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Design and Key Features

if there's one truth about the Pentax WG-3's design, it's that it will stick out in a crowd. Its curvy shape is the polar opposite of the rectangular design of most of its peers. Pentax also has a knack for using some very bold colors, such as the purple model used in this review. Something else that separates the WG-3 from its peers is its use of composite materials, rather than metal. The vast majority of the body is plastic (of high quality), with only the front plate being metal.

The WG-3 doesn't have a right hand grip, but rather small ridges that makes the camera less slippery.

As with other compact rugged cameras, the WG-3's controls are very cramped. There's no room for your thumb, and these buttons don't have as much 'play' as we'd like.

Something to watch out for when holding the camera is to keep your fingers away from the lens, as it's very easy to end up with your finger in part of a photo.

The WG-3 (GPS model only) is currently the only camera in the world supporting the Qi wireless charging platform.

We tested it with the TYLT Vü shown here, and it worked as advertised. The camera always sits 'lens down' when using charging pads.

The WG-3 covers all the bases when it comes to protection. It's waterproof to 14 meters (46 feet), shockproof from 2 meters (6.6 feet), crushproof to 100 kg (220 lbs), freezeproof to -10C (+14F), and dustproof.

When using a camera underwater, you'd expect that there won't be any drops on the lens when you come to the surface. The WG-3 did a good job of moving water off of the lens, both in our 'dunk test', and in the real world. It is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, though.

The WG-3 has a single door, located on the bottom of the camera. It contains the USB+A/V, micro-HDMI, battery, and SD card slot. The door is protected by a dual locking mechanism. As with all weatherproof cameras, there's a rubber gasket that keeps water from getting inside the camera.

Pentax figures that rugged camera buyers are savvy enough to know to check the seals on their camera before taking it outside. That means that there aren't any warnings when you turn on the camera, unlike some of its peers.

The WG-3 has a 3-inch LCD with 460,000 dots. The aspect ratio is 16:9, which allows for full screen HD video recording. The downside is that there will be a black border around the still image you're composing, unless you're using the 16:9 aspect ratio. One of the unique features on the Pentax WG-series cameras is a built-in ring light, which is made up of six LEDs. See below to learn what it can do.

The LCD on the WG-3 is very much average when it comes to outdoor visibility. It's not as bad as some of its rugged camera peers, but we've seen better, especially on the Panasonic equivalent. Low light visibility is respectable.

The main feature of the WG-3's ring light is, of course, to illuminate subjects when shooting macros. The WG-3 lets you be as close to your subject as 1cm, and Pentax has included a 'macro stand' in the box which allows you to essentially have the camera sitting on top of your subject. The stand helps keep the camera steady, and it focuses the light from the LEDs on your subject. You can use it in regular 1 cm macro mode, or in a special 'Digital Microscope' mode, which lets you use the digital zoom to get even closer to your subject.

wg3 This close-up of a dime was taken in digital microscope mode using the macro stand and LED lights.

In digital microscope mode, photos are taken at 2.5MP, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. You can shoot at full resolution in Program mode.

In addition to serving as a ring light, those six LED lamps around the lens can also be used for self-portraits. The camera divides the scene into a 3x2 grid, with each lamp representing one area. When a face is detected in one of the grid squares, the lamp lights up. This feature is only available in Self-portrait Assist mode (with or without smile detection).

You can also activate the ring light by pressing the Green Button while the camera is powered off, turning the WG-3 into a rather pricey (not to mention dim) flashlight.

The built-in flash has a maximum range of 10.4m at wide-angle and 4.2m at telephoto, though that's calculated with Auto ISO.

To the left of the flash is the AF-assist lamp which, as its name implies, helps the camera focus in low light.

While the WG-3's flash numbers sound impressive, they don't reflect real-world usage, as they're calculated with the ISO sensitivity set to Auto. The maximum sensitivity in that mode is 1600, which will result in noisy photos. If you reduce the sensitivity to a more reasonable ISO 400, the flash range drops to 2.6m at wide-angle and 1.1m at telephoto. While that sounds bad, it's actually better than most of its peers.

