In the picture on those rainy days

WITH the rainy season approaching, photographers in Hong Kong will be singing in the rain with the re-launch of a weather-resistant camera.

The Pentax zoom 90WR was not water-proof, but it was the only water-resistant camera with a 38mm-90mm zoom lens, said Pentax marketing manager James Yung.

With slight adjustments, the camera has been re-released here for $2,200.

''I expect the 90WR to become one of the fastest selling models on the local market,'' said Mr Yung.

''Although it was launched two years ago in Japan, it has been re-packaged for Hong Kong's rainy season, which is when weather-resistant cameras are in big demand.

''The camera is not water-proof, but it is in the highest class of water resistance and can be washed and put under a tap,'' he said.

The 14cm x seven cm camera, is said to be the first to offer the highest water resistance.

A more notable feature is a special ''plastic bag'' at the back - the latest in camera-sealing technology.

''As zoom cameras become more sophisticated, photographers want a higher level of water resistance,'' said Mr Yung.

''Pentax has combined an effective ventilation system which uses a new filter material that lets in air but keeps out water.

''The filter inside the camera also stops water retention and a special sealant has been used around the lens so that when it is extended it traps any water.'' It was ideal for use in situations where there was a danger of getting splashed with water, said Mr Yung.

''The camera is not supposed to be immersed in water but there have been cases where the 90WR has been dropped to the bottom of a swimming pool and still worked perfectly afterwards.

''The beauty of this camera is that it offers a high class of water protection and, even while using a zoom lens, water will not harm your film.

''Because a zoom lens moves in and out, the camera is hard to water-proof. But Pentax has used a special sealant.'' Many cameras have been ruined after a day at the beach with salt water and sand getting inside the lens, but the Pentax zoom 90WR is adequately protected.

The camera's viewfinder provides an image of what the finished photograph will look like and automatically adjusts in accordance with the zoom.

''When you look through the viewfinder and focus on a subject, a digital display on the camera will tell the photographer what lens to use,'' said Mr Yung.

Amateurs could master close-up shots with this camera, added Mr Yung.

For photographers who often ''chop off'' heads in pictures, the viewfinder places borders around the subject so it is easy to frame each shot.

Getting into the picture is also possible, as the camera has an automatic remote control.

''The zoom lens can also be controlled using the remote, which is very small and tucks into the back contours of the camera so it is easy to carry,'' said Mr Yung.

The self-timer acts for 10 seconds.

Another advantage is four modes of automatic focus. When shooting subjects that are not in the centre of the picture, a multi-beam autofocus makes sure the foreground is clear.

Spot focus can be used where there are many objects surrounding the main subject.

''Taking a picture focusing on a woman standing underneath a tree in the foreground with a house in the background would be the ideal time to use this mode,'' said Mr Yung.

For learners, switching the camera to focus-lock eliminates the risk of blurred subjects.

Far away images can be shot using the infinity landscape mode.

An automatic exposure control indicates available light for photography.

''Press a button and the camera will tell the photographer the ideal aperture and shutter speed in a couple of seconds,'' said Mr Yung.

''It also has a built-in automatic zoom flash, a pre-emission flash, which stops the red-eye syndrome, and an automatic three-minute shut off,'' he said.

Mr Yung said sales soared after local pop idol Dicky Cheung Wai-kin's television commercials.