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Pentax WG-3 GPS Review

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

| Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS in Compact Cameras
Pentax WG-3 GPS Review: Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS

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. The GPS model is available in purple and green for £325, the non-GPS version is available in orange and black for £290.

Pentax WG-3 GPS Review: Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS

Pentax WG-3 GPS 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 GPS Review: Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS

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 100Kgf
  • Dustproof
  • Six LED macro lights
  • Built-in GPS
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 125 - 6400
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance
Pentax WG-3 GPS Review: Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS

Pentax WG-3 GPS Handling

The Pentax WG-3 GPS 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. Also on the front of the camera is a small screen which displays the time, it looks very similar to a digital watch.

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 260 shots according to CIPA test results, this will reduce quicker if you use the GPS frequently.

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   0.4 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.2 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   1.3 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   3.4 secs
Continuous Shooting   1.4 fps
Burst Shooting   12.3 fps

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

Pentax WG-3 GPS Review: Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS

Pentax WG-3 GPS 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 GPS 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 GPS 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 as good and there is some purple fringing. With a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm it's possible to take decent macro shots.

Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 125 but at ISO 200, there are some issues with image quality. Images remain sharp but some colours have been affected. Noise only increases slightly at ISO 400, with images becoming a little soft at ISO 800. Images start to lose detail at ISO 1600, but remain sharp in most places, but images 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 level.

Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS 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, a magenta cast is evident when using the fluorescent preset.

Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS 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 £319.99. Recommended waterproof cameras include the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5, available for £353.99, the Nikon Coolpix AW100, available for £214.99 and the Canon Powershot D20, available for £255. 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 GPS 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, this is as deep as any other waterproof cameras will go. Unfortunately image quality isn't as good as we hoped, detail isn't great and we found the images suffered with noise from ISO 200 upwards, although the bright lens will mean you can stay away from the higher ISO settings, unless you're in really dark conditions. In that case you can use the LED macro lights to add further light to your scene. If you tend to shoot images to share on the web, then images quality will be good enough, particularly as colour reproduction is decent.


Pentax WG-3 GPS 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 GPS Cons

Noise effects image quality from ISO 200 upwards
Detail isn't too good
Only 4x optical zoom


Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS Specifications

Max Aperturef/2 - f/4.9
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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Rees Avatar
Rees 15 14 Wales
24 Apr 2013 12:15PM
A good in-depth review. Thank you.
However, I would not purchase this camera because there is no built in view finder.
I find on bright sunny days it is almost impossible to compose a photograph under such conditions.

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