By default, the 'Green Button' on the back of the WG-3 puts the camera into an 'easy mode'. However, it can also be set up to display a customizable shortcut menu, as shown above. The WG-3's menus aren't pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but they're responsive and get the job done.

While the WG-3 doesn't have a shortcut menu like most of its peers, the ability to customize the Green Button lets you quickly adjust things like white balance, ISO sensitivity, and exposure compensation (which is annoyingly left off of the four-way controller) is a nice feature.

Shooting Modes

As with most compact cameras, the shooting experience on the Pentax WG-3 is largely point-and-shoot. Most folks will do just fine with the Auto Picture Mode, which selects the correct scene mode for the situation. If you want to try something else, press down on the four-way controller to open the Mode Menu, pictured below.

Pressing down on the four-way controller brings up the Mode Menu shown at left. There are numerous shooting modes, but not as many scene and special effects modes as we're used to seeing on most compact cameras. In the case of the WG-3, the special effects are available in playback mode.

The Mode Menu contains a lot of shooting and scene modes, but is surprisingly light on special effects for a compact camera in 2013. Some of the notable features found here include HDR (which didn't seem to have much of an effect in our tests), Handheld Night Snap (see below), time-lapse (for stills and movies), and the aforementioned digital microscope mode.

In order to obtain a sharp photo in its conventional Program mode, the WG-3 had to crank the ISO all the way to 2500. The Handheld Night Snap produced a photo with that's soft and mushy, but with less of a grainy appearance.

As the example above shows, the Handheld Night Snap mode does reduce the grainy appearance of in the ISO 2500 sample, but you're exchanging that for a soft and muddy photo, instead. The upside is that it looks a little better at low magnifications such as web display and small prints.

There are just a few manual controls on the WG-3. They include exposure compensation, custom white balance, and the always-helpful exposure bracketing.

One nice surprise on the WG-3 is an electronic level and live histogram, neither of which are common features on compact cameras.

The only two underwater-related modes on the camera are scene modes for both stills and movies, which are designed to 'capture the blue colors of the sea'.

Dynamic Range Correction

It's no secret that compact cameras don't do a great job of capturing the full contrast range in a photo. You'll struggled to get highlight and shadow detail at the same time, and generally you'll lose highlight data more easily than with a larger-sensor camera (such as Sony's RX100). Pentax has put two features into the WG-3 that attempt to brighten shadows and restore highlight tone. This feature, called 'D-Range Setting' in the menu, features both highlight and shadow correction tools, which can work together or separately. By default, both are set to 'auto'.

All off
HL auto
HL on
Shadow auto
Shadow on
All auto

Looking at the 'all off' option above, you'll find a lot of highlight clipping (notice how some buildings in the background disappear into the sky) and dark shadows. Both of the highlight correction modes bring back those missing buildings, while the shadow correction is more subtle. Do note that highlight correction will boost the minimum ISO to 250, so there may be an increase in noise, though you'll only notice when viewing the photos at 100%. The sensitivity does not need to be increased when using shadow correction.

The best option, in our opinion, is to leave both highlight and shadow correction set to 'auto', which is the default setting. Just be sure that you're set to Auto ISO (with a limit of 400) in order to take advantage of highlight correction.

Panorama shooting

Unlike most of its peers, the WG-3 lacks a 'sweep panorama' feature. Instead, you take a photo and pan the camera in the desired direction, and attempt to line up a translucent section of the previous image with the next section. Once you've taken two or three photos, the camera will stitch them together into a single image.

We had a lot of trouble getting panoramas to look good on the WG-3. The shot above is the best one, but there are still a few places where objects aren't properly aligned.

ISO 125, 1/320 sec, f/11

If you were expecting to be able to take panoramas at full resolution, here's some bad news: the image size is roughly 3.7 megapixels. A similar feature is called 'Digital Wide'. In those mode, you shoot two vertically oriented photos, using the same method as for panoramas. The two pictures are stitched together to create an image with an effective 'focal length' of 19mm. Photos are saved at 5MP.

