Pentax Optio W60

A compact sports camera that is rugged, waterproof and easy to use.

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Pentax Optio W60
  • Pentax Optio W60
  • Pentax Optio W60
  • Pentax Optio W60

Pros

  • Waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, scratchproof, smashproof

Cons

  • Soft images, no optical image stabilisation, bad barrel distortion at high zoom

Bottom Line

Pentax’s Optio W60 offers similar performance levels to entry-level cameras with budget price tags but in a casing that can stand up to some serious punishment.

Would you buy this?

Pentax’s W60 is the successor to the W30 — a camera revered for its ruggedness. The W60 measures up against Olympus’ hardcore Tough 1030SW and Tough 1050SW, with comparable specifications and image quality.

The Optio W60 has a black and matte silver design; we prefer this to the Tough 1030SW’s shiny, fingerprint-prone surface. Both the rear LCD and the front lens are protected by plastic, so the Optio W60 can survive some pretty hefty falls and direct hits to these areas without damage. This negates the need for a lens cap (which could collect dust and impede operation)

The Optio W60 boasts a 10-megapixel sensor, a 5x optical zoom lens covering a 28-140mm focal length and a 2.5in LCD. Most importantly, it can operate up to four metres underwater for two hours straight, it can survive temperatures of -10°C and it is dust proof (JIS class 5). Put simply, it will shrug off almost any punishment you subject it to. Despite this, it is no heavier than other compact cameras of its size, weighing 125g without the battery inserted.

The control layout is easy to comprehend, with buttons that are large enough to be pressed with a gloved hand. Pentax’s Green Button is a welcome feature; it invokes a user-friendly shooting mode by default but it can be set to activate a custom collection of settings.

We put it through its paces and found it to be up to the challenge. It is one thing to intentionally drop a camera into dirt, but washing it clean under a tap is an uncommon experience. Thankfully the Optio W60 started up with no dramas at all and was completely free of scratches on the LCD or lens — a testament to its build quality. For the water-sports enthusiast, another useful feature is the water-repellent coating; the lens was free of any image-distorting water drops immediately after washing.

The Optio W60 sits roughly on par with other compact cameras in terms of speed and performance. Start-up takes a slightly leisurely 2.2 seconds, while shot-to-shot speed is an uninspiring 3.3 seconds (which is nonetheless better than the Tough 1050SW). Continuous shooting settings reel in pictures every 1.4 seconds and a burst mode captures seven 5-megapixel shots in roughly three seconds. We found that the autofocus was quite slow, sometimes taking over a second. It was dependable, however, with no out-of-focus shots in our test line-up.

The quality of photos is acceptable. The Optio W60 suffers the same flaws as the Tough 1050SW, the worst being the high level of chromatic aberration. Purple fringing and haloing is evident on high-contrast images, even at a casual glance. Barrel distortion was also an issue at full zoom, with detail and sharpness lost towards the corners of images. ISO speeds up to 400 produced usable images, but ISO 800 and 1600 were largely unusable.

The Optio W60 has a video mode, though the 720p high-definition setting only records at 15 frames per second. Optical zoom can be used while filming, however, which is a useful feature. There's no optical image stabilisation built in to the Optio W60, which may be a cause of concern if you are taking photos in low-light conditions

It is not as refined or as stylish as other cameras on the market, but if you are looking for an adventure camera that can fit in a pocket and also be used daily, the Pentax W60 is one to consider.

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