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Pentax Optio WG-2 Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell gives us his verdict on Pentax's latest rugged outdoors camera, the Optio WG-2.

| Pentax Optio WG-2 in Compact Cameras
Pentax Optio WG-2 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio Wg-2 Front 2

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 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio Wg-2 With Carabiner Strap

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.

Pentax Optio WG-2 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio Wg-2 Rear

Key Features

  • 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
  • ISO 125-6400
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance
  • Digital microscope with six LED macro lights
  • Available in orange, red, black and white
Pentax Optio WG-2 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio Wg-2 Top

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.

Shutter Response   0.1 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
  0.35 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.45 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.1 secs
Shot to Shot (without flash)   1.6 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   2.6 secs
Continuous Shooting
  1.1 fps
Burst Shooting   10 fps

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 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio Wg-2 Battery And Memory Card

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.

Pentax Optio WG-2 Digital Camera Review: Digital Microscope | 1/4 sec | f/3.8 | 6.1 mm | ISO 125
(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
  Pentax Optio WG-2 Digital Camera Review: 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.

Waterproof Shockproof Freezeproof Price
Kodak Easyshare Sport C123 3m - - £50.00
Nikon Coolpix S30 3m 0.8m - £84.99
Olympus Tough TG-320 3m 1.5m -10°C £119.00
Fujifilm FinePix XP50 5m 1.5m -10°C £129.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 5m 1.5m -10°C £149.00
Pentax Optio WG-1 / (GPS) 10m 1.5m -10°C £164.00 / (199.00)
Fujifilm FinePix XP150 GPS 10m 2m -10°C £189.00
Olympus Tough TG-620 5m 1.5m -10°C £199.00
Canon PowerShot D10 10m 1.2m -10°C £214.00
Olympus Tough TG-820 10m 2m -10°C £229.00
Nikon Coolpix AW100 10m 1.5m -10°C £229.99
Pentax Optio WG-2 / (GPS) 12m 1.5m -10°C £229.00 / (£269.00)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 12m 2m -10°C £254.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 12m 2m -10°C £299.00
Sony Cyber-shot TX20 5m 1.5m -10°C £299.00
Canon PowerShot D20 10m 1.5m -10°C £309.00
Olympus Tough TG-1 12m 2m -10°C £359.00
Ricoh G700 5m 2m -10°C £449.00

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 Optio WG-2 Verdict

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


Pentax Optio WG-2 Specifications

Max ApertureNo Data
35mm equivalent28mm - 140mm
Optical Zoom5x
Image Sensor
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
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest1/4sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • 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
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable D-LI92 Lithium-Ion battery
Battery Life (CIPA rating)260shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsUSB cable, AC cable, Li-ion battery, Battery charger, Carabiner strap, Strap, Macro stand and Software

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Photographs taken using the Pentax Optio WG-2

Orange Rose

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