Pentax Optio W80 Review

September 21, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Pentax Optio W80 is a new do-it-all, take-everywhere compact camera that can be submerged in up to 5 meters of water, dropped from a height of 1 meter, and used in temperatures as cold as -10°C. Pentax’s most water-, shock-, dust- and cold-proof digital camera, the 12 megapixel W80 also impresses on the camera side, with a 5x zoom lens offering a focal range of 28-140mm, HD movie shooting at 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second, 2.5 inch LCD screen with anti-reflective coating, 1cm super macro mode, and triple anti-shake protection to help avoid unwanted camera shake. Available in Cardinal Red, Azure Blue, Honey Yellow and Gunmetal Gray, the Pentax Optio W80 costs £269.99 / $299.95.

Ease of Use

The Pentax Optio W80 is a very well-made, compact digital camera, with a pleasing-to-the-eye two-tone silver and gunmetal grey plastic body and excellent overall finish. Thick black plastic strips on each corner help reinforce the rugged appearance of the W80 and presumably play a part in the camera's shockproof-ness. It's easily small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, measuring just 99.5(W) x 56(H) x24.5(D) mm.

The Pentax Optio W80 features an internal non-extending 5x optical zoom lens that's equivalent to a focal length of 28-140mm in 35mm terms, offering both a useful wide-angle focal length for landscapes and a longer telephoto length ideal for head and shoulder portraits. The maximum aperture is a fairly quick f/3.5 at the wide end, but a much slower f/5.5 at the other extreme of the zoom range. The W80 is slim for this class of camera, making it well suited to either a trouser or shirt pocket or handbag, and it weighs just 135g without the battery or memory card fitted.

Despite its mostly plastic construction, the W80 is one of the better models around in terms of build quality. The overall finish is very good, looking and feeling more expensive than its modest price-tag might suggest. The only minor criticisms are the rather small handgrip on the front which can only be gripped with two fingers, making the camera more difficult to hold than it really should be, and the tripod mount which is inconveniently located in the far right corner of the bottom of the camera.

Although we can't entirely vouch for the W80's ability to survive extreme environments, it did handle our rather rudimentary tests with aplomb. Submerging it in a bath full of cold water, dropping it from a meter high onto a hard surface, and storing it in the freezer compartment for a couple of hours all failed to ruffle its feathers. We also didn't notice any unwanted dust in our pictures, not that this is usually a problem for compact cameras with non-interchangeable lenses. All in all we're confident that the Pentax W80 would handle most things that you can literally throw at it, or throw it into.

Pentax Optio W80 Pentax Optio W80
Front Rear

The Pentax Optio W80 has relatively few external controls, just 9 in total, which reflects the fact that this is a simple camera in functionality terms, with very limited photographic control on offer. All the controls are clearly labeled using industry-standard symbols and terminology, with just a couple of Pentax-specific buttons that require a quick read of the manual. Located on top of the W80 are the On / Off button and the Shutter button. On the bottom are the tripod mount and the battery compartment , which also houses the SD memory card slot. and the PC / AV Out port. The latter accepts both the USB interface cable required to connect the camera to a printer or computer and the AV cable.

On the rear of the W80 is the 2.5 inch LCD screen, with a number of controls to the right, including a traditional navigation pad. You can directly access the various flash options by clicking left on the navigation pad, the Drive modes via up, the focus modes via right, and the scene modes via down. The OK button in the middle performs two main tasks - it selects menu options, and also toggles between the three Display modes for the LCD screen. The W80 uses thumb-operated buttons for zooming in and out, a sensible choice given the intended use of the camera.

Directly above the navigation pad are the self-explanatory Face Detection, Menu and Playback buttons, and below is the Green mode button. The menu system on the Pentax Optio W80 is perfectly straight-forward to use. A lot of the camera's main settings, such as white balance, exposure compensation and ISO speed, are accessed here. A row of 2 icons along the top of the LCD screen represent the Record and Setting sub-menus, each divided into 3 pages, with most of the options being the kind that you set once and then forget about. Due to the large and bright LCD screen, the various options are easy to access and use, especially as only 6 are shown onscreen at one time.

