Product Reviews » The PENTAX Optio WG-2 GPS
I am not an easy mark for cameras salespeople. I am usually very clear about what I want and need in a camera. I research available models to find just what to buy, and once I have them, I really work them.
Back in the days of film, I had many a compact camera to complement a series of hard-working 35mm bodies and a veritable arsenal of lenses. The small point & shoot (P&S) cameras I have owned over the years have eventually become inoperable; and because of their relatively low price point ($250-$400), they are never cost-effective to repair. So they have all become collection pieces in my own private museum. My previous favorite P&S compact was an Olympus XA camera that took great pictures and fit into a shirt pocket. Since its discontinuation, I have been looking for a new compact, just so I could always have a camera on my person. I think I found it. I gotta say, the PENTAX Optio WG-2 GPS is a stunner!
|The PENTAX Optio WG-2 GPS.|
Let me get some of the technical specifications of the PENTAX Optio WG-2 out of the way, then we will move onto the imagery and ease of use. Foremost in the latest model's feature set is a bright, back-illuminated, 16 megapixel CMOS image sensor and powerful imaging engine that perform superbly in high-sensitivity settings. The WG-2 delivers clear, sharp images with less noise than previous models. Its main specs are:
Other neat technical and protective features of the PENTAX Optio WG-2 GPS camera include:
So, what did I do with this little spunky package? When I first opened it, it was too cute—maybe this is not the right term. It is stylish, attractive and well-designed, but also hearty and robust. No, I am not tasting wine, rather trying to explain what I like about this camera. Look at the picture of it at the top of this article. It's nice looking, but also well-designed in terms of durability and usability. Once I got the battery charged, the SD card in, the language and time set, I started walking the neighborhood.
|This image of a flower, taken in Ultra Macro mode, illustrates what a nice job the Optio WG-2 does with close-ups.|
First I had to try the Ultra Macro setting. I actually inserted the front of the lens into a tulip and took a picture. Damn, the image was really cool—pistil, stamen, color, design, all a fraction of an inch away.
|Notice the clarity and fine details, especially the bubbles around the edges, visible in this macro image of ice cubes in a glass of soda.|
Look at this shot where I put the lens pointing down into a glass of soda! With sensitivity as high as ISO 6400 and 16.0 effective megapixels, the image sensor delivers super high-resolution images.
By positioning six LED Macro Lights around the circumference of the lens barrel for macro shooting, the Optio WG-2 offers brighter, more uniform illumination of the subject when the Digital Microscope mode is selected. With Macro Lights, users may clearly see a magnified view of the microscopic world, while capturing eye-catching images. The Macro function increases the illumination level of the LED Macro Lights at the moment of shutter release. The Macro function is also upgraded to allow for the use of a higher shutter speed to minimize camera shake and subject movement.
|The Optio WG-2's ability to create panoramic images makes for an interesting group shot of my friends.|
Next, I had to try the Panorama capability. It offers two choices. Either a two-image or a three-image, horizontal mash-up. Obviously the three-image would be longer and more dramatic, so I tried that. I was on my way to a local watering hole and made an image of my friends. We all may think of using the panoramic mode to record a dramatic landscape, but I wanted to try something more unusual, including people to make it more complicated. The camera first asks you to set the direction of shooting; that is whether you will start with the left-hand image and work to the right, or vice-versa. Next you take a shot. Then it shows you a 'ghosted' image of the far edge of this first image. You use this to create the left edge of the second shot, so there is enough overlap to allow the camera to find the exact pixels to overlap. You take the second shot, and it again shows you a ghosted image of the new right edge of the picture; you find that overlap point, and shoot again. Within seconds, it magically stitches the three shots into one, and voilà - a panoramic image. I have been playing with this ever since. Way easier than Photoshop!
|Another panoramic image, digitally stitched together by the Optio WG-2. I love this feature!|
Did I tell you that all of the lens zooming takes place within the camera? There is no moving in and out of a protruded front element. The lens is protected by a clear filter over the front, as well as a lens shade. Nothing sticks out to get damaged. As far as I can figure, this is just plain magic! OK, maybe not magic but extremely inventive. Behind the front lens element is a mirror that bends the image 90 degrees, then through the zooming elements. This is a true optical zoom design, with the added benefit of no protruding lens mechanism which is what allows the camera to be waterproof, shockproof, etc.
The camera feature a high-performance 5X optical zoom lens covering focal lengths from 5mm to 25mm (equivalent to approx. 28mm wide angle to 140mm telephoto in the 35mm format). This versatile zoom captures images of a wide range of subjects and scenes from landscapes to family/group shots in a confined space. With the camera’s Intelligent Zoom function, users may further extend the zoom range to approximately 36 times, to cover the focal length equivalent to approximately 1000mm super-telephoto lens, to capture extra-high-magnification images.
|In case I forget where I shot a particular image, the PENTAX Optio WG-2 records a log of GPS data for all my images.|
One other interesting feature of the PENTAX Optio WG-2 is a new and improved GPS module that shortens the time lag before the start of GPS operation, greatly extending the operating life. The module also allows users to record position data when shooting still images and to take advantage of various GPS-compatible applications and services provided by PENTAX and such Web sites as Google Maps™. The module corrects the built-in clock automatically to match the local time of your specific shooting location. And finally, the module automatically creates log data and stores it as a KML-format file onto an SD memory card. This log helps users keep extremely accurate track of their movements during outdoor shooting. The GPS positions can be displayed later on the computer using various online services such as Google Earth™
The PENTAX Optio WG-2 features some other advanced technologies, including shake reduction, face recognition/smile capture and blink detection, which can help make great group shots or portraits. It even has a pet-recognition app. You can also experiment with the Optio WG-2's myriad of presets.
Both GPS and non-GPS versions of the Optio WG-2 are available in several new stylish color options. With a list price at $299.95, the Optio WG-2 is available in black or red, while the Optio WG-2 GPS is priced at $349.95, in a choice of orange or white. The Optio WG-2 can be ordered through the PENTAX webstore or through other major retailers.
It should be obvious from reading this review that I really liked experimenting and creating images with this cute, powerful little P&S camera. It's a pleasure having this compact wonder easily at hand to make a wide variety of shots.
Follow the light…f-stop