Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS: Video and Image Quality

by Jim Keenan Reads (402)
Editor's Rating
7.25

TG Ratings Breakdown

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

Video Quality
Video out of the WG-1 is on a par with most 720 HD compacts – OK, but not great. The camera displayed banding on a couple of occasions panning with moving trains – as the train moved from a regular background to one inhabited by the sun, a fuchsia-purple band was produced from the suddenly brighter background, returning to normal as the pan moved on to another normally lit background. Lens zoom is not available during video capture.

Image Quality
Default image quality out of the WG-1 is good as compact digitals go – possibly a little soft for my taste in the auto modes, but not bad overall. Colors are fairly accurate. Here’s a sample of some default shots in auto mode:

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

Files are output at 72 dpi, which means you have to resize them for either e-mail (unless you want the file to measure about 60 x 45 inches) or printing (to 300 dpi).

The WG-1 has a D Range Setting (DRS) feature (disabled as a default) that can be used to expand the apparent dynamic range of the camera. There are separate settings for highlights and shadows and you can enable either or both. This feature is not available in auto or green mode, and if you have ISO set to 80 or 100 with DRS enabled ISO defaults to 160. Here’s a shot with no DRS, and the same with both highlight and shadow DRS enabled.

Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
Default
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
DRS Enabled

 

Both shots look pretty similar at first, but a closer inspection, particularly looking at histograms shows the WG-1 has saved some clipped highlights and shadows as well.

The WG-1 offers a simple color palette (“image tone”) consisting of natural, bright and monochrome.

Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
Natural
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
Bright
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
Monochrome

For this review I ended up shooting the WG-1 almost exclusively in auto mode, even with the availability of Program Auto and its wider array of user inputs. I suspect most folks using compact digitals tend to shoot in auto or a scene mode rather than investing too much time in setting up their cameras with specific settings (if that’s even an option), so I decided to just emulate them.

Multi segment metering is the default setting for exposure calculations, and did a good job with normally lit scenes. Scenes with high contrast displayed some lost highlights on occasion, but performance in this regard was on a par with most compacts. There are center-weighted and spot metering options available in Program Auto and other select scene modes.

Auto white balance worked well under a variety of lighting conditions, but shot warm with 3200 degree incandescent light. This tends to be a pretty standard result in compact digitals. Our studio shot with 5500 degree fluorescents looks warm also, but shooting under my fluorescents at home the WG-1 looked pretty true. There are daylight, shade, tungsten, fluorescent and manual WB options available in a few select shooting modes.

Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

Noise performance appears average at best for a compact digital – 80 and 100 ISO are fairly hard to tell apart, but close inspection at 200 shows fine details being lost (bear’s nose) and noise already ramping up in shadow areas. ISO 400 looks worse across the board – noise on the increase, more fine details being lost.

Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 80
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 80, 100% crop
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 100
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 200
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 400
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 800
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 1600
Pentax Optio WG-1
ISO 1600, 100% crop

Quality at ISO 800 takes an even more dramatic downturn, with noise clearly on the increase and fine detail now being lost to smudging – the Auto Zone disc is now largely featureless. ISO 1600 continues the deterioration – lots more grain and smudging in the darker areas.

We didn’t shoot the 3200 and 6400 low res ISO settings in the studio, but here’s what they look like compared to a 1600…

Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 1600
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 3200
Pentax WG-1 Sample Image
ISO 6400

If all else fails, they’re available, but 3200 and 6400 are settings of last resort.

Additional Sample Images

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


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