Originally Posted: August 26, 2011
Last Updated: August 28, 2011
The Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS ($399) is a compact, rugged camera that is designed to be outside in the elements. It's waterproof to 33 feet, shockproof from 5 feet, crushproof to 220 lbs, and freezeproof to 14F. The WG-1 looks like it means business, with a design that's the polar opposite of your typical compact camera. The WG-1 is also equipped with a built-in GPS, so you'll know exactly where you took the photo of your friend falling off his snowboard.
Other features on the WG-1 GPS include a 14 Megapixel CCD, 5X optical zoom lens, 2.7" LCD display, 720p movie mode, and built-in LED macro lights.
I should mention that there's also a vanilla Optio WG-1 available as well (for $349). Same as the model I'm describing here, except that it lacks the GPS feature.
There's quite a bit of competition in the rugged camera market these days. Read on to see how the Optio WG-1 GPS performed in our tests!
What's in the Box?
The Optio WG-1 GPS has a good bundle for a compact camera. Here's what you'll find when you open Pentax's eco-friendly box:
- The 14.0 effective Megapixel Optio WG-1 GPS digital camera
- D-LI92 lithium-ion battery
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- Carabiner strap
- Macro stand
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring MediaImpression
- 312 page camera manual (printed)
Pentax has built 97MB worth of memory into the Optio WG-1 GPS -- quite a bit more that the competition. You'll be able to store 19 photos at the highest quality setting into that amount of memory, so odds are that you'll want to buy a larger memory card along with the camera. The WG-1 supports SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards, and I'd suggest a 2GB card to start. You probably don't need to go overboard with a high speed card on this camera.
The Optio WG-1 GPS uses the D-LI92 lithium-ion battery. This compact battery contains 3.5 Wh of energy, which is typical for a compact camera. Here's a look at how that translates into battery life:
The Optio WG-1 GPS' battery life is slightly above average for this group of weatherproof cameras. Those numbers are calculated with the GPS turned off, so expect probably 50% lower numbers with it turned on. If you're using the logging function (which turns the GPS even when the camera is off), the battery will drain even quicker.
Since the GPS can be such a drain on the battery, it's worth buying a spare. One of those will set you back at least $33, though generics cost about half that. In addition, should your rechargeables die, you can't pick something up off the shelf, as you could with a camera that uses AA batteries. Unfortunately, there aren't any cameras in this class that support them.
When it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the included charger. The charger doesn't plug directly into the wall (it requires a power cable), and takes about 2 hours to fully charge the D-LI92.
Like many of the other weatherproof cameras, the WG-1 does not have a lens cover at all. That makes the lens prone to scratches, so be careful.
There are a just a few accessories available for the ELPH 100 HS. They include:
Alright, that's all for accessories -- let's talk about software now.
PhotoImpression in Windows 7
Pentax includes ArcSoft MediaImpression (version 3.0 for Windows and 2.1 for Mac OS X) with the Optio WG-1. Both the Mac and Windows versions do similar things, with the former looks a lot more dated than the latter. On the main screen of PhotoImpression (Windows users run separate apps for photos and videos -- Mac users just use MediaImpression) you'll find the usual thumbnail view, where you can create albums and filter through your photos. Here you can view slideshows, e-mail or print photos, or upload them to social networking sites.
Editing in PhotoImpression
The software has a nice set of editing tools. You can do basic things like crop or rotate photos, and tools for adjusting white balance, shadow detail, noise levels, and color are all available. As you'd expect, plenty of special effects are also available, plus the ability to put a virtual frame around your photo.
VideoImpression in WIndows 7
The other half of the MediaImpression suite is VideoImpression. It's a separate app on Windows, and part of MediaImpression on the Mac. Here you can arrange video clips, add music and voice-overs, throw in some titles, and save the finished product to your PC (or upload directly to social networking sites). It's not a replacement for Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere, but for the average consumer, it works just fine.
