Pentax has announced that the successor to last year's W80 rugged compact camera not only proudly boasts a new body design but refinements to its internal mechanisms have granted it a boost in the bravado department too. The new W90 is now waterproof to greater depths and can now withstand falls from even greater heights. At the same time, the company announced a new improved super-zoom compact camera too, the X90.

The follow-up top the W80 is now waterproof to depths of 20 feet (six meters), an extra four feet, and can withstand being dropped from almost a foot higher. The W90 from Pentax hasn't benefited from a sensor upgrade though, retaining the 12 megapixel 1/2.3" sensor featured on its predecessor.

New to the W90 is a Digital Microscope mode, which (aided by three LEDs on the face of the 28-140mm equivalent lens) combines digital zoom with the macro function resulting in a system that "perfectly captures the smallest and closest macro subjects as near as 1cm from the camera". The face recognition technology has also gained an interesting twist. As well as locking on to up to 32 faces at any one time, the W90 now includes a new pet detection feature to make "it simple and effortless to capture the delightful faces of active pets".

There's a slightly bigger 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio 230,000 dot 2.7in LCD display and a minor change to the sensitivity range, with ISO80 to ISO6400 now being offered. The new camera is the same size as its predecessor at 3.9 x 2.2 x 1 in and retains the same ability to operate in the chilliest of locations (-10C/14F), keeps the five times optical zoom and the ability to shoot 720p HD video at 30 frames per second.

Surprisingly there's no support for SDXC memory card although wireless transfer of images is catered for via Eye-Fi SD. The W90 will be available from April and is priced at US$329.95. An optional waterproof infrared remote control will also be available at US$29.95.

Even more super-zoom

The 24 times zoom capabilities of last year's X70 have been increased to 26 for the new X90 model, which now features a 26-676mm equivalent optical lens. The electronic viewfinder now comes with diopter adjustment and there's been a claimed 50 percent improvement in battery life, which should be good for about 255 images between charges.

The X90 keeps the 12 megapixel 1/2.33" sensor, the same choice of 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 or 1:1 aspect ratios and nine different image size options, the 230,000 dot 2.7 in LCD display, the ability to capture 720p HD video and is the same size as the X70 at 4.4 x 3.2 x 3.9 inches. Like the W90, this super-zoom model benefits from Eye-Fi SD memory card connectivity and has been given the same ISO sensitivity range.

The X90 also features advanced programmed AE mode, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, metered manual exposure adjustment, a burst frame rate of 11 images per second and CCD-shift image stabilization. It will be made available at the same time as the W90 and will cost US$399.95.

More information on both models is available from the Pentax Digital Cameras website.

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