The Green Mode is targeted at beginners, effectively setting all of the camera options apart from the flash, self-timer, focus mode and face priority setting. It's perfect for the less experienced members of the family who literally want to just point the camera and press the shutter button. Accessed via the Mode button, the Pentax Optio W80 also offers Auto Pict, which automatically selects from 8 shooting modes, and a comprehensive range of 23 different scene modes, making this camera particularly well-suited to the beginner.

The W80 can record HD quality movies at at 1280x720 pixels and standard quality movies at 640x480 pixels or 320x240 pixels, all at either 30fps or 15fps and recorded in the AVI format. During movie recording, the Optio W80 can prevent unwanted camera shake via the Movie SR option. Unfortunately this is a software based solution that considerably narrows the angle of view compared to normal shooting. The Underwater Movie mode is more useful, automatically optimizing all camera settings for underwater movie shooting.

Pentax Optio W80 Pentax Optio W80
Front Front

There are some other limitations to the W80's movie mode too. The AVI format choice results in some massive file sizes that quickly fill up your memory cards. The sound quality is not that great, with the usual background noise that accompanies movies shot with cameras that only have mono sound. Even worse, you can't use the optical zoom at all during movie recording (although there is a 6.3x digital zoom setting available).

There are no controls on the left or right sides of the W80, except for a chunky strap eyelet. Overall the camera body feels well-designed and not at all cluttered, despite the presence of the 2.5 inch LCD in such a small body, which has a wide viewing angle from left to right, average resolution of 230,000 dots, and is visible in most conditions thanks to its anti-reflective coating. There is no optical viewfinder on this model.

The W80 doesn't have a mechanical image stabilisation system, but it does combat camera-shake for still images in two different software-based ways. The Digital SR (Shake Reduction) mode, called Pixel Track SR in the menu, compensates for camera shake by processing affected images with Pentax exclusive software. Although quite effective, the resulting images contain more unwanted artifacts than a lens- or body-based mechanical anti-shake system, and it also slows the image processing time down considerably to over 5 seconds, which will pout most users off from using it. The High-Sensitivity SR mode automatically raises the sensitivity to as high as ISO 6400 to allow for a higher shutter speed. The downsides are the greater levels of noise and reduction in image size to 5 megapixels. You also can't use both modes at the same time.

With Face Priority turned on, the W80 automatically recognizes and captures up to 32 faces in just 0.03 seconds. In addition the Smile Capture function automatically releases the shutter when it detects the main subject's smile, and the Blink Detection option warns the photographer if the subject's eyes were closed when the picture was taken. 

The Digital Wide function is quite effective, creating an extra-wide-angle image that's equivalent to an image taken with a 21mm lens in 35mm format from two images. If you want to to go wider still, the Digital Panorama mode creates a single panoramic picture from up to three images. The new D-Range setting helps to prevent whitewashed over- and under- exposed areas in an image - you can see some examples on the Image Quality page.

Pentax Optio W80 Pentax Optio W80
Battery Compartment Memory Card Slot

If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the comprehensive but relatively easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Thankfully Pentax have chosen to supply it in printed format, rather than as a PDF on a CD, so you can also carry it with you for easy reference.

The start-up time from turning the Pentax Optio W80 on to being ready to take a photo is quite quick at around 3 seconds, and it takes about the same time to zoom from the widest focal length to the longest. Focusing is quick in good light and the camera happily achieves focus indoors or in low-light situations, and there's also a focus-assist lamp to help out in low-light. With Pixel Track SR turned off, it takes an acceptable 1 second to store an image. If you turn on the Pixel Track SR option, things get a lot slower as noted above. This feature may help to remove camera shake, but it pushes the image processing time to over an unreasonable 4 seconds.

In Continuous mode the camera takes just 1.2 frames per second at the highest image quality, which is slow for this class of camera, although the shooting rate is at least maintained until your memory card is full. There is a much faster high-speed continuous shooting mode, providing 2.9fps for up to 8 frames, but the image size is drastically reduced to 5 megapixels and you can only take 8 images before the camera locks-up.