I have to give credit to Pentax for including a full, printed manual in the box with the WG-1. And not just any manual -- this one's over 300 pages long! It features large type and detailed explanations, with a minimum of fine print. Documentation for the included software will be installed onto your computer.
Look and Feel
Pentax has gone out of their way to make the WG-1 look rugged. It has an unconventional shape, is lined with rubber, and even comes with a carabiner strap. As I mentioned, the camera is everything-proof, which includes:
- Waterproof to 10 meters (33 feet) for up to two hours
- Shockproof from 1.5 meters (5 feet)
- Crushproof to 100 kg (220 lbs)
- Freezeproof to +14° F (0° C)
While I didn't test most of those things, I did successfully snorkel with the camera back in May. When it came time to review the camera, I noticed that the lock for the battery/memory card compartment door had failed, which allowed it to open with ease. That's not what you want on a waterproof camera, and not exactly reassuring. Aside from that, build quality is generally solid.
Ergonomics are decent, with most of the controls kept on the right side of the LCD. These controls are tightly packed and on the small side (especially the zoom controller), and leave little room to rest your fingers (mine ended up on the four-way controller).
|Images courtesy of Pentax|
The Optio WG-1 GPS is available in three colors: green, orange, and gray. The non-GPS version of the camera comes in black and purple.
Now let's see how the WG-1 compares to other rugged cameras in terms of size and weight:
As you can see, the WG-1 is one of the larger cameras in the group, though it's not as big as the whale-like PowerShot D10. It's small enough to go anywhere that you do. Just remember that the camera will sink when submerged in water, so be sure to buy a floating strap if that's a concern for you.
Let's start our tour of the camera now, shall we?
The Optio WG-1 features an F3.5-5.5, 5X optical zoom lens. The focal length is 5 - 25 mm, which is equivalent to 28 - 140 mm. Being a waterproof camera, it should come as no surprise that the lens elements are all internal. You probably know this already, but the WG-1 does not support conversion lenses or filters.
The WG-1 with macro stand installed and LED lamps on
Image courtesy of Pentax
The five LED lamps that surround the lens are used to light up subjects when shooting in macro mode. The camera has a "digital microscope" mode in which you place a special "macro stand" to the lens barrel. You then place the camera face down, on top of your subject. At this point you can take pictures with your illuminated subject just 1 cm away. The catch is that the resolution is set to 2 Megapixel. I'll have an example of this feature in action later in the review.
A feature found on most of the competition, but not the WG-1, is optical image stabilization. Instead, you get Pentax's electronic equivalent, known as Pixel Track SR. This feature isn't available in certain shooting modes, cannot be used with the flash, and will increase shot-to-shot times. Does it work? Let's take a look:
Pixel Shift SR off
Pixel Shift SR on
Both of the photos above were taken at a shutter speed of 1/8th of a second. As you can see, the photo taken with Pixel Shift SR is sharper, though it took a few seconds for the camera to process the image and save it to the memory card, so it's certainly not for action photography. Regular IS systems have no such delay and are not going to have the noise produced by the Pixel Shift process, either. Pentax has an entirely different digital IS system for movies, and you can see it in action here. Notice that the portion of the video with digital IS turned on is zoomed in more -- that's a side effect of the electronic system.
Returning to the tour now, I want to next mention the WG-1's flash, located to the upper-right of the lens. Flash strength is about average for a compact camera: 0.3 - 3.9 m at wide-angle and 0.3 - 2.5 m at telephoto (both at Auto ISO). You cannot attach an external flash to the WG-1.
Three final things to see on the front of the camera include the AF-assist lamp, remote control receiver, and microphone and speaker combo (which are immediately to the right of the lens).
The thing that'll probably catch your eye when you first see the back of the WG-1 is its widescreen LCD display. This screen is 2.7 inches in size (diagonally) and has a 16:9 aspect ratio. While that aspect ratio is great for movies, it's not so hot for still shooting, as you'll end up with a large black margin to the left of the photo you're composing. The LCD has 230,000 pixels, which is sharp enough for a screen this size. Outdoor visibility was pretty good, and it low light the screen "gains up" fairly well, so you can still see your subject.