GPS

The GPS system on the Pentax WG-3 offers more features than, say, the Canon PowerShot D20, which only displays longitude and latitude. The WG-3 also provides your altitude/depth, barometric pressure, and direction. What you won't find are maps and a database of landmarks. And for most people, that's probably okay.

In playback mode you can see the altitude, barometric pressure, direction, and longitude/latitude for each picture. Pressing the display button a few times in playback mode brings up the screen shown above, which shows all relevant GPS info.

The WG-3's GPS can also track the path you're taking, saving the data into a KML file. This file can be imported into Google Earth (among other places). Do note that this feature will put an extra strain on the battery.

The WG-3 won't win any awards for how quickly the GPS can locate enough satellites to figure out where you are. On the relatively unobstructed terrace at DPReview headquarters, it took the camera around eighty seconds to acquire a GPS signal. Unlike many of its peers, there's no way to download Assisted GPS data onto the camera, which would greatly speed up this process.

Movies

The movie mode on the Pentax WG-3 is pretty standard for a compact camera, with one exception. You can record video at 1080/30p with stereo sound for up to twenty-five minutes. If you'd like a faster frame rate, a 720/60p mode is also available.

You can use the optical zoom to your heart's content while recording movies (though you need to turn on this capability in the menu first). Continuous autofocus is also available. Something that you can't use in movie mode is the sensor-shift image stabilizer - you're stuck with electronic shake reduction.

The only manual control in movie mode is a wind cut filter. Movies can be 'divided' in playback mode, which allows you to remove unwanted footage. It's also worth mentioning that GPS data can be embedded in a movie. The WG-3 also has the ability to record high speed movies at 720/60p. When played back at 30 frames per second, everything appears to move in slow motion. There's also a 1cm macro movie mode, for when you need to take close-up videos of ants.

You'll find a few sample videos on the following page.

Playback mode

Pentax offers a large set of features in its playback menu, including special effects and filters that are usually found in record mode.

It's worth mentioning a few things about playback mode on the WG-3. It's here that you'll find all of the camera's special effects which include 'small face', ink rubbing, digital color filters, and a faux HDR mode. As you'll see on the following page, one of the digital filters comes in quite handy for improving underwater photos.

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Discuss in the forums

Comments

Total comments: 68
PennyPicture
By PennyPicture (3 weeks ago)

hello everyone! I have been wanting this camera for a long time - and I have just ordered it, so doing more research so I'm ready when it gets here....

PLEASE can someone explain to me whyyyyyyeeeee the special effects are available in playback mode?? and not SHOOTING mode? SO? what exactly is the point of seeing it only in playback mode? So....i can't shoot anything or save anything with those effects?

I am so confused about this....I appreciate your reply.....

0 upvotes
PeterAustin
By PeterAustin (11 months ago)

The WG-3 is the only compact I could find that has built-in time-lapse mode, and a separate, very compact remote wireless remote (accessory item). The reach of the remote is only a few feet, however. Other cameras allow use of a cellphone as a remote but that is not practical for a rugged outdoor camera.
Spare batteries are small. lightweight, and cheap--I got five, they charge in relatively short time. That makes the limited battery stamina less of an issue.
Picture quality is good, much improved over the older WG-1.
Macro-mode with ring light works well.
Two downsides: you have to find your own fitting case if you want one. External battery charger is extra (the one from the WG-1 works). Need to turn off GPS function when not in use because it consumes the battery in a few hours even with camera off. This can be done quickly with about 3 menu selectionsy.GPS finds location quickly (few seconds) when turned back on. Overall, very satisfied. I use Canon DSLRs as principal cameras.

0 upvotes
whawha
By whawha (11 months ago)

The doctors in white coats are very worried and eager to find Pentax's chief designer.

