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Old Nov 16, 2010, 8:05 PM   #1
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Default Pentax Optio W 90- how good ?

I'm looking at getting a Pentax Optio W90. Don't know much about them, except that they're waterproof, rugged (can be dropped a couple of feet, have a 'microscope' feature, etc.

I'm looking at this camera as I can redeem some credit card points I have accumulated over the years towards getting one.


I have a Pentax K10D and KM (K2000) and an assortment of Pentax lenses.

I know the sensor is smaller than these two DSLR's...so the pictures won't approach the quality of these two cameras.

I would use it as a carry around camera in my jacket.

Anyone own one...can you tell me:

  • quality of the picture
  • does the 'microscope (assuming it's a macro) work well
  • is it an outdoor, rugged camera as billed

  • I've been very happy with my K10D and KM...is this Pentax P + S built to the same high standards as the DSLR's ? Probably not, I'm guessing, but I don't know.

  • What do you think ? Again I am a neophyte when it comes to P+S digitals.
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Old Nov 22, 2010, 9:44 PM   #2
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I don't own this camera, Les... but it has been reviewed on this very website:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/camer...90-review.html

And then there's this:

http://www.photographyblog.com/revie...io_w90_review/

From what I've read over the past couple of years, Panasonic's TS-series and Canon's Powershot D-series seem to have the best image quality among waterproof/rugged point-and-shoot's. But the Pentax W-series seems to generally be the "best of the rest."

Here's a group camera test from last year... when the Pentax W-80 and W-60 were in the thick of the campaign:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q209waterproofgroup/

Generally, the lack of image stabilization bothers me just a bit with the Pentax W-series. But perhaps leaving that out makes the camera even more rugged. The other common complaint with the W-80 seemed to be image noise. They liked the W-60 better.

Myself, I went for the TS1. But that's just me. In the absence of a direct answer to your question, I hope this helps.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 5:01 PM   #3
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I don't own this camera, Les... but it has been reviewed on this very website:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/camer...90-review.html

And then there's this:

http://www.photographyblog.com/revie...io_w90_review/

From what I've read over the past couple of years, Panasonic's TS-series and Canon's Powershot D-series seem to have the best image quality among waterproof/rugged point-and-shoot's. But the Pentax W-series seems to generally be the "best of the rest."

Here's a group camera test from last year... when the Pentax W-80 and W-60 were in the thick of the campaign:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q209waterproofgroup/

Generally, the lack of image stabilization bothers me just a bit with the Pentax W-series. But perhaps leaving that out makes the camera even more rugged. The other common complaint with the W-80 seemed to be image noise. They liked the W-60 better.

Myself, I went for the TS1. But that's just me. In the absence of a direct answer to your question, I hope this helps.
Thanks Biro for your thoughts and the info. I bought the W90 yesterday (early Xmas gift for me from my wife) ..but I have to wait till Dec. 25 th to give it a spin.

I have read quite a bit about it (some of the stuff you linked was new, thank you) and it seems to take very good pix for a P + S in bright sunlight...less favourable pix in bad light.

I saw a video from The Camera Store in Calgary...they showed video of trout in the Bow River, underwater and were quite high on it.

For image quality I checked out Flickr...some of the pix taken by the W90 were amazing for a P + S...some were typical for a P+S...some where not good at all....some of the underwater shots, particularly of lily pads...from the bottom up were surreal...really good.

I'm not sure what mine will be like, but apparently they're about the most rugged, deepest (20 feet, I think) water P+S.

I'm not a fan of P+S cameras, not even the Canon G series. A couple of years ago I seriously considered a Canon G, till I checked out the pix at a digital comparison site...G pix vs entry DSLR...even with arguably the best P+S...no contest when you start to enlarge....but that's the larger sensor and better lenses talking...not a fair contest, I know.

So I bought a KM...it's been great...DSLR after all...but even though it's relatively tiny...still too big to haul around on a daily basis.

I appreciate your post, your links and most of your thoughts on this...nothing better then having the opinion of another photographer who has traveled a similar road...thought provoking.

