Pentax W20 Waterproof Camera - Pentax W20


There are three pages of menu options, although for some reason the often-used exposure compensation is relegated to the second page. There are several useful entries though, including an interval timer and adjustable contrast, saturation and sharpness.

Picture quality is, to be fair, no better or worse than average for a 7MP compact. Also to be fair, with the incredibly awful weather we’ve had recently it’s difficult to take a good picture even with the best camera in the world, so bear that in mind when you look at the sample shots.

There’s not a lot of improvement in detail between 6MP and 7MP, so the major difference between the W20 and W10 in terms of image quality is of course the higher sensitivity. The Auto ISO setting has an upper limit of 400, and at this level the image quality is generally very good. The picture quality of the W20 at 800 ISO is roughly the same as the W10 at 400, so there’s a 1-stop advantage in shutter speed, enabling some low-light shots to be taken without the flash. The very highest setting, 1600 ISO, is very noisy and should only be used when there’s no alternative.

The W20’s lens appears to be the same excellent folded-optics unit as on the W10, and again it produced good edge-to-edge sharpness and very little distortion at wide angle. Colour rendition and exposure were both as good as the dreadful lighting conditions would allow, and the level of detail in the test shots was good, although there was some evidence of over-processing and noise reduction.


If you need a camera that can withstand immersion in water, your choices are basically limited to the Pentax Optio W20 or the Olympus mju 725 SW that I reviewed last week. The Pentax is cheaper, smaller, takes slightly better pictures, and looks more like a normal compact than the Olympus, but lacks the shock-proof credentials.

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