Sunday, April 17, 2011


I'm still working with the new camera, a Pentax Optio W90.  So far I will rate it as a good outdoor camera, not a great outdoor camera.  This camera is at least three generations removed for the Pentax Optio W20 that I have used for the last five or six years.  In some ways it is an improvement, in other ways it is not.

I'm trying to fine tune the settings to get the most out of the camera, minimize power consumption and generate the best possible image.

  Here is what I have done....

  • turned off the automatic review of images (waste of power)
  • turned off the sound (again, waste of power)
  • set the sleep time to three minutes (the minimum, I wish I could set it for one minute)
  • turned off the auto focus.  This camera searches a little too long before finding a point to focus on.  Notice the out of focus image above, and then the sharp image below, taken a second or two later when the camera found the focus.  I've set the camera to manual focus at about five feet.  With a 28 mm lens and the focus at five feet just about everything is in focus.
  • set the ISO to 400.  The camera defaults to an auto selection ISO between 80 and 1600 (I think), and it chooses the lowest ISO most of the time, resulting in a slow exposure in average or low light.  ISO 400 gives, as far as I can tell, the same quality image, so I'll leave it there to get a faster shutter speed with less chance of motion blur.
  • set the white balance to daylight, the auto white balance is a little too cold for my taste

All of these images were shot on the sail last friday at the default settings.  I made the changes while experimenting with the camera around the house yesterday.  It will take me a while - at least a good sail or two - to decide on the final settings for the camera.



Unknown said...

Hi Steve - I just picked up the Pentax WG-1 - next generation I think? Like you observed, it is a good camera - not great. I will try your settings, to see how it does. This camera has settings to bring highlights down and increase lighting in shadow. Seems to improve some photographs.

Steve said...

I'm still thinking about the focus options. I'll have to experiment some more.
The wg-1 came out just as I bought the 90w. Can't keep up with the new cameras.


EyeInHand said...

Not much consolation, I'm sure Steve, but my Lumix devours battery life, too. Three fully charged will just get me through a day If I'm careful. Granted, that's using it a lot, and with all the features on, but still. My Canon would go for days on one battery.

Steve said...

Yes, my old option w20 lasted eight days on the water! I haven't tried the new one yet in cruising conditions, but I do have three batteries. We'll see how it goes starting in about 10 days.
Enjoyed your Guatemala photos and video.


Floatsome said...

Thanks, Steve. These settings are already helping me to get better results from my Optio W80. In particular, manual focus really helps. I was beating the focus regularly in my rush to grab an image before Dawn would disappear. If I get anything worthwhile of her this weekend, I'll send it along.

I haven't set up a Spot share yet, but will send along the URL when I do. We haven't decided where to go yet.


tom williamson said...

About your camera, I have the same one, bought recently. Hard to find as Pentax discontinued it. I got 2 extra batteries and a car charger off ebay for about 12 bucks including shipping, which helps a lot with the power problem.
Also thanks for your detailed writing on provisioning for your trips. Here's to Pathfinder weather, ice isn't completely out yet up here in the nauth country.
Tom Williamson

Steve said...


I'll look forward to receiving the tracking link, I did not realize you and Dawn had a paddle planned this weekend.

I will experiment with focus, both manual and auto, this weekend. For my purposes, just about everything on the boat is four or five feet away. We'll see how it works, how much I have to adjust for things not on the boat - i.e. other boats.

Have a good trip this weekend.


Steve said...


I've got three batteries so that should help. Also on the last trip or two I've made a point, even with the old camera, of trying to charge the battery when I stop for lunch, fuel, supplies along the way (but I tie a little red line on the tiller just to remind me to run back to the restaurant and get my battery and charger before I cast off).

We are getting temperatures in the 70's, you better get your Pathfinder ready to launch.


O Docker said...

Re: focus, dunno about the Pentax, but most point and shoots are similar. Try turning off the feature that uses multiple focusing areas and set it to use just one central spot for focus.

Then, point that central spot where you want focus to be, lock that by holding shutter halfway down, compose, and shoot.

Should be more reliable, quicker, with a lot less focus-hunting than having the camera trying to figure things out.

This has worked well for me with a number of Canon point and shoots.

Steve said...

Thanks O Docker, I'll give that a try.