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Cameras

Pentax Optio 43WR

Pentax Optio 43WR

This 4-megapixel waterproof camera offers a step up from the 3-megapixel Pentax Optio 33WR, and it comes in a more distinctive--and possibly easier to spot on the beach--charcoal gray color. It's sealed to be watertight, and Pentax says you can dunk it in up to 3 feet of water for as long as 30 minutes.

Upside: We've been pleasantly surprised by the broad set of sometimes useful and sometimes merely entertaining features Pentax puts in its snapshot cameras. The Pentax Optio 43WR continues in that vein, even offering 680x480, 30fps video capture. It feels very solid, with rubberized corners that will both cushion a fall and make its square body comfortable to hold. Its internal 2.8X zoom lens gives you a decent amount of shooting flexibility while remaining watertight.

Downside: You can't actually take any pictures with this camera when it's submerged, so that rules out your snorkeling photo plans. The Optio 33WR's autofocus didn't perform consistently, and unless Pentax has made improvements with this model, getting sharp pictures with it could be a problem.

Outlook: The Pentax Optio 43WR goes head to head with Olympus's heavily advertised Stylus 410. It offers a more flexible feature set and a more dunkable level of waterproofing, but whether it will outpace the Olympus in the areas of photo quality and performance is yet to be seen. The Optio 43WR will be available in June for $349 (list).

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