Once you have captured a photo, the Pentax Optio W80 has an above average range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view up to 9 thumbnails onscreen at once, and slowly zoom in and out up to 10x magnification. You can view slideshows with different effects and interval settings and set the print order and the transfer order.

You can also protect, rotate, resize, crop, and copy an image, plus choose your favourites. A range of 10 digital filters can be applied to a specific image, you can add one of the rather cheesy frames, and red-eye compensation reduces the effects of red-eye. The Image Recovery option recovers images and sound files that have been accidentally deleted, providing you don't turn off the camera. A movie frame can be saved as a still image and movies can be divided.

In summary the Pentax Optio W80 is a rugged yet quite stylish point-and-shoot digital camera that should survive most things that your family subject it to.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

The Pentax Optio W80 produced images of average quality during the review period. The Pentax Optio W80's main drawback in terms of image quality is noise, with the relatively slow speed of ISO 100 suffering from easily visible noise. The noise and loss of detail get progressively worse as you go from ISO 100 to 800, with the faster settings of 1600, 3200 and 6400 all proving virtually unusable.

The Pentax Optio W80 handled chromatic aberrations well with limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The 12 megapixel images were just a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and either require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you should increase the in-camera sharpening level.

The night photograph was poor, with the maximum shutter speed of 4 seconds not capturing enough light for most situations. Macro performance is a stand-out highlight, allowing you to focus as close as 1cms away from the subject, although there is a lot of lens distortion and shadowing at such a close distance. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate overall exposure, although there's insufficient scene coverage at the 28mm wide-angle setting resulting in darkened corners.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Pentax Optio W80. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Pentax Optio W80's 5x zoom lens offers a versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:




Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


File Quality

The Pentax Optio W80 has 3 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

12M Best (3.84Mb) (100% Crop) 12M Better (2.14Mb) (100% Crop)
12M Good (1.38Mb) (100% Crop)  

Chromatic Aberrations

The Pentax Optio W80 handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)


The Pentax Optio W80 allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm away from the camera. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.


100% Crop


The flash settings on the Pentax Optio W80 are Flash-on, Flash-off, Red-eye reduction, Low-speed synchro, and Low-speed synchro + Red-eye. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (140mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (140mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Pentax Optio W80's maximum shutter speed is 4 seconds, which is not very good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1.3 second at ISO 800. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.


Night (100% Crop)


The Pentax Optio W80 has a D-Range setting that helps to prevent whitewashed over- and under- exposed areas in an image. Here's an example with both settings turned on:


Highlight and Shadow Correction On

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Pentax Optio W80 camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 11 second movie is 32.9Mb in size.

Product Images

Pentax Optio W80

Front of the Camera

Pentax Optio W80

Front of the Camera / Turned On

Pentax Optio W80

Isometric View

Pentax Optio W80

Isometric View

Pentax Optio W80

Rear of the Camera

Pentax Optio W80

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Pentax Optio W80

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Pentax Optio W80

Rear of the Camera / Mode Menu

Pentax Optio W80

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed


Pentax Optio W80

Top of the Camera

Pentax Optio W80
Bottom of the Camera
Pentax Optio W80
Side of the Camera
Pentax Optio W80
Side of the Camera
Pentax Optio W80
Front of the Camera
Pentax Optio W80
Front of the Camera
Pentax Optio W80
Memory Card Slot
Pentax Optio W80
Battery Compartment


The Pentax Optio W80 is an easy-to-use, tough as old boots camera for all the family. Built to withstand virtually anything that you can throw at in (within reason of course), only so-so image quality lets the W80 down.

The 5x wide-angle zoom is a real bonus in such a small camera, and the wealth of beginner-friendly options make it a great choice for use by every family member. The HD movie mode is a bonus, although it does quickly eat up memory card space and the inability to use the zoom whilst recording is very frustrating. The triple anti-shake system sounds good on paper, but in practice the Pixel SR mode just slows the camera down, and the Movie SR mode physically narrows the angle of view.