1 upvote
dsastoo
By dsastoo (Jul 22, 2013)

Nice sail boat image jaygeephoto, I too bought the non-GPS wg-3 in black. I didn't want to spend US $82 more on the TG-2 when it was $329.

0 upvotes
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (Jul 22, 2013)

Well it does look less than a tub-toy than the Canon does, especially in all black.
I own a non-GPS-3 and am happy with it for what it is. Yes, I'd like to see something sturdier in so far as water sealing - I owned a Nikonos at one time.
Here's a link to an image I made last month:
http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/228204-abstract-sail-away.html#post2422407

1 upvote
Manic Tuesday
By Manic Tuesday (Jul 22, 2013)

.
i tried this piece of sh*t about 2 years ago. the first time i put it a few centimeters under the water surface it flooded. wtf???

0 upvotes
FreedomLover
By FreedomLover (Jul 22, 2013)

Did you get a replacement?

0 upvotes
audiobomber
By audiobomber (Jul 22, 2013)

You most certainly did not try this camera two years ago, since it was only released this year. The body design looks pretty tough to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ndTJlE_jOFQ

5 upvotes
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (Jul 22, 2013)

Maybe you should have closed the latches before you took it in the tub with you.

3 upvotes
sdribetahi
By sdribetahi (Jul 22, 2013)

Camera's are commodities, they make thousands and every now and then there are lemons, regardless of manufacturer. I love these posts, one guy has a bad experience and the entire line of the product is crap. seriously dude, wtf????

3 upvotes
mary1261
By mary1261 (7 months ago)

me too......30 minutes in the water and major condensation. The condensation now happens even out of the water after about 15 minutes of shooting.

0 upvotes
Henrik Herranen
By Henrik Herranen (Jul 21, 2013)

Once again: why is sensor size not a bullet point of "Specification Highlights" on page 1? That is just as important piece of information as equivalent focal lengthc and ISO range.
After all, sensor size + relative aperture is the thing that defines the absolute maximum of image quality, because it tells how much light the sensor can get.
Equivalent aperture (relative aperture times sensor crop factor) would tell all needed information (noise limit + diffraction limits) in one number (or two, if a zoom lens is used), but I'm afraid that's too much to ask. (E.g. f/2.0 on a crop 4.5 sensor is an equivalent aperture of f/(2*4.5) = f/9, in the sense of A) noise limit B) diffraction limit over the whole sensor C) total amount of gathered light over the whole sensor.)

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
Iskender
By Iskender (Jul 22, 2013)

"Equivalent aperture" is usually "needed" by people who care more about cameras than pictures. Unlike the f number, it is a theoretical number with a fuzzy connection to actual picture-taking. For cameras that do not shoot RAW (such as this one, I believe), it is irrelevant since the JPEG processing determines image quality.

"Equivalent aperture" is great for meaningless forum discussions though.

3 upvotes
irmo
By irmo (Jul 22, 2013)

whattttt??????

Equivalent aperture - says about DOF, Noise. DOF - you can't simply change with JPEG processing or any other post processing. And isn't DOF one of the main factor which makes pictures?

1 upvote
Iskender
By Iskender (Jul 22, 2013)

The camera reviewed here is a compact. It won't be good if you depend on narrow depth of field effects.

And if there is doubt, one can always check the provided samples. Those show actual performance, instead of theoretical performance based on a single metric which may or may not be relevant.

2 upvotes
FreedomLover
By FreedomLover (Jul 22, 2013)

Sensor size is still important for quality and perspective. DPReview should always list it on the top.
But look up DOF filter, irmo.

0 upvotes
Iskender
By Iskender (Jul 22, 2013)

I agree sensor size would be pretty nice.

As long as it isn't the silly, forum-created "equivalent aperture".

1 upvote
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (Jul 21, 2013)

"There's one more review left in our waterproof camera series, followed by a wrap-up article that will help you pick the best one."

Alas! You could have timed that better: 2/3 of vacation season has already passed. April and May are good months to publish such wrap-ups.

