Pentax has today announced the five megapixel Optio 550 and four megapixel Optio 450. Both cameras are based on the same modern and stylish aluminium alloy case and both feature an impressive five times optical zoom lens, this places the 550 in particular into a pretty special position of having five megapixels and five times optical zoom in a compact case. Both cameras are also fully featured with a wide range of manual control and features. Storage is via SD/MMC card and the 550/450 are powered by a supplied Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery.

Press Release:

The new Optio 550 and the Optio 450 from PENTAX - Distinctive clarity, distinguished digital performance

Pentax Optio 550

PENTAX Corporation is proud to present the Optio 550 and the Optio 450. Two cameras that follow in the footsteps of the popular Optio430 and Optio330, they offer high-level performance and are convenient enough to make you want to carry them everywhere. Each of the two new models has a compact body and a stylish design, yet provides high-quality images that satisfy. Even functionality and operability have been enhanced, and digital clarity is assured with the power of 5.0 and 4.0 effective megapixels respectively.

Major Features

1. Sleek, sophisticated design
Stylishly crafted from aluminum alloy, and complete with a design accent that enhances the bases of the lenses, the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 convey a strong sense of refinement at the first glance. They also feel exceptionally comfortable in the hand and offer simple operation. As a result, the pleasure of these cameras comes as much from ownership as it does from usage. What's more, the dimensions of both cameras has also been reduced without a compromise in performance through use of an ultra-compact zoom lens that retracts in not one, but two stages when the power is switched off.

2. 5X optical zooming with an ultra-compact lens
Though the lenses on the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are exceptionally compact, they succeed in offering a surprisingly high level of performance with 5X optical zooming. They deliver the satisfaction of high resolution while minimizing levels of distortion, and zooming power can be augmented through combination with digital 4X zoom for a total of 20X zoom performance. Both models also feature a convenient zoom button, that allows easy operation for swift composition as you desire.

3. The digital precision of 5.0 and 4.0 effective megapixels
The Optio 550 and the Optio 450 both excel when it comes to sheer image recording quality. Indeed, with 5.0 and 4.0 effective megapixels respectively, and the advantage of high-performance image processing technology, they have the ability to produce images of a much more artistic nature.

4. Simple, swift operation
Employing a newly designed processing circuit, the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are as simple to use as they are stylish. The playback of images is made so much more easy and they are also both ready to shoot whenever the power is on. In fact, all you have to do to is compose your shot and press the shutter, so you can concentrate on content while the camera takes care of the technical details. The selection of shooting modes has also been made simple with single dial operation. This allows you to choose from Metered Manual, Shutter-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE, Program, Picture, Movie, Panorama Assist, 3D image, Digital Filter, User and Voice Recording modes with minimal effort. The Optio 550 and Optio 450 also offer standalone buttons for the easy access of frequently used shooting and playback functions, ways to customize the operational process, and handy functions such as quick deletion and quick enlargement.

5. 3D image mode achieves stereoscopic shooting
With the 3D image mode, the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 add a totally new dimension to digital photography. Just take two shots following a simple set of guidelines to achieve shots that have a genuine sense of depth and perspective when seen through the special viewer provided.

6. Digital filter mode gives greater creative freedom
Achieving effects similar to conventional filters, digital filter mode gives you the freedom to influence the overall tone of your shot. With a choice of black & white and sepia shooting as well as a range of other tones (red, pink, yellow, green, blue and purple), digital filter mode can let you add more mood to a sunset, for example, or tone down subjects that are too bright. A soft focus effect can also be achieved through selection of the Soft filter setting.

Other features

1. USB compatibility*
One of the greatest advantages of digital photography is the ability to transfer images to PCs. The Optio 550 and the Optio 450 make this process as easy as can be through connection to a USB cable, allowing you to import your shots into a wide range of common applications with speed and ease. What's more, the advantage of USB also means that you can import a number of images simultaneously.

* System requirements: PC running Windows 98/98SE, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows XP Home Edition/Professional or Mac OS 9.0 or higher (installation of the included driver software is required, except in the case of Mac 0S 9.0 or higher, Windows Me, Windows 2000 or Windows XP). Compliance with the aforementioned system requirements does not guarantee USB compatibility.

