Pentax Optio W90 rugged camera
Whatever the weather
Image quality is good, if not exactly trail-blazing. Although our images had crisp edges, JPEG mottling was a constant feature. Not everyone will notice it, or indeed care, as it's not sufficient to ruin an image, but printed at a large enough size the W90's images will be easily distinguishable from those from, say, the Canon S90, which costs around £30 more.
For ramblers and the clumsy alike
ISO performance was a real strong point. With the rest of the image tests in the bag, it seemed safe to assume that the W90 would return some fairly lacklustre results. Instead, the still life set up remained acceptable until ISO 800. ISO 1600 was a different matter altogether, but with some careful sharpening and contrast adjustments you could just about come away with a decent flash-free indoor image.
You can push the ISO beyond, to 3200 and 6400, but this restricts the available number of pixels to 5.03Mp. Perhaps inevitably, image quality at these settings was best forgotten. Annoyingly, there's no manual mode. However, there is 720p HD video at 30fps which adds to its appeal for use in all weathers.
Cool or what?
Treating the W90 to a cold bath resulted in a mixed bag of results. On the one hand, the lens appeared to handle the distortion caused by light refracting on contact with the water. On the other, our image was very soft - it's something you can see even in Pentax's W90 press images if you go here and click on sample image. Indeed, keen snorkelers may prefer to buy a standard, high-quality compact and treat it to a decent underwater casing instead.