6 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 23, 2013)

Yep, we got slammed this year - we had good intentions but other priorities got in the way. We hear 'ya.

1 upvote
tomjar
By tomjar (Jul 23, 2013)

Yes, too bad indeed. And the same happened with the 2011 UW review, if I remember it correctly.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Jul 20, 2013)

What's up with these BSI sensors they are using on these compacts? The MX-1 and Q7 both look great at base ISO and 100% and these all look like water colors. Same goes for their X-5, which is probably the lowest IQ I've seen from a superzoom in some time. I realize these are just OEM cameras that are rebranded, but still. You'd think they could put out sensors that at least give good results at base ISO.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 20, 2013)

Probably has much to do with the jpeg engine and nothing to do with the back side illumination. (The MX-1 is mostly a reboxed Olympus XZ2 and Olympus has a very good jpeg reputation.)

Most of these tough cameras just toss out 3/4 of the data when making jpegs--Olympus would probably be the exception.

1 upvote
djrocks66
By djrocks66 (Jul 20, 2013)

What happens to the XZ-1 Jpeg engine? It was horrible. I guess not being able to turn off NR didn't help. Great raw camera though.

2 upvotes
JerseyJohn
By JerseyJohn (Jul 20, 2013)

Hopefully, a review of the Sony TX-30 is forthcoming. I have the TX-10. I love this camera to backup my Nikon D300/D-5200's :). Very good undrwater video IQ, even projected on my Samsung 55" TV. Seriously, the TX-30 should be looked at... and it CAN drive nails... I have dropped it from the roof of my car, lost it in the mud in my lake and swim with it in the ocean. I lube the gaskets once in a while... never a problem. The really nice thing about it is i can take it to a show or a dinner party. it has a sleek, pocketable design, unlike these cameras that remind me of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

1 upvote
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jul 20, 2013)

The TX30 is the sixth and final camera in this comparison.

2 upvotes
rvof11
By rvof11 (Jul 20, 2013)

One more digital camera manufacturer has expanded their waterproof and elementproof camera offerings, trying to splash away the smartphone cannibals...:)))

2 upvotes
RamblingDan
By RamblingDan (Jul 20, 2013)

Why do many of the sample shots show focal lengths less than the lens is capable? I.E The dog in the first shot displays a focal length of 4.5mm.

0 upvotes
DrewE
By DrewE (Jul 20, 2013)

It's a 4.5mm - 18mm lens; the focal lengths showed are the actual focal lengths, not a "35mm equivalent" focal length.

1 upvote
robbo d
By robbo d (Jul 20, 2013)

I have the WG2 and am interested to hear if the 3 is an upgrade in terms of IQ. These cameras are not good at all for landscape wide open shooting, but excellent for close up macro, does it still have the microscope feature? and of course good for underwater.
Very rugged, but they have not yet figured out how to get good IQ. Very soft at edges, so the waterproof covers still hamper good quality shots.
Looking like the WG3 is again not the top of the pile.
Still for what it does well, I will keep mine for specialist uses......possibly not worth an upgrade.

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 21, 2013)

In reality it is near the top of the pile, all these cameras are better used at reduced resolution, and WiFi is a useless gimmick. But then the difference you get at lower light at wide angle is very significant, and macro lights and clock (on GPS model) are also nice.

0 upvotes
BorisK1
By BorisK1 (Jul 22, 2013)

Depends.
For normal to wide-angle shots, that WG-2 captured above base ISO, there will be a *huge* IQ improvement, because WG-3 will be using lower ISO to get the same shot.
For telephoto and base-ISO shots, not so much.

0 upvotes
robbo d
By robbo d (Jul 22, 2013)

Interesting, upon having a proper look at the wider angle shots, I'm seeing what looks like far better IQ and not the fall off at the edges that I experience with the WG2.

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Jul 20, 2013)

Under water photo's can be corrected in lightroom. Maybe shoot some photo's in a swimming pool? Since a lot of people will use it for that? (Or will you get arrested for that nowadays?)

