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Pentax Optio S - Ultra compact

By dpreview staff on Jan 8, 2003 at 15:39 GMT

CES 2003: Pentax has today announced the ultra tiny Optio S digital camera. The new three megapixel, three times optical zoom 'Optio S' measures just 83 x 52 x 20 mm (3.3 x 2.0 x 0.8 in) and weighs 115 g (4.1 oz) loaded with its Lithium-Ion battery and an SD storage card. The Optio S has a tough and stylish aluminium alloy case and has a more 'designer' look than the previous Optio digital cameras. This amazing feat of miniturisation was achieved with a unique sliding lens, a design which has elements which slide out of the imaging path when powered off.

Pentax Optio S sliding lens design

Lens at power off, note elements slide out of imaging path into the camera body thus a thin profile can be maintained
Lens at wide angle
Lens at telephoto

Press Release (Pentax USA):

PENTAX DEBUTS A HIGH-QUALITY ZOOM LENS DIGITAL CAMERA SO SMALL THAT IT FITS INTO A TIN OF ALTOIDS®

A HIGH-QUALITY ZOOM LENS DIGITAL CAMERA SO SMALL THAT IT FITS INTO A TIN OF ALTOIDS®

ENGLEWOOD, CO – Remember the classic question, “Is it smaller than a breadbox?” on the ‘50s television quiz show What’s My Line?” In this 21st century, photographic consumers may well ask the question, “Is it smaller than an Altoids® tin?” Because the newest digital camera from PENTAX, the OptioS, is so small that it does fit into an empty Altoids® tin!

When PENTAX debuts the OptioS January 9 at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show* (CES) in Las Vegas, they’ll be using Altoids® mint containers and decks of playing cards to show that this advanced-stage camera is smaller than both items. CES is the marketplace where the latest in consumer equipment, gadgets and household items are unveiled to the buying public. The OptioS is the smallest PENTAX 3.2 megapixel camera.

The face of the OptioS is smaller than the size of an average credit or business card and just over ¾ inch thick, but still it is a high-quality 3.2 effective megapixel, 3X (6X combined) zoom digital camera with a sleek design and a tough aluminum alloy case.

“Don’t let the size fool you. This is one well-built camera, which just happens to be the right size for a shirt pocket or purse,” said PENTAX marketing V.P. Jim Leffel. “Even men with larger hands will find it easy to maneuver the buttons and set up photos.”

The OptioS, while unveiled at CES, will be shipped to major camera retailers around the end of March 2003. Leffel expects demand to be strong because of the PENTAX reputation for quality.

How does PENTAX load so much into such a small space? Carrying on the strong PENTAX optics tradition, the OptioS features a patented sliding lens zoom mechanism that allows the camera’s powerful 3X optical lens to fully recede into the camera housing, flush with the body frame. This novel system helps protect the lens and helps reduce the size of the OptioS by almost 60 percent compared to the PENTAX Optio330RS. A new Multi Chip Module in the circuit board and the redesigned chamber have further minimized free space in the OptioS.

Despite the size, OptioS is packed with features found only on larger, higher-priced digital cameras: a movie mode with sound playback, a voice recording mode for attaching 30-second memos to selected images, a well-placed 1.6-inch LCD monitor, approximately 11MB of built-in memory and a powerful rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

This little camera delivers a big punch with its variety of shooting modes, including super macro, which captures images from just under 2.4 inches away, and infinity-landscape, which is great for shooting panoramic landscapes.

“The OptioS reflects the innovation, reliability and durability that are hallmarks of the PENTAX digital brand,” said Michelle Martin, PENTAX spokeswoman.

Press Relase (Pentax UK):

Highly compact. Exceptionally capable. The new PENTAX Optio S.

PENTAX is renowned for producing cameras that exceed expectations. It is also well known for producing some of the lightest, smallest cameras in the world and for continually delivering exciting new technologies to the market.

The OptioS has been developed by PENTAX as a digital camera that is ideal for both personal and business use. It is convenient enough to be used by virtually anyone, anywhere, at any time and can capture sound as well as images, which can be useful for recording important information in meetings. In order to ensure that the OptioS will remain attractive as we move toward a future in which most cameras are digital, PENTAX decided to create the OptioS as an advanced, powerful camera - one that would combine compact dimensions, impressive features and elegant design; that would offer the power of 3.2 effective megapixels and the versatility of a 3X optical zoom lens; and that would have the power to remain attractive despite the passing of fashions.

1. An ultra-compact body with a stylish exterior
PENTAX has achieved a design success through sincere dedication. The OptioS feels truly comfortable in the hand and can be stored virtually anywhere, but most of all its design has been achieved without incurring any sacrifice in performance or capability. It has a width of a mere 83mm, a height of just 52mm, and a depth of only 20mm (excluding protruding parts), and is therefore smaller than a conventional pack of cards. Additionally it weighs just 98g without batteries, which means you can easily carry it in a shirt pocket without you even noticing that it's there. It also offers the utmost in user friendliness - combining exceptional portability with extreme ease of use.

