Most helpful positive review
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Capable, low cost point-and-shoot camera
on May 12, 2011
I'm a serious photographer and I have all sorts of equipment from big, heavy DSLRs to medium-format film cameras. In the category of ultra-portable, fast and easy to use point and shoot cameras, I've always been a fan of the Pentax Optio line, and this one is no exception.
The oldest Pentax Optio I remember was the so-called "Altoids", since it was small enough to fit in an Altoids mint can. I've owned a few of the different models now, and this is one of my favorites so far. Yes, it's still remarkably small, so it's easy to always have it with you. Still, some sub-compacts feel a little awkward to use, but the Pentax somehow feels comfortable in my hands.
Frankly, I prefer the brushed aluminum look of previous models, but the chrome look is cool as well - and if you don't like it, there are other colors to choose from. Otherwise, construction quality seems reasonably good, with an ample LCD screen and a sensible control layout. Using the menu system is about average for this type of camera.
Startup time is a little slow, but once you have it turned on, it operates quickly. There's a bit of shutter lag when you push the button, but not objectionably so. The built in flash is adequate, although with any camera this small, you'll almost always get a degree of red-eye with it. The camera does 720p video (although I rarely use it that way - I have a video camera for that). Battery life is good, and I like that Pentax has gone to a "charge it in the camera" approach instead of the older outboard chargers.
In terms of picture quality, I'd say it's acceptable but not stellar. The lens has a few faults, especially obvious at the longer end of the range, but so long as you don't shoot directly into the sun or expect DSLR quality, it's more than adequate for most uses. If the choice is leaving the big, heavy DSLR home versus carrying the Optio, you at least come away with pictures in spots you otherwise wouldn't. It's also much, much better in bright light and low ISO...once you get the ISO over about 400, pictures start to look really grainy - this is true with any of the point-and-shoot cameras having small sensors and lots of pixels.
I also suspect many people will use the lens fully zoomed, and complain about blurry pictures. The zoom range is fairly large, and fully zoomed, you'll usually need some sort of support more stable than your hands...at least the Optio comes with a tripod socket.
In summary, if you're looking for a fun ultra-portable point and shoot to take along on sunny days, the Pentax Optio is hard to beat at this price point - definitely recommend you take a look at it.