"Cameras for Paddlers" article info

-- Last Updated: Jun-08-05 11:16 AM EST --

Just for a bit of information for everyone that has read the article. Pentax now has a 5.0mp Class 8 water-resistant point and shoot camera with a 3x optical zoom (up from the 3.2 and 4.0 class 7 mentioned in the article. I've sold a few of the new model and they are proving to be an excellent camera! The new model in named simply the "Optio WP"

Just thought it would be worth the mention!

Looks good but
Looks good but sorry to see they went to a proprietary rechargeable battery. I carry a lot of AA rechargeables on trips for other cameras, VHF, etc and that was one really nice feature about the earlier cameras. But I still might get one!

No optical viewfinder?
Call me “old school”, but I wouldn’t buy a camera without one. I find them much easier to use on the water than an LCD, particularly on sunny days. Also, if you suffer from “over 40 eyes”, an LCD is essentially useless.

Still might be worth a look
Here’s what Pentax says about their LCD, but I’m still a bit skeptical.

The OptioWP features a large, low reflection 2.0

inch monitor. Incorporating low reflection

technology and a backlighting system, the OptioWP

LCD is easy to view even in sunny, outdoor


The battery is indeed proprietary but removable and there is a standalone recharger, both at reasonable prices, like here…


And if it works, this would be a very nice feature…

new tracking AF function available in Pet and

Sport modes to automatically monitor movement of

subjects within the frame and maintain sharp focus.

This allows optimal focus to be achieved as soon

as the shutter release is pressed down fully.

It means instant shutter release, thus precluding the “hey, that’s not the picture I shot” phenomenon. But is it available in beach/water mode, or just sports and – huh-- pet mode?

Might be worth a look. But I’m sticking with my trusty 43 WR for now.



I actually have an Optio WP.
It’s an amazing little (and I mean little) camera. It’s totally waterproof. I wear it in my pfd pocket. The LCD screen is large. I was also concerned about lack of viewfinder, but I find that even in bright sunlight, without my glasses I have no problem framing a shot. But I’m also just a point and shoot kind of photographer. I’m taking snap shots not making art.

The proprietary battery was also an issue for me, but I find a single battery charge will last most of a week long trip, and an extra battery is only about $15 if you shop around on line. It charges the battery in a separate battery charger that’s included with the camera, so I always have one for wearing and one for charging. When I go on a longer trip I take them both fully charged.

I think not including this camera in that article was a glaring omission. I think it’s the best paddler camera out there at the moment.


I have a WP
as well. I like it. I was worried about the lack of an optical view finder as well. It isn’t really that big an issue. Focusing on a distant fixed object in choppy water while holding a camera a foot in front of your face is a challenge, but I think I’ll get used to it. It is very small, fits in my PFD pocket on a lanyard. It takes nice pictures. I can get better pictures with my old K1000 and and camera bag full of gear, of course. But that’s not really the point. It’s a simple, waterproof point and shoot camera. The presets are pretty funny: Pet, Cat or Dog, Black, White, or Gray? It has a lot of pre-set options, I’ve had a lot of fun playing with it.

Since it’s designed for water use…
…maybe the presets should have been “Otter” “Fish” “Gator.” :slight_smile: I’m looking at this camera, too. Is the zoom adequate?


The zoom is
adequate for most purporses. As I said, it is really difficult to focus on a small distant point when you are moving anyway. If you are going to be using this camera on the water, I don’t think much more zoom would be practical. It has a bar that shows you how much of the zoom you’re using, and it pauses about 3/4’s of the way up, then you have to release the button and press is again to get the last 1/4. I think that is the break between optical and digital zoom, but I must admit, I prefer to play rather than read the manual. I have a 135mm zoom with a 2x tele converter I use on my K1000, usually on the tripod, it’s not quite that good, but I don’t have a tripod on the boat. BroadwayPhoto has a real good price on the net, just don’t let them talk you into buying anything else and it’s a great deal. (They gave me a call after I placed the order to pitch all the extras. You can do better on Memory Cards and batteries elsewhere I think.)

Give me wide angle
Once in a blue moon, I wish I had a good telephoto lens - egrets’ nests, etc. But far more often, a wide-angle lens works better for me. I’m usually trying to capture a group of kayakers, and I’m generally in the middle of them, or I want the entire horizon.



I’m currently using a Nikon Coolpix 990. The wide angle lens adapter obscures the view of the optical viewfinder, so I have an attached viewer on the monitor. I’m happy with the pictures it takes. If I had a lot more disposable cash (over $500), I’d buy the Coolpix 8400, which zooms out to 24mm without attachments.

Neither of these cameras is waterproof. My way of thinking is to use the camera that gets the best photos and take the additional precautions necessary to protect it.

Paddling just isn’t conducive to those
precautions. I had a non-waterproof camera that I thought I was very careful with. When it failed, from having been exposed to sea air just one time too many, it was in the middle of a two week-long expedition in Baja. I wound up with no pictures of the fin whales we paddled with, or the osprey we shared a cove with. That’s when I decided waterproof was the only way for me to go if I wanted to take pictures on the water.

A review

Or just get a cheap housing
like the Ewa-Marine camera bags for your camera. One of my hobbies is underwater photography, and the truth is you’ll eventually flood anything you bring on or under the water with you.

The review
I read that one and a few others on that site. Not a particularly good review. It seems that all of the point and shoot digital cameras suffer a from what they call noise and mediocre color balance. I have a Sony DSC P7, 3.2 mega pixel with a waterproof case good to 40 meters. The total package is about the size of a standard 35mm SLR. But it sucks with yellows. I have to manually set the white balance at cloudy for every shot. I had an Olympus that I sold that took much better photos. But alas, that is the trade off for having a compact point and shoot.


my paddling with Pentax Optio WP
some comments and pictures in my paddling blog:


The camera has just survived Texas Water Safari - a photo report will be coming soon.

Just got off the Dolores where my old
Minolta Weathermatic 35 scored almost every time, even when conditions were cloudy. My Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV awaits the negatives.

I have seen some pretty good shots from point-and-shoot digitals, and I hope to find a quality waterproof digital soon, preferably WITH a viewfinder. Right now, I’m real comfortable with the old technology.

One note. People are often dissatisfied with film cameras because they have not found a processor who can do good prints. (Negatives are pretty much an automatic process, if not mishandled.) I was lucky to have taken all my Dolores Slickrock negatives to Penningtons in Durango, where they knew exactly how the canyon SHOULD look, so that the results were consistent across three kinds of film. Focus was perfect, and light balance and color were excellent also. Now if I can just learn to achieve the same results after scanning the negatives.

Big LCD nice, but still n/g on the water

– Last Updated: Jun-19-05 7:02 AM EST –

I looked at somebody's Optio WP yesterday. The big LCD is, well, big, plus delightfully bright and crisp. Unfortunately, it washes out completely just as quickly as a regular LCD in bright light, and is therefore pretty useless on the water.

Since I shoot the majority of my on-water shots through the viewfinder on my Optio 43WR, I'm afraid the new Optio WP won't do the trick.

no viewfinder in Optio WP
The lack of viewfinder wouldn’t be acceptable for me in a film camera, but I can accept that compromise in a tiny digital camera. Shooting digital is cheap!



wr optio
Hello. I have and use often the 3.2 mpxl Pentax Optio WR. I have had it now for a few years. Got it new on ebay from a shop in Nyc. Paid about 1/2 of retail. used AA batt. Came with rechargable batt and a charger. Love the camera and get compliments on it. Movies, yes.