Pentax Optio W90 Digital Camera - Black (12MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 2.7 inch LCD
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- 12.1 Megapixel CCD sensor
- Waterproof to 6 m, shockproof to 1.2 m, coldproof to 10°C
- Wide angle 5x optical zoom (equ. to 28 140mm in 35mm)
- Video recording in HDTV compatible (1280x720 pixels, 30 fps)
- 3 LED for macro and underwater photography
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The PENTAX Optio W90
The PENTAX Optio W90 digital compact camera has, in addition to its upgraded waterproof, dustproof and shockproof capabilities, the new Digital Microscope mode, which allows for a closer look at small but intriguing subjects in outdoor shooting.
Enhanced waterproof and shockproof performance
By further enhancing the air tightness of the camera body, PENTAX has upgraded the Optio W90’s underwater picture-taking performance to six metres (compared to five metres for its predecessor) and for up to two hours of continuous operation. Along with its outstanding IPX8 (or JIS Class 8) waterproof performance, the Optio W90 also offers exceptional shockproof capacity* to withstand a fall from a height of 1.2 meters (one metre for its predecessor) without damage to the body, thanks to its new body design and refined internal mechanisms. In addition to these characteristics, the Optio W90 comes with remarkable dustproof performance equivalent to IP6X (or JIS Class 6) and exceptional cold-proof performance for reliable operation at temperatures as low as –10°C, making it a perfect choice for active photographers who venture to shoot pictures in demanding outdoor conditions.
Digital Microscope mode for nature observation from 1cm away
Combining a macro shooting capability from one centimetre away with the Digital Zoom function, the Optio W90’s new Digital Microscope mode delivers a magnified view of miniscule subjects difficult to observe closely with the naked eye, and makes it possible to capture fine-detailed images of such subjects. Thanks to three LED Macro Light installed on the face of the lens barrel, the subject is clearly and brightly displayed on the LCD monitor even when the camera is held at a distance at which it casts a shadow on the subject. This mode not only comes in handy when observing the wonders of nature and photographing such subjects as leaf veins and tiny insects, but also opens the door to new discoveries and unexpected surprises in the ordinary subjects found in daily life.
Upgraded face detection to detect even the faces of dogs and cats
The Optio W90 features a new-generation Face Detection AF & AE function, which instantly and accurately detects up to 32 faces in the image field, then catches them in sharp focus and optimum exposure in just 0.03 seconds. In addition to popular features such as the innovative Small Face filter, this upgraded version is programmed to detect not only human faces, but also the faces of dogs and cats. When the user selects pre-registered dog or cat faces (up to 3 choices), the camera automatically detects them and optimises focus and exposure. The user can even program the camera to automatically release the shutter the moment the subject’s face turns straight toward the camera. These features make it simple and effortless to capture the delightful faces of active pets.
High-quality, HD-proportioned movie recording
The Optio W90 captures beautiful, flawless movie clips at 16:9 high-definition TV proportions (1280 x 720 pixels) at a frame rate of 30 frames per second. This mode also offers a variety of editing functions: Still images can be extracted from movie clips; title images can be added to the beginning and/or end of a movie clip; and more. The Optio W90 also provides an HDMI micro terminal for audio/video signal output.
Extra-wide 2.7-inch LCD monitor for effortless outdoor viewing
On the back of its small body, the Optio W90 features a large 2.7-inch high-brightness colour LCD monitor with approximately 230,000 dots and horizontally extended 16:9 proportions. This monitor is treated with a special AR (Anti-Reflection) coating to cut the glare of external light and minimise annoying reflections, making it easy to view recorded images and on-screen menus even in bright sunlight.
High image quality
Combining approximately 12.1 effective megapixels with the PENTAX-developed imaging engine and the high-performance PENTAX zoom lens, the Optio W90 delivers brilliant, high-quality images with well-defined details. Even when images are enlarged to larger sizes, the user is assured of sharp, high-resolution prints with edge-to-edge sharpness.
5 x Optical zoom lens with a 28mm wide-angle coverage
Despite its compact dimensions, the Optio W90 features an optical 5X zoom lens covering focal lengths from 5mm to 25mm (equivalent in the 35mm format to approximately 28mm wide angle to 140mm telephoto). Thanks to this wide zoom range, the Optio W90 can be used for a wide variety of subjects and scenes, from spectacular landscape and group shots to tightly framed snapshots taken from a distance.
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Picture quality for anything but the closest brightest shots in the clearest sea is average, although with 12MP gave plenty of data for image processing once at home and I've ended up with some good shots. A slight drawback is the shutter being a bit slow, not so slow that you wouldn't get used to it but just enough to make you miss those first few fish but with a big enough memory card it just means take as many shots as you can!
Video I have to say was great, a bit slow to adjust to differing light conditions underwater but the picture quality is fabulous I think better than on the Sanyo Xacti CA100 (and I've had two of those fail underwater!) even though its only HD720.
However there is a better camera out there for underwater photography and it's the Canon PowerShot D10 Digital Camera (12.1 MP, 3.0x Optical Zoom) 2.5" LCD. It does a much better job of reproducing the colours of fish and coral underwater in the same conditions as the Pentax but alas only does VGA video. It also has so far lasted through two weeks of snorkeling while the Pentax had to be replaced after the first week.
Verdict: Having the Canon for pics and the Pentax for video was great and it meant if one failed there still was a back up, stay away from the Sanyo Xacti CA100 Outdoor/Waterproof Dual Camera (14MP, Full HD recording, 12x Double range Zoom, Waterproof to 3m) - Pink though (major waterproof issues!). While the Canon looks clunkier and is much bulkier this could also mean it is more durable for underwater use in the long run..
Battery - I've have a spare (about £8) as heavy use would leave the battery flat after a few hours.
Picture quality - high pixel count, but of course not as much detail as an SLR with a top-drawer lens. But an excellent picture for the price.
Update March 2013 - still going strong. It's been dropped from a tree, been up mountains and regularly goes in swimming pools / down water slides with me. My silicone skin has worn out - I don't need it, it's tough enough without.
This is a great little camera, crisp clear pics in all settings. I had one of the landscape shots printed out at 20"*16" and I cannot see any artefact or image distortions. The user interface is intuitive and simple to use as is the bundled editing software with some really good features like background blur to make subject images stand out.
Only two minor niggles;
1) The video camera operation EATS battery life so get a spare battery if you intend to use this for any amount of time. Seeing as spares are only a few £ I would suggest one anyway.
2) The panorama and wide options do not stitch images together completely seamlessly, you have to rely on your ability to overlap a ghost image projected on the small LCD screen with the 'Live' image on the same screen and all within 15 seconds before the screen dims to save power and you cannot see a thing on it. But then for a sub £[...] camera it does a decent enough job.
The underwater functions worked exceedingly well in both the hotel pool and sea without any water ingress into the camera body.
All in all I would rate this as probably the best point and shoot I have ever owned.
I have seen a few reviews commenting on the video freezing as it records and I was initially concerned by these. However this is down to the quality of the SDHC card used to write the image to. In order to write HD video without the need for buffering the camera needs a class 10 card, so if you are thinking of purchasing this camera make sure you get the right card to go with it.
I had no problems with video buffering whilst recording for well over 12 mins continuously.