Pentax WG-1 GPS Review

 
Camera Reviews / Pentax Cameras / Pentax Point & Shoot i Express Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS
Resolution: 14.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
Lens: 5.00x zoom
(28-140mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 80-6400
Shutter: 4-1/1500
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.3 x 1.1 in.
(114 x 59 x 28 mm)
Weight: 5.9 oz (167 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $400
Availability: 04/2011
Manufacturer: Pentax
Full specs: Pentax WG-1 GPS specifications
14.00
Megapixels
5.00x zoom
1/2.3 inch
size sensor
image of Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS
Front side of Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS digital camera Back side of Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS digital camera Top side of Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS digital camera Left side of Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS digital camera Right side of Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS digital camera

WG-1 GPS Summary

Water, cold, dust, crush, and shockproof, the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS will also record where you are when you shoot your pictures. But for all its toughness we were disappointed in the images except for those who only print 8x10 or smaller most of the time.

Pros

Weatherproof; Rugged; Built-in GPS; 5x zoom in a small size; Fast shutter lag.

Cons

Excessive noise processing at low ISO; Poor video quality; GPS punishes battery life; Electronic image stabilization only.

Price and availability

The Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS went on sale April 2011, with pricing set at about $400, some $70 more than the previous W90 model, and $50 more than the non-GPS equipped version of the WG-1.

Imaging Resource rating

3.0 out of 5.0

 

Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS User Report

by David Elrich and Stephanie Boozer
Review Posted: 10/06/2011

Rugged cameras have certainly come a long way since I first used a waterproof point-and-shoot--the classic early '80s 110 film-based Minolta Weathermatic A. Good for snorkeling, the camera took some pretty poor photos in and out of the water but it did have a cool yellow body! Enter Pentax's 12th generation ruggedized digicam that's not only waterproof to 33 feet (10m), it's cold, shock, and dust-resistant. You can even step on it (crushproof). It also has something that was just a fantasy back in the Weathermatic's day--a GPS that stores your location using orbiting satellites. Paging visionary Arthur C. Clarke, please. Targeted to adventurous types, we'll soon see if the WG-1 GPS is worth the journey for this crowd, and the more sedentary among us.

Look and Feel. The WG-1 GPS may not have the bright yellow Ferrari look of the Weathermatic, but the butterfly-shaped digicam is available in three color schemes: black with gray accents, green/black, and orange/black with gray accents. The non-GPS WG-1 comes in black/blue and purple/orange motifs. They're definitely beyond the traditional silver-finished Altoids-shaped digicam. Our review sample was black with gray accents and to call this camera sedate is a stretch. The front fascia is chock-full of text, numbers, faux clamps, tiny screws and more, giving it a very industrial, Transformers feel. It's a bit much for me, but that's a totally personal take. The relatively narrow body measures 4.5 x 2.3 x 1.1 inches (115.5 x 58.5 x 28.5mm) and weighs 5.9 ounces (167g) with battery and card per CIPA.

Since the 5x optical zoom doesn't extend, in the center you'll find a porthole with guard glass surrounded by five small LED macro lights. There are two notches in this ring so you can attach the supplied macro stand used in the Digital Microscope mode. Also on the front is the flash, self-timer/AF Assist lamp, remote sensor and a combination speaker/microphone. It only records mono sound for the 720p 30 fps movie clips, just one of this camera's failings in the cinema department. The fact you can't use the optical zoom while capturing videos is another drawback.

On the top of the WG-1 GPS are just two controls--on/off and the shutter button. There is no zoom toggle here--it's a rocker switch on the back. There's no separate mode dial as you change the main camera settings using the onscreen menu and four-way controller.

The back of the WG-1 GPS is as straightforward as can be. Naturally the widescreen 2.7-inch display dominates. It's rated 230K. Although this may seem behind the times, quality is excellent as it has an anti-reflective coating. This was most welcome while shooting in Florida with the midday sun blazing away. I was using a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX100V at the same time. Its "supposed" cutting-edge OLED display completely wiped out and was useless, but the Pentax kept cruising along. Also in my backpack was a Nikon Coolpix S9100 with an LCD rated 921K dots; it was somewhat usable, but the Pentax won that round as well.

