Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

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:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot D10 190 shots NB-6L
Fuji FinePix XP30 * 200 shots NP-45A
Olympus TG-810 * 220 shots LI-50B
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 * 310 shots DMW-BCF10
Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS */** 260 shots D-LI92
Ricoh PX 300 shots DB-100
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 * 250 shots NP-BN1

* Built-in GPS
** Electronic image stabilization only

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

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.

Canon PowerShot S90 in the hand

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:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Waterproof remote control 39892 From $26 Take photos without touching the camera with this waterproof remote. Pentax's other remotes work, as well.
Skin O-CC1182 ?? A silicone skin that fits around the camera. Doesn't seem to actually be available yet.
Floating wrist strap 88206 From $15 Keeps your camera from floating away.
AC adapter K-AC117 $60 Power the camera without draining your batteries.
* Prices were accurate when review was published

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.