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01-03-2007, 01:51 PM   #1
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Option W20 first impressions

I've lusted after one of the waterproof Pentax cameras for quite awhile now. Last time I had the kayak out, ended up putting my DS in a waterproof bag and never used it until I made my way across the bay to the peninsula (Morro Bay). Just didn't want to risk any water damage to an expensive dSLR.

A few days before Christmas, was in Samy's Camera to pick up a P&S for my daughter. She was finally ready to switch from film to digital and she really wanted a digital camera above anything else I could get for her.

While I was in the store, noticed that on the weekly ad that the Optio W20 cameras were on sale and I couldn't pass it up. So, went ahead and picked up one (in addition to my daughter's M20. Can you tell I'm a Pentax fanboy? Our extended family now has three Optio S5i cameras, the M20, the W20, two *istDS bodies, a K100D, a K10D, and the old, trusty (but not 'rusty') MX.)

Most people take off the three or four days between Christmas and New Years from work, so I took that opportunity to do a little bit of ocean kayaking. Took the W20 with me in a pocket of my lifevest. It was nice not being worried about water spray or splash.

Since I had the whole day to myself, I went out further than normal. Didn't have the GPS with me, but estimate (based on buoy #2 location) was that I went out about 2 to 3 miles offshore, paralleled the shore for about five miles, then paddled back into the harbor.

Took some shots while out on the water and one attempt was to create a mosaic of the coastline. That was a little difficult because the horizon was never straight, as the boat was rocking quite a bit in the swell. Maybe autostitch will rotate anyway? Still need to give it a try.

Of the images I took, I'm satisfied, especially considering that I wouldn't have been able to take ANY shots with my dSLR camera. The quality certainly isn't dSLR quality, but perfectly acceptable for snapshot photography. I was wishing for manual controls, or even Av mode. Maybe it is there and will be revealed with a reading of the manual. It is a camera that can be used right out of the box (after the battery is charged first).

A nice feature is the video mode. The camera captures in two video resolutions and captures audio with the video. Supposed to be AVI format, but haven't downloaded yet to computer. A quick review shows the quality to be pretty good. When I get a chance, I'm going to convert it to iPod format and also try to dump to a DVD for a home player . . . just as a feasibility test.

Other thing I really wish it had was an old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness, optical viewfinder. Just can't get used to holding a camera up while looking at the rear to frame a shot. In the bright sunlight of the mid-day, it was difficult to sometimes frame the shot, and next to impossible to review an image after it was acquired. Guess one has to give up some things to get waterproofing.

All in all, I'm satisfied with the purchase. Will post some images in a follow-up post to this thread in a day or two.

01-03-2007, 03:26 PM   #2
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set camera to PF

QuoteOriginally posted by volosong Quote
Other thing I really wish it had was an old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness, optical viewfinder. Just can't get used to holding a camera up while looking at the rear to frame a shot. In the bright sunlight of the mid-day, it was difficult to sometimes frame the shot, and next to impossible to review an image after it was acquired.
Simply the camera to Pan Focus and take the picture. You should still be able to frame the image.

I just got a W10 for myself over the holidays and that's how I deal with a bright backlit situation. But I do agree that an optical viewfinder would be nice, although it's not necessary.

The optional skin for the W10/W20 is really handy in wet conditions.

You can also set the camera to infinity by selecting the "mountain" focus mode and then taking the pic. Sorry I can't describe it better but you know what I mean. I personally find setting to PF easier.
01-12-2007, 07:14 PM   #3
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Howdy,

I initially went searching for a Pentax forum to see what I was doing wrong with the W20 because the pictures were coming out really grainy. Turns out the Auto ISO was set to 800...once I turned that down to 200 things were fine.

Btw, for those interested in having a look at how the W20 (or any other camera performs I suppose), I found flickr's camera finder to be really handy: Flickr: Camera Finder: Pentax: Optio W20.

Cheers!
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