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Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS

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3 15,948 Sat September 16, 2017
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100% of reviewers $267.67 9.00
Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS

Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS
Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS
Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS
Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS
Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS
Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS

The Pentax WG-3 is the successor to the WG-2 and takes the position as the top-of-the-line adventure-proof compact camera from Pentax. With the WG-3 Pentax has dropped the Optio name.

Like the WG-2, the WG-3 is available with or without built-in GPS.

Compared to its predecessor, the WG-3 features superior waterproofing and slightly higher specifications, hereunder a wider and faster lens (F2.0 at the wide end), and a back-lit CMOS sensor.

The WG-3 is water proof for a depth to 14 meters and for up to two hours submerged. It is shock resistant against a fall from 2 meters, crush proof (100 kg pressure), and cold proof down to -10 degrees C (14 degrees F).

The WG-3 has Full HD movie recording (1980 x 1080 pixels).

The WG-3 includes the Pentax microscope mode with built-in light for macro photography in the form of six LED's around the lens.

The camera has a sensor shift shake reduction system combined with digital SR which boosts the ISO to prevent long shutter speeds.

Other features:

1) Two remote control receptors (one in front and another on the back) to widen signal coverage
2) Digital level to check the camera’s horizontal/vertical inclination
3) Camera case O-CC135 with a belt loop (optional accessory)
4) O-CC1352 Protector Jacket (optional accessory) to protect the camera from scratches and grime
5) O-LA135 Lens Adapter (optional accessory) to broaden the wide-angle coverage to 20mm in the 35mm format using the DW-5 RICOH Wide Conversion Lens (now available)
6) O-ST1352 Float Strap (optional accessory) to prevent the loss of the camera in the water
7) Auto Picture mode to automatically select the most appropriate shooting mode from 16 different scene modes
8) Digital Wide mode to compose an extra-wide-angle picture (equivalent to approx. 19mm wide angle in the 35mm format) from two separate images
9) Carabiner strap (included) for hooking the camera to a backpack or other outdoor gear
10) 12 digital filters
11) Compatibility with Eye-Fi wireless LAN SD memory cards.

The GPS model can embed position and travel log into the images and also has a pressure/altitude/depth gauge and a digital compass and records these data into the image file. This model also has a wireless recharging system.

The GPS model features a display on the front providing time, pressure, and altitude information.

This new Optio will be priced at a MSRP of $299 (Optio WG-3) and $349 (Optio WG-3 GPS).

Camera nameOptio WG-3 / Optio WG-3 GPS
Sensor16 MP (4608 x 3456), 1/2.3 inch back-lit CMOS
ISO rangeAuto and manual, 125 - 6400
Aspect ratio16:9, 4:3, and 1:1
Shake reductionSensor-shift, pixel tracking, and High-ISO anti-shake (Digital SR)
Exposure modesAuto Picture, Program, Night Scene, Digital Microscope, Landscape,
 Flower, Portrait, Underwater, Interval Shooting, Handheld Night Snap,
 Surf and Snow, Kids, Pet, Sport, Candlelight, Fireworks, Night Scene Portrait,
 Text, Food, Digital Wide, Panorama, Green Mode
Exposure compensation+/- 2 EV (1/3EV steps)
Expanded dynamic rangeHighlight and shadow
Light meterMulti-segment, center weight, spot
ShutterMechanical and electronic
Shutter speeds1/4s to 1/4000s. Night scene mode up to 4s
Shutter lag0.016 s
Drive modesOne shot, Self-timer (2s and 10s), Remote control (immediate or 3s), continuous shooting, burst shooting, auto bracketing
Lens4x optical zoom, 4.5 - 18 mm F2.0 - F4.9 (25 - 100 mm eqv.)
Optics9 elements (4 aspherical) in 7 groups
Digital zoom7.2x
Auto focus9 point contrast detect AF, spot, auto tracking, focus lock, AF assist lamp
Manual focusInfinity, pan focus, manual focus (10 cm to infinity)
Closest focus distanceStandard: 40 cm/1.31 ft (entire zoom area)
 Macro: 10 cm/0.33 ft (mid-zoom to telephoto)
 Super macro: 1 cm/0.4 in. (mid-zoom to telephoto)
Live ViewYes
White balanceAuto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten light, Fluorescent light (Daylight Color, Daylight White, White Light), Manual
Digital filtersB&W/Sepia, Toy Camera, Retro, Color, Extract Color, Color Emphasis, High Contrast, Starburst, Soft, Fish- eye, Brightness, Miniature
In-camera picture editingYes
FlashBuilt-in: Range up to 5.5m/18 ft (wide angle), 3.5m/14 ft (telephoto)
MovieFull HD (1920 x 1080) at 30 fps,
 HD (1280 x 720) at 60 and 30 fps,
 VGA (640 x 480) at 30 fps
Movie shake reductionMovie SR (software based)
In-camera movie editingSave as still, movie divide, add title picture
LCD monitor3 inch, 460,000 dots
Storage mediaSD, SDHC, SDXC, Eye-Fi compatible, 70 MB built-in
File formatStill: JPG, Movie: MPEG-4 AVC/h.264
ConnectivityUSB 2.0, PC/AV, HDMI
BatteryD-LI92 lithium-ion, optional AC adapter K-AC117
Battery life240 images, 65 min movie recording, 200 min palyback time
Special featuresFace detection (up to 32 faces), pet detection, smile capture, blink detection, self-portrait assist.
 Digital wide mode, 19 mm eqv. (stitched from two images).
 Focus assist lamp. High speed movie (120 fps), time lapse movie. Digital level.
 Water proof to 14 m / 45 ft, shock proof (2 m / 6.6 ft drop), cold proof (-10 C / 14 F)
Size (W x H x D)125 x 64.5 x 32 mm / 4.9 x 2.54 x 1.26 in.
Weight229 g / 8.1 oz (WG-3 with battery), 239 g / 8.4 oz (WG-3 GPS with battery)
Megapixels: 16
ISO Range: Yes, 1080p (30FPS), 720p (60FPS and slow motion)
Weight: 219g (239g with battery)
FPS: 4x (4.5-18mm lens, 25-100mm eqv.)
LCD: 3-inch Half VGA (460,000 dots)
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In-Depth Review: Read our Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS in-depth review!