The Pentax W80's achilles heel is average image quality, with noise in particular proving a real problem with the relatively slow speed of ISO 100 suffering from easily visible noise. The camera did handle chromatic aberrations well, and the 1cm macro mode is a real highlight, but you may not be able to literally see past the noise that will afflict virtually all the images that you'll take.

Which is a real shame, because otherwise we'd be recommending the Pentax W80 more strongly as a great all-round point and shoot camera that is also very competitively priced. The W80 just offers enough to warrant our Recommended award, but make sure to check out the Sample Images before buying...

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Pentax Optio W80 from around the web. »

The dodgy lens on our Pentax Optio W80 might have been a one-off, but, even leaving that aside, the image quality is below par. It's shockproof and waterproof to a greater depth than its predecessor, the Optio W60, but it's pretty pricy and the Olympus mju Tough-8000, Canon PowerShot D10 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 feel better made
Read the full review »


Camera Type Water and shock proof digital zoom compact
Effective Pixels approx. 12.1 megapixels
Total Pixels approx. 12.39 megapixels
Type 1/2.3" CCD
Sensitivity Auto, Fixed (ISO 64 - 6400)
Image Size
Still 12M(4000 x 3000)
3:2(4000 x 2672)
16:9(4000 x 2256)
7M(3072 x 2304)
5M(2592 x 1944)
3M(2048 x 1536)
1024(1024 x 768)
640(640 x 480) * Digital SR is fixed at 5M(2592x1944)
* Digital Wide is fixed at 5M(2592x1944)
* ISO 3200/6400 is fixed at 5M(2592x1944)
* High Speed Continuous Shooting is fixed at 5M(2592x1944)
* Half-length Portrait is fixed to 3M(2048x1536)
* Frame Composite is fixed at 3M(2048x1536)
* Digital Panorama is fixed at 2M(1600x1200) for one frame
* Report is fixed at (1280x960)
Movie 1280(1280x720) @ approx. 30 or 15fps
640(640x480) @ approx. 30 or 15fps
320(320x240) @ approx. 30 or 15fps
Shake Reduction
Type Pixel Track SR
Hi-sensitivity anti-shake mode (Digital SR) Movie shake reduction mode (Movie SR)
Options Face recognition AF&AE is available for all modes up to 32 faces. Smile Capture. Blink Detection.
File Format
Still JPEG(conforms to Exif 2.2), conforms to DCF2.0, DPOF, PRINT Image
Movie AVI (Motion JPEG), with sound
Sound WAV(PCM), mono
Quality Level *Good, **Better, ***Best
Storage Media
Internal approx 33.7MB
External SD/SDHC Memory Card Verified memory card: Sandisk, Panasonic, Toshiba
Focal Length 5 - 25mm
(equvalent to 28-140mm in 35mm format)
Construction PENTAX zoom lens, 11 elements in 9 groups (5 aspherical elements)
Digital Zoom Digital: 6.25X Intelligent: 6.5X at 7MP, 31.3X at 640
Focusing System
Type TTL contrast detection auto focus system with AF assist lamp
Focusing system
Area 9-point AF, Spot AF, Auto tracking AF
Focus Range (Still) Standard: 0.5m -  infinity (whole zoom area) Macro:0.1m -  0.6m (at whole zoom area) 1cm Macro:0.01m - 0.3m (middle zoom position)
Mode Infinity-landscape, Pan Focus, Manual Focus: available
Exposure system
Metering Area Multi-segment metering, Centre-weighted metering, Spot metering
Exposure Modes Auto Picture, Program, Night Scene, Movie, Underwater, Underwater Movie, Landscape, Flower, Portrait, Digital Wide, Surf & Snow, Digital SR, Kids, Pet, Half-length Portrait, Sport, Fireworks, Candlelight, Night Scene Portrait, Text, Food, Digital Panorama, Frame Composite, Report, Green
Exposure System
Compensation ±2EV(1/3EV steps)
Speed 1/1500  - 1/4sec.
4sec at most. (Night Scene mode setting)
