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Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Note: The studio shot comparison widget (which you can read more about here) below features the Pentax WG-3 and five of its competitors. The text above the test shots highlights only the WG-3 - look for a detailed comparison when all of the cameras in this shootout are reviewed. this page features our interactive studio shot comparison widget.

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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