1 upvote
Maxfield_photo
By Maxfield_photo (Jul 20, 2013)

The color casts we're seeing in these images are correctable as JPEGs, but the results would be so much better with 12-bit RAW files. Why manufacturers haven't done this already boggles my mind. I don't care if it shoots 2 SPF (not a typeo), give me RAW and they will get my $$$, until then they're just throwing away R&D dollars as far as I'm concerned.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 20, 2013)

but "typoe" on the other hand...

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 21, 2013)

Maxfield_photo, there are no 12 bits of genuine information in those tiny pixels, even JPEGs at base iso show some noise. People keep expecting the same difference between RAW and JPEG as for APS-C sensor, forgetting than 16-mpix APS-sensor pixels are about 16 times bigger as those 16-mpix 1/2.3" sensor pixels. 16 times translates to missing 4 bits.
Given the bayer filter, color resolution is also not really lost in JPEG.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 21, 2013)

peevee1:

Actually no, people who want raw in these small cameras aren’t only looking to reduce noise. They want better colour and exposure control; those are two things having the raw data automatically provides.

Then there'd be the smearing problem with jpegs; raw avoids that mess.

Albeit somewhat bigger sensors, but my Canon G2 and Panasonic LX5 both have improved image quality control with raw (yes the Canon has a good jpeg engine).

So it’s bothersome, to say the least, to see claims that raw wouldn’t provide many improvements in these small tough cameras. Just ridding these cameras of jpeg smearing would make raw data capture very valuable.

And repeating myself: It’s not like there aren’t other small cameras that capture raw.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Maxfield_photo
By Maxfield_photo (Jul 22, 2013)

You have a good point, pevee. I do understand that the DR of a tiny sensor can't compare to that of an APS-C, let alone a full frame or larger sensor. For me, the desire for a waterproof camera that shoots RAW is as much about my workflow as it is image quality. Being able to re-interpret WB after the fact, color profiling with my ColorChecker Passport. The MX-1 can shoot in RAW, so why not a waterproof compact with the same sensor?

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 22, 2013)

Maxfield_photo:

I’m all for raw capacity in the WG-3, but just to be clear, the MX-1 has a different sensor than the WG-3. The MX-1's sensor is physically bigger and has fewer pixels than the “tough” cam’s.

0 upvotes
dpreviewblog
By dpreviewblog (Jul 20, 2013)

Thanks for the review... For me (IMHO) will be better to buy the GoPro Hero 3 (Black) instead of WG3 for extreme shooting/video...

1 upvote
D1N0
By D1N0 (Jul 20, 2013)

A hammer is also better for driving in nails than screws

1 upvote
dpreviewblog
By dpreviewblog (Jul 20, 2013)

Hammer - GoPro Hero 3?

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 21, 2013)

How is the zoom going on the GoPro? Or, wait. Is it waterproof without an extra case? Oh, wait.

0 upvotes
sdribetahi
By sdribetahi (Jul 22, 2013)

GoPro blows of photo's. I am a poet and didn't know it.

0 upvotes
rvof11
By rvof11 (Jul 20, 2013)

Thank you for the good review...excellent!

1 upvote
johnparas11zenfoliodotcom
By johnparas11zenfoliodotcom (Jul 20, 2013)

How come this pentax does not have a silver award? It received the same score as the Olympus TG2?

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jul 20, 2013)

The score and whether a camera gets an award are two different things. The score is objective, while the award is subjective. If the Pentax had better low light focusing, better underwater photos, and better battery life, it would've earned an award.

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Jul 20, 2013)

I'm still waiting for something (noticeably) better than the Panasonic TS3 which was the last roundup's recommendation and which I'm not happy with btw.

0 upvotes
primozp
By primozp (Jul 20, 2013)

Panasonic TS5 is (noticeably) better than the Panasonic TS3, at least for underwater use.

I can imagine that you are not happy with TS3, because it is not ideal camera. In fact no compact UW camera on the market today is not ideal, but Panasonic TS cameras are simply better than other compact UW cameras, especially for underwater use.