To the right of the screen you'll find the typical digicam buttons and controls. Working our way down is the zoom toggle, Playback, Menu and Face Detection keys. The four-way controller with center OK button offers direct access to Macro, Mode, Flash and the Self-timer. There's also a somewhat inscrutable key with a green marking and a blue trash can icon next to it, so at least I knew what it does in Playback mode (Delete!), but what did the Green mean? Checking the hefty owner's manual was in order. I discovered it not only let you access the no-brainer auto mode, it also was a Function key that you could assign various settings such as EV up, EV down and so on. I chose ISO rather than the basic Auto, since it uses middle-level compression and engages the digital zoom, both of which degrade image quality. Unlike most high-priced digicams there is no red-dot movie button; you simply press Mode and select the proper setting for above-ground or underwater videos.

On the right side is an eyelet for the supplied wrist strap. Surprisingly the strap does not have an adjustment to guarantee a snug fit around your wrist, something that would be quite useful to avoid watching your camera fall to Davy Jones' locker. On the left is a compartment for a micro HDMI Type-D out as well as USB/AV. In keeping with the rugged nature of the digicam, you press a small switch then slide it open. The compartment has waterproof packing to keep the elements out. I had no issues with water during my tests but prefer hinges with a color accent. If you see the color you know the clamps aren't secure. Here you have to go on faith--fortunately Pentax didn't let me down. The bottom of the Made-In-Vietnam digicam has a plastic tripod mount. The compartment for the battery and card opens by pressing a switch and sliding the door; it too has waterproof packing. The battery is rated 260 shots, per CIPA, which is a decent amount for the camera's size. There are, however, some huge issues with battery life as it pertains to the GPS which we'll get to shortly. Although the camera has 97MB of internal memory, opt for a high-speed, high-capacity card rated Class 6 or better.

Lens. Shown here with included macro stand attached and macro lights on.

Lens. The Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS has a wide 5x optical zoom with a 35mm equivalent range of 28-140mm. I prefer wider-angle digicams but this is a good compromise for such a slim pocket camera. The opening f/stop is a typical f/3.5-5.5 so right off the bat, you know it needs a lot of light for best results. The lens is made up of 11 elements in nine groups (five aspheric elements). Macro has a range of 0.33-1.97 feet (10-60cm) and Super Macro gets as close as 0.03 feet (1cm). Surprisingly for a point-and-shoot, manual focusing is available but no luck with manual aperture/shutter speed.

Even though the WG-1 GPS is small, a two-handed four-finger grip on the corners is suggested. Unfortunately, this $400 digicam has Pixel Track Shake Reduction which uses software to correct for handshake, not sensor-shift stabilization like the similarly-featured and priced Olympus TG-810. It also uses Digital SR which boosts ISO for faster shutter speeds in low light. Since this digicam has a 14MP CCD, all I can say is wish us luck in low light.

Controls. Although the WG-1 has Space Age features such as GPS, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to operate this digicam. Since it's a point-and-shoot with no adjustments for aperture and shutter speed other than automatically via scene modes, the controls are as basic as can be. The shutter and power buttons are good-sized and nicely positioned as are all of the key controls. As there is no mode dial, you'll use Mode on the four-way controller often as you go through your shooting day. I did miss the direct movie button, however.

Modes. This aim-and-forget camera has the automatic and Scene modes you'd expect. Once you tap Mode on the four-way controller you pick your choice out of those mentioned earlier. The icons are bright and colorful and there are short text descriptions explaining each. Auto Pict is basically Pentax's version of Smart Auto, Intelligent Auto as seen on other cameras. The WG-1 has 15 to choose from, in the middle of the pack. P (Program) offers a few adjustments such as white balance, metering, ISO, EV, sharpness, saturation and contrast but no shutter speeds or aperture adjustments. If you want those features, look elsewhere. Beyond that, it's pretty straightforward.

