Pentax’s new Optio WG-1 and WG-1 GPS rugged compact cameras.

If you’ve ever dropped a camera or had one doused with water you know how frustrating it is if that action causes your camera to fail or completely die. One way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to buy a ruggedized compact camera. Many manufacturers make ruggedized cameras (Casio, Fujifilm, and Canon to name a few) but Pentax has been making and perfecting them since 2003 and is now releasing their 12th generation nearly-everything proof rugged digital compacts, the Optio WG-1 and Optio WG-1 GPS.

Both cameras share the following rugged features:

  • Waterproof up to 33 feet
  • Shockproof for drops up to 5 feet
  • Dustproof
  • Coldproof to below freezing temperatures (down to 14 degrees F)
  • Crushproof to withstand weights of up to 220 pounds!

On the performance side of things the cameras are equally impressive and sport the following highlights:optiowg1_back

  • 14 megapixel image sensor (4288×3216 pixels)
  • 720p HD video at 30 fps
  • 5x internal optical zoom lens (28-140mm equivalent)
  • Pixel Track and Digital Shake Reduction
  • AF assist lamp
  • 2.7” LCD screen (wide 16:9 format)
  • HDMI out for viewing images and video on HD televisions or monitors
  • Wide ISO range (80-1600 auto adjusting, 80-6400 manually)

As the name suggests, the WG-1 GPS also includes GPS functionality to allow positional data to be recorded with your images for later use with various geo-tagging software and web applications. Both cameras also have a Digital Microscope mode which uses a macro shooting and 5 led lights on the front face of the camera to illuminate and photograph a subject as close as 1cm. To complete the rugged functionality of the cameras each one comes with a heavy duty fabric strap and carabiner to attach to your other adventure gear.

optiowg1_frontFor active individuals and adrenaline junkies the Pentax Optio WG-1 and WG-1 GPS could be a tremendous hit. My wife has one of Pentax’s earlier generation weatherproof cameras, the Optio W20, and over the years it has gone underwater in Maine, hiking through rain in the mountains of Virginia and Tennessee and into multiple swimming pools throughout the country. It has served us well over the years but is probably ready to be replaced and the WG-1 sounds like it would be a fine upgrade.

The Optio WG-1 and WG-1 GPS are available for pre-order through Pentax’s Web Store for $349.95 and $399.95, respectively but can probably be bought for less when they hit the streets in April 2011. They look to be great cameras and will be well worth checking out if you are in the market for something more durable than the average digital compact.

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