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Pentax Optio WG-1 review: Pentax Optio WG-1

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The Good Resistant to water, cold, drops and crushing; 720p video recording with HDMI output; easy to use.

The Bad Design will repel some people; some image softness.

The Bottom Line Tougher than old boots, the Pentax Optio WG-1 rugged camera is ready for almost anything. It takes a decent photo too, and comes with some useful bonus features.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

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When the going gets tough, the tough get using their Optio WG-1. At least, that's what Pentax would like them to do. The WG-1 is yet another rugged camera but this one isn't just waterproof -- it's almost everything-proof. At around £210, it could be the ideal snapper to take with you on your adventures.


With its heavy-duty plastic mouldings and rugged design, the WG-1 looks more like a piece of orienteering equipment than a digital camera. That's even more true once you attach the rock-climbing-style carabiner strap that comes supplied with the device.

Image description
Pictures are, in general, warm, colourful and slightly soft. If you like images to be sharper, then you may need to run them through a filter in an image-editing application (click image to enlarge).

The WG-1 is designed for extreme conditions, so it's waterproof to 10m, freezeproof to -10°C, and shockproof from heights of up to 1.5m. It's also crushproof to 100kg. As such, the WG-1 compares well with rival rugged cameras in terms of what it can withstand.

If you're looking to go deeper still, however, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 has the edge, with waterproofing to murky depths of 12m. For the DMC-FT3's extra 2m, plus added GPS support, you'll shell out around £60, however.

The WG-1 survived our simulated 'extreme' conditions, including being immersed in a baby bath and being sat on by a journalist.  

For geotagging globetrotter types, it's worth pointing out that a GPS-enabled version of the WG-1 is also available. It's called, imaginatively enough, the WG-1 GPS. It sells for around £40 more than the standard model but looks practically identical.


On the photographic side, the WG-1 has a 5x wide-angle zoom lens (equivalent to 28‐140mm in 35mm terms) and a 14-megapixel image sensor that's capable of capturing photos at resolutions of up to 4,228x3,216 pixels.

Pentax Optio WG-1 strap
This strap is for attaching the WG-1 to your tank. Maybe.

It can also record video clips at up to 720p. A mini-HDMI socket allows you to connect the camera to a high-definition TV and watch your movies on the big screen. The WG-1's wide-screen, 2.7-inch LCD display is sharp and bright, with an anti-glare coating.

The WG-1's design won't appeal to everyone. It's a deliberately macho-looking device, and it's not particularly small.

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