The Pentax WG-1 GPS has two movie options--above ground and below the water. Of course they're HD videos with 720p the maximum resolution. Since I've been shooting 1,920 x 1,080 at 60p and 3D AVCHD, these mono Motion JPEGs at 30 fps didn't make me jump and shout. The lack of optical zooming capability is a real negative.

Menus. I hate to sound jaded but as an iPad and Droid smartphone user, the menus of the WG-1 GPS seem absolutely prehistoric. Don't get me wrong; they work fine, but if Pentax is targeting this camera to "rad" snowboarders and the like they'll look upon this menu system as something akin to a rotary-dial phone--if they even know what that is--or perhaps a Weathermatic A. Even though it doesn't let you do any swiping--other than using a cloth to clean the lens and LCD--I found the linear design easy to navigate. Icons are large and colorful for the most part. Unfortunately, you do have to drill way down in the Setup menu to find the GPS option which is literally the 21st and last on the fourth page. Truth be told, the menu system just feels a tad awkward, but you'll get the hang of it in a relatively short time.

Storage and Battery. The Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS uses SD, SDHC and SDXC cards. It also accepts Eye-Fi wireless media. Since the camera takes 720p video a Class 6 high-speed card should be used; 8GB should suffice as a 1 gig card holds about 5 minutes of best-resolution videos.

The Pentax WG-1 GPS is supplied with a D-LI92 lithium-ion battery and charger (K-BC92U). Per CIPA standards it lasts for 260 shots in still mode. This spec does not deal with the GPS which can be a real hog. I'd definitely opt for a spare.

Playback. Hit Playback and you can review your stills/videos. Press the zoom switch and you can see your shots without longitude/latitude if you've used the GPS and other meta data. You can also zoom in up to 10x pressing the right side; hit the left and you'll see a variety of thumbnail sizes as well as a calendar view. Press left/right on the controller to scroll through them. Hardly "rad" at all but like the rest of menu system, completely serviceable.

 

Shooting with the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS

Wide and tele. Ranging from 28-140mm, zooms from a decent wide angle to a pretty long telephoto for such a small camera.

Clearly Pentax didn't have me in mind when it updated its rugged series of cameras. My definition of adventure is walking through New York streets and riding its venerable subways. Yet although I don't fit the profile of a K2-climbing alpinist or crazed mountain biker, the WG-1 GPS has lots of appeal for more sedentary types who want to jump into the pool with their camera, may drop their digicam on occasion and get caught in the rain, camera in hand. And if I ever get the inspiration to climb the Himalayas, the WG-1 GPS comes with a carabiner clip to snap it onto my climbing gear--yeah, right...

Before getting into the results, I will say the Optio WG-1 GPS is very easy to carry and point-and-shoot simple to use--once you learn how to change the many parameters. Having the Green auto button do double duty as a Function key is one of the obvious puzzlers. That on the table, one of its best features is the 2.7-inch LCD, which held up in all lighting situations including direct Florida sunshine at high noon. The anti-reflective coating really delivered. When my various adventures were done, I downloaded everything to my computer, made prints and examined the files 100%+ on the monitor and watched the stills/videos on an HP laptop via the SD card slot. Pentax does not supply the Type D HDMI cable so if you want to review your clips and photos on your HDTV, definitely pick one up.

Testing was limited to the pool, but that was enough to prove its waterproof nature.

Although I prefer fairly extreme wide-angle lenses (24-26mm equivalents), the Optio WG-1 GPS starts at a decent 28mm. Interestingly that focal length was the first interchangeable lens I ever purchased for an old 35mm Pentax SLR. I'm not one to pine for the "glory days" of film, since I was quite happy multiple trips to the mini lab weren't in the cards to see if the shots came out right. The camera reaches 140mm at maximum telephoto which is a good range for a non-protruding-style lens. The similarly-priced Olympus TG-810 has the same type, power, and focal range.

