The ruggedised compact market has grown considerably in the past few years from being something of a niche genre dominated primarily by the Olympus ‘Tough’ and Pentax ‘W’ range, to something all of the major camera manufacturers now have a stake in.
Pentax isn’t exactly a newcomer to the world of ruggedised compacts. Indeed, alongside Olympus and its ‘mju’ range, Pentax has contributed more than its fair share towards establishing the market for tough compacts, starting with the launch of its waterproof Optio WPi model back in 2006.
Since then, the WPi has morphed into the ‘W’ range of increasingly waterproof, shock-proof, freeze-proof and even crush-proof compacts. Earlier this year, the WB-1 became the latest Pentax compact to take on tough duties, effectively superseding the W90 that came out in 2010.
With a protective outer casing made from a combination of hard-wearing plastic and toughened glass, the WB-1 takes the extreme sports styling of the W90 to its logical conclusion with more pronounced curves and faux industrial facia mouldings.
Waterproof to 10 metres, shock-proof to 1.5 metres, freeze-proof to -10°C, and crush-proof to 100kg the WB-1 is every bit as tough as it looks. Rather than a flimsy wrist-tie, it even comes with a metal karabiner and weight-bearing strap which can be used to attach the camera to a belt or rucksack.
Internally, the WG-1 employs a 14-megapixel sensor and the latest generation, albeit unnamed, Pentax image processor. Zoom capabilities are handled by a 5x optical zoom that’s equivalent to 28-140mm in 35mm terms. Unusually for a camera of its type, the lens is housed in the centre of the camera rather than on the shoulder. Nonetheless it still uses a folded-optics design that keeps all of the lens elements within the camera body and behind a protective glass covering.
Images can be recorded at a maximum 14MP in the camera’s default 4:3 aspect, with 7MP, 5MP and 3MP options also available. You can also record in 1:1 and 16:9 aspect ratios should you wish, albeit at reduced resolutions as these effectively just take a crop from the 4:3 sensor. There are three levels of JPEG compression available, allowing you to prioritise for either the quality or quantity of images.