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GearTools & Tech

Have you seen the light on weatherproof digics?

Last March you were not enthused about weatherproof digital cameras. Pentax's OptioWP looks promising. What are your thoughts? Tom Normandy Park, Washington

A: It wasn't so much that I lacked enthusiasm, but it was only recently that any decent weather-resistant digitals started to hit the market. Kodak made a big, bulky thing several years back, but it was outdated the moment it hit stores. More recently, Olympus has launched its digital version of the long-popular Stylus camera, resulting in all-weather models such as the Stylus 410 Digital ($300;, which has four-megapixel resolution and a 3X optical zoom. This is one sweet camera.


Pentax's OptioWP (street price of around $300; ups the ante a little. Pentax claims you actually can submerge the camera—provided you don't push it more than a few inches below the surface. It has five-megapixel resolution, and matches the Stylus' 3X optical zoom (versus so-called "digital" zoom, which merely pre-crops a picture, a feature I think is stupid). And it all comes in a slim little case that fits easily in a pocket.

That said, I'd still get the two side by side and compare how they work and feel to you. It's not necessarily true that the Pentax's five-megapixel imaging is superior to the four-megapixel resolution of the Olympus—the camera lens and other factors also can play a role. Maybe the camera shop will let you take some pictures on each and then put them on a PC monitor so you can see enlarged versions, as that will give you the best idea as to which camera offers the better picture quality.

Check out Outside's Gear of the Year winners in the 2005 Buyer's Guide , then get yourself a copy of the issue, on newsstands now!

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Filed To: Digital Cameras
Lead Photo: courtesy, Pentax