I did all of my shooting at maximum resolution (4,288 x 3,216 pixels). As a nice bonus, Pentax offers three compression levels (Good, Better, Best) and I used Best. As noted, I didn't opt for the Green auto mode because the setting used is Better. Fortunately, 720p HD video uses the Best option which you cannot change, though there is a 15 fps mode. Operationally the camera worked reasonably well and it was fairly responsive. The 9-point AF helped speed focusing along but it was not as fast as some Canons and Nikons I recently tested. Things are definitely not so fast when it came to frames-per-second, which Pentax states is 0.68 fps at full 14-megapixel resolution. You won't take naps in between shots, but it's pretty close. There is a faster speed that captures up to 2.27 fps, but resolution drops to 5MP. As is the case with many digicams, you have to be in Program to access the burst mode; in Green and Auto Pict it's only single shot. That said, shutter lag is pretty fast at wide and tele for any camera let alone a pocket waterproof camera at 0.348 and 0.346 second respectively, according to IR labs.

Water droplets are a bit of a hazard, as are bubbles while you're underwater. Be sure to shake or wipe them off.

I had the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS along for some adventures in Florida, New York and my home base of New Jersey. I have to admit I still get a kick out of throwing cameras into pools, watching the reactions of friends frantically trying to catch them before they hit the water. A bit cruel, but still humorous. Beyond the joke, I used the camera underwater, near the surface and above. Unfortunately, the subject matter wasn't beautiful tropical fish but underwater tiles, my feet as well as people relaxing and lazing about a pool by the ocean. The Pentax WG-1 GPS handled it with no issues. One of the camera's appealing features is the simple fact you can walk around in the rain and not worry about it. Downpours doused the camera and I didn't have to protect it, as it could clearly take splashes and rain drops with ease. Water droplets on the lens can be an issue, so you should try to wipe or shake them off from time to time. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of images taken underwater even if was just tiles, drains, and feet.

Waterproof is one thing. How about the other "proofs" such as heat? I took the WG-1 GPS with me into a steamy hotel hot tub and the camera was no worse for wear. I saved drop proof to the very end--just in case. I dropped the camera from shoulder height onto my wooden deck. No problem. I put the camera in the refrigerator overnight. Again no issue. Finally I stepped on the poor thing, to check for crush-proofing. Again no adverse effects but I was certainly glad the neighbors didn't spy me abusing my camera. One thing's for sure, the Pentax WG-1 GPS can take a beating.

Google Earth showing where YIMGP0270.JPG was taken.

The WG-1 GPS battery is rated 260 shots, per CIPA. This is the standard test without the GPS engaged. I like the GPS as it stores latitude/longitude as part of the EXIF data. You can see it when you review your shots. Geotagging and "View With Google Earth" are available within the supplied software if you have Google Earth installed. This is neat. What's a disaster is the impact GPS functions have on battery life. When I first used it, I enabled Logging In. Unbeknownst to me, the Pentax WG-1 kept working even when I powered off the camera. Taking it out of my backpack the next day, the battery was nearly dead. Oops. Once I realized this, I "unchecked" it when the shooting day was done. Please keep this in mind if you buy this camera. However, the GPS is a severe drain on the battery and there's absolutely no way it'll last a day in the field. Enable it when you arrive at your destination, take a few shots then turn it off. Otherwise you'll be one unhappy camper. And you'll also have to wait a few minutes for the camera to acquire the satellites once you get there, but it'll be worth the wait. Make sure you also charge the battery every night, or else just turn off GPS.