Now let's go over all the buttons to the right of the LCD. First up is the zoom controller which, as I said, is rather small. It moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in a speedy 1.4 seconds. I counted just nine stops in the camera's 5X zoom range, which doesn't allow for much precision.
The WG-1 found four of the six faces in our test scene
Under that we have buttons for entering playback mode or the menu system, as well as for flipping through the camera's various face detection modes. The face detection modes include:
- Standard face detection: finds up to 32 faces in the scene and makes sure they're properly exposed
- Smile Capture: waits for someone in the frame to smile and then takes a photo
- Self-portrait assist: uses the LED lamps on the front of the camera to indicate your position in the frame; works for up to two subjects
- Self-portrait assist + smile capture: same as above but waits for a smile before taking a photo
- Face detection off: when the camera is thinking that trees are faces
Kudos to Pentax for the clever use of those LED lamps on the front of the WG-1! The camera's face detection system works well, typically finding four or five of the six faces in our test scene.
Next up we have the four-way controller, used for menu navigation and reviewing photos, as well as:
- Up - Drive (Off, 2 or 10 sec self-timer, continuous, high-speed continuous, 0 or 3 sec remote control, interval shooting, auto bracketing)
- Down - Mode (see below)
- Left - Flash setting (Auto, flash off, flash on, auto + redeye reduction, flash on + redeye reduction)
- Right - Focus mode (AF, macro, 1 cm macro, pan focus, infinity, manual focus)
- Center - OK + change info on LCD
Lots to talk about before we can continue. First, the drive options. There are two continuous shooting modes on the WG-1: regular and high-speed. The regular mode will keep taking full resolution photos, though at a dog slow rate of 0.7 frames/second. The high speed mode shoots faster (2.2 frames/sec) but 1) the resolution is 5 Megapixel and 2) the LCD is blacked out the whole time, which makes tracking a moving subject impossible.
Two other drive modes worth mentioning are interval shooting and auto bracketing. Interval (time-lapse) shooting allows you to shoot a set number of photos at a chosen interval (10 sec - 99 mins). You can even choose when the whole thing starts, up to 24 hours in advance. The optional AC adapter is strongly recommended for use with this feature. The auto bracketing mode is quite simple: the camera takes three photos in a row (rather slowly), each with a different exposure setting (-1EV, as shot, +1EV). That interval is pretty large -- it would be nice to be able to choose it yourself, as you can on most cameras.
Those focus modes should be fairly self-explanatory, and I'll talk about macro shooting later, but I want to quickly mention pan and manual focus. Pan focus shoots at a focus distance that keeps everything in focus when subjects are a reasonable distance away from the camera. In manual focus mode you can set that distance yourself, with a range guide and center-frame enlargement to assist you.
That brings us to the mode menu, which is accessed by pressing "down" on the four-way controller. This opens up a virtual mode dial of sorts, which includes these options:
If you want the camera to do all the work for you, just use Auto Picture mode. It'll select one of fifteen scene modes for you, and detect any faces that may appear. If you want more control over camera settings, then switch over to Program mode, which allows you to adjust everything yourself. The WP-1 offers no manual exposure controls.
Some of the other notable shooting modes include digital wide, which has you line up two vertical photos, which are then stitched together into a single image with a 21mm field-of-view. A related feature is digital panorama, which helps you combine two or three photos into a wide panoramic image.
Returning to our tour, the last item on the back of the WP-1 is the "Green Button", which puts the camera into a super-easy mode. If you'd prefer, you can turn the Green Button into a shortcut button, which gives you easy access to four other camera options. This button is also used to delete photos while in playback mode.
