With enough tough credentials to survive a warzone, it's surprising that the W90 keeps coming up with interesting features. Front-mounted LEDs on cameras to help with lighting macro modes are nothing new, but the W90's arrangement of three bright lights clustered around the lens is unusual.
Illuminated macro mode from three LEDs around the lens
They illuminate when you select the W90's Digital Microscope mode, which allows extremely close focusing. Indeed, it worked well with the subject just under 1cm from the front element. The extra light is a necessity for ad hoc macro shots as it prevents the camera shadowing the object. The drawback? The W90's maximum resolution in Digital Microscope mode is a miserly 2.1Mp.
Regarding the other features, these are a fairly familiar bunch. There's an effective face detection mode, including a surprisingly reliable smile mode, which as the name suggests, waits for the subject to crack a grin before taking the picture. In a nod towards purists, there's a bracketing mode: keep your finger down and the W90 takes three pictures – one at what it thinks is the correct exposure and one a stop either side.
Continuous shooting in best-quality mode happens at a tedious frame per second although you can up the speed to 5fps if you're willing to use ISO 3200 or higher, and reduce the resolution to 5Mp. However, the buffer will only accommodate six shots before expiring and flashing a "Data being recorded" message.
Will outlast its owner in the desert
Power-on happens in just over a second, and the shot-to-shot time is around two seconds. It isn't rocket-like, but unless an important scene is unfolding in front of you it's unlikely to be an issue. The lens is good and sharp, reaching from 28 to 140mm in 35mm terms, and offering a reasonable aperture range of f/3.5-f/5.5.
I have a W60, which is excellent for hillwalking.
Just stick it in a trouser pocket, and you don't need to worry about the rain or anything.
The photo quality is more than adequate for me.
Sounds like the W90 is smaller, more rugged and has better video - all to the good!
Love the W-series
I have the previous model (W80) myself and it's excellent. Not perfect picture quality, but I often bring it into the water and snap pictures both under and close to water. Have dropped it a couple of times as well. Still works without any problems as well.
Oh, and if you actually do manage to kill it with water, Pentax will replace it for you. (Atleast Pentax have done so with the older W-models.)
Not quite the point of the carbeener...
I think the point of it was to make for a handy way to clip the camera to a bag, strap, or other attachment point rather then fumbling around with putting it back into a bag.
Otherwise I'm in full agreement- there are far too many morons out there who think that the look-alikes are rated for holding people and get injured or remove themselves from the gene pool because of it.
mine's the one with the class III trama plates and armoured joints.
A nice review
Glad to see it's toughened up. I have an older W30 model that I take out kayaking (stuck to the bow of my kayak with a suction monopod, taking photos once a minute automatically) and it was a toss-up at the time between that and the competing equivalent Olympus model, which was shock-proof, drop-proof, and all sorts of other 'tough' while the Pentax was only water/dustproof. However, the Olympus came out well on top for technical features and picture quality, and I'm glad to see that future models can cope well against the competition too. From personal experience, I highly recommend this range of Pentax point'n'shoot to outdoorsy types for camping, hiking, kayaking and similar sports.
No, the caribeenerererer is not for climbing
That will make you dead. I'm betting the manual is full of "NOT FOR CLIMBING" too. There have been too many muppets who have come to grief due to accessory clips like that being misused as load-bearing attachments, which break right away. so you have to be super-careful now.