Pentax WG-3 Review – The Pentax WG-3 features an eye-catching design which makes it stand out from the crowded lifeproof camera market?
Pentax WG-3 Review – Features
The WG-3 has fairly large dimensions and its design is almost identical to the WG-2 that it replaces. Behind its 4x optical zoom (25-100mm) lies a 16MP CMOS sensor that offers a sensitivity range from ISO 125-6400. Similar to the Olympus TG-2, the WG-3’s lens has a maximum aperture of f/2, allowing you to shoot faster in low light without having to increase the ISO sensitivity.
The WG-3’s dual shake-reduction system combines image-sensor-shift-type with a digital SR mode, while six LED macro lights are positioned around the lens to help illuminate macro subjects in the camera’s digital microscopic mode, which lets users focus on subjects as close as 1cm away.
The screen is a 3in, 460k-dot display, while full HD movie recording is supported at 30fps. One other useful feature is the WG-3’s digital level, which is great for checking the vertical/horizontal inclination before you shoot.
Pentax WG-3 Review – Build & Performance
The WG-3 has a rubberised finish and the textured buttons at the rear prevent your fingers slipping off them when they’re wet. Despite it being physically larger than some of the other tough compacts on the market, it feels comfortable to hold in the average sized hand.
The camera weighs 209g unloaded and 229g with a battery and SD card inserted, while its chunky build suggests it will survive a battering and the test of time. Operationally, the zoom is the cameras weak link and it takes four seconds to get from wide angle to full telephoto and vice versa.
Pentax WG-3 Review – Underwater Performance
We were slightly disappointed by the WG-3’s underwater performance and the images we managed to capture were dark and lacked detail in the shadows.
Making up for a poor exposure performance, the WG-3 focuses quickly both above and below water, but the 1.5fps continuous burst rate at full resolution (16MP) is slow, especially when you compare against other tough compacts such as the Olympus TG-2, which shoots at a faster 5fps.
Pentax WG-3 Review – Freeze Test
Sub-zero temperatures didn’t affect the WG-3’s performance and after a night in the freezer it was quick to turn on after the On/Off button had been unfrozen with some warm water. All of the other buttons operated just as they should and didn’t show any sign of being affected by cold temperatures.
Pentax WG-3 Review – Shock Test
The rubberised design of the WG-3’s body allows it to absorb impact from a height of up to 2m. After a heavy drop onto a solid floor in the studio it continued to work without any issues, however during our testing we did notice that the screen is very easily susceptible to scratching. By the end of our review the display was severely scratched, making us question the quality of the glass that’s used.
Pentax WG-3 Review – Image Quality
The WG-3’s images aren’t as vibrant as we’d expected and colours lacked the punch and contrast we wanted. The 16MP sensor produces excellent detail and just like some of its key rivals in the tough compact area of the market, it records 22 lines per millimeter at ISO 100, much like the Panasonic Lumix FT5. As soon as you begin to push past ISO 800, crisp detail turns much softer so you’ll want to keep the sensitivity below this setting to achieve the best results from the sensor.
Pentax WG-3 Review – Verdict
The Pentax WG-3 survived all our testing challenges and produced good levels of detail that rival the very best tough compacts in the market. Unfortunately, the WG-3 weakness is its performance underwater and it’s not uncommon to end up lightening images in software to create the best results.
Adding to this, the screen at the rear is susceptible to light scratches. Adding a screen protector would help, but this could be affected by water and the demanding shooting environments for which the camera is made. Although the screen resolution is on par with other tough compacts on the market, the menu is also rather dated and isn’t well arranged for newcomers who may not be used to scrolling endlessly to find their desired setting.
Although the WG-3 doesn’t feature GPS, Pentax produces the WG-3 GPS for those who’d like to record the location of their images. Expect to pay an additional £50 if you decide to choose the WG-3 GPS over the WG-3 that we’ve reviewed here.