Digital Cameras

Pentax WG-3 GPS: Review

Pentax WG-3 GPS is a 16 megapixel camera waterproof and shockproof, with zoom lens 25-100mm, altimeter, pressure indicator and geotagging.

The rugged cameras such as the Pentax WG-3, that is waterproof, shockproof and resistant to weathering, are the choices of many photographers used to shoot in extreme situations. Whether it’s underwater photos, in the presence of snow or perhaps in areas subject to very strong winds and bearers of dust or sand, often the choice of one of these tools is revealed obliged to prevent damage to be other less resistant.

Pentax offers a line of cameras for years as ” armored ” and issued now on the market its WG-3, available in both normal and GPS. We tested this model and has many additional features, to find out whether this is an ideal companion for the more adventurous photographic excursions.

Pentax WG-3 GPS: Technical and Design

In terms of technical details, the Pentax WG-3 GPS looks pretty good. It has a CMOS sensor with 16 megapixels, a 4x zoom lens equivalent to a focal length of 25-100 mm (therefore with a good wide-angle), rather bright maximum aperture (f/2.0-4.9 respectively), a screen LCD 3-inch diagonal and 460,000 dot resolution, integrated stabilizer and, above all, the inclusion of GPS module, altimeter and barometer, which give this camera a truly unique character.

Pentax WG-3 GPS-image2

Even in terms of design, the Pentax WG-3 GPS proves to be very particular, integrating elements unusual for a compact camera such as, for example, a backlit front display that will show the time and altitude (even when the camera is off), and a crown of six LED lights arranged around the lens, which will help to illuminate the subject, for example, in the early stages of macro shooting.

For the rest, the camera body is constructed of high strength, conveying the feeling of being able to actually withstand the bumps and accidental drops (the manufacturer guarantees it for drops of up to 2 meters) and leaving no doubt as to the waterproofing, certified up to 14 meters deep, a value that should satisfy fans of diving and that is not always apparent in products of this category. In particular, the cover under which lie the battery, SD card and connections are protected by a double locking action, which guarantees to prevent accidental opening, and is well sealed by standard tires.

Pentax WG-3 GPS-top

The only detail is rather inconvenient recharging the battery, which is carried in the car (there is no separate charger), so during the whole operation should leave the door open with card and battery exposed. To overcome this, Pentax has made the camera compatible with the wireless induction charging system, but needs a charger sold separately. In terms of equipment, it is rather pleasant presence in the pack with a sturdy strap with carabiner, which could be useful to secure the camera to himself or to other surfaces in the early stages of shooting more turbulent, or simply for transportation.

Pentax WG-3 GPS: Performance

Pentax WG-3 GPS-sideThe controls of the Pentax WG-3 GPS are arranged almost exclusively on the back of the camera body, leaving only the shutter button and switch on its top. Despite the rather small size of the physical buttons, all of them are pretty easy to reach and operate, and communicate a great feeling of robustness.

The zoom slider, rather than the traditional ring placed around the shutter button, is entrusted to a rocker, presumably to allow easier waterproofing of the deck. The important thing is that all the controls are arranged on the right side of the machine, thus making it entirely possible to use it with one hand, obviously a priority for all camera’s action.

A general level of usability the Pentax WG-3 GPS is less brighter than its design guest suggests, in particular as regards the yield of autofocus, generally quite slow. Hook the subject, even in conditions of optimum light, this camera requires more effort than that generally observed in the compact market.

Even the wait time between shots and the other, especially if you use the built-in flash, it can be quite long. Are discrete ignition timing and navigation through the various menus, but for the latter, we have to say I found them less clear and user-friendly than those seen in other compacts? Appreciable is the presence of a function key to be customized to your liking with the menu items you use most frequently.

The abundant sensors that this machine is equipped to behave pretty well. In Particular, the GPS module it Seemed pretty quick in engaging signal and tagging of images taken work properly. The performance of altimeter and barometer is, of course, blackberries complicated to judge, but the values ​​Offered by the room seem consistent with the situations in Which the test was performed, and the same holds true for the function of a compass. The level integrated electronics, finally, is an invaluable aid to properly compose your images.

In terms of image quality, the Pentax WG-3 GPS offers respectable performance, but not excellent. The captured files, if in the presence of optimum light, show a good amount of detail, well-measured exposure and color rendition generally good, neutral and pleasant.

Already at the base ISO values you may notice a generous amount of digital noise, especially in the midtones. Surpassing the 400 ISO, it becomes very present also the chromatic noise, which emerges with unsightly red-blue blocks. Fortunately, the aperture of f / 2 in wide-angle position means that the objective is able to gather more light of the compact media, thus making the use of the high ISO a less frequent necessity.

On the video front, the Pentax WG-3 GPS can capture video at resolutions up to 1080p at 30 frames per second. The quality is not great: if the color rendering is nice, the detail is rather compromise and although you can use the optical zoom during shooting, this proves to be quite noisy. The front audio, finally, it is quite muted, probably because of the padding necessary to waterproof the camera body.

Overall, the quality of images captured by this camera is not bad for its particular market segment and, of course, is suited for use of social networks and for small prints, but coming from the area of ​​impact, we saw certainly higher performance for the same price.


The Pentax WG-3 GPS is, of course, a camera with a unique character. Its resistance to water, frost and shock is, of course, in itself already quite peculiar, but it must be added an extreme design, the presence of a variety of sensors (GPS, altimeter, barometer, compass, electronic level), a display front can offer useful information and an unprecedented supply of LED lights around the lens, to help illuminate macro subjects. The quality of photos and video is not stellar, and the official price of about $300, it is certainly possible to find traditional cameras are able to offer a better performance from the point of view of autofocus, quite slow here.

But if what you need is a real adventure companion, who can resist all the extreme situations in which you’ll want to expose it, whilst also providing advanced information that you would not find in other simple cameras, the Pentax WG-3 GPS is certainly one of the few compacts able to meet your needs, and in this, sense can certainly justify its price.

Value of Money

PROS : Robust and well waterproofed, The presence of GPS, Altimeter and barometer, Relatively bright zoom lens.

CONS : Only decent image quality, Autofocus is not very powerful, Not very intuitive menu. Extreme design is not for everyone.

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