Pentax released the WG-2, their latest rugged outdoor camera, in February 2012. The camera comes in red, black, orange and white, either with or without GPS priced at £269 and £229 respectively. On test here is the non GPS version.
Pentax Optio WG-2 Features
The WG-2 GPS has a heavy-duty construction and is ideal for active photographers who shoot in tough and demanding conditions. It is waterproof to 12 metres, shockproof to 1.5 metres, freezeproof to -10°C and crushproof to 100kg. Packed with the camera is a Carabiner strap so it can be hooked to a backpack or other outdoor equipment.
The WG-2 has a new back-illuminated CMOS sensor, designed to offer less noise when shooting at higher sensitivities, with a highest speed setting of ISO 6400 available. There is 5x optical zoom, a 35mm equivalent of 28-140mm.
With Auto Picture, the WG-2 sets the most appropriate shooting mode, from 16 different scenes, and automatically choosing the correct settings. A new feature is Handheld Night Snap mode, which combines four images of the same scene and combines into a single picture.
One of the more unique features are the six LED macro lights placed around the circumference of the lens. By switching to the Digital Microscope mode you can take well lit macro images, with a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm. Other modes include high-speed face detection, smile capture, digital wide and 12 digital filters.
The WG-2 records videos at full 1080p HD at 30 fps as well as VGA (640 x 480) high-speed videos. The camera can be connected to a HD TV via the micro-HDMI terminal.
16 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor
5x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 28-140mm)
3 inch 16:9 460,000 dots LCD screen
Waterproof to 12m
Shockproof to 1.5m
Coldproof to -10°C
Crushproof to 100Kg
Full 1080p HD video recording
1cm minimum focusing distance
Digital microscope with six LED macro lights
Available in orange, red, black and white
Pentax Optio WG-2 Handling
The WG-2 body is made of plastic and, mainly around the edges, rubber. There is nothing uniform about the shape of the camera, which makes it very easy to grip, with chunky buttons on the rear, which makes it easier to use when wearing gloves. As with the WG-1, the WG-2 has a look which will appeal to some and not others, with the carabiner strap a very handy extra so you can hook the camera onto a bag or belt loop for easy access. It's also worth noting that the WG-2 is slightly bigger and weighs around 50g more than the WG-1. The tripod socket is poorly placed and is difficult to attach securely to a tripod.
The camera menus are typical of the Pentax Optio range of compact cameras and are simple to navigate. The buttons are easy to press, with a dedicated button which toggles between Face Detection, Smile Capture and Self Portrait Assist as well as a Green button which can be set to the users preference, choosing between a range of camera settings. When the camera is switched off you can press the playback button to view your images and videos.
The battery has a CIPA rating of 260 shots, while testing we managed over 900, which is impressive. We tested the cameras performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot (without flash)
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous shooting records at full 16 megapixel resolution, with burst shooting limited to with 5 or 4 megapixels. Interval shooting is also available where you can set the camera to delay its start-up, or commence immediately, asking it to take a picture (up to 1000) at a set interval, up to 99 mins. The camera switches on, refocuses, takes a picture and switches off again.
Pentax Optio WG-2 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.
Pentax Optio WG-2 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - landscapes have good blues and greens, with portrait mode giving good skin tones, with images free of red-eye.
Pentax Optio WG-2 Lens test images
Lens Performance - images are well exposed with excellent colour reproduction. Detail is decent when shooting at either end of the lens, with purple fringing well controlled in contrasting areas. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm, which allows the camera to get really close and take a good macro picture.
Pentax Optio WG-2 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - A sharp, noise free image is produced at ISO 125, but there is a significant increase when shooting at ISO 200. Again, there is an increase in noise at ISO 400, with noise at ISO 800 causing images to become softer. As well as sharpness, images lose detail at ISO 1600, with black dots appearing. Noise is pretty bad at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200, with these two settings best used if needed, for images which are to be resized for web sharing.
Pentax Optio WG-2 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights in our studio, the AWB preset has taken an image with an orange cast, with the incandescent preset handling the lights much better. The AWB preset has taken a good picture under the fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset taking an image with a strong orange cast.
(Above) Digital Microscope | 1/4 sec | f/3.8 | 6.1 mm | ISO 125
(Right) Underwater Mode | 1/6 sec | f/4.6 | 11.1 mm | ISO 1600
The Digital Microscope mode is unique and takes impressive pictures. The LED lights can also be used when shooting underwater.
Pentax Optio WG-2 Digital filters
Digital Filters - There are no digital filters as such when shooting, although you can change the colour tone from either bright, natural or monochrome. If you want to be more creative with your pictures, you can edit them in playback mode, with a number of digital filters available, with examples above. You can also create a collage in camera with the shots you have taken.
Video - The WG-2 records at full 1080p HD resolution, although it doesn't allow the use of optical zoom. There is a high-speed recording mode, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine Youtube Page.
Value For Money
The Pentax Optio WG-2 is available for around £229.00 or £269.00 with GPS. It is one of the more expensive waterproof cameras, but has the maximum amount of underwater depth available on a camera at the moment. The Olympus Tough TG-1 has highest in all three categories, as do the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 and FT4.
When the WG-1 was released last year we were impressed with Pentax's first rugged digital camera, although we don't think much has changed with this upgrade. The sensor has been upgraded from 14 megapixels to 16, with the LCD screen now 3 inch, up from 2.7 inch. Issues we would have like to have seen addressed are the poor noise performance above ISO 200, poor tripod socket and optical zoom when recording videos, although it is good to see that videos are now full 1080p HD.
If you are looking for your first rugged camera, the WG-2 offers good image quality and a couple of unique features, if you are a current WG-1 user, you'd be better off keeping your cash in your wallet.
Pentax Optio WG-2 Pros
Full 1080p HD video recording
Waterproof to 12m
Shockproof to 1.5m
Freezeproof to -10°C
Good image quality
Excellent colour reproduction
Digital microscope and 1cm minimum focus distance
Available in a range of different colours
Comes with a Carabiner strap
Pentax Optio WG-2 Cons
Poor noise performance throughout ISO range
Tripod socket is poorly placed
New model doesn't offer much of an upgrade