Conventionally, the minimum dimensions of the lens barrel are limited by the retraction mechanism as the lenses have to remain stored on an optical axis while maintaining a minimal distance between each of the lenses. PENTAX, however, saved vital space by approaching the design of the lens barrel in an entirely new way - achieving the storage of the lenses in two stages and allowing the central lens group to deviate from the optical axis with the innovative "Sliding Lens" system. PENTAX also incorporated a significantly revised optical design which, when combined with the "Sliding Lens" system, achieves a reduction in camera depth of approximately 55%*.

A newly developed MCM (Multi Chip Module) in the electrical circuit board brings about a volume reduction of approximately 57%*, and PENTAX has incorporated a number of cutting-edge devices into areas such as the LCD monitor and batteries.

In conventional camera production, companies wishing to design more compact models begin by pinpointing areas of space within the internal structure. They then seek to eradicate or minimize them by locating the surrounding components closer together. PENTAX, however, took a much more painstaking approach to achieving minimum dimensions in the design of the OptioS - reassessing the function and location of each component within the camera, and repositioning them where necessary to achieve more compact dimensions through a greater degree of tessellation. As a result, the super compact OptioS has an innovative space-saving, solid structure.

PENTAX has selected an aluminum alloy as the material for the main body. This lends the camera an air of prestige, has a light weight, and is easily decorated with the distinctive "spindle" pattern of the outer casing of the OptioS. The exterior appearance also makes use of elegant lines, a pleasing overall shape, and the addition of the PENTAX logo.

In terms of operability, PENTAX faced a particular challenge. Indeed with such compact dimensions it can be difficult to offer high-level functionality without some degree of operational awkwardness. PENTAX, however, overcame this potential problem with the intelligent placement of buttons and the design of a user-friendly operating system. As a result, the OptioS offer simplistic operation with speed.
*Compared to the PENTAX Optio330RS.

2. An ultra-compact 3X optical zoom lens
The OptioS is the first ever digital camera to feature an smc PENTAX lens - a lens widely recognized for its high-level image quality. Despite its compact dimensions, the high-performance 3X optical zoom lens (equivalent to a 35-105mm lens in 35mm format) is comprised of six elements in five groups (including two dual-sided aspherical elements) and is capable of producing images of a pleasingly high quality with only low-level image distortion.

The zooming capacity of the lenses is augmented with 2X digital zooming, which offers smooth operation and realizes a combined zooming power of 6X zoom. Additionally, autofocus offers easy button operation and pleasing performance, allowing you to fill the frame with the head of a flower, or capture stunning shots of mountain ranges.

3. The digital precision of 3.2 effective megapixels
The OptioS offers pleasing image quality with the power of 3.2 effective megapixels. Faithfully reproducing the delicate hues of flowers and capturing fine details within landscape shots, it also incorporates advanced image processing technology and makes use of primary color filters for the reproduction of more natural, vivid colors.

4. Easy operation
With the incorporation of a newly developed image processing circuit and revised algorithms within the firmware, the OptioS offers quick and easy operation. The playback of images can be done with a single push of a standalone button and the OptioS is always ready to shoot regardless of the mode you are in, so you never miss a photo opportunity. The selection of one of a variety of shooting modes (Program, Picture, Night Scene, Movie, Panorama Assist, 3D image, Digital Filter and User modes) is also easy thanks to the Virtual Mode Dial, which is displayed on the LCD monitor. For additional convenience, the OptioS also features standalone buttons for frequently used shooting and playback functions, while deletion and enlargement have been made faster with simplified processes. Response time has also been accelerated, with a release time lag of approximately 0.01 seconds*.
*Time taken from full shutter button depression to the beginning of shooting, when the
OptioS is in Flash off mode with the focus lock (shutter depressed half way.)

5. A variety of shooting modes
The OptioS offers the choice of eight shooting modes, consisting of Program, Picture, Night Scene, Movie, Panorama Assist, 3D image, Digital Filter and User. Selection of the desired mode is easily done through use of the easy-to-understand graphic Virtual Mode Dial.

1) Program:
Allows you to take control of a combination of functions to achieve
the results you desire.

