Pentax Takes the Plunge with Waterproof Optio WS80

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Pentax has introduced three new digital cameras in its consumer-friendly Optio line of compact digital cameras, the Optio WS80, Optio E80, and Optio P80. The new offerings sport 10 and 12 megapixel resolutions, sizable LCD displays, face detection and image stabilization…and the WS80 is even waterproof to a depth of 1.5 meters (just about 5 feet) for capturing that summertime fun.

First up, the Optio WS80 offers a 10 megapixel resolution, 2.7-inch display, a 5× optical zoom, and a "state of the art" face recognition capability that can track up to 32 faces and handle faces tilted diagonally to the camera or with a tilted head. (The face detection stuff can also shrinking faces for better-proportioned portraits, and a smile-capture mode can hold off snapping a picture until a subject is smiling.) The WS80 is also capable of shooting 1,280 by 720-pixel video at 30 frames per second, features digital image stabilization for both stills and movies. The WS80 stores images to SD/SDHC cards and sports about 32 MB of internal memory; and did we mention it’s waterproof to 1.5 meters? The WS80 will be available in orange and pink color schemes for a suggested price of $249.95.

Next up, the Optio P80 boasts a 12.1 megapixel sensor, a 4× optical zoom, and a 2.7-inch LCD display. The goal here is a lightweight, slim camera with features that appeal to point-and-shoot users; as such, the P80 sports Pentax’s 32-face face detection that can handle tilts and detect smiles. The P80 can shoot 70p high-definition video, and features and auto-tracking autofocus that can follow a subject in motion. The Optio E80 scales back to a 10 megapixel sensor and 3× optical zoom, but offers a "green mode" for beginners that handles scene selection, exposure, and sensitivity for first-time shooters—or random passers-by who you might ask to snap your picture. The E80 can shoot 720p video at 15 frames per second, and can run off standard AA batteries—a boon if you’re away from a wall-socket. The P80 and E80 should be available in September; the P80 should carry a suggested of $199.95, while the E80 will go for $129.95. Both will be available in a range of colors.

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