Editing Save as still image, Dividing Movies
Type Built-in
Modes Flash-on and Flash-off modes.  "Red-eye" reduction function employs a pre-discharge.  Soft Flash
Effective Range Wide:approx. 0.3 -  3.9 m (ISO Auto)
Tele:approx. 0.4 - 2.5m (ISO Auto)
Drive Mode
Modes One shot, Self-timer, Continuous Shooting, High Speed Continuous Shooting,  Interval Shooting, Auto bracket
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting:approx. 1.27 frame/sec High speed continuous shooting: approx. 2.9 frame/sec (for up to 8 frame); approx. 5.9 frame/sec( for up to 8 frame at ISO 3200/6400 setting)
White Balance
Modes Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten light, Fluorescent light, Manual setting
LCD 2.5"LCD,  approx. 230K dots,   Anti-Reflective Coating
View One Shot, Index (4  thumb nails, 9 thumb nails), Enlargement (up to 10X, scroll available), Movie Playback, Sound Playback, Histogram, Bright and Dark portion, Folder display, Select&Delete, Calendar
Modes Slideshow, Digital Filter( Colour Filter(15 kinds), Toy Camera Filter, Retro Filter, Soft Filter,  Fisheye Filter, Brightness Filter), Frame Composite, Resize, Cropping, Image/Sound Copy, Image Rotation,  Movie Edit, Red-eye Compensation, Voice Memo, Protect, DPOF,  Image Recovery, Start-up Screen, Face close-up playback
Digital Filter B&W, Sepia, Colour filters(Red,Pink,Purple,Blue,Green,Yellow), Colour extract (B&W with Red, B&W with Green, B&W with Blue), Colour enhancer, Toy Camera, Retro, Soft, Fisheye, Brightness
Language English, French, Germany, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian,Turkey, Greek, Russian, Thai, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese
World Time
Time YES
PC USB2.0(Hi-Speed)
AV AV terminal (NTSC/PL)
Source Rechargeable D-LI78 lithium-ion battery Optional AC adapter kit is also available
Performance Still*: Approx. 170 shots
Playback**: Approx. 180 min.
Movie**: Approx. 65 min.
Audio**: Approx. 23 min * Recording capacity shows approximate number of shots recorded during CIPA-compliant testing.  Actual performance may vary depending on operating conditions.
** According to the result of PENTAX in-house testing.
Height 56mm
Width 99.5mm
Depth 24.5mm
Weight 135g (without battery and memory card) 150g (loaded and ready)
PC Windows 2000
Windows XP
Wndows Vista Supported OS  must be pre-installed in PC and updated to the latest version. USB port must be standard equipped.
Mac Mac OS X 10.12 - 10.5 Supported OS  must be pre-installed in PC and updated to the latest version. USB port must be standard equipped.
Storage capacity
  *** ** *
12MP 214 419 643
3:2 229 468 687
16:9 254 508 737
7MP 321 598 795
5MP 385 737 1060
3MP 598 1185 1727
1024 2084 3556 4650
640 4318 6717 7557
Based on 1GB memory card
Movie / Sound
  30fps 15fps
1280x720 00:05:05 00:10:10
640x480 00:15:02 00:28:38
320x240 00:23:59 00:45:48
Sound 00:10:10 12:28:41
Based on 1GB memory card
Other Info * No Intelligent Zoom at 16:9 and 3:2
* No Intelligent Zoom at (High ISO) Digital SR Mode and Report Mode
* Up to ISO 64-6400 is automatically selected when AUTO sensitivity is set in the Digital SR mode.
* In the Report mode, sensitivity auto (ISO64-6400) and manual sensitivity choice are possible.
*Digital Wide is equivalent to about 21mm (35mm film equivalent) angles of view.
*Waterproof to 5m(16ft)(the period in 2 hours).
*The temperature range in which the camera can be used is -10 °C to 40 °C (14°F to 104°F).
*Shockproof to 1 meters(3.3 feet).
*The voice recording can be used by allocating the function to Green button.

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