As the Digital Camera Analyst here at gap intelligence, it can be considered an understatement to say that I love cameras.  I love learning about cameras, talking about cameras, playing with cameras, and most importantly, I love experimenting with all of their unique features… and then telling you about ‘em.

With no less than thirteen generations of waterproof cameras under their belt, Pentax can be descried as a veteran within the rugged digital camera realm.  For the last two generations of its rugged Optios, Pentax has focused on underwater macro capabilities as a method to differentiate their offerings from the rest of the pack.  The Optio WG-2 is Pentax’s latest rugged camera to come equipped with LED lights that aid close-up shooting, and it’s the unique capabilities of these LEDs beyond macro shooting that I focus on in this edition of… Scott’s One Cool Thing.

Pentax’s Optio WG-2 features six LED lights positioned around the lens, which represents an improvement over the five LEDs fitted onto its predecessor, the Optio WG-1.  The Optio WG-2 is capable of focusing as close as 1cm, however, at this distance a shadow is typically cast by the camera body itself, which is not ideal for capturing the details of a tiny subject.  Pentax offers the array of LEDs as a solution for this, with the lens-mounted lights serving the same purpose as an accessory ring flash does for more advanced digital cameras, such as DSLRs.

While impressive macro capabilities are at the root of the LED lights’ purpose, Pentax has also endowed the system with other interesting capabilities that remain somewhat unknown, but stand to be very useful for everyday shooters.

Perhaps the coolest element of the Optio WG-2’s LED lights is their link with the camera’s face detection system.  Much like Samsung’s popular DualView line of cameras, which offer front LCDs for framing arm’s-length self-portraits, the LEDs on Pentax’s Optio WG-2 provide a visual clue to shooters that the camera has detected, and focused on a face.  Pentax calls this feature Self-Portrait Assist, and the WG-2 sports a dedicated button on its rear panel to activate the mode.

A single LED light illuminates per face to show where within the frame that face is detected, allowing the user to adjust the camera or their head position accordingly.  The same feature comes into play when multiple faces are detected, giving the opportunity to show the group where each face is located within the frame.  While this Self-Portrait Assist feature has its obvious benefits in social situations, noting the rugged nature of the Optio WG-2, one can easily imagine the value this has in eliminating the guesswork and repetition needed for someone, such as a precariously positioned rock climber, to snap a perfect self-portrait.

Additional tricks offered by the Optio WG-2’s LED lights include a visual countdown for the camera’s self-timer, where each of the six the lights disappear one-by-one, and the ability to turn the lights on manually, for use as a flashlight when camping.

While not everyone necessarily desires better macro illumination, Pentax has done a great job of introducing everyday uses for the unique LED lights on the Optio WG-2.  With its rank as one of the most durable ruggedized cameras on the market, the Optio WG-2’s LED lights look to encourage its social usage beyond extreme settings, or better yet, in extreme settings, which is why it is…
Scott’s One Cool Thing.