I posted yesterday about my Olympus Stylus 850SW that wasn’t waterproof. I thought I’d post briefly about my other waterproof point and shoot – my Pentax Optio W20. You can read this detailed review to learn about its specs and features. I’ve owned this camera for a number of years based on the recommendation of a kayak guide I met in Baja. As you would expect the camera a water-sports professional likes was and is actually waterproof! I have abused this camera far more than it deserves and it continues to work for me without complaint. On the plus side the construction seems pretty bombproof and the camera is dead easy to use. Ever since I got my Olypmus Stylus last Dec I’ve been loaning this camera to all my friends. They haven’t been gentle with it and they haven’t had any issues with it – except one I’ll mention below. Picture quality is not bad, but not great. It’s worse than my Stylus 850SW, but not by a lot. Where it does suffer is in comparison to my Canon S870IS. Again as with my Stlus as long as it provides worry free waterproof performance and remains robust I can live with average picture quality. After all I wouldn’t dare pull out my Canon point and shoot on a surfboard or in the pouring rain.
This camera has some issues though:
- Since there is no lens cover water drops or dirt can get onto the lens and unless you pay attention you can take a whole bunch of ruined photos without noticing the problem on the LCD screen. This happened on a kayak trip in Baja where dried salt on the lens made 20-30 photos my friend took pretty much useless – she was seriously bummed. Since I’m aware of the problem I regularly clean the lens and I haven’t had a problem myself.
- The camera body is very rounded which makes holding it one handed tough – especially when wet. I like to grab my camera from my bike’s bar bag and shoot one handed while riding – this is virtually impossible with this camera. I bought a silicone sleeve for it [$25cdn] that made it much easier to hold, but the sleeve made using the controls tough and eventually it ripped apart.
- The camera uses a non-standard USB cable so you have to bring a special cable with you when traveling which is a pain. Canon uses a standard mini-USB which I can share amongst several USB devices on a trip – thanks Canon!
- The battery charger is much bulkier than my Canon chargers which is a pain when traveling. I can’t see any reason for this than poor design.
As a note the W20 is out of production, but Pentax has a new waterproof model the Optio W80, which appears to be a direct response to Olympus’ Stylus line of cameras. The W80 looks to be more squared at the corners so I’m hoping it will be easier to hold.