The Bottom Line
Pentax has released 11 generations of "tough" waterproof cameras in its Optio family of cameras, with the latest being the Optio W90.
My Pentax Optio W90 review shows a point and shoot camera with some very handy extra features. It shoots extremely sharp and bright photos, and its response times are quick. The Optio W90's underwater capabilities are impressive, and it's a camera that Pentax designed as a tough, well-built model.
With an MSRP of $329.99, the W90 would be a bit overpriced, in my opinion. However, prices have dropped quickly. You probably now can find the W90 for less than $250, making it a great value.
- Extremely sturdy, well-built camera
- Image quality is pretty good overall
- Several in-camera editing features are easy to use
- LCD is very bright, works well in direct sunlight
- Fast start-up times, fast auto-focus in good light
- Some images are a little soft, but it's not noticeable unless you're making very large prints
- Original MSRP is a little high
- Too heavy and wide to operate one-handed
- No optical image stabilization, only digital IS
- Resolution: 12.1 megapixels
- Optical zoom: 5X (28-140mm)
- LCD: 2.7-inch, 230,000 pixels
- Maximum image size: 4000 x 3000 pixels
- Battery: Li-ion rechargeable
- Dimensions: 2.32 x 4.23 x 0.98 inches
- Weight: 5.08 ounces (no battery or memory card)
- Image sensor: CCD 1/2.3 in.
- Movie mode: 720p HD video
Guide Review - Pentax Optio W90 Review
You'll find good image quality with the Pentax Optio W90 in nearly all lighting conditions. Some of the images are a little soft if you are trying to print them at really large sizes, but the softness isn't noticeable in most photos.
Colors are realistic, and the camera includes a "bright" setting that really works well in creating even more vivid colors, especially for nature photos.
Unfortunately, the Optio W90 does not offer an optical IS setting, but it uses what Pentax calls "Pixel Track SR," which attempts to correct for camera shake digitally. It seems to work pretty well, although optical IS nearly always outperforms digital IS.
The camera's response times are good, especially its startup time. The W90's autofocus works pretty fast, although you may have a slight lag in focus indoors, where you might miss a few spontaneous photos.
The Optio W90 offers a lot of nice shooting features. For example, I really liked the camera's "Interval Shooting" feature, which allows you to tell the camera to automatically shoot a set number of photos at intervals between 10 seconds and 99 minutes. (If you wonder what your dog does at home alone all day, the W90 can help you figure it out with this feature.)
Despite offering a lot of interesting features, the W90 remains pretty easy to use.
The W90 also appears to be a pretty strong underwater performer, especially for a point and shoot camera. Pentax claims the W90 can be used in water up to 20 feet in depth, which is more than many point and shoot "tough" cameras in its price range, and the LCD's brightness is extremely strong, which is important when shooting underwater.
Pentax has given the Optio W90 an extremely interesting design. The front of the camera is black, trimmed in black, pistachio green, or orange. The lens does not extend from the camera body, and it is centered, surrounded by a round raised area that helps protect it. I really like the rugged design -- the W90 looks like a camera that should be used outdoors while hiking.
The camera is wider and shorter than most beginner-level cameras, giving the W90 a unique look. The widescreen 2.7-inch LCD mimics the wide shape of the camera, making it ideal for displaying 16:9 ratio images. This configuration gives the W90 a "chunky" feel and look, but it still measures less than 1 inch in thickness. The W90 is a little heavier than other models, which, combined with its extremely wide body design, makes the camera difficult to operate one-handed.
The entire camera is encased a thick, hard plastic, which adds to the chunky look, but which also greatly protects the camera. Pentax says the W90 will survive a fall of up to 4 feet and will operate in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finally, the W90 contains both an HDMI and USB connector, both of which are behind a locked panel. The battery compartment panel is also secured with a lock switch, giving the W90 a very sturdy configuration.