Pentax Optio WP Camera

Pentax Optio WP Waterproof camera 

Yes any review of what is something of a 'techy' product quickly goes out of date, so this review is more about the use of a compact waterproof camera for cycle touring as it is about the actual product itself. Many of use our bikes for touring and like to carry a camera to take pictures of our tour along the way; all of the pictures below and the majority of the pictures taken on my cycle tours shown on this site were taken with that very camera.

Digital cameras are now the norm, many like this Pentax Optio WP are an ideal size for anyone who wants to take general snaps, being light and compact enough to fit into a cycling jersey or pannier pocket. However one common complaint amongst riders is that cameras can be vulnerable to moisture, even waterproof panniers can be insufficient to protect a camera, moisture is in the air after all and especially if riding through hot humid showery conditions pannier bags can sweat, the result can soon be one broken camera!

The Pentax Optio WP is however fully Waterproof, it can even take pictures underwater, although I confess I wouldn’t risk that myself, it was purely bought as I felt reassured that at least if it did get wet on tour then it should be OK. Picture quality is fairly good with 5.0 megapixels, although although it was quickly updated to 6.0! (Edit the current versions has 20....)

Colours in daylight (Sarlat Dordogne)

With simple menu screen I found the camera easy to use and perfect for on tour shots of views and day light general pictures of points of interest. It can be used in either fully or semi automatic mode with quick and easy to select options which included an emphasis on long distance views, portraits or close up pictures as well as all the normal features we would expect a compact camera to include. 

Detail in daylight.

So easy to use and so pleased was I with the results even I could manage that I actually started to enjoy taking the pictures more so than ever before, the convenience of digital allowing me to snap away carefree with out the concern of filling up a 36 exposure film as in the past, only the size of the memory card being a limit in that respect, my 1gb card allowing for 300 pictures, more if I selected less pixels to be recorded in each shot of course. I personally keep the camera set at 5.0 mega pixels as for me 300 shots is adequate plus I find that instead of using the zoom to the maxim (3 x Optical) I get a better quality picture if I crop a shot on my pc afterwards instead, the maximum amount pixels helping to achieve this.

Compact enough to fit in a pocket and operate with one finger for 'quick on the fly' shots when cycling. (Ryde IOW)

On the downside the display screen can be hard to see in bright sunlight and flash photography is impressive for close up work only; in conclusion for I am very happy with it; even if it was out of date by the time I walked out of the shop (a very helpful Jessops) with it.

Update 2024: Naturally since I bought this camera in 2008 and I dare say all round the quality would be far better than mine with all the same boxes ticked but with bigger ticks with less 'noise' and improved low light shots. As you'd expect my camera has evolved massively since 2008, the latest can be seen on the following link 'Ricoh (who bought Pentax in 2011)'. If I'm honest I would replace it and probably will with another of the same type, as I do now covet even better shots with an updated model. In reality although I was overjoyed with the results when I bought it, time has moved on, in fairness they no longer hold up with the modern competition. I've used this camera as you can see extensively and I've enjoyed it, immensely, I've been impressed with it and would highly recommend a compact robust camera for cycle touring. 

With care even over the shoulder shots are possible. (Dordogne)

Many would argue that modern smart phones now give good results, which they do, technology has moved on and I am not surprised that the majority are now better than this old camera. But, many of the pictures I've taken as you can see above I've taken while actually riding. These 'on the fly' pictures are often my favourite shots; I really don't think I could do that with my phone anywhere near as easily, the phones are not as secure in the hand (the new versions even more so) and more fiddly to hold, then focus, then take a quick shot all while still trying to ride! I, conclusion I one would still far prefer a compact camera over a smart phone.

Value for money 7

Performance 8

Overall 8

For: Waterproof and compact

Against: Very limited use of flash and it did develop a fault after a year (missing pixel line); repaired under (extended) warranty