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 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.
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.
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 in full 16 megapixel resolution, burst shooting is limited to between 4 and 5 megapixels.
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.
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.
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
Good range of digital filters for editing photos