The Pentax Optio W90 is built for shooters who want all-conditions, high-value performance. Small as a flip phone, this 12-megapixel shooter is waterproof to 20 feet, shockproof to four feet, and freezeproof to 14°F. In addition to standard options (like “snow” and “portrait” modes), a “digital microscope” feature delivers sharp, focused pics from as close as one centimeter.
“I shot bees so close you could see the little hairs on their legs,” our tester marvels. But like most weatherproof cameras, picture quality isn’t always standout: Images shot in low light sometimes appear soft, and the wide-angle lens allows barrel distortion (objects appear curved and larger at the corners). But for the dollars-to-durability, the W90 can’t be beat. $280; 6 oz. (with memory card and battery); pentaximaging.com See all "essential" reviews from the 2011 Gear