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Pentax WPi Waterproof 6.0 Megapixel Camera Quick Review (pics)
by Andrew -  12/16/2005

Whether you're heading to the beach to escape the cold or hitting the ski slopes to enjoy some winter sport, you'll want to have a digital camera with you to capture the memories. What you don't want is ocean water or slushy wet snow getting into that digital camera you take and rendering it useless.  A waterproof camera would be perfect in either scenario; enter the Pentax WPi 6.0 Megapixel camera -- designed to resist water and dust so that it's "lifeproof" and keeps on working in rain, snow, or dust storm!

Quick Specs for Pentax Optio WPi

Resistance to the Elements

The Pentax WPi works when submerged in water! Notice the green smiley face on the LCD to indicate to the user the camera is in the easy point-and-shoot "Green Mode" (view larger image)

The Pentax Optio WPi is a 6.0-megapixel camera and is JIS Class 8 waterproof -- meaning that although it's not a full fledged underwater diving camera that you can take a 100-meters below the ocean waves, it'll stay resistant for up to 30-minutes in 5 feet of water and allow for photography and video there -- this is great for a swimming pool, the beach, surprise summer downpours or even a hot tub if you so fancy!

In addition to being waterproof the Pentax Optio WPi has also been proven to conform to Class 5 dustproof performance of category 2, normally associated with machines to prevent internal changes in atmospheric pressure, such as when skiing up a mountain.

The 2-inch screen on the back of the WPi offers good viewing of the subject matter so an optical view finder is not necessary (view larger image)

Usability

The Pentax WPI offers quick start up, 3x zoom and is very easy to use.  If you'd rather not think about what mode you should use for a specific shot, then just select what Pentax calls "Green Mode".  Hold in the button on the back of the camera with a green dot to switch to this mode, a smiley green face will pop up and the words "Green Mode" to indicate your camera will take over with autofocus and autoflash and all you have to do is push the button on top of the camera to take a picture.  Now that's true point-and-shoot ease.

Design and Look

The Optio WPi is fairly slim (4-in x 2-in x 0.9 in) so it's easy to carry. Although it is waterproof and dustproof, it does not adopt a rugged look, but rather uses a stylish brushed metal look.  The only way you can tell the Pentax Optio WPi is waterproof is by the extra rubberized seal around the battery and memory card compartment and also the fact these compartments have a sliding door that locks in place over the top of them.

The battery and memory card slots are protected beneath a rubber sealed cover that locks (view larger image)

The back of the Pentax WPi has a 2-inch color screen that is easy enough to see even in sunlight and great for reviewing pictures you have taken.  There is no optical viewfinder to use, but that's partly because it would be harder to make the camera waterproof if there were one. 

Controls

All of the controls are located on the back of the camera and they're super easy to use.  If you switch to green mode by holding in the green button, everything just happens for you in taking a picture -- no need to adjust focus or flash control.  Simply hold in the button on the top of the camera all the way to take a picture.  If you put the camera into "Program" mode (just hold in the green dotted button to toggle back to program mode), you can select various flash settings (push the left arrow on the directional pad), picture taking modes (push the down button on the directional pad), focus modes (push down the right arrow on the directional pad).  Hitting the "Menu" button allows you to switch pixel quality (6MP, 5MP, 4MP etc.), white balance, AF setting, sensitivity, sharpness, saturation and contrast.

The WPi has several picture capture modes to choose from when in Program mode (view larger image)

To enter what Pentax calls "drive mode" simply hold in on the "play" button (green arrow) and you can scroll through pictures you've taken to review them.  You can delete pictures or even edit and crop them by holding on the down arrow and selecting from various edit options.

Performance

Example image taken with the Optio WPi (view larger image)

In using the Pentax WPi I found the camera provided a good balance of colors no matter what the subject was.  Colors captured were true to life. It certainly performed better outdoors and captured crisper images there, when taking indoor shots with a medium amount of light in the "Green mode" the images came out slightly blurry.  The 6.0 Megapixels of resolution is appreciated for photographers such as myself so there's more room to crop images!  The only downside to capturing those larger 6.0MP images is that it took a noticeable amount of time to record to the SD memory card -- this could be circumvented by setting the camera to capture 4MP or 5MP images instead, which might often be enough any way.

Example image taken with the Optio WPi (view larger image)

Conclusion

Overall the WPi is a very good point-and-shoot camera that will appeal to everyone from the adventurous type to families that like to take pictures not just by but in the pool while on vacation.  The ease of use and generous 6.0MP resolution all at a price point of about $300 make this a very attractive digital camera option.