it has a Class 8 Waterproof rating and a JIS Class 5 dustproof, the W10 is stylish and relatively svelte, resembling most other compact digital cameras on the market but with its own distinctive flair. While it's slightly thicker than competing non-waterproof models, the camera's overall dimensions make it just the right size for a travel camera -- 4.2 x 2.2 x 0.9 inches (107 x 55 x 23mm). The smooth, rounded contours of the Optio W10's polycarbonate body are appealing; more satisfying is knowing that the Pentax W10 is sealed tightly enough to withstand being held underwater for up to 30 minutes.

The front of the camera holds the lens, flash, and self-timer lamp. A fixed, waterproof glass cover protects the lens at all times. The lens stays inside the camera, a trick made possible by the folded optics used on a good many ultraslim digital cameras on the market. Focus and zoom both occur inside the camera, so there are no protruding parts to damage. The front of the camera is almost flat with only a very slight ridge at the right end of the camera (as seen from the rear) for a finger grip. Still, I'd recommend keeping the wrist strap around your wrist when holding the camera, especially if you're taking it anywhere near the water; which is the whole point. Even though the W10's shape may resemble a silver bar of soap, it does not float!

The right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) is slightly rounded silver with a raised metallic eyelet for the included wrist strap.

The opposite side of the camera is featureless and smooth, showing only the end of the battery / flash card compartment door.

The Optio W10's top panel features the twelve-hole speaker grille, four-hole microphone grille, Shutter button, and Power button. The speaker and microphone grilles are well positioned where you're fairly unlikely to accidentally cover either with a fingertip.

The remainder of the camera's controls dot its back panel, along with the 2.5-inch color LCD monitor. Alongside the top right of the LCD is the bone-shaped optical / digital zoom control, which also initiates and controls the playback zoom function, and accesses the camera's nine-image thumbnail and folder views. Below the zoom control is the Green button which accesses the camera's Green (Basic) exposure mode and is used to delete images. Below and to the right of the LCD are the Menu and Playback buttons, whose function is self-explanatory.

A Four-Way Arrow pad in the lower right corner of the rear panel features an "OK" button at its center for confirming menu selections and controlling the LCD display, and is the navigational tool for the LCD menu system.

On the bottom panel of the Pentax Optio W10 are the tripod mount, and the battery, memory card, connectivity compartment. The plastic, threaded tripod mount is at the extreme right-hand end of the camera as seen from the rear, doubtless because of the camera's small size. A small switch on the door allows you to lock it, which helps to seal it against seepage and prevents accidents during underwater shooting. Don't forget to lock this tight, with the yellow portion of the switched covered up, when taking this into a pool, lake, or ocean, because it slides open very easily.

 

Pentax Optio W10 External Controls


Power Button: Mounted flush and surrounded by a piece of silver trim at the right end of the Pentax W10's top panel, this button powers the camera on and off. The center of the button glows green whenever the camera is powered on.


Shutter Button: Located to the right of the Power button, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed. When in Playback mode or any menu, pressing this button returns you quickly to Record mode.


Zoom Toggle: Located in the top right corner of the Optio W10's back panel, this button controls the optical and digital zoom in any record mode. In Playback mode, this button lets you zoom in up to 8x on captured images, to check focus or precise framing. Pressing the wide-angle side of the button when not zoomed in activates the nine-image thumbnail index display mode, and if there are multiple folders on the flash card, pressing it a second time activates a Folder Display mode that shows a visual representation of the top-level folders.


Green / Erase Button: Directly to the left of the Pentax W10's zoom toggle button, this button accesses the camera's Green (Basic) exposure mode by default, and can also be programmed to access other settings. In total, four settings can be assigned to the button, with choices being Green Mode, Recorded Pixels, Quality Level, White Balance, Focus Area, Focus Limiter, Sensitivity, EV Compensation, Sharpness, Saturation, and Contrast. In Playback mode this button calls up the camera's Deletion menu. In the Capture Mode and Playback Mode Palette menus, it acts as a Guide button, offering brief descriptions of each option.


Playback Button: Directly below the Green button, this button places the Pentax W10 into Playback mode. A second press returns to Record mode. Unlike some cameras, the Optio W10's Playback button does not double as a Power button that brings the camera directly into Playback mode. Instead, the camera must be powered on with the Power button first.


Menu Button: Next to the lower right corner of the Pentax W10's LCD monitor, this button calls up and dismisses the settings menu in both Record and Playback modes. In some menu screens, this button also serves to exit a menu item and cancel any changes made.


Four Way Arrow Pad: Taking up the lower right corner of the Pentax W10's rear panel, this four-way multi-controller navigates through settings menus. When in Record mode and not in a menu, the Four-Way Arrow pad allows quick access to some of the camera's functions. The Up arrow changes the Drive mode, and the Down arrow selects the exposure mode. When in manual focus mode, the same buttons adjust focus. The Left arrow selects the flash mode, and finally the Right arrow selects the Focus mode.

In Playback mode, the Left and Right arrows scroll through available still images, movies and audio clips, and are used to step through movie frames when paused, select whether movies are played forward or backward during playback, and fast-forwards or rewinds during audio clip playback. The Up arrow plays and pauses movies or audio clips, and the Down arrow stops playback. If nothing is being played back, the Down arrow calls up the Playback Mode Palette menu, where images can be edited, protected, voice memos added, DPOF orders set, slideshows initiated, and the camera startup screen changed. When the playback zoom is in use, all four arrows can be used to pan around the zoomed image.


OK / Display Button: Nestled in the center of the Pentax W10's Four-Way Arrow pad, this button confirms menu selections in any mode.

When outside of a settings menu, this button also controls the LCD display modes. In Record mode, pressing this once calls up a histogram display of the subject area (a graphical representation of the light and dark values in the image), a blinking display of any over- or underexposure, as well as a readout of basic settings such as resolution, quality, white balance, etc. A second press dismisses the histogram and information display, showing only the image area with focus brackets. A third press turns off the LCD's backlight, and a fourth press returns to the normal display. In Playback mode, pressing the Display button once pulls up an information display, while a second press adds an extended histogram and information display, and a third press dismisses it. When using the playback zoom, pressing this button returns to the full single-image view. When in the thumbnail or folder views, this button returns back from the folder to the thumbnail view, and from the thumbnail to the single image view. Finally, when the Pentax W10 is off, pressing and holding this button brings up an analog and digital clock graphic that also displays the day and date, a very handy little Easter egg.

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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