Thanks, Les
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 10:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Anyone own one...can you tell me:
quality of the picture OK, but not great
does the 'microscope (assuming it's a macro) work well yes
is it an outdoor, rugged camera as billed yes

I've been very happy with my K10D and KM...is this Pentax P + S built to the same high standards as the DSLR's ? Probably not, I'm guessing, but I don't know.

What do you think ?
Les, you have probably seen me recommend this camera to others on the Pentax dslr forum. I own one - you will love it for what it is and what it can do. IQ is about par for its class. It won't equal the IQ of your DSLRs, but it can't be expected to, yet it can get you pictures you might otherwise miss, and that is what it is for - a back up, not a substitute for a dslr. This is a unique camera, and it looks like it is one of Pentax's hottest sellers. A steal at the current prices.

Some comments here:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...optio-w90.html

And this from another post I made in the Pentax dslr forum:

Quote:
It is a rugged*, waterproof, shockproof, rubberized outdoor 12MP short zoom p&s - very small and lightweight, and comes with a carabiner to hang from your belt or backpack strap for instant access. It also has astonishing macro capabilities - I queried Pentax about the magnification ratios (unpublished), and Macro mode is 1:3, Supermacro is 1:1 and "Digital Microscope" mode is "far greater than life size!" - and what's more it has LEDs around the lens for closeup illumination! Reviews are mixed, because IQ isn't the greatest (about par for similar p&s), so it won't substitute for your dslr, but its features are unparalled and it will get you shots you would otherwise miss - it was product of the year for one outdoor hikers organization. You could even shoot from behind . . . waterfalls, and it's underwater IQ is better than on dry land, too (think of the underwater dragonfly larval shots you could get) . And it can be gotten for around $270, too. [edit - price is even lower, now]

* One reviewer (on video) smashed it with a hammer, dropped it on the floor from a ladder, and finally succeeded in damaging it with a pair of vicegrips (by cracking the cover of the viewscreen) but it still worked perfectly - now, that's rugged.
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Old Nov 24, 2010, 11:37 AM   #5
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Les, you have probably seen me recommend this camera to others on the Pentax dslr forum. I own one - you will love it for what it is and what it can do. IQ is about par for its class. It won't equal the IQ of your DSLRs, but it can't be expected to, yet it can get you pictures you might otherwise miss, and that is what it is for - a back up, not a substitute for a dslr. This is a unique camera, and it looks like it is one of Pentax's hottest sellers. A steal at the current prices.

Some comments here:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...optio-w90.html

And this from another post I made in the Pentax dslr forum:

Penolta,

Thanks for the links and comments. Like John in the posts, I had some misgivings about the W90 picture quality, but I've also seen similar concerns about the Canon G series, when I considering that camera. They have small sensors and the lenses on a P+S, no matter how pricey...are not the equivalent of my Pentax 12-24mm, friends' Canon 17-40 L or Tokina 11-16.

As you say they (P+S) are not DSLR substitutes.

What finally convinced me were a couple of things:

  • The thorough test video of the W90 from The Camera Store in Calgary please see link). They really put this tough little camera through the wringer and test the macro, waterproof, video, still pictures. They rated this camera quite well, for what it is, a good outdoors, P+S that is robust.
I would recommend anyone considering or that has this camera to check out this video test.
http://www.thecamerastore.com/articl...-camera-pentax

  • Flickr - I went to Flickr and looked at all the photos posted by those using a W 90. Some were surprisingly ...excellent. Many of the top photos were taken during the golden hours.. happens to me using my K10D, KM or medium format Mamiya (film) at those times. But again the W90 is not a medium format or DSLR, but pretty good, going by those pix, for a P+S. For a P+S, I was pleased with these top pix. Some of the pix were decidedly...average at best...some were just ok, some were a better than ok.
Les
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Old Nov 24, 2010, 1:33 PM   #6
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Les, it sounds like you're entering W-90 ownership with your eyes open and you understand the camera's limitations, which are not fatal. On plus side, the W-90 really does seem to be the toughest and most-waterproof of the rugged cameras. That alone is a very strong reason to recommend this camera. It certainly remains attractive to me even if I personally went with the TS1. I suspect you will enjoy using the W-90 as intended - as a rugged outdoors camera. I look forward to seeing some images you shoot and learning about your experiences with it. The best of luck with it... and, by the way, an early Merry Christmas!

