(Pocket-lint) - Pentax has created the Optio WPi, a waterproof dustproof camera for all occasions. But has the camera got what it takes to help you snap a good shot and stay safe? We take a closer look.

With the ski slopes beckoning, you’ll need a digital camera that is going to serve you well and not get damaged when you stack it in the powder. Of course we aren’t expecting Pocket-Lint readers to be anything but perfect skiers or boarders, but you never know.

In steps the Optio WPi, a fairly slimline (102 x 51 x 22 mm) 6 megapixel camera that promises to protect against water and dust in virtually all situations. Rather than opt for the rugged look with bolt-on rubber bits here, there and everywhere, the camera has taken a stylish brushed metal approach. The only way you could tell that the model is up to the job is the additional rubberised seal around the battery and memory card compartment and the fact that said compartment even has a locking system to make sure it doesn’t suddenly pop open.

The back offers a 115k 2-inch colour screen that performed very well in sunlight to view images you are taking or reviewing. Most likely to avoid water and dust issues the camera doesn’t feature an optical viewfinder, normally this is a concern, however with the display performing well in all conditions, it's not as big an issue as some make out. All the relevant controls are on the rear of the camera and well laid-out with quick access buttons for most functions.

When it comes to waterproof performance the Pentax OptioWPi complies with JIS class 8 waterproof performance, enabling it to withstand up to 30 minutes of continuous operation at an underwater depth of 1.5 meters. This means that you can happily use it on the slopes, in the rain, or if the inclination takes you, in the hot tub.

In addition to this the Pentax Optio WPi has also been proven to conform to Class 5 dustproof performance of category 2, normally associated with machines to prevent internal changes in atmospheric pressure, such as when skiing up a mountain.

Inside and the camera offers 6 megapixels, which we think is perhaps a tad too much for a camera of this class, but does mean it gives you plenty of options when it comes to cropping in on the action. It’s something you might have to do as it’s only supplied with a 3x optical zoom, which gives you the equivalent of 34-114mm on a 35mm camera.

Like other Optio models in the Pentax range, the Optio WPi features 15 scene modes including the green mode.

The green mode means that at the press of a button all the cameras buttons apart from the shutter and the zoom are deactivated. It’s a good idea if you want to turn you camera into an idiot-proof device with one push of a button or better still if you don’t want to have to worry about pressing the wrong button when you’ve got gloves on.

Beyond that, the scene modes cover everything from Underwater to Surf & Snow as well as an option that allows you to soften edges for those classic 80s romantic shots you’ve always wanted to take.

So to performance. In our tests the camera performed very well producing a good balance of colours no matter what the subject was. Also important for those looking to take this to the slopes this winter, the camera performed well with lots of white in the picture (we were luckily enough to get a heavy frost to test the camera). Skin tones were good and overall there is nothing really bad to say here. The additionally benefit to shooting at 6 megapixels means you can crop in without losing quality. The camera even performed well underwater (well the dog’s water bowl) - see images.


It's not all perfect. The camera's sports mode is rather disappointing which meant that those looking to take big air pictures on the slopes may be disappointed. We would have thought given the nature of where you may want to take this picture that it would have been a higher priority for Pentax, but clearly not.

The second issue is that because of the size of the images the camera does take some time to save these down to a memory card. Not as long as we were expecting, but still long enough to notice that it is taking more time that it perhaps should. Unless you are planning on printing these images A3 then our advice would be to turn the 6 megapixel option down to 5 megapixels or even 4 megapixels, which luckily the camera easily allows you to do.

Overall a very good camera that will appeal to the adventure-seeker. If you find yourself in situations that warrant the sudden drowning in water or large amounts of dust the OptioWPi is just the thing for you.

Top marks.

Writing by Stuart Miles.