The rugged Pentax Optio W90 "just screams TOUGH!" say editors at Steves-Digicams.com. Protected by rubberized edging, the W90 comes equipped with a 5x zoom lens encased in the camera's protective polycarbonate body, a 2.7-inch LCD with anti-reflective coating, a triple anti-shake system to steady shots and a carabineer clip or hanging off a backpack. There's also a special underwater setting and a macro mode called Digital Microscope mode that snaps close-ups from one centimeter away and uses LED lens lighting. The W90 withstands submersion in 20 feet of water, 4-foot drops and temperature dips to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, besides being dustproof. In contrast, the top-rated Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 (Discontinued) is waterproof to 33 feet and shockproof to 6.6 feet, with the same freezeproof and dustproof specs and better-looking photos and HD video in tests.
Despite the dings, the W90 "powers up for action in just over a second," and roomy buttons make for easy handling, says Gavin Stoker at PhotographyBlog.com. Most experts and some users report clean, crisp images, although noise peppers low-light photos. Nearly everyone raves about the W90's underwater mode, which works for stills and high-definition video (720p) and delivers marked improvement in image quality. It's so good that Mike Perlman at InfoSyncWorld.com nominates the W90 for scuba diving, even though HD video garners lukewarm reviews. Although some experts deem the W90 a worthy choice, nearly one-fourth of owners who have posted reviews about this camera at Amazon.com give it the lowest possible score, saying it broke or leaked underwater.
Plenty of professional reviewers assess the ruggedness and photographic prowess of the Pentax Optio W90, including PhotographyBlog.com, Steves-Digicams.com and InfoSyncWorld.com. User reviews at Amazon.com reveal problems that surface with extended use and help to confirm expert findings.
For Gavin Stoker, the Pentax Optio W90 isn't just a camera of "outer muscle" but of inner strengths, too. Features like Digital Microscope mode, along with the camera's reliable image quality, put it on par with Panasonic's rugged lineup and let it edge out Olympus Tough models.
Review: Pentax Optio W90 Review, Gavin Stoker, May 14, 2010
Editors at Steves-Digicams.com are impressed with the Pentax Optio W90's toughness. They're glad that the roomy button layout of the W80 remains intact, but appreciate the addition of LED lights for the Digital Microscope mode, despite their short-range illumination.
Review: Pentax Optio W90 Review, Editors of Steves-Digicams.com, June 14, 2010
The Pentax Optio W90 is a comfortable shooter with fairly average rugged abilities that gets the job done, says Mike Perlman. Despite image quality that "resides somewhere in the middle of the quality spectrum," the W90's special underwater shooting mode lets it punch out one of the best underwater performances in its class.
Review: Pentax Optio W90 Review, Mike Perlman, April 28, 2010
While the Pentax Optio W90 may not be a "groundbreaking" camera on the feature front, Dave Bullock nevertheless says it's an incredibly resilient shooter that kept "chugging along" despite abuse in Los Angeles. It also delivered "firmly average" image quality and "competent" HD video, but he concedes the W90 isn't the best low-light performer.
Review: Pentax Optio W90, Dave Bullock, April 15, 2010
While the Pentax Optio W90 passes muster for most users at Amazon.com, a several do complain that the camera didn't survive underwater use. Other complaints include poor low-light performance and missing zoom capabilities in video mode. However, the majority of users praise the W90 for its ruggedness, ease of use and great photos.
Review: Pentax Optio W90 12.1 MP Waterproof Digital Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com