2. Also includes additional software
Each Optio 550 and Optio 450 comes complete with its own CD-ROM. This not only contains a USB driver, but also features the popular ACDSee™ application which is compatible with both Windows and Mac systems.

3. Built-in auto flash
Auto flash can be set to discharge automatically when shooting scenes in low-light conditions. For greater control, each model also features Flash-on, Flash-off, and red-eye reduction* modes. There's even Slow shutter sync mode, which can be selected when using Night Scene mode.

*This feature does not eliminate "red eye" in all instances.

4. Precise LCD monitor
Accurate composition can be made easier through use of the high-resolution 1.5-inch low-temperature polysilicon TFT colour LCD monitor that offers a 100% view of the frame. The monitor is also extremely handy when you wish to check shots you have just recorded.

5. Optical Viewfinder
Both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are equipped with a viewfinder offering actual image zoom. This can be used to let you conserve power by switching off the LCD monitor and it also offers diopter adjustment.

6. Digital zoom
The power of 4X digital zoom can be combined with the optical 5X zoom to realize a combined zooming power of an impressive 20X

7. Nine-image / Zoom display
The search for recorded images can be significantly speeded up through use of a function that allows nine images to be displayed on the LCD screen at once. The screen can also be used to display images with up to 8X magnification, which makes it so much easier to check for clear focus and inspect details on recorded shots.

8. A range of shooting modes to choose from
A total of ten shooting modes can be selected easily with just the turn of a dial. Simply activate the one that best fits your subject from Metered Manual, Shutter-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE, Program, Picture, Movie, Panorama Assist, 3D image, Digital Filter, and User modes.

  • Metered manual - This useful mode gives you the freedom to decide both shutter speed and aperture settings for yourself, so you can take difficult shots or achieve more creative results.
  • Shutter-priority AE - Select the shutter speed to deliver the desired effect and Shutter-priority AE will select the ideal corresponding aperture for your shot. This allows you to create a sense of movement with blurring or freeze rapid moving objects in time.
  • Aperture-priority AE - With Aperture-priority AE, the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 give you subtle control over depth of field and exposure. Throw background elements out of focus to add emphasis to your main subject, or capture everything up to the horizon with clarity while the camera calculates the optimal shutter speed.
  • Program - Take control over a whole range of functions to produce results much closer to the ones you desire.
  • Picture - With a choice of nine convenient picture modes, the Optio 550 and Optio 450 prepare you to tackle a wide range of different subjects and situations. Simply select from Landscape, Night Scene, Flower, Portrait, Surf & Snow, Autumn Colour, Sunset, Fire Works and Text.
  • Movie - Both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are capable of recording up to 10 minutes of video at 15 frames per second, with 320 x 240 recorded pixels. For additional convenience, all clips are recorded in MOV format to facilitate simple playback on PCs.*
  • Panorama Assist - By simply following the guidance given by the cameras and using the software included with the Optio 550 and Optio 450, panorama-like pictures can be effectively created through the vertical or horizontal combination of multiple pictures on a PC.
  • 3D image - Create shots that have a real sense of depth when seen through the special viewer provided by taking two shots following the cameras' simple guidance.
  • Digital Filter - This mode achieves effects similar to conventional filters - select from black & white and sepia shooting as well as a range of different colours (red, pink, yellow, green, blue and purple). Both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 also feature a soft filter that can be used to add a delicate effect.
  • User - Allowing a combination of preferred settings to be memorized for easy access, the Optio 550 and Optio 450 let you express your own sense of style in the way you capture different situations.
  • Voice recording mode - The Optio 550 and Optio 450 are not limited to merely taking outstanding shots. They can each also be used as an audio recorder, which makes them so much more useful in a range of situations.
  • Voice memo function - Up to 30 seconds of sound can be added to images. This allows you to add further expression to the scenes you record, and bring special memories to life.

* System requirements for use of the Movie function: PCs running Windows 98/98SE, or Windows 2000 operating systems which came with Direct X8.0 or higher and Windows Media Player pre-installed. PC running Windows Me or Windows XP operating systems featuring Windows Media Player or QuickTime or higher. Macintosh machines running operating systems, which came with QuickTime 4.0 or higher pre-installed.