I am/was owner of all TS cameras:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primozp/sets/72157633756660405/

Check my (mainly) UW photos taken with TS cameras:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primozp/sets/

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
1 upvote
TacticDesigns
By TacticDesigns (Jul 20, 2013)

Timmbits . . . what is your take on the Olympus TG-1 or TG-2?

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 21, 2013)

Timmbits, Oly TG-1/2 and Pentax WG-3 GPS are noticably better than any other tough camera. In high image comparison widget, reduce their ISO by 1-2 stops and you'll see the difference people get in real life due to their faster lenses (comparing all cameras at the same iso is misleading as it is NOT what happens in RL).

0 upvotes
livefierce
By livefierce (Jul 20, 2013)

Thanks for another great review. Though the author discusses how the LCD performs outdoors, it's unclear how the LCD fares underwater specifically. Better or worse than the others in this series?

Thanks!

2 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jul 20, 2013)

It was fine underwater. Not as good as the Panasonic, but not as bad as the two OLED-based cameras.

3 upvotes
HiRez
By HiRez (Jul 20, 2013)

It looks like a cel phone prototype ("for girls!") from 2003.

4 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 19, 2013)

Aside from designing it to look like a doggie rubber bone, they have botched the sealing principle again. I am beginning to suspect there must be some sworn-in clandestine reason for all rugged-camera manufacturers to stubbornly continue creating this weak spot on purpose.
There really is no reason on Earth for the ridiculous design (Canon D20 suffers from that as well) and in the same time refusing to apply the reliable sealing system. There must be something wrong with people who think both the funny design and risky sealing will add to the selling highlights, whatever the rest of the features.
I'll pass, until someone manages to put all the useful features into the properly designed casing, which, by the way, should have less of the funny shapes, colors and whatnotproof text printed all over, but rather much more thought invested into its primary purposes.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 13 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Jul 20, 2013)

What should we be looking for with respect to sealing?

5 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 20, 2013)

Old Arrow–

I’d guess that Pentax goes with “funny” shapes for a better grip. At least this Pentax has a F2.0 lens, at the wide end.

Gesture–

That would be real O rings instead of the synthetic rubber pad used in these cameras. Something like the film Nikonos system. (Which brings up the idea of a bigger box and interchangeable lenses.)

2 upvotes
seilerbird666
By seilerbird666 (Jul 20, 2013)

You all don't understand underwater housings. If they were to use an O ring then it would have to be lubricated before it went into the water every single time. This is not a professional rig, this is for amateurs. Amateurs aren't going to grease an O ring before every dive. Therefore their camera won't last more than a few times in the water before flooding.

If you want O rings buy a professional housing. It is moronic to expect it in lightweight consumer products.

3 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 20, 2013)

seilerbird666:

I used my Nikonos under water some, and don’t remember having to grease the O ring every time. Yes it was something indicated by Nikon, but not an every roll of film or lens change thing.

Many water tight flashlights use O rings. Now I’ve not used them under the water, but there many are rated for diving, in particular the ones sold under the name Princeton Tec in the USA.

It would be better if the makers of these small tough cameras worked out a better sealing system. That includes making the bodies a bit thicker to allow for say 25 mm screw down ports–that size allows for an SD card and a reworked battery. Then the somewhat deeper body would allow for greater internal zoom systems.

“Pro housings” are big and costly. And very complicated to keep sealed. Nor do you then get a camera you can easily fit in a bag or big pocket. Even the Nikonos, with lens, could fit in a big cargo pocket.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 20, 2013)

