Jan. 29, 2013 at 7:27 PM ET
If you're looking for a rugged point-and-shoot to take with you on vacation, you could do worse than the latest from Pentax — if you can get past the rather loud design of the things.
The new WG-3 ticks the usual ruggedness boxes: Waterproof to 45 feet, handles a drop from 6 feet and can withstand being sat on by a full-sized human being. What the WG-3 adds is a much brighter lens and a secondary display for statistics about the environment.
That new lens is a 4x zoom compared with the WG-2's 5x, but its maximum aperture of F/2 is far better than its predecessor's or any of the other rugged cameras we've shared word about this week. Combine that with a back-illuminated 16-megapixel sensor that can go up to 6400 ISO, and you've got quite an all-purpose picture-taking machine.
The WG-3's new ambient readings display can show cardinal directions, elevation or depth — handy when you're going from a mountain peak to coral reef in the tropics. Puzzlingly, the display is on the front of the camera, probably because your elevation isn't usually critical to the composition of the shot.
There are two downsides to the WG-3. One is what you see — the WG series has never been low-key, but the level of flair on this model borders on ridiculous. Be careful in the jungle or a tropical bird or beetle might just try to befriend it. Fortunately, it comes in sober black as well.
The other trouble is that it's a bit on the high end price-wise at $300, or $350 with built-in GPS. Not everyone is willing to pay that kind of premium for a point-and-shoot, although from the specs it appears this Pentax is worth the money. (There's also a cheaper WG-10 that will be available in April, but it makes a few too many compromises for our taste.) The cameras ship in March, so you've got plenty of time to decide.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.