9. Convenient self- timer
Both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are equipped with a useful self-timer. This can be used to allow you to enter group shots, or to reduce camera shake when making extended exposures.

10. Optional remote control
Two remote control units are available as options for the Optio 550 and the Optio 450. Known as remote control E and remote control F, they offer the convenience of three-second shutter release as well as immediate shutter release.

11. Continuous shooting
With continuous shooting capability, each of these cameras can take multiple shots in quick succession, which is ideal for the capture of action scenes.

12. Interval shooting
Just set the time to start shooting, the duration of the interval between shots, and the number of frames, and the Optio 550 and Optio 450 will capture events that take place over an extended period of time. This function is ideal for capturing the process of a flower blooming, for example.

13. Time-lapse movie
Time-lapse movie allows you to run a set of sequential recorded frames in order as a short film. It can be used to creates scenes of clouds rushing across the sky, for example, and there is a selection of X2, X5, X10, X20, X50, or X100 recording speeds.

14. Multiple exposure
The multiple exposure function can be used to produce highly creative results. The same person can be made to appear twice in the same shot, for example, and different scenes can be combined for surreal results.

15. Macro shooting modes and Infinity-landscape mode
Macro mode lets you compose shots from as close as 15cm. The cameras also offer the advantage of super macro mode, which allows shots to be taken from as close as just 2cm. The Optio 550 and the Optio 450 additionally offer Infinity-landscape mode, which is ideal for shooting natural scenery and even produces pleasing results when shooting through windows.

16. Manual focus
There are times when it's difficult to achieve precise focus on your subject, and that's when manual focus comes in handy. This function allows the central part of the frame to be enlarged on the LCD monitor so that you can achieve the sharpest degree of focus possible.

17. Choice of autofocus
Both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 offer a choice of autofocus settings. Wide AF allows you to place greater focal emphasis on your subject. Spot AF lets you choose the desired center of focus with a point selected from a choice of five located horizontally and vertically.

18. White Balance Mode
With White Balance mode, the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 achieve excellent results in different kinds of light. Select the appropriate setting from a choice of for Daylight, Shade, Tungsten Light, Fluorescent Light (three different kinds), and Auto to preserve natural colours in each set of circumstances. Both cameras also offer a Manual setting which gives you the freedom to experiment as you please.

19. Histogram display
A detailed histogram display allows you to check light levels with accuracy during both playback and shooting.

20. Metering options
Both cameras also offer the user freedom in terms of metering, with a choice of multi-segment metering, center-weighted metering, and spot metering.

21. Light sensitivity
Light sensitivity can be adjusted as you desire. Both cameras give you the ability to choose from ISO100, ISO200, ISO400, and an auto setting, and the Optio 550 offers the additional versatility of a setting for ISO64.

22. Exposure compensation
The Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are capable of exposure compensation across a range of +2EV in steps of 1/3EV. This makes it easy to take a set of shots, then select the shot that best suits your tastes.

23. Settings for sharpness, saturation, and contrast
In order to give you even greater control over the outcome of each shot, the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 allow sharpness, saturation and contrast to be set manually with a choice of three grades for each.

24. Image protection
With some digital cameras it can be all to easy to delete a shot that you actually wanted to keep. Fortunately this is not the case with the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 as they both feature a useful function that guards your precious shots against accidental deletion.

25. Mode memory function
Through experimenting with settings, it's easy to find a combination that produces results you find pleasing. The handy Mode Memory function lets you save such combinations so that you can swiftly return to them whenever you switch the power on.

26. World time function
Displaying the time accurately in 62 different cities around the world, the World time function makes the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 ideal travel companions. What's more, the exact time and date each shot was taken can be recorded with your images to make sorting so much simpler when you return home.

27. Alarm clock
Functionality is taken even further with an alarm clock function. The cameras can also be set to display the shot of your choice at the time the alarm sounds, so you can wake up to the face of a loved one, or remind yourself with the image of something related to your schedule. There's even a snooze function, so there's no need to worry about oversleeping!

28. DPOF function
When used in combination with DPOF-compatible printers, this handy function lets you take control over the number of printouts and the date function.
*Some printers may not support the above functions. Please consult the supplier of your printer for more information.

