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With the WPi performing generally well, the movie mode is a bit of a let-down. It is only capable of shooting at 320 x 240 pixel resolution at 30 frames per second with sound, a rather sub-par performance when compared to recent compacts from other leading manufacturers. It does however offer some movie editing options in playback mode, as well as options for still images including colour filters, adjustable brightness, red-eye removal, resizing, and some truly heinous frames that can be added to your pictures, including a lace-trimmed heart shape. Lovely.
At the risk of damning with faint praise, in terms of image quality, the WPi isn’t bad. I’ve seen 6MP compacts that are considerably better, but I’ve also seen a lot worse. As I already mentioned, focusing while not quick is reliably accurate, and metering is also generally good under most conditions, although some shots were slightly over-exposed. Colour reproduction was also generally good, although reds did seem to be a little under-saturated to my eye. I also felt that images lacked a certain fine detail, and showed slight artefacts in some areas. Image noise at higher ISO settings was also quite bad. The WPi does offer adjustable contrast, saturation and sharpness, so perhaps a little experimentation with these settings can produce a more pleasing result.
On the whole though, not a bad performance. The Pentax Optio WPi is the only fully waterproof 6MP compact on the market, and it is ideal for any sort of outdoor activity short of serious SCUBA diving. It is also an ideal social camera for its sheer indestructibility and excellent low-light performance, plus if some idiot spills beer all over it you can just rinse it off under a tap.
If you have a camera-killing lifestyle but enjoy taking pictures, then the WPi is the ideal solution. It is well made, looks superb, handles well, has reasonably good image quality and can survive and take pictures in conditions that would destroy any other camera. There’s nothing else on the market like it.
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