The new Pentax WG-3 GPS and WG-3 digital cameras look like the disco queens of the point-and-shoot camera world. They are BRIGHT! You’ll definitely have a tough time losing these cameras – unless you get the WG-3 in tough-guy carbon fiber black. Both cameras have a 16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, a 4x optical zoom lens and full HD video. Don’t let the flashy colors fool you, though – the Pentax WG-3 is built for the mountains, not the dance floor. Their “adventureproof” design makes them perfect for people who spend a lot of time outdoors on a mountain bike, surfboard, kayak, snowboard, fishing, etc. The WG-3 GPS and WG-3 are waterproof to 45 feet, crushproof (220 lbs), freezeproof (14 F) and they can be dropped over 6 feet without breaking.
Pentax WG-3 GPS Key Features And Specs:
- Waterproof to 45 feet (13.7m)
- Shockproof from 6.6 feet (2m)
- Freezeproof to 14 F (-10 C)
- 16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
- New 4x 25-100mm f/2.0-4.9 optical zoom lens
- Sensor-shift image stabilization
- Full HD video (1920 x 1080 30 FPS and 1280 x 720 60/30 FPS)
- Interval modes (for time lapse) and High Speed Movie mode(120 FPS capture, 30 FPS playback)
- 3-inch 460k-dot LCD display
- Sensitivity: ISO 125-6400
- Electronic level
- Built-in GPS with dedicated LCD display, compass, altimeter and depth meter
- Digital Microscope mode and LED lights
According to the press release, the WG-3 is the 15th generation of rugged waterproof point-and-shoot cameras from Pentax. I lost count quite a while ago but they’ve been making waterproof point-and-shoots for a long, long time now so they certainly know what they’re doing. Pentax beefed up the burl-factor on the WG-3, too. It goes 5 feet deeper and can be dropped about one foot farther than the WG-2. It also has a new lens – and I think this is the most important feature update on the camera. Although they decreased the zoom range from 5x to 4x, it’s a completely redesigned lens with a fast f/2.0-4.9 aperture. Last year my favorite rugged camera was the Olympus Tough TG-1 because it was the first to have a fast aperture lens (Olympus TG-1 video). That fast aperture allows more light to reach the sensor and that means better low light photos, better portraits, and fewer action photos ruined by motion blur. I’m psyched about the new lens but I wish the WG-3 had manual exposure controls so we could really take advantage of that big aperture to freeze action and control depth-of-field.
I’m sure you noticed there are two versions of the WG-3 – one with GPS and one without. Other than that, they’re both exactly the same so if you don’t care about the built-in GPS you can save a few bucks and get the straight WG-3. GPS has become a standard feature on top shelf rugged digital cameras, though. The basic task of the in-camera GPS is to tag images and videos with location data so they can be viewed based on location. For instance, when photos with GPS metadata are uploaded to Facebook they’ll be tagged with the location where they were taken and you can browse them on a map on your profile page. Similarly, Adobe Lightroom’s Map module allows you to browse your photos on a map; and if you post photos with GPS coordinates on Flickr, they’ll be linked on a map on your profile there. The Pentax WG-3 GPS takes it to the next level with a dedicated GPS LCD display on the front of the camera that shows compass direction, your elevation, or underwater depth. This is actually a very nice feature because it means you can check your elevation or direction without having to navigate the menu or use up extra battery power with the main LCD. And if you’re wearing gloves, you don’t need to push any buttons to check direction, elevation or depth, either.
You might have noticed there are also 6 LED lights on the front of the camera. They aren’t for disco lighting. They’re for the WG-3’s Digital Microscope mode, which allows you to focus as close as 1 cm. The LED lights are arranged around the lens to provide bright, even lighting on your subject when you use the Digital Microscope mode – perfect for wildflower or bug photos when you’re out adventuring.
Of course, the Pentax WG-3 has full HD video (1920 x 1080 30 FPS and 1280 x 720 60/30 FPS). Pentax even sells an accessory SportMount Chest Harness so you can use the WG-3 for POV (point-of-view) action videos, just like you would a Go-Pro. But unlike a standard POV camera, the WG-3 has a 4x zoom lens and great 16-megapixel still photo quality. If you want better wide-angle coverage for mountain bike and ski videos, there’s an optional 20mm wide-angle lens adapter. The WG-3 even has a built-in interval mode for making time-lapse videos.
I’m pretty excited about the new Pentax WG-3 GPS camera. It has a really great feature-set and I love that they’re attacking the POV HD video camera market by offering a chest harness. It’s also good that they’ve made it even more “adventureproof.” Every bit counts when you’re playing rough in the outdoors – or the hot tub. However, as a serious photographer, it’s the new, improved f/2.0 lens that’s making my motor hum. The fast aperture will make a real difference in photo quality and it’s going to make the Pentax WG-3 a serious contender among the rugged waterproof point-and-shoot cameras this year. I already let Pentax know I want to test one ASAP so keep your eyes open for that review.
The Pentax WG-3 and WG-3 GPS rugged, waterproof cameras are scheduled to be available in March (2013). The WG-3 will come in orange or black and the WG-3 GPS will come in purple or green. The WG-3 GPS will sell for US $349.95 and the WG-3 will sell for $299.95.
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