Shockproof, waterproof, but…


… not idiot proof. I’m not talking about the dog here, although he does fulfil that criteria quite nicely.

That’s one of the first shots with my new Pentax W80 which apparently shrugs off “bad things that’ll happen to it during any period of Al ownership“. A perfect trail camera then – especially considering being dropped into a rocky stream is an every ride experience, especially when wrestling the camera from a neoprene case with thick gloves.

Although considering my Canon S80 survived four years of this kind of abuse, maybe that’s a gimmick I don’t need. Not at the£250 list price certainly, but then this example didn’t even cost half of that. It’s not optically perfect either, with clever reviewers talking of it being “inappropriately noisy when pushed”. Again a position I can relate to.

Actually what it is is a chip-load of very clever software moulded round a lens. The Airbus of cameras’ if you will; twenty different presets but none of them so old school as aperture or shutter priority. I’ve not yet read the 232 page manual which accompanied (and out-sized) the happy little unit, but I’ll be surprised – and a little disappointed – if I cannot select the “indoor, non fluorescent, slightly pink ceiling, small child beating her sister” setting.

Already we’ve discovered face recognition, some kind of magical post processing anti shake, a rather natty video mode and – my current favourite – pet mode including dog colour selection. Honestly, how bored were the designers at that point?

It’s not entirely idiot proof tho, and being that idiot I feel entirely qualified to comment. Firstly if the dog has licked the lens, that’s going to affect the picture quality. And trying to find the right setting before the child in picture grows up and leaves home is not entirely unchallenging.

But it was cheap, it’s a neat design and I’ll probably carry it out more. The old Canon has taken to eating batteries and coming over all curmudgeonly when being asked to sprout the lens. Spares or repairs on eBay then. At least I’ve a camera to take a picture of it with.

All the time the W80 was essentially wresting control from my uncomplaining hands, I could hear Seb Rogers grumbling into his tea. He’s probably right but there is something rather liberating about letting software rule your world. It could be worse, might have been written my Microsoft.

What really makes my head ache tho is how can something this well finished, fiendishly clever and apparently indestructible cost less than two sets of MTB tyres, which themselves have the lifespan of a well sucked wine-gum?

Somebody’ll know. It’s not me.