The raison d'etre of the WG-1 GPS is its ability to handle rough conditions. And as a digicam it's sorely lacking. Unless there was strong sunshine or if the flash was used, image quality was poor. I don't know if it was the noise suppression or just the poor quality of the sensor itself and the lens but photo quality was bad. I've used many 2011 models, and this was the worst of the bunch. This camera is simply not in the same league. Granted the others aren't "rugged" but I'd take my chances with typical wear-and-tear (waterproofing is a completely different story, of course).


Just okay. Image quality never rises to stellar with the WG1, unfortunately, but it will make a good quality 11x14-inch print from ISO 100 shots.

Using Auto Pict I took some shots from a condo balcony and even when the sun came out, image quality was just okay. Backlit photos of the interior were misses as the WG-1 couldn't handle this difficult lighting situation. Using forced flash helped but there was no way I could compare it to a Canon 500 HS or even the 300 HS. The Flatiron building in Manhattan is a classic image and even though it was just after the rain, the colors were way off. In the lab's indoor portrait shot, white balance is quite warm with the Auto setting, almost looks sepia. The Manual setting looks yellow-green, so not much better. The Tungsten setting gets closest, but is somewhat blue.


Waves. Whether you're under them or over them, the Pentax WG-1 is ready for what the waves can deliver.

The lab found lots of issues with the prints. For example, ISO 80 and 100 shots are usable printed at 13x19 inches, but detail is a little soft. Detail looks better when printed at 11x14 inches. And as ISO increased quality moved in inverse proportion. There were other problems with corner sharpness and moderate chromatic aberration at wide-angle. It was moderate again at telephoto, amplified by the corner blurring. On the plus side there was very little geometric distortion at either focal length.

I tried the Digital Microscope setting (2MP), attaching the supplied ring stand, shooting some coins. I assumed you simply rested the camera on top of the subject and snapped the shutter. Wrong as it was an out-of-focus mess as much as I tried. Moving back a notch off the table, I could handhold a decent shot as the LED lights did an OK job but there were some hot spots. Other macro options were also used with mixed results as well. The lab showed very close performance with good detail in the center, but CA starts to have a big impact very quickly as you leave the center of the image.

The Optio WG-1 GPS has a Candlelight mode so I took some shots of a single candle in a dark room. For comparison I raised the ISO up to the maximum of 6400 in P for comparison. Results in Candlelight were good and at the lowest ISOs they were solid as well but noise raised its pixilated head as I went higher. And this was with a direct light source (a flame) so you can see this baby is "challenged" at higher ISOs.


HD movie. 1280x720p30 Motion JPEG. Optical zoom not supported during recording, though digital zoom is available. Click to download 42.6MB AVI file.

Video quality was pretty weak, unfortunately, with odd streaks running top to bottom in low light, and even in bright sunlight. It's some of the worst video we've seen from a pocket camera in recent memory, in fact. So definitely don't look to the Pentax WG-1 for outdoor adventure video.

For moderately sized stills, the WG-1 is fine, producing decent 11x14-inch prints at ISO 100 and 200. See our Print Quality report below for more.

After a spell where Pentax waterproof cameras were also good as everyday cameras, recent models like the WG-1 have taken a step backward in image quality, probably due to the move to a 14-megapixel sensor. You can still expect to get decent 8x10-inch prints from ISO 400 shots, though, so it's not all bad.

 

Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS Lens Quality


Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Soft, upper right
Tele: Slightly soft at center
Tele: Strong blurring, upper right

Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Pentax Optio WG-1's zoom shows some mild blurring in the corners of the frame compared to what we see at center (mainly in the right corners), though blurring doesn't extend far into the image area. At telephoto, performance is a little worse, with stronger blurring, especially on the right side, that extends fairly far in toward center.


Wide: A tiny amount of pincushion distortion; hardly noticeable
Tele: Even less distortion here

Geometric Distortion: There is just a tiny amount of pincushion distortion at wide-angle (0.08%), and even less pincushion at telephoto (0.03%) at telephoto. The Pentax Optio WG-1's processor clearly works hard to quell lens distortion, with a little overcompensation at wide angle. Still, results are very good.


