The Bottom Line
One of the drawbacks to point and shoot digital cameras is the lack of add-on accessories that are available. It's tough to expand the feature set of a beginner-level model, making it more useful and powerful.
However, Sony has at least fixed that problem with a few different beginner-level Cyber-shot models, by providing an underwater housing that makes underwater photography possible. My Sony MPK-WE marine pack review reveals an accessory that's a well-built, easy-to-use underwater housing that will make a great addition to the correct model of Cyber-shot camera.
- The MPK-WE works as advertised
- With great directions and several illustrations, it is easy to use
- Great tips on maintenance included
- Very sturdy feel gives the photographer confidence
- MSRP might be a little high for a point and shoot camera accessory
- Each button could be marked a little better
- Compatible with: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W230, DSC-W220, DSC-W210, and DSC-W290 digital cameras
- Maximum water depth: 132 feet (40 meters)
- Dimensions: 5.83 x 4.41 x 3.50 inches
- Weight: 16.93 ounces
Guide Review - Sony MPK-WE Marine Pack Review
For those not familiar with how underwater housings and marine packs work, the MPK-WE marine pack wraps around the point and shoot camera. The MPK-WE from Sony works with four Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras, including the DSC-W230, the DSC-W220, the DSC-W210, and the DSC-W290. (I recently published a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 review.) The MPK-WE marine pack contains several buttons that allow you to remotely access the buttons on the camera, without removing the camera from the marine pack. The MPK-WE's underwater housing protects it up to 132 feet underwater. (Always check for leaks before using it!)
You might be surprised how many times a digital camera accessory doesn't live up to its promises or is so difficult or cumbersome to use that it isn't worth the trouble. Not the MPK-WE, though. It was pretty easy to set up and use, thanks in part to a good set of printed directions and illustrations included with the underwater housing. The MPK-WE also has a very sturdy feel.
Unfortunately, Sony was unable to mark all of the different buttons on the marine pack hardware itself, largely because the housing must work with four different point and shoot cameras. Such restrictions make the printed directions and illustrations especially important. You'll also want to memorize the location of the most important buttons to enhance the usability of the MPK-WE.
However, the good news is all of the buttons work very well and give photographers easy access to the camera's functions. Even the LCD screen is easy to view through the underwater housing unit.
The biggest potential drawback to the MPK-WE underwater housing is its MSRP of about $199. That seems a bit expensive for an accessory to be used with a point and shoot camera. However, if you really want the option of underwater photography and the MPK-WE fits in your budget, it's a great option.