Pentax Optio WG1 – A User’s Review.

 

Lee Kok Wei, a 26 years old, Bio Tech Scientist working in an Innovative Start Up Company providing DNA sequencing, analysis and applications for the Scientific Community.

When I learnt that my company was bringing all her employees to a 2 weeks trekking trip to Nepal, I was ecstatic. It was the first time that I would be going on a trekking trip to one of my dream places on earth.

Later, when I found out that this trip was organised by PhotoSafari.com.my, I panicked. I was not much of a photographer and this was a trekking cum photography trip. I started looking for a camera that would be suitable for this trip. Someone suggested a Pentax Optio WG1 as the camera of choice.

On first inspection, I realised that this camera was supposed to be a rugged camera and suitable for people with an outdoor lifestyle. Butterfly shaped, constructed with metal housing and rubberised grips, this camera gave the impression that it could take a lot of beating.

Here are the rough specifications as advertised:

Features of the Optio WG1

  • 12th generation

PENTAX’s 12th rugged generation waterproof digital camera is adventure proof, and suitable for almost any environment.

  • Shockproof

Shockproof, ruggedized design protects from drops up to 5 feet.

  • Coldproof

Coldproof to sub-freezing temps of minus 10 degrees C (14 degrees F).

  • 14 megapixels

14 megapixel sensor offers plenty of image detail.

  • Large 2.7 inch LCD

Large 2.7 inch LCD features a wide angle 16:9 aspect ratio with anti-reflective coating.

  • HDMI port

An HDMI port plays back beautiful, high def images and video on HDTVs.

  • Digital Shake Reduction

Pixel Track and Digital Shake Reduction ensure sharp, blur-free images

  • Waterproof

Waterproof to 33 feet is perfect for use when submerged.

  • Crushproof

Crushproof construction withstands weights up to 220 LBF (pound-force).

  • Dustproof

Dustproof design protects the camera from dry, dusty environments.

  • Wide angle 5X internal optical zoom lens

Wide angle 5X internal optical zoom lens (28-140mm equivalent) provides flexible capture of subjects near or far.

  • Digital Microscope mode

Enhanced Digital Microscope mode uses 5 macro LEDs for perfect focus and smooth, even lighting.

  • 720p HD video

Capture video in widescreen 720p HD at 30 frames per second.

At Bangkok Airport for the transfer to Kathmandu

 

 

Ease of Operation

This camera was very easy to use for an amateur photography like me. There were scenes modes for every scene imaginable. Best of all it was idiot proof. I could simply press the shutter and would be able to get reasonably exposed images. The only thing I need to do was to compose the picture.

I have tried the movie recording feature. It was easy to use but I could not take advantage of this feature as I was concentrating on still images.

Nepalese children we met on the trek

 

 

Rugged, shock proof and crushproof.

I dropped the camera more than a couple of times because I was wearing gloves and did not have any feel then. It survived those drops from as high as 5 to 8 feet high. Uncle Maxby said that this camera could survive a fall if thrown from the top of Mt Everest to base camp. Well, I was in no position to proof it. Perhaps the top of Annapurna 4 to Hongde Airport would have been an easier target.

This camera served me well on the trek. It proved its worth when I brought it up to the Ice Lake at Manang. The altitude there was a bout 4,500m. The temperature was freezing. I think it was about -10 C at that time. I managed to take a self-portrait when I place the camera underwater at the Ice Lake.

 

On the insanely picturesque trek to Manang

Conclusion

Overall I was very happy with the performance of this camera. It lived up to its claimed ruggedness and it survived the 2 weeks of trekking in one of the most insanely beautiful place on earth. The battery life was also reasonable. A single charge lasted about 2 days. This was an important consideration as not all lodging houses provide free electricity for charging electronic devices.

I am no photographer but I am satisfied with the images I took along this memorable trek. And one more thing, this camera “just works”.

I have heard that Pentax is coming out with the 13th Generation of this Optio model very soon. I would like to get my hands on the new Pentax Optio WG2 with GPS for my future trips and as an everyday camera. Perhaps I should take up photography seriously.

 

Heavenly light breaking through the tall mountains.

 

A morning trek with the "gateway to heaven" in the background.

 

The winter snow has not melt in the upper reaches of the Manang District.

 

At the Ice Lake, about 4,500m high.

 

A self portrait with the camera submerged into the Ice Lake.

 

The stark landscape in Manang.

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