Since you can see its "hump" here, I suppose that it's time to talk about the WG-1's built-in GPS receiver. To be blunt, I was not impressed. The GPS almost never located enough satellites to determine my location, and when it does, it takes upward of three minutes to do it. Cameras usually struggle when you're in the middle of a big city, but the WG-1 was lousy out in the suburbs, as well.
The WG-1 GPS doesn't have maps or a database of landmarks -- it simply records your longitude and latitude. You can have it keep a log of your location (which you can import into Google Earth), though this will put a major strain on the battery.
The only other items on the top of the camera include the power and shutter release buttons.
On this side of the Optio WG-1 you'll find ports for USB + A/V out as well as HDMI. As you can see, Pentax is using the micro-HDMI interface here. As with all of the doors on the camera, the one here has numerous gaskets and a locking mechanism.
The only thing to see on the opposite side of the camera is its strap mount.
On the bottom of the camera you'll find a plastic tripod mount (which my tripod had a lot of trouble attaching to) as well as the battery/memory card compartment. Normally the plastic door locks up tight, but as I mentioned earlier, the lock failed on my camera after a few months (and no, I didn't drop it). While I didn't see other stories of the lock failing, many people have reported that the door has a lot of "play". You should be able to access the memory card or battery while the camera is on a tripod.
The included D-LI92 battery can be seen at right.
Using the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS
You'll wait for just over one second for the WG-1 to prepare to shooting.
A live histogram is available on the Optio WG-1, though the camera will also highlight clipping shadows and highlights at the same time, which is distracting
Autofocus performance was above average at the wide end of the lens (in good light), and average in other scenarios. In the best cases (wide-angle/good light), the WG-1 locked focus in 0.3 - 0.5 seconds. Telephoto focus times were double that: around 0.6 - 1.0 seconds. Low light focusing was accurate most of the time, with focus delays of one second or slightly longer.
While shutter lag wasn't noticeable at faster shutter speeds, I did notice a slight amount of it at slower speeds, though you should really be using a tripod or the flash in those situations anyway.
The camera's shot-to-shot performance was a bit sluggish. Expect a wait of 2.5 seconds before you can take another photo, regardless of the flash setting. Do note that if you're using the Pixel Shift shake reduction feature that these delays will increase even further.
There's no way to delete a photo immediately after taking it -- you must enter playback mode first.
The Optio WG-1 has a plethora of image size and quality settings available. There are twelve resolutions to choose from, in three different aspect ratios. Image quality is rated by stars, from basic (*) to normal (**) to high quality (***). Here's the full list:
That's quite a list! The Optio WG-1 does not support the RAW format, nor would I expect it to.
Like several other cameras these days, the WG-1 can increase the amount of zoom power without reducing image quality -- if you're willing to lower the resolution. Pentax calls this feature Intelligent Zoom. Lower the resolution to 7 Megapixel and your total zoom power goes from 5X to 7X. If you're willing to drop to 3 Megapixel (which is enough for small prints) then you get 10.5X worth of zoom power.
The menus on the Optio WG-1 could've been pulled from a Pentax camera ten years ago -- they haven't changed in at least that long. You get a simple interface without any graphics (or help screens), though it's responsive and fairly easy to navigate. It's divided into two tabs, covering recording and setup options. Keeping in mind that you might not have access to all of these in every shooting mode, here's the full list of menu options:
The only feature I need to tell you about are the two D-Range settings. You can reduce clipped highlights, brighten shadows, or both! The catch is that the camera increases the ISO to pull off this trick, which will increase noise levels in your photo. Here's an example (and you'll really need to view the full size images to see all the details):
|DR enhancement off
View Full Size Image
View Full Size Image
View Full Size Image
|Highlights & Shadows
View Full Size Image
As you can see, the highlight retrieval feature works fairly well. If you look at the floor and lamp on the left side of the photo, you'll see that details that were lost in the original photo return somewhat. The shadow boost feature is more subtle, but it works. As I said, you can use both at the same time, getting roughly the same results, though noise levels are higher at this setting than when you use only alone.