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Senior Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Svealand
Posts: 172
Review Date: September 16, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS: Yes | Price: $187.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, great for macro, GPS, QI-charging
Cons: Batterilife, no RAW
New or Used: Used   

I found this one that is in pristine condition in an auction site and I´m very pleased with it. Easy to carry with me all the time. Good photos (only JPG, no RAW). Seems to be difficult to find used ones but I do recomend to buy one if you find one.
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,094
Review Date: April 4, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS: Yes | Price: $270.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: It's actually a good camera taking sharp photos. GPS works
Cons: Hard to avoid camera shake
New or Used: New   

This is the third camera I have purchased to take underwater photos. It is the first camera that provides reasonable underwater photos much of the time. The others were mostly miss with very few hits. Floating on water means that I am really unsteady so must expect lots of camera shake due to even the tiniest of waves.

I specifically purchased the camera for underwater photography.

I am surprised how sharp the images are above water. Above the water it takes a great photo except whites get burnt out and there isn't much detail in dark areas. This is the consequence of a small sensor and not being able to shoot in RAW - I suspect RAW wouldn't make much difference. Whites and dark areas are even more exaggerated underwater. You can't expect to compare the images with a K5 or K3 but the images from the WG-3 are really good.

Leaving the camera in auto underwater I was pleased the camera didn't go overboard jacking up the ISO. In clear blue coral reef water at ISO 320, the shutter speed was only 1/80 at F 2.0. Just as well the camera has camera shake options. So floating around, your biggest enemy is camera shake. I have found if it is possible to standup in the water to take underwater photos, there is a much better chance (90%) of getting a sharp photo.

The camera is designed to fit in the hand so it's easy to hold even after two hours in the water. However the shape makes it even more difficult to press down on the shutter and hold the camera steady while floating. Making the arms rigid in front of you is a must. Then it is the timing, getting it in focus and getting the shot before the next small wave bounces you around. I found the ability of this camera to focus underwater was very much better than my panasonic or my canon G10 with underwater housing.

The GPS works well and when compared to the dysfunctional GPS on the panasonic, it works like a dream. The GPS on the WG 3 worked very well underwater which was a big plus and unexpected.

It did go down scuba diving and came out smelling of roses, ie it didn't leak and descry the camera.

The camera is a hoot playing with the grandkids in the sea. Because I am standing the photos are sharp. I like having the camera underwater and photographing the kids above water. great distortion and affects.

