Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS: Performance

May 20, 2011 by Jim Keenan Reads (4,806)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 6
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 7.25
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

With a 5x zoom topping out at 140mm, the WG-1 isn’t going to set the world on fire with its telephoto prowess, but that 14 megapixel sensor gives it a boost by allowing for a fairly aggressive cropping capability to get us “closer” to distant subjects. Here’s a little guy in one of the ponds near the Astronaut Memorial at Kennedy Space Center – the original shot measures out at about 14.29 x 10.72 inches at 300 dots per inch (dpi), and the crop is a 12.19 x 8.12 at 300 dpi.

Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image

And a couple shots of the KSC visitor center…

Pentax WG-1 Sample Image Pentax WG-1 Sample Image

Shooting Performance
The WG-1 powers up fairly quickly, displaying a focus point about 1.4 seconds after pushing the on/off button. I was able to get off a first shot in about 2.25 seconds. Single shot to shot times ran about 2.75 seconds and focus acquisition in good conditions was a quick 0.21 seconds; there is a focus assist lamp for dim conditions, and while the WG-1 slows in acquiring focus in dim light, especially when and zoomed toward telephoto, it strikes me as about average for a compact digital.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Camera Time (seconds)
Casio Exilim EX-H20G 0.01
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 0.01
Sony Cyber-shot WX9 0.01
Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS 0.03

AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Camera Time (seconds)
Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS 0.21
Casio Exilim EX-H20G 0.23
Sony Cyber-shot WX9 0.25
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 0.48

Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate*
Sony Cyber-shot WX9 10 9.8 fps
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 3 3.5 fps
Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS 12 0.8 fps

*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

Shutter lag was a bit disappointing – we measured 0.03 seconds but Pentax claims “approximately 0.037 seconds” so the WG-1 could be flirting with the 0.04 second mark. It’s not overly slow, just slow enough that you need to make sure and hold the camera steady for that extra fraction of a second to ensure capture gets done before moving the camera.

Continuous shooting rate came out to 0.8 fps, a bit better than Pentax’s claim of 0.68 fps, but there’s a fairly sizeable blackout period after the first shot of a sequence, then a shorter gap between each successive shot – tracking a moving subject in continuous mode is a challenge.

The WG-1 features Pentax’s pixel track shake reduction system, which uses software in the camera to attempt to decrease blur due to camera shake. The camera also has “digital shake reduction” which turns out to be bumping up ISO sensitivity in order to promote faster shutter speeds as a means to decrease blur due to camera shake.

Ratcheting up ISO on compacts with small sensors generally levies a heavy fine in the form of noise in captured images, and is my least favorite method. Both pixel track and digital shake reduction are disabled by default (and Pentax recommends leaving them off when using a tripod), but if you’re going to enable one, my vote goes to pixel track.

Flash range varies from almost 13 feet at wide angle to just over 8 feet at telephoto, both with auto ISO. Recycle times ran in the mid-to-high 5 second range.

Battery life of the WG-1 is rated for about 260 still shots or 120 minutes of video capture.

Lens Performance
While the WG-1 lens is a bit slow at the maximum apertures (f/3.5 and 5.5 at wide and telephoto, respectively), the lens acquits itself admirably otherwise. There’s not much in the way of geometric distortion at the wide or telephoto ends, and chromic aberration (purple fringing), while present, is fairly unobtrusive except at extreme magnifications. The wide end is a bit soft in the corners and edges; the telephoto is a bit better and overall the lens does quite well.

Pentax WG-1 Sample Image Pentax WG-1 Sample Image

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