The WPi is designed as a go-anywhere camera for outdoor activities such as skiing, surfing, or even snorkeling, and has been designed to survive in extreme conditions. It is basically a ruggedised version of the lovely Optio S6 compact, sharing the same sensor, exposure system and software. It has a strong but light aluminium body with rounded and beveled corners for strength, with a profile only a couple of millimeters thicker and taller, and actually slightly shorter, than the S6. The non-extending, internal focusing lens is protected behind a scratch-resistant glass cover, and all the controls and external protrusions are recessed or smoothly rounded, leaving nothing to get snapped off or snag on pocket linings. The LCD monitor also has a scratch-resistant cover and the battery/card hatch has a locking catch so it doesn’t open accidentally while submerged.
The controls are nicely laid out, and are broadly similar to those on Pentax’s more mainstream compacts, including the idiot-proof Green Mode button. Most common options such as flash mode, self-timer, drive mode and macro mode are accessed as secondary functions on the D-pad, as are the shooting mode options. These include the usual portrait, night scene, landscape, sports and beach/snow modes, but also include flowers, candlelight, kids, pets, soft focus and an underwater mode. Yet more are available via a customisable menu. Also on the same menu is the movie mode and sound recording. Pressing the green button in this menu brings up a handy note explaining each function for beginners.
The controls on the WPi are a little stiff and clunky, but they have to be to withstand water ingress under pressure. They have a distinct ‘click’ when operated, which is useful if you’re using the camera with gloves or very cold fingers.