This WG 3 has not fogged up on me like the panasonic has. Why do I hate my panasonic. I got to my island, got into the freshwater creek where I wanted to take photos (been wanting these photos for over a decade) and the camera fogs up on the inside.

The WG3 does a reasonable job focusing closeup although I haven't done much of that.

I am happy with the videos I have taken. It is well and truly good enough for anything you want to go onto the internet.

I don't like the strap provided and have the floating pentax wrist strap that I got from B&H. And with the strap it does float. The battery lasted longer than the book said, but for a three day trip to the reef I had three spare batteries. If you are into underwater photography, then I suggest you also get a better charger. I don't like use the USB charger going into the camera.

I suspect to go the next step I would require the Olympus Om camera and underwater housing. The new Nikon AW1 at around $1000 has no shake reduction so I would think I would have even more camera shake issues.

I gave the camera 9 because it has not disappointed me like the panasonic and canon has. It had a few unexpected surprises such as a no hassle GPS. It is a nice little package that hides away among my 17Kg of other pentax gear when I am traveling

In summary be surprised at the quality of the photos above water. You will love the GPS if you owned my old panasonic. Underwater you will need to work very hard to get good photos, this is not the issue with the camera, but the very difficult lighting conditions and your ability to hold the camera still while the water moves you around.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2011
Location: Newcastle, N.S.W.
Posts: 1,147
Review Date: July 31, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax WG-3 / WG-3 GPS: Yes | Price: $346.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: IQ especially close-ups/macros; build quality; GPS
Cons: Battery life
New or Used: New   

The WG3-GPS is my replacement for two dead Olympus “waterproof”/”shockproof” equivalents. While a DSLR is my primary photographic tool, I’ve found a compact “waterproof” to be invaluable in wet and dirty conditions as well as being something that can be activated quickly, and often discretely; very useful when traveling. The WG3 is much bulkier than I would prefer (difficult to use with one hand) but overall I’m more impressed with its performance than I expected to be. One other caveat to this review - for practically all my shots this month I’ve used the “Action” mode setting. I have a nuisance tremor that faster shutter speeds help counter. Also, by opting for the slowest ISO (125) as well, I’ve tried to force the camera to use a wide aperture, for a harsher test of the f2 lens performance.

With few exceptions I’ve been really pleased with the IQ, especially for near distance, close-ups and macros. Minor distortion was evident near the frame corners in ultra-macros and sharpening was needed occasionally in PP, but the colours were usually bright and natural enough to leave alone. With not too much mucking around I was able to generate quite pleasant bokeh in many shots. It’s a great lens for sure. I did try a few shots at higher ISO (800) and the anticipated noise was nowhere near as intrusive as I had expected. A couple of dusk/night shots revealed some graininess and brighter light sources weren’t defined as sharply as I’d like. In bright sunlight with the aperture closed down, the WG3 also delivered small but attractive sunbursts when shooting sunlight reflected from water. Underwater images in natural light were far better than I expected, even for snorkelling, while the little flash yielded some delightful UW macros.

Some physical aspects. The camera seems very solid. It’s too soon to evaluate the quality of the water/dirt seal except to say it hasn’t failed yet. On a couple of inspections I found a few sand grains and tiny water droplets near the hatch hinge, but well away from the crucial slots. I now run the WG3 with an SD Eye-fi card and recharge the battery using the WG3’s Qi capability and an external charging mat. This should minimise the number of hatch openings. It’s a real delight to be able to take it into the water or rest it on bare sand without any worries about nasties getting in. For dusty or snowy conditions this would be a big plus too.

The shutter button does need a solid squeeze. This was a bit of a challenge underwater (especially with gloves or cold/bare fingers), although I became more adept with time. Using the 4-way controller underwater was difficult too. On dry land I sometimes used an IR remote to remove the possibility of camera movement when releasing the shutter.

Battery life can be very short, like only a few hours. The GPS sensor is a big power drain, operating even when the camera is switched off (best to have the GPS turned on only for shots where you want the co-ordinates). Other settings (power saving, macro light etc) can be adjusted to maximise battery life, but at best I reckon you’d want to recharge the battery every night on a trip. Carrying a spare would be useful backup, but then you’ve got to open the hatch.

All in all, a great little camera that delivers surprisingly good images in diverse conditions. And I haven’t explored all the other user modes yet.

I used this camera in the Single in July 2013 Challenge. You can view my PF album here (with some extras) and on Flickr here.
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