Let's move onto photo tests now!
Our macro test subject looks pretty good from a distance, but upon closer inspection you'll find that the figurine has a very "fuzzy" appearance to it. That's too bad, because the colors look good and the image is pretty sharp.
There are two macro modes on the WG-1. The standard one (which can be activated automatically when you're close to your subject) has a minimum distance of 10 cm at the wide end of the lens. For ultra-closeups, you can use the 1 cm mode which, as its name implies, lets you be just 1 cm away from your subject. The lens will be locked in the middle of the zoom range in this mode.
If you put the camera into digital microscope mode, you can attach the included ring around the lens, and literally place the camera on top of your subject, which is around 1 cm away. It works pretty well, though the reflection of the LED lights may end up in your photos, and the resolution is fixed at 2 Megapixel.
Night shots usually come out the best when I can manually adjust the camera's shutter speed. Since that's not available on the Optio WG-1, I had to resort to one of the scene modes. Unfortunately, things came out very dark, and the image has a fair amount of noise and detail loss, too. On the bright side (no pun intended), there's no purple fringing to be found. Bottom line: the WG-1 is not a great camera for low light (no-flash) shooting.
Since I can't control the ISO and shutter speed at the same time, I can't produce the usual low light ISO test here. Look for the normal studio ISO test below.
There's fairly mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the Optio WG-1's 28 - 140 mm lens. The lens is surprisingly sharp in the corners, and vignetting (dark corners) wasn't a problem in the real world, despite its appearance in the test chart.
Flash w/redeye reduction
After redeye removal in playback mode
The Optio WG-1 fires its onboard flash a few times before a photo is taken, in order to shrink your subject's pupils. While in theory this should reduce redeye, that's rarely the case on compact cameras like this. Thankfully, Pentax put a digital removal tool in playback mode which, as you can see above, got rid of most of the red.
Now it's time for our studio ISO test. Since this test is performed under the same lighting every time, you can compare the results with other cameras I've reviewed over the years. Below you'll find crops of the scene, from ISO 80 to 6400. Since those crops only show a small portion of the total image, be sure to view the full-size images too! And with that, let's see how the WG-1 performed across its ISO range:
The ISO 80 and 100 crops look pretty clean, with a slight increase in noise at ISO 200. You will see some detail loss at ISO 400, so this is as high as I'd let the camera go (thankfully, the Auto ISO setting lets you limit how high the camera will go). Noise and detail loss are quite noticeable at ISO 800, and things go downhill rapidly after that. Photos taken at ISO 3200 and 6400 are saved at 5 Megapixel, and image quality is poor, with rather nasty highlight clipping at the highest sensitivity.
The Optio WG-1 is certainly not going to win any awards for its image quality. The biggest problems are noise and detail smudging -- both of which you'll find at the base ISO of 80 (here's one example). That's too bad, because the camera has pleasing colors, and decent sharpness on things that aren't been wiped away the camera's noise reduction system. Highlight clipping can be an issue, though you can turn on the dynamic range feature (described earlier) to mitigate that. Purple fringing can be an issue, as well. That said, if you're sticking to 4 x 6 inch prints or downsizing photos for the web, then you probably won't notice most of these things (assuming that you're keeping the ISO low). If you make large prints or like to inspect your photos at full size, then you'll probably notice the WG-1's flaws.
Don't just take my word for it, though. Have a look at our photo gallery -- which includes three underwater photos -- and decide for yourself if the WG-1's image quality is acceptable.
The Optio WG-1 has the ability to record HD video at 1280 x 720 (30 frames/second) with monaural sound. You an record until the file size reaches 2GB, which takes about 10 minutes at the highest quality setting. Movies can be recorded above and below sea level.
Movies can also be recorded at 640 x 480, and 320 x 240. For all three of the available resolutions, you can choose from 15 or 30 frame/second frame rates, though I have no idea why you'd want to use the former.