2) Picture:
Choose from seven convenient picture modes, including Landscape,
Flower, Portrait, Self-portrait, Surf & Snow, Autumn Color and Sunset.
3) Night Scene:
Ideal for capturing evening and night scenes, this mode also maintains
clarity when shooting subjects with dark backgrounds.
4) Movie:
The OptioS can record up to 30 seconds of video with sound at 12 frames
per second, and 320 x 240 recorded pixels. What's more, clips are recorded
in AVI format in order to allow easy playback on PCs.*
*System requirements for use of the Movie function: PCs running Windows 98/98SE,
or Windows 2000 operating systems which came with Direct X8.0 and Windows Media
Player pre-installed, or have QuickTime 3.0 or higher installed. PC running Windows Me
or Windows XP operating systems featuring Windows Media Player or QuickTime3.0
or higher. Macintosh machines running operating systems, which came with QuickTime 4.0
or higher pre-installed.
5) Panorama Assist:
By simply following the guidance given by the camera and using the software
included with the OptioS, panorama-like pictures can be effectively created
through the vertical or horizontal combination of multiple pictures on a PC.
6) 3D image:
The OptioS adds an additional dimension to digital photography with the
exciting 3D image mode. This produces pictures that have a genuine sense
of depth and perspective when seen through the special 3D viewer provided.
7) Digital Filter:
Achieving effects similar to conventional filters, the OptioS allows you to
select black & white and sepia filters for shooting. It also allows selection
of a range of different colors (red, pink, yellow, green, blue and purple) that
can be used to influence the results in myriad ways. For example, purple
could be selected in order to add more mood to a sunset. The OptioS also
has a special slim filter, which allows subjects to appear more slender or
broader and offers a choice of degrees.
8) User:
Not only does the OptioS offer a range of useful shooting modes, it also
allows a combination of preferred settings to be memorized for easier access.

6. An array of picture modes
With a selection of seven picture modes, the OptioS prepares you for a diverse range of situations and circumstances. Just make your selection on the LCD monitor and allow the camera to take automatic control over exposure, focus, and White Balance to achieve the optimal results.

1) Landscape mode:
Scenes containing greenery and blue skies can be captured with clarity and
faithful tones.
2) Flower mode:
Ideal for capturing vivid, colorful shots of flowers.
3) Portrait mode:
Captures natural skin tones.
4) Self-portrait mode:
Allows appropriate composition and provides pleasing results when taking
shots of yourself or joining a friend in the frame.
5) Surf & Snow mode:
Guards against the underexposure of darker elements when other elements
in shot are reflecting bright sunlight. Ideal, for example, when shooting a
scene of a bay on a sunny day, with a mountain in the background.
6) Autumn Color mode:
Captures the stunning reds and golds of autumn leaves.
7) Sunset mode:
Captures the warmth and beauty of sunrise and sunset scenes.

7. Voice recording mode
The OptioS has been specially designed with audio recording capability rivaling the abilities of standalone audio recording devices. This can be exceptionally handy for recording important information in meetings and an index can be added during recording for easy playback.

<Other features>

1. Easy PC connection and USB compatibility*
Recorded shots can be easily transferred to a PC through easy connection to a USB cable. This allows shots to be swiftly imported into a range of common applications, and even allows a number of images to be transferred simultaneously.
*System requirements: PC running Windows 98/98SE, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows XP Home Edition/Professional or Mac OS 8.6 or higher (installation of the included driver software is required, except in the case of Mac 0S 9.0 or higher). Compliance with the aforementioned system requirements does not guarantee USB compatibility.

2. Additional software included
The OptioS comes complete with a CD-ROM that contains a USB driver and the popular ACDSee™ application, which is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers.

3. Built-in auto flash
The flash of the OptioS is capable of discharging automatically when shooting in low-light conditions. For increased versatility, the camera also features Flash-on, Flash-off, red-eye reduction*, and Night Scene modes including slow shutter sync.
*This feature does not eliminate "red eyes" in all instances.

4. A precision LCD monitor that is useful both during and after shooting
The high-resolution, 1.6-inch LCD monitor assists composition with a 100% view of the frame. The display is also incredibly handy for checking the images you have just taken.

5. Optical Viewfinder
The viewfinder of the OptioS offers actual image zoom. This makes composition significantly more easy and allows power to be conserved by switching off the LCD monitor.

6. Digital zoom
Not only is the OptioS capable of optical 3X zoom, it also provides the additional power of 2X digital zoom for combined zooming power of 6X.

7. Nine-image display and Zoom display
Nine recorded images can be simultaneously displayed on the screen to make the search for recorded images so much faster. The screen is also capable of displaying images with 4X magnification, which means that you can check the focus and inspect small details on recorded shots.

8. Convenient self-timer
The OptioS has a handy self-timer that allows you to take your own portrait or get in the frame when taking group shots.

9. Optional remote control
Two optional remote control units are available for the OptioS. Known as the remote control E and the remote control F, they allow three-second shutter release as well as immediate shutter release.

10. Continuous shooting
The OptioS has a continuous shooting function that allows successive shots to be taken while the shutter button is held down.

11. 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 create scenes of clouds rushing across the sky, for example, and there is a selection of X2, X5, X10, X20, X50, or X100 recording speeds.

12. Macro shooting modes and infinity-landscape mode
Macro mode allows you to compose shots from as close as 18cm, while selection of super macro shooting mode allows shots to be taken from as close as just 6cm. The OptioS also features infