First Impressions of A Underwater Digital Camera
By: Mich

Until recently, the options for shooting underwater have been limited to shooting film with a traditional underwater camera or a housing for digital. Those options are wonderful and work very well, but I personally prefer instant satisfaction when experimenting with new things in photography. That is why I was excited to hear that there are new point and shoots that you can simply put underwater- no film or housing required.

The camera that I tried for this quick little introduction is the Pentax Optio WP. It's a small point and shoot that is 5 megapixels and shoots video as well. It's not the big deep diver that a Nikonos is, but it's a lot of fun to someone who normally doesn't shoot underwater. The Optio WP has incredible macro capabilities with focus up to 1cm. The depth range is 1.5 meters, which makes it great for a pool or snorkeling. I was impressed with how easy it was to use underwater and you can even hear the beep when an exposure is made. In the underwater mode the LCD is easy to view and all of the normal functions of a point and shoot digital are there. After shooting, simply wipe the camera dry and you can open the battery door to retrieve your card.

The Pentax Optio WP: EX+, $72

(ed. note: Mich's test shots are pretty funny if you've been paying attention to photo news recently. If you're completely lost as to what I'm talking about, go here for an update)

- Easy to use, just like a normal point and shoot
- No "O" ring grease to spread (or similar maintenance)
- 1cm macro focusing
- Shoots above ground and underwater
- Nice small size and easy to carry
- No optical view finder
- Underwater depth 4.5ft
- No true manual mode