Wide: Low
Tele: Moderate but dull

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is low in terms of pixel count, with just an edge of slightly bright pixels. Telephoto shows a higher pixel count, but pixels are fairly dull.


Super Macro
Super Macro with Flash
Super Macro with LEDs

Macro: The Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS' Super Macro mode captures excellent detail at the center of the frame, even in the fibers of the dollar bill, though blurring and chromatic aberration are quite strong at the corners and edges of the frame (a common limitation among consumer digital cameras in macro mode). Minimum coverage area is 0.77 x 0.57 inches (20 x 15mm), which is very good–smaller than average. The camera's flash throttles down well for the macro area, actually producing a more even exposure than what we obtained with the external lighting. Exposure was uneven with the camera's LED macro lights, but the brooch in our macro target may be responsible.


 

Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS Viewfinder Accuracy


Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS' LCD monitor showed about 97% coverage at wide-angle, and about 99% at telephoto. Results at wide-angle are fair, though coverage at telephoto is good.


 

Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS Image Quality


Color: Overall color looks pretty good, though bright greens, reds and blues are pumped a little (greens most of all). The biggest problem seems to be hue shifts, as just about every color is a bit off, with exception of purples. Dark skintones are yellowish, while lighter skin tones show a small shift toward pink. Still, pretty good results altogether.


Auto WB:
Reddish
Incandescent WB:
Good, but a little cool-toned
 
Manual WB:
Yellow-greenish

Incandescent: The Pentax Option WG-1 GPS' Incandescent setting produced the best results under our average household incandescent lighting, though overall color was still a bit cool. Auto results were reddish and Manual a bit too yellow-green. We also had to boost ISO to 400 to get bright results, even with an exposure compensation boost.


Horizontal: 1,800 lines
Vertical: 1,800 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,800 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction of the pattern occurred at around 2,450 lines per picture height.


Wide: Bright
Tele: Bright, but with vignetting
Auto Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) shows a bright flash target at the rated wide-angle distance of 12.8 feet, though ISO was increased to 640. The telephoto test also came out bright, but with a slight vignette effect at 8.2 feet, and ISO was again increased, this time to 800.

Auto flash produced dim results in our indoor portrait scene, retaining very little ambient light at the 1/80 second shutter speed, ISO 200. Though you won't necessarily need a tripod at this fast of an exposure, it's always a good idea in low lighting to prevent any blurring from excessive camera movement. Shot taken at ~5 feet (~1.5m) on a stable tripod.


80
100
200
400
800
1,600
3,200
6,400

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is fair at ISO 80 and 100, though already a bit fuzzy with some visible noise. At ISO 200, noise grain becomes more evident, and by ISO 400, details show much stronger blurring. Chroma (color) and luminance noise are both somewhat problematic, but this gives way to strong noise suppression efforts from ISO 800 on up. At an attempt to control the damage, the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS limits resolution to 2,592 x 1,944 at ISOs 3,200 and 6,400, but results are still quite blurry with strong color blotches. See Printed section below for more on how this will affect printed images.


Print Quality:

ISO 80 and 100 shots are usable at 11x14 inches, though reds are still a little soft.

ISO 200 shots are a little softer, but still good at 11x14.

ISO 400 images are usable at 11x14 inches, but look better at 8x10. Red areas with low-contrast detail are downright blurry thanks to noise suppression, a process that starts at ISO 80, but renders all major red detail as blur by ISO 400 and up.

ISO 800 images look pretty good at 8x10, a little soft here and there, but not bad. They look better at 5x7.

ISO 1,600 images are soft but usable at 5x7, though we prefer them at 4x6.

ISO 3,200 shots are better than ISO 1,600 shots at 5x7, a product of the "pixel binning" done, reducing the recorded pixel count to 2,592 x 1,944, or 5 megapixels.