Definitely o-rings. It is a common misconception that the grease aids in sealing. It's only so they can adapt themselves (move) within their groove toward the low pressure zone.The ring does not have to be taken out of the groove and re-lubricated every time, only when the water washes the lubricant off. The quantity of the lubricant used is very little, just so that the o-ring appears shiny, it is no problem at all. The principle ensures that the greater the pressure, the better the sealing, so there is no excuse for the manufacturers for not implementing them.
As to the camera housings... it is a different discussion entirely, and quite extensive at that. But these mostly are sealed by o-rings: for a reason.
@Howaboutraw... the o-rings do not have to be screwed down into position, there are other ways. The hatch and the place it takes can remain the same. See here for more detail:
http://www.digicamhelp.com/camera-care/varying-weather/watertighting-key-to-underwater-photography/

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 20, 2013)

Old Arrow–

The reason I like screw down watersealing systems is the inherent problems in hinged doors, now doors with real latches that tighten when turned 90 degrees to latch would be a possibility–that’s the system the Nikonos used.

I think the camera makers are missing a large market for a camera with better sealing and a somewhat bigger box+sensor–raw too of course. I bought my Pentax tough years ago. And I’m not real inspired to replace it with more pixels. (Only interesting developments have been BSI and F2.0 lenses–not news to you I’d posit.)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 20, 2013)

As you recall, Nikonos III uses an o-ring around the upper rim of the deck simply pushed into the casing. The lens locks it together, its own o-ring sealing the port simultaneously.
Nikonos V's lens is sealed and spring-locked into its port in the same way, and the back door had a ring in the groove, loose hinges on one side and a locking latch on the other.
Acually, any hinge / latch arrangement is only important in the first two or so meters of depth anyway, since the seals have to be in proper "starting" positions to adjust to the growing pressure. After that, the pressure makes both the opening of the hatch or removal of the lens nearly impossible.
The screw-down arangement or tightening latches do not augment the sealing quality. Remember that the door and/or the lens are seated metal-to-metal, and the o-ring sealing ability comes from its alignment within all four sides of its groove, and not from tightening force of the mechanism (unlike some of the Ikelite case models).

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jul 21, 2013)

OA--

You've thought about this more than I have, but I still think that in shallow water, before pressure is the sealing force, a latch that tightens the door against the O ring in the grove would keep the seal better than what's offered today on these "tough cameras".

I don't own a Nikonos anymore so can't easily check your points. I apprehend the one about the metal keeping the rings in place, but a metal to metal seal seems far fetched.

(I guess you could me that the metal of the door touches the metal of the body and the O ring is in a grove slightly bigger than the resting diameter of said O ring and closing the door expands the O ring to fill the space, while at the same time the metal touches metal. Then still you'd want a latch that snugs up while closing not one that's only open or closed. You'd want this property to compensate for any variation in the O ring sizing--a variation that could come from age or temperature.)

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 21, 2013)

@HowAboutRaw... I have used various Nikonos and other underwater cameras during my 45+ years of diving, and can safely say that I understand about water & pressure-related problematics.
You'll notice that I mentioned metal-to-metal SEATING, not sealing. In the sealed connection, hardware parts are hard-connected (in order to mantain precise alignment), but the sealing element between those has to be able to adapt to the pressure variation. And of course, the parts have to be kept together so the proper place for the sealing ring can be formed, and this is what the tightening of latches does.
As to the temperature influencing the o-ring, that is anulled by the groove dimensions for any given ring size. As the groove is dimensioned wider and flatter than the o-ring, its round cross cut shape becomes slightly oval, and ideally touches all of the four groove surfaces. So the temp change can't influence the seating.
We could continue by PM, to quit bothering other good folks here... ;)

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Jul 19, 2013)

"the fast F2.0-4.9 lens doesn't hurt, either"

Could you change that to "fast lens on the wide end [...]"? I don't think 4.9 qualifies as fast on a microscopic sensor.

5 upvotes
FreedomLover
By FreedomLover (Jul 19, 2013)

Thank you for the good review and the beautiful and helpful samples, Jeff Keller.
The girl is great.

1 upvote
Jimmy jang Boo
By Jimmy jang Boo (Jul 20, 2013)

The girl is very attractive too. DPR should hire her!

2 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Jul 20, 2013)

http://www.dpreview.com/misc/about

1 upvote
Total comments: 68