For most the past four years, if you wanted to buy a waterproof compact camera, you had a choice of either a Pentax Optio W series, or something from the Olympus mju SW range but the recent growth in popularity of outdoor adventure sports and activity holidays has opened up the market for cameras that are waterproof, and in some cases shockproof and freeze-proof. Most of the main manufacturers have recently launched new cameras in this category, but they're mostly expensive luxury items. These newcomers must be cutting into the sales of excellent but pricey Optio W80, because Pentax's response has been to add a second lower-priced waterproof model to its range, the Optio WS80.
The WS80 isn't the only low-cost waterproof camera on the market, and it isn't even the cheapest either. Its only real competition is the Fujifilm FinePix Z33 WP, which at around £120 manages to make even the £180 WS80 look expensive. However the Z33 can't match the WS80's specification, because it does offer some quite decent specs for the money.
The Optio WS80 is a lightweight compact camera featuring a 10.0 megapixel CCD sensor, an internal 5x zoom lens equivalent to 35-175mm and 1280 x 720 30fpd HD video recording. It is waterproof to a depth of 1.5 metres for up to two hours, and can be rinsed clean under a tap if it gets muddy. Although the camera body is plastic its slab-like shape feels strong and resilient, and although it isn't advertised as being shock proof it certainly looks and feels capable of surviving a few knock and bumps. The lens is protected behind a recessed glass cover, and the camera's low weight of 125g including card and battery means it is light enough to bounce rather than smash (probably!) The WS80 is available in a range of colours including the black with orange stripes seen here, as well as white with pink stripes, white with black stripes and a rather appalling yellow with green stripes.