ISO 6,400 shots, however, pushed it too far for even pixel binning to have a sufficient effect: images are sparse and colors faded, even when printed at only 4x6 inches.

Overall, the Pentax WG-1 underperforms when compared to other digital cameras at this price range, though it is closer to what most waterproof cameras can do. If all you're printing are 8x10 to 4x6-inch prints without cropping, you'll find the WG-1 adequate for stills.



 

Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS Performance


Startup Time: The Pentax WG-1 GPS camera takes about 2.2 seconds to power on and take a shot. That's not bad for its class.


Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is pretty good, at about 0.35 second at wide angle and full telephoto. Prefocused shutter lag is 0.039 second, not the fastest out there, but still pretty quick.


Cycle Time: Cycle time is a little slow, capturing a frame every 2.06 seconds in single-shot mode. Pentax rates the WG-1's full-resolution continuous mode at only 0.68 frames per second, though burst speeds of 2.27 fps and 5.26 fps (ISO 3200-6400) are available at 5 or 4 megapixels.


Flash Recycle: The Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS' flash recycles in about 5.3 seconds after a full-power discharge, about average.


Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was able to focus down to just above the 1/8 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, though the camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled.


USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS' download speeds are very fast. We measured 12,400 KBytes/sec.


 

In the Box

The retail package contains the following items:
  • Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS
  • Wrist Strap
  • Battery Charger Kit K-BC92U
  • Battery Pack D-LI92
  • A/V and USB Cables
  • Carabiner Strap
  • Macro Stand
  • 314-page Operating Manual
  • GPS Quick Guide
  • Pentax S-SW117 CD-ROM with ArcSoft MediaImpression 3.0 (Windows), MediaImpression 2.1 (Mac) and data for frame composite

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack is a must for adventurers
  • Protective case
  • Large capacity, high-speed SDHC/SDXC memory card. 8GB makes sense if you plan on shooting lots of HD video.

 

Pentax WG-1 GPS Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Designed to take a beating--waterproof to 33 feet, drop-proof from 5 feet, coldproof to 14°F, crushproof to 220 pounds, dustproof
  • 14-megapixel CCD sensor
  • Very good 2.7-inch LCD screen rated 230K dots
  • Compact size with 5x optical zoom lens
  • 28-140mm eq. lens is wide with solid telephoto reach
  • Built-in GPS
  • Face detection (up to 32 faces)
  • Macro as close as 1cm
  • Five built-in LEDs for macro and underwater macro lighting
  • Manual focusing available
  • Fast shutter lag
  • IR remote (optional)
  • 1280 x 720 at 30 fps with mono sound
  • Type-D micro HDMI out
  • Accepts SDXC and Eye-Fi cards
  • Very fast downloads
  • Substandard picture quality
  • Video includes obvious vertical banding, worse in low light
  • Soft corners at wide and tele
  • Reddish auto white balance in tungsten light
  • No sensor-shift stabilization or OIS
  • Wrist strap not adjustable
  • GPS drains battery rapidly
  • Slow cycle time
  • Slow full resolution burst mode
  • No aperture or shutter speed adjustments
  • No optical zooming in video mode
  • Large video files (Motion JPEG)
  • No "red dot" movie button
  • Menu system a bit awkward

 

There's something to be said for a camera like the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS that can deal with very harsh conditions without any hair-pulling and heartbreak. We've all had the instant of fear when the camera slips out of your hand and hits the ground, offering prayers to the camera gods hoping it survived. With the WG-1 GPS your prayers will be answered. But--and this is a huge but, picture quality is so substandard that we really can't recommend it for all the fun we had testing its "proofs." Video is especially disappointing. If all you're planning on doing is making 8x10-inch prints, the Pentax WG-1 GPS will serve, and allow you to record your track as you trek through the world, but be aware that it's not the best image quality you can get for the money; however, selling in some places for under US$300 online, it might be a good camera to strap to your life vest just for fun.

 

Pentax WG-1 GPS

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