You cannot use the optical zoom while you're recording a movie -- only the digital zoom is available. There is an electronic shake reduction system available, though keep in mind that it slightly reduces the field-of-view. As you might expect, there are no manual controls available in the WG-1's movie mode.
Remember the interval shooting function I told you about earlier? The WG-1 can assemble the stills into a silent movie that really shows off the time-lapse effect.
Movies are saved in AVI format, using the Motion-JPEG codec.
Here are two sample movies, taken on land and (slightly) underwater, at the 720p30 setting. The quality is certainly nothing to write home about. Be warned, these are large downloads!
The Optio WG-1 has a nice playback mode. Basic features include slideshows (with transitions), DPOF print marking, image protection, voice captions, thumbnail view, and playback zoom (up to 10X).
There are several editing tools available, such as image rotation, resizing, and cropping, plus a handy redeye removal tool. There are also plenty of special effects at your disposal, including:
- Small face filter: reduces the size of faces in the image (really?)
- Ink rubbing filter
- Collage creation
- Digital filters (B&W, sepia, toy camera, retro, selective color, soft focus, fisheye, and more)
- Frame composite: put a virtual frame around a picture
The only video editing feature is a useful one -- a trimming tool to remove unwanted footage from the beginning or end of a clip.
By default, you won't get much information about your photo while in playback mode. Press the "OK" button on the four-way controller and you'll see more, including a histogram and a display of clipped highlights and shadows.
The Optio WG-1 moves from one photo to another without delay.
How Does it Compare?
The Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS has a lot to offer, but it's ultimately a rugged camera that's average (or a bit below) in most respects. The camera has plenty of features, including an everything-proof body, tons of point-and-shoot features, 720p video recording, and useful dynamic range tools. The WG-1 loses points for its mediocre photo and video quality, lack of image stabilization, and poor GPS reception. I'm also a bit concerned about how durable this rugged camera really is, after the lock failed on the battery/memory card door on my review camera. While I haven't tested the latest models from the competition, from what I've read elsewhere, I think you'll do better considering another camera in this class.
The Optio WG-1 is a fairly compact camera with an unusual shape. The camera would not look out of place in your Subaru, or attached to your belt with its carabiner strap. The body is everything-proof, which means waterproof to 33 feet, shockproof from 5 feet, crushproof to 220 lbs, freezeproof to 14F, and dustproof (it kind of has to be). While that all sounds good, I was disturbed to see that the lock that's supposed to keep the door over the battery and memory card slot shut had failed on my camera, for no apparent reason. Combine that with reports of "too much play" from the same door (Google it), it makes me wonder how durable the WG-1 really is. My only other real design concern is that all the camera's buttons are cluttered together on the right side of the LCD, and some of them are quite small. The WG-1 features a 5X, 28 - 140 mm lens that is sharp from one end of the frame to the other. The camera does not have real image stabilization, instead substituting it for a digital system that slows down camera performance and slightly degrades image quality. On the back of the WG-1 you'll find a 2.7" LCD display with good outdoor and low light visibility.
The big feature on the Optio WG-1 GPS is, strangely enough, its built-in GPS receiver. Unfortunately, I rarely got a chance to use it, as it almost never got a signal. Even standing in an open field with no obstructions, it took the camera over 3 minutes to locate itself. The camera can log your location as you move from place-to-place, though it'll eat through your battery in no time flat. The WG-1 is a pure point-and-shoot camera, with the only manual controls being for white balance and focus. There's an Auto Picture Mode which will select a scene mode for you, and if you really want to keep it simple, press the green button to go into a super-easy mode. This same green button can be redefined to handle other functions, including serving as a shortcut button for common camera settings. There are plenty of special effects available on the WG-1, in both record and playback mode. One unique feature on the WG-1 is its built-in macro ring light, which can be used to illuminate subjects as close as 1 cm away. I didn't find that feature terribly useful, but there you go. One feature I did find useful was the dynamic range function, which can reduce highlight clipping, brighten shadows, or both. The only downsize is an increase in noise levels. The camera can record up to 10 minutes of 720p video (30 fps), whether you're on land or taking a swim. You can't use the zoom lens while recording, which is surprising on a camera with an internal lens, and video quality is sub-par.
