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Pentax WG-3 Review

Pentax WG-3 Review - The Pentax WG-3 is waterproof to 14m, shock resistant to 2m and freeze resistant to -10C. Daniel Bell reviews.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Pentax Optio WG-3
Price : £180
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Pentax Wg 3 2

The Pentax WG-3 is a new outdoors camera, released in January 2013. The latest model is waterproof down to 14m and features a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.0. On test here is the model without GPS, available in orange and black for £290, the GPS model is available in purple and green for £325.

Pentax Wg 3 9

Pentax WG-3 Features

The Pentax WG-3 has a 16 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor as well as a 4x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 25-100mm. It has a wide aperture f/2.0 lens at the wide-angle end to allow as much light as possible into the sensor, great for shooting underwater. To help reduce camera shake there is sensor shift SR (shake reduction).

Being a camera for the outdoors, it is waterproof to 14m, shock resistant to 2m, freezproof to –10°C and dustproof. There are six LED macro lights around the circumference of the lens barrel for macro shooting.

When shooting there is auto picture mode which automatically selects the best camera settings for the detected scene. There are a number of other scene modes such as HDR, digital microscope, time lapse and many more. When you've finished shooting you can edit your pictures in playback using a range of filters. There is a digital spirit level you help keep your pictures straight.

Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD at 30 fps. Optical zoom is available during recording and you can also record high-speed videos at 120fps. The WG-3 can be connected to a HDTV for playback via HDMI.

Pentax Wg 3 4

Key Features

  • 16 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 4x optical zoom f/2.0-4.9 lens (35mm equiv: 25-100mm)
  • Sensor shift SR (Shake Reduction)
  • 3 inch 16:9 wide 460k dot LCD screen
  • Waterproof to 14m
  • Shockproof to 2m
  • Freezproof to –10°C
  • Crushproof to 100Kg
  • Dustproof
  • Six LED macro lights
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 125 - 6400
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance
Pentax Wg 3 5

Pentax WG-3 Handling

The Pentax WG-3 is rubberised on the outside and has an unusual shape, all of which makes it easy to grip, even in cold, wet conditions. To reduce the chances of the battery / memory card slot being opened by mistake when underwater it has an open / close switch and another which acts as a lock. A plastic ring is supplied with the camera which acts as a support for using the digital microscope mode. 

On top of the camera you'll find the on / off switch and the shutter release. On the back there are W and T buttons for adjusting the optical zoom, the lens is housed internally within the camera. Other buttons include movie record, playback, menu, green and a d-pad which is used for cycling through the menus and also gives access to the self-timer, flash, focus and shooting modes.

The screen is bright and clear and has a decent resolution at 460k dots. The menu system is well laid out and easy to use. Battery life is rated at a decent 240 shots according to CIPA test results.

We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response   0.125 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.25 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.2 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   1.4 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   2.6 secs
Continuous Shooting   1.5 fps
Burst Shooting   15.0 fps

Continuous shooting records in full 16 megapixel resolution, burst shooting is limited to between 4 and 5 megapixels.

Pentax Wg 3 8

Pentax WG-3 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Pentax Optio WG-3 Sample Photos


Sample Photos - The WG-3 produces colourful images that are well exposed, with portraits having decent skin tones, free of red-eye. The images produced when shooting underwater are good. You can also shoot HDR images which Pentax have significantly improved from earlier compact cameras.

Pentax Optio WG-3 Lens test images


Lens Performance - When shooting wide, detail is good in the centre of the images, but softer in the corners. When shooting with the full optical zoom, detail isn't quite as good, purple fringing is barely noticeable. With a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm it's possible to take decent macro shots.

Pentax Optio WG-3 ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 125, 200 and 400, with images becoming a little soft at ISO 800. Images start to lose detail at ISO 1600, but remain sharp in most places and are very soft with large amounts of detail lost at ISO 3200. You can shoot at ISO 6400, but this is best avoided as image quality is poor at this setting.

Pentax Optio WG-3 White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights the auto white balance (AWB) has a slight colour cast, with the incandescent preset taking a good picture. Under the fluorescent lights, the AWB performs well, colour casts are evident when using any of the fluorescent presets.

Pentax Optio WG-3 Digital filters


Digital Filters - You can select from three image tones when shooting. When you have finished shooting you can enter playback to edit your pictures with a number of digital filters, with a number of examples above.

Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD. Quality is good, you can view an example using the optical zoom during recording on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page.



Value For Money

The Pentax WG-3 is available for £243.99. Recommended waterproof cameras include the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 available for £275.37, Olympus TG-830 available for £202.99, the Nikon Coolpix AW110 available for £213.60 and the Canon Powershot D20 available for £254. For more waterproof cameras, have a look at the Top 10 Best Waterproof Cameras.

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Pentax WG-3 Verdict

A lot of thought has gone into the design of the WG-3, it looks like an outdoors camera and it certainly acts like one. You can drop it, freeze it and even go down to 14m underwater. Unfortunately image quality isn't as good as we hoped, detail isn't great, although the bright lens will mean you can stay away from the higher ISO settings in darker scenes. When shooting in low light you can use the LED macro lights to add further light. If you tend to shoot images to share on the web, then images quality will be good enough, particularly as colour reproduction is decent. If you want the camera with GPS, read our Pentax WG-3 GPS review.

 

Pentax WG-3 Pros

Ideal camera body for using in extreme weather conditions
1cm minimum focusing distance
Full 1080p HD video recording
Fast f/2.0 lens
Waterproof to 14m
LED macro lights
HDR mode
Good range of digital filters for editing photos

Pentax WG-3 Cons

No GPS
Detail isn't too good
Only 4x optical zoom

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Pentax Optio WG-3 Specifications

ManufacturerPentax
Lens
Max Aperturef/2 - f/4.9
35mm equivalent28mm - 140mm
Optical Zoom5x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels16Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest1/4sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity125 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting1fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiNo
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable D-LI92 Lithium-Ion battery
CIPA Rating240
Box Contents
Box ContentsUSB cable, AC cable, Li-ion battery, Battery charger, Carabiner strap, Strap, Macro stand and Software
Dimensions
Weight209g
Width125mm
Height65mm
Depth32mm

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Photographs taken using the Pentax Optio WG-3

Rufford Old HallRufford Old Hall GardenPoppies and WheatThe CustodianLloyds BankColumns of WhiteThe PhotographersManchesterAlone for a MomentBethanyA Helping HandLittle BoyDuck
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