Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down briefly with the new Pentax Optio cameras that were just announced.
The most interesting of the new cameras was the Optio I-10, which has a rather retro look to it as a throwback to Pentax SLRs of yesteryear. Interestingly, Pentax went with a 16:9 display ratio on the I-10, which translates well for video recording; however, you lose screen real estate for still images.
I must admit though, that I am a fan of the retro-styling on the I-90. It’s just a cool little camera. It feels good in the hand – the raised grip on the right side works well and adds a little bonus to the SLR look and feel.
The I-10 is capable of delivering a lot of control into the photographer’s hands with Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority and Manual shooting modes. The I-10 covers an aggressive sensitivity range of ISO 80-6400 (with ISO 3200-6400 available only at 5MP and 3.8MP). The I-10 is also the only new camera in the Optio series that offers Sensor-Shift SR to correct camera shake blur. The 5x zoom lens on the I-10 works out to an equivalent range of 28-140mm. The camera has a number of autofocusing modes and manual focusing capability.
Obviously, image quality is a key concern; however, these were preproduction models from which I could not obtain image samples. As a result, I will have to reserve judgment until I see what kind of images the camera produces.
The Optio E90 is targeted toward the budget-minded crowd with an MSRP of just $99.95. For the price, I was pretty impressed with how solid the little booger felt in my hand. It has a rubberized coating that takes away some of the cheap plastic feeling that you commonly find in sub-$100 compact cameras. As an added bonus it is powered by 2-AA batteries, which, according to Pentax, should give you 600 shots. The E90 will also record VGA quality video at 30 fps, making it an attractive little do-it-all camera on the cheap.
The Optio H90 is more of the mainstream, traditional point and shoot camera, with a 5x optical zoom lens and the ability to record 720p HD video. The H90 has nice aluminum accents on the body, giving it a robust and higher-end feel. The Optio H90 reminds me a lot of what Panasonic has done with its point and shoot cameras.
The H90 is definitely a pocketable camera, being both thin and small. It is also full of several shooting modes that will be welcomed by more advanced photographers. The H90 offers P, A, S and M modes and the ability to manually focus. The H90 offers a standard sensitivity range of ISO 80-1600 and can be pushed to ISO 3200-6400 at 5MP or 3.8MP reduced resolutions.
With the obvious issue of image quality still a variable that will affect my overall impression of these new cameras, I think that each camera fits well into its place in the market and that Pentax has delivered a nice offering of new point and shoot cameras without giving us several variations of the same camera. Kudos to Pentax for giving us 3 and not 12 new point and shoots.
Each one seems to serve their purpose fairly well. Even with some overlap on the H90 and I-10 in terms of features, the I-10 is different enough in its styling to command a separate place on the shelf. However, the market will let us know whether the addition of Shake Reduction and a retro look and feel is enough to command an additional $120 over the Optio H90.
If and when I get my hands on some production models, I’ll update you with my final thoughts on these cameras.