Point-and-shoot cameras often have it tough. A night out on the town can mean anything from a tumble down a flight of concrete steps to close encounters with vomit for the average handheld digi-snapper.
But if you’re looking for a capable handheld cam that’s tougher than the Rocky series and prettier than the Victoria’s Secret catalog, you may want to consider the Optio W90.
Encased in a rubberized, water-and-shock resistant polycarbonate, the W90 is designed to take Ike Turner levels of abuse: You can drop the thing up to 4 feet without ill effect, it’ll operate in temperatures as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit, and it will function for up to two hours in 18 feet of water. We even took it to one of the nastiest places on earth: LA’s skid row. There the W90 endured repeated drops onto the sidewalk, submersion in mud and kicks into piles of garbage. Despite an hour of doling out this maltreatment, the W90 just kept chugging along.
When it comes to quality of images, the W90 is capable, if not firmly average. The 12.1-megapixel sensor yields crisp, sharp images with fine color reproduction in brightly lit scenes. But low lighting gives the camera problems, marring most snapshots with a great deal of noise.
The cam comes equipped with a 5x optical zoom that’s the equivalent of a 28-to-140mm zoom in a 35mm format. There’s also 720p video capture at 30 fps that records moving images competently, but is definitely no substitute for a dedicated device.
One interesting feature is what Pentax calls the Microscope mode. It allows for extremely close focusing on tiny objects that are illuminated by three LEDs surrounding the lens. The resolution of the images is limited to 2 megapixels and in our tests, the shots came out a bit fuzzy. But just having the feature could be helpful in many situations when you need to photograph something minuscule.
The Pentax Optio W90 is not a groundbreaking camera when it comes to features. It is, however, an incredibly resilient, waterproof shooter wrapped in a rather sexy chassis. If you’re the adventurous sort with a predilection for breaking handheld cameras, the W90 may be a worthy choice.