Last edited by Biro; Nov 24, 2010 at 1:35 PM.
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Old Nov 24, 2010, 2:07 PM   #7
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Les, it sounds like you're entering W-90 ownership with your eyes open and you understand the camera's limitations, which are not fatal. On plus side, the W-90 really does seem to be the toughest and most-waterproof of the rugged cameras. That alone is a very strong reason to recommend this camera. It certainly remains attractive to me even if I personally went with the TS1. I suspect you will enjoy using the W-90 as intended - as a rugged outdoors camera. I look forward to seeing some images you shoot and learning about your experiences with it. The best of luck with it... and, by the way, an early Merry Christmas!
Biro,

Thank you for the nice comments and a Merry Xmas to you.

I just got back from my regular hour + walk (I'm retired) in a small urban riverine forest about a mile or so from my home.

I try to make this walk at least 4-5 times a week....whether snow, ice or very cold weather.
There are a couple of forest trails in the forest, alongside a small river that 150 -200 years ago was used as a little off route...minor... for early fur traders.

I've seen River otter, Barred Owls, Great Horned Owls, the usual deer, pileated woodpeckers, etc....and usually I have my K10D or KM with my 55-300 ready for action.

But on the really inclement days...where it is snowing heavily or raining, I would like to have a small camera to take out and not worry about conditions that are too wet.

My K10D with it's weather seals will handle weather like this...but my KM or my lenses...non of which are weather sealed would be at some risk.

So enters the W 90...also I know of a Lily Pond in the Canadian Shield (about a 90 minute drive) with crystal clear water that has Lily Pads that are spectacular...I can hardly wait till the summer, for underwater pictures.

Right now as I look out my front window, it has started to snow heavily... we are getting a Colorado Low....sweeping up northward from the Dakotas...perfect weather for the W 90.

Les
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Old Dec 6, 2010, 7:59 AM   #8
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Hi Les-

Please keep us posted with your W-90 experience and have a great Christmas.The best price I have found in the USA is $195 at www.buydig.com.

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; Dec 6, 2010 at 10:35 PM.
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Old Dec 7, 2010, 1:05 AM   #9
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Hi Les-

Please keep us posted with your W-90 experience and have a great Christmas.The best price I have found in the USA is $195 at www.buydig.com.

Sarah Joyce
Sarah,

That is a great price.

I'm looking forward to using the W90. Although, I know it won't compare to a DSLR, I'm hoping it will still be able to produce a decent picture. I checked out Flicker to get an idea of what the pix were like and some of them , seem surprisingly good for a P+S.

In the end I'm trading optimum picture quality for portability, underwater ability , mud, snow capability.

For quite awhile as you know I've wanted a camera that would fit into a shirt pocket (maybe a Western / outdoor style shirt pocket ) that I could carry around on a daily basis.

My KM / KM 2000 body, albeit compact was still too large. BTW, thanks for that 40mm Pentax lens assessment, it helped me make an informed decision and in the end I didn't get it. I was thinking of getting that pancake lens for the compact KM....but it still would be significantly larger than the W90.

I will let you know how the W90 works for me.

Merry Christmas,

Les



Last edited by lesmore49; Dec 7, 2010 at 1:18 AM.
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Old Dec 8, 2010, 3:30 PM   #10
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Thanks for the report, Les-

I have just returned from 5 weeks of teaching on cruise ships. As an experiment, I made the Draconian Decision that I would not take a DSLR with me. I went off for 5 weeks with just a Canon G-11 and my tiny Canon EX-270 external flash. At the end of the assignment, I was very happy with the photo results.

So I too am moving toward a "Smaller is Better" mindset.

Sarah Joyce
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