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The Pentax Optio W60 is at home in the middle of a rainstorm or at snorkling depths, but it looks like it's ready to attend a cocktail party, with a handsome design and sophisticated color scheme. For the most part the construction seems solid, with the exception of the camera bottom, where both the compartment door and the tripod socket concern us.
Appropriate for a camera designed for underwater hijinks, our review sample of the Optio W60 features a rich blue brushed metal front panel we found strikingly attractive. The camera’s also available with a silver panel, but in our aesthetic judgment, there’s no contest. At the far left of the camera front is a raised black bar, designed as a rest for the middle right finger, which positions the index finger directly over the shutter. The word PENTAX appears in brushed raised silver lettering to the right of the bar and, to one side of that, 10 MEGAPIXELS printed in white ink. The lens features an internal zoom, so the modestly raised lens housing doesn’t move beyond its scant 3 mm elevation -- a pocket-friendly design. Not so friendly, though is the lack of any protection for the front lens element. A set of keys or some other sharp object in the wrong spot is going to permanently damage that shiny surface. Strange that a camera promoted on the basis of its toughness has such an obvious weakness.
Printed on the lens are the words PENTAX LENS and OPTICAL 5X ZOOM 5mm-25mm. Above the lens on the left is a small self-timer lamp. Above and to the right of the lens is the small flash unit. The words Optio W60 WATERPROOF are printed in white ink along the right front. Surrounding the entire front is a matte silver bezel.
The raised black bar on the left helps steady the camera.
In the four corners of the back are inset plastic covers, presumably for waterproofing purposes. The word PENTAX is printed below the 2.5-inch screen, with the 230,000-pixel resolution that’s a de facto industry standard for low-priced cameras today. The screen is surrounded by a black bezel and covered with a clear glossy panel. The controls are arrayed on the right. From top to bottom, these include the zoom controls, the Play button, the MENU and Smile Mode/Face Detection buttons side by side, and below that the four-way controller, a solid piece of plastic that pivots top, bottom, left and right. The icons printed on this controller represent (clockwise from top) self-timer, macro, mode control and flash. The OK button is very slightly raised in the center. Below the four-way controller is a green button that serves as a programmable control (triggering Easy mode by default), with a trashcan icon in blue to indicate the button’s erase function when in playback mode.
Along the far right edge on the top is a line of four small raised dots which seemed mysterious at first, since ordinarily our fingers didn’t fall anywhere near them. Then we held the camera vertically and all became clear – these dots fit perfectly under your thumb when shooting in portrait orientation, and are useful to keep the camera from budging when pressing the shutter.
There aren't a lot of complicated controls here.
Left Side* (4.00) No functional features reside here. There’s a slight curve on the right edge and, at the bottom, the seam of the battery/memory card compartment.
Keep moving... nothing to see here.*
A sturdy, shiny silver connector affixed with two visible screws is the only noteworthy feature. The center hole is large and smoothly polished, making it easy to thread the wrist strap.
*You don't really need this much hardware to attach a wriststrap,
but it does look rugged.*
The matte black plastic panel on top of the camera is subtly but substantially textured, promoting a secure index-finger grip. To the right of the Optio W60 labeling is a tiny monaural microphone and, beyond that, a small speaker. The power button is inset to sit flush with the top panel, making an accidental press unlikely. There’s a brightly lit green dot in the center of the power button, making it obvious at a glance whether the camera is on or off. The shutter button, also flush with the top panel, offers a clear two-step distinction between the half-pressed and fully triggered states.
The non-slip-grip up front is a welcome feature.
One of the first tasks when unpacking a new camera is installing a battery and memory card. Frankly, in this case, that introduction to the W60 didn’t fill us with confidence. The door to the battery / memory card / cable connector compartment is protected by a tiny lock that pushes open sideways (your thumb pad or fingernail will do the trick), allowing the cover to slide out from the left side of the camera and pivot open. Instead of the confidence-inspiring heft and satisfying thunk of a luxury automobile door, though, the W60 door feels thin, flimsy and unsubstantial, with a hinge that seems insecure. There’s a rubber panel inside the door that assures a watertight seal when closed. We took the camera underwater, swam with it, shook it around in liquid, and never did experience any leakage. Still, for a camera designed for active pursuits, we’d like to see more rugged construction here.
On the far right side, past the requisite labeling, is a non-reinforced tripod socket. It would be far too easy to strip the soft plastic threads from this socket. The positioning and design are also less than ideal: when attached to our tripod during performance testing, the camera didn’t rest flat on the platform. Instead the left side lifted noticeably, making it difficult to line up a flat horizontal plane.
*The all-plastic tripod socket falls short of the
overall rugged design standard.*
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