29. Exif Print (Exif2.2) and PRINT Image Matching II* compatibility
The Optio 550 and the Optio 450 provide even greater quality printouts when connected to Exif-compatible printers. Each of these cameras is also compatible with PRINT Image Matching II. This achieves a higher level of quality through creating a stronger link between the camera and the printer and provides you with a much greater degree of control over the outcome.

*This product supports PRINT Image Matching II. When used in combination, PRINT Image Matching II enabled digital still cameras, printers, and software help photographers to produce images more faithful to their intentions.

30. SD memory card / MultiMediaCard
Both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are compatible with the widely available SD memory card and MultiMediaCard.

31. Resize
Recorded images can be adjusted at a later time to become lighter in terms of data. This can be done by altering the number of recorded pixels or lowering the level of quality to free up more memory space for further shooting.

32. Trimming
Sometimes less is more in the creation of a pleasing image. For this reason, both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 offer image cropping. This allows you to crop images exactly as you desire or store parts of images as individual new files.

33. Function customization
Your choice of four functions can be customized from a selection of eleven. These can then be allocated to the four-way controller for simple access that you feel comfortable with.

34. Camera customization
Each of the cameras can be made more personal with further customization. You can select a favorite image for use as the start-up screen, and set your own choice of sounds to accompany the action of the shutter, start-up, and various other operations.

35. AV output terminal included
Recorded shots and sounds can be easily enjoyed on your TV. Simply connect the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 to a television using the AV cable provided.

36. Power sources
For greater versatility and convenience, the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 can be powered by an exclusive rechargeable lithium-ion battery or by an optional AC adapter.

37. Multilingual operation
Convenient multilingual operation allows all menus and messages to be displayed in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, or Japanese.

Pentax Optio 550 and 450 specifications

 
Pentax Optio 550
Pentax Optio 450
Sensor 1/1.8" CCD, 5.24 megapixels total 1/1.8" CCD, 4.13 megapixels total
Effective 5.0 million 4.0 million
Lens • Pentax 5x zoom
• 37.5 - 187.5 mm equiv.
• 9 elements in 7 groups
• F2.8 - F4.6
 
Digital zoom Up to 4x
Image sizes • 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 1024 x 768
• 640 x 480
• 2288 x 1712
• 1600 x1200
• 1024 x 768
• 640 x 480
Sensitivity Auto, ISO 64, 100, 200, 400 Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400
Image formats • Still: JPEG (EXIF 2.2)
• Movie: QuickTime MOV
Image quality • TIFF
• JPEG Best
• JPEG Better
• JPEG Good
Focusing • Hybrid AF (combined contrast detect with external passive sensor)
• Manual focus / Infinity focus available
Focus areas • 5 point AF
• Spot AF
Focus range • Normal: 0.6 m (1.97 ft) - Infinity
• Macro: 15 - 65 cm (5.9 - 25.6 in)
• Super-macro: 2 - 65 cm (0.80 - 25.6 in)
Metering • Multi-segment
• Center-weighted average
• Spot metering
Exposure modes • Program AE
• Shutter-priority AE
• Aperture-priority AE
• Manual
• Picture scene
• Panorama assist
• Movie
• 3D image
• Digital filter
• User
Shutter speed 4 - 1/4000 sec *
* 1/1000 sec max in Manual or Shutter-priority AE
Drive modes • Single
• Continuous
• Self-timer
• Remote control
• Interval shooting
• Multiple exposure
Picture scene modes • Landscape
• Night scene
• Flower
• Portrait
• Surf & Snow
• Autumn Color
• Sunset
• Fireworks
• Text
Digital filters • Black & White
• Sepai
• Red
• Pink
• Yellow
• Green
• Blue
• Purple
• Soft
Flash � Bulit-in
• Flash modes: Auto, Flash on, Flash off, Red-eye reduction
• Range: 0.4 - 5.2 m (1.3 - 17.1 ft)
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Shade
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent (W / N / D)
• Manual
Viewfinder Optical
LCD monitor • 1.5" TFT LCD
• 100% frame coverage
Connectivity • AV out
• USB 1.1
• DC-IN
Power • Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery supplied
• Optional AC adapter
Dimensions 100 x 59 x 40 mm (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.6 in)
Weight (no batt) 205 g (7.2 oz)
Weight (with batt) 250 g (8.8 oz)