Camera performance is a mixed bag. The camera starts up in a little over a second, which isn't too bad. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the GPS takes an eternity to find satellites, if it does at all. Autofocus performance at wide-angle (and good light) is quite good, though things slow down when you're shooting at telephoto or in low light. Shutter lag was not an issue at faster shutter speeds, though I noticed a bit of it at slower speeds, at which point you'll probably want to turn on the flash. Shot-to-shot speeds were slower than average, typically hovering around 2.5 seconds (regardless of the flash setting). The WG-1 has two continuous shooting modes, neither of which impressed me. The full resolution version shoots at a sluggish 0.7 frames/second, while the high-speed one fires away at 2.2 frames/sec, but the LCD is blacked out the entire time, making it impossible to track a moving subject. The WG-1's battery life is slightly above average, but once you turn the GPS on, the battery will drain quickly.
Ultimately, the most important feature on a camera is its photo quality. While the WG-1 has accurate exposure and pleasing color, photos are noisy and fine details are smudged -- even at the base ISO of 80. Those of you making small prints (or downsizing photos for web viewing) should be able to use sensitivities up to ISO 400, but you'll want to pass on everything above that. Highlight clipping and purple fringing can both be problems at times, though you can use the aforementioned D-Range tool to reduce the former. Redeye was also an issue on this compact camera, though there's a tool in playback mode that does a good job at removing this annoyance.
Two last things to mention before I wrap up this review. First, kudos to Pentax for including a thick, printed manual with the camera. Other manufacturers, take note! Now, the complaint: a metal tripod mount would've been nice on this rugged camera.
Despite it's fun features and unique design, I was let down by the Optio WG-1's mediocre photo and video quality, almost useless GPS, and lack of image stabilization. In a sea of rugged cameras, this one definitely doesn't float to the top in my opinion (pun intended). While I haven't tried out recent models from the competition, the folks at Digital Photography Review did, and you can see how the WG-1 fared in their detailed comparison (short version: they agreed that there are better alternatives).
What I liked:
- Accurate color and exposure; lens is sharp across the frame
- Rugged, uniquely styled body is water, dust, shock, crush, and freezeproof (though see my concern below)
- 2.7" LCD display has good outdoor, low light visibility
- Auto Picture mode features automatic scene selection
- Built-in macro ring light and macro stand let you take photos literally on top of your subject
- Clever use of ring light and face detection system for composing self-portraits
- D-Range feature brightens shadows, reduces highlight clipping, or both
- Time-lapse photo/movie feature
- Tons of special effects
- HD (720p) movie mode
- HDMI output
- Detailed, printed manual included
What I didn't care for:
- Photos are noisy and have lots of detail smudging, even at ISO 80
- Some highlight clipping and purple fringing at times (use the D-Range tool for the former)
- Redeye a problem, though removal tool in playback mode works well
- No optical image stabilization
- GPS takes minutes to locate itself, if it does at all
- Movie mode issues: optical zoom cannot be used, mediocre quality
- Sluggish burst mode at full resolution; LCD blacks out during high-speed mode, which pretty much defeats the purpose
- Small, cluttered button layout on back of camera
- Lock failure (and reports of "lots of play") on battery compartment door makes me wonder how durable camera really is
- Dated menu system
- Plastic tripod mount
Some other everything-proof cameras to check out include the Canon PowerShot D10, Fuji FinePix XP30, Olympus TG-810, Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, Ricoh PX, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10.
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local camera or electronics store to try out the Optio WG-1 GPS and its competitors before you buy.
See how the photos turned out in our gallery!