Pentax Optio – (insert curse here)

Is something wrong, she said – Well of course there is
You’re still alive, she said – Oh, and do I deserve to be
Is that the question?
pearl jam

Is not the Optio by Pentax the biggest shaft ever put to a paddlers hide?  I’m on my 3rd.  The W60 is the first one that actually stayed working for more than one season. Working, just long enough for the lens to do it’s impersonation of the record from Monty Python’s Hungarian phrasebook sketch. “I will not buy this camera, It is scratched.”  Of course it is.  There’s no freaking lens cap!  Great plan for a camera that’s supposed to put up with what outdoor folks can throw at it.. Seems obvious doesn’t it? (insert curse here)

Yes.  Even a dim wit like me knows enough about cameras to assume that the glass will eventually get scratched up.  But here’s the weird thing, it doesn’t.  Well, it didn’t, then it did, but not easily.  For what ever reason the first two Optios (W10, W20) I had survived rocks, coral, and pockets full of sand. Pentax seemed to have some special lens voodoo going on as far as scratching is concerned. It was water they had a problem with.  (insert curse here)

That changed with the W60, at least in my experience. The W60 was my 3rd Optio and the first that I had to send in within a month because the shutter button froze up.  (insert curse here) Great start guys!  (insert curse here) I was all ready to start my self-punishment regimen for buying another one.  I should have known better.  But no… I had come back for more.   I paid for it by spending 2 weeks in a foreign country practically having to hire an elephant to stand on the button whenever I wanted to take a picture. (insert curse here)

Once I got back to the states and got off the water for awhile I got over the rage.  We sent the camera back in and waited.. and waited.. and waited.  Finally when we did get the camera back, it worked like new.  Duh, it practically WAS new. (insert curse here)  I started using it again.  I even started feeling good about it.  I will say over and over, that when the stars align the Option takes the best images of the WP cameras I’ve tried.  That’s what makes the Optio kayak photographer crack, picture quality. (insert curse here)

But then it was not long before I started getting fuzzy out-of-focus areas on my shots. It took some effort to find the almost micro scratching that was causing the issue. Yarg!  (insert curse here) The W60 has much a less scratch resistant lens than the old ones.  It’s like some sort of cruel joke.  Finally a camera that lasts more than a year, but with a crap lens to forever torment you with trashed pictures.  (insert curse here) 3 cameras over 4 years. That’s over a $1000 to Pentax who offers offers un-responsive, cold, corporate style, phone bank support and won’t repair anything for much less than the price of the camera.  Turkeys!  (insert … well, you know!)

Hey, I WANT TO LOVE THIS CAMERA! How sick is that?? Easy to use, handles poor light, offers a wide-screen framing option, fair video, great pictures.. a lot to love.  But jeepers criminy on a bun, Pentax!!. We’re done.  (insert curse here) I’d rather deal with waterproof cases or put up with a bit lower image quality, than pay $300 or more a year just to have the privilege of being screwed by Pentax one more time. Frankly Mr. Uber Pentax public relations guy, you should be going through your long history of  rightfully pissed off past paddling (and I’m sure other sports) customers and tossing W90s around like candy at a Christmas parade to anyone who has bought high priced paper weights from you in the past, and then just hope you finally got it right. If you’re lucky, (and that’s questionable) you could maybe, just maybe, win back a lot of ticked off  potential long term fans & customers.  Lord knows, they’ve paid for it.. (often repeatedly). Of course to do something like that you’d have to give a damn, and that’s probably the real problem in the first place. (insert curse here)

You may also like

Devil's lake State Park
The Vampyre
Camera in the Glen
Another Kind of Circus
Trumpeter Swans 2014
The Wild Season
Say Goodbye Schmutz. Goodbye Schmutz!

11 Responses

  1. Martin

    I wouldn’t touch an Olympus with a barge pole, average image quality and shocking build quailty – mine has been back for repair twice in the first year…

  2. The problem with Camera reviews is that they are “out of the box”. They don’t come back after a year or two and follow up. Same is true with Pentax and I’ve done it as well. Great camera when fresh out of the packaging.. but will it still be 2 years down the road? How many years should a $300.00 camera last? Those seem to be more relevant questions.

    Roy, yeah I’ve heard a lot of Olympus horror stories as well.

  3. I am also on the last legs of my second Pentax W60.

    Fog under the LCD, microphone doesn’t work for video, and battery life, no matter what battery is roughly half it’s out of the box performance.

  4. I guess I need to count myself lucky. I bought my first Pentax Optio WP in 2005 before a trip to Hawaii. I used it for 2 years with no problems, but decided to replace it with a W20 in 2007 before taking a trip to Alaska. The W20 has much better video quality than the older WP. I’ve been using my W20 ever since. I do share the frustration of water on the lens. My old WP no longer works, (I don’t know why, but I like to think it is because it no longer felt wanted.) but my W20 has been working great for almost 3 years now. I have regularly carried both cameras in the pocket of my PFD when sea kayaking and whitewater kayaking. The W20 survived an extended swim through a class 3 rapid on the Kongakut River in Alaska. I suppose I need to prepare myself for having to replace it soon based on the experiences the rest of you are having.

  5. Harold

    I’ve had really good luck (touch wood) with an Optio W20. I’ve dropped it a few times and the case is scuffed but it amazes me that the lens cover is still unscratched. I haven’t actually used it underwater a lot but it’s been splashed with salt water many times as it’s gotten around in the pocket of my PFD. Takes good photos too.

  6. Susan

    Don’t know the Pentax – I have an Olympus Stylus 790 SW (no, they don’t make that particular model any more) that has seen me through fresh and salt water, rock, sand, the dropsies, ski trips, etc etc. The only thing that killed it was husband taking it diving on a Belize trip and (I think) probably exceeding the max depth limit. Because it was well past warranty, I paid the “maximum repair fee” (still significantly less than a new camera!) and got it fixed. I got it BECAUSE it has a lens cover (and, as mentioned, I tend to drop things). I’m not sure if the newer models of this camera have performed as well as this particular one has for me, but I can certainly recommend this one as a waterproof point-and-shoot.

  7. Roger

    I bought a new Pentax and sent it back after taking some test shots. Total junk. I couldn’t live with the photo quality when it was new, let alone after getting it wet and such.

    I now have a Panasonic Lumix (waterproof) and I love it. Sorry Derek – no dust cover though.

  8. Edge

    I’ve had excellent luck with Pentax. My first was a WR33 that my wife used up until this winter. She replaced it with a new Panasonic (she loves it). After two seasons with the WR33 I upgraded to a WP which is still in use. The screen cracked after I dropped the keel of a an Explorer HV on it during a rescue in heavy seas. In fall 2008, I picked up a WP 60 which I’ve been very happy with.

  9. I am not an owner of Pentax waterproof camera but I have used Olympus for some years now.
    While I did have some issues with one Olympus model (namely the 1030SW) it got replaced under warranty.
    I have compiled a longterm test on some waterproof Olympus cameras here: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2009/11/compact-waterproof-cameras-long-term.html

    And for those that say that compact waterproof cameras can’t take a decent image, I say: “a good tradesman does not blame his tools”.
    Short of being cocky, I believe my images taken mostly with Olympus waterpoof cameras are above average. You be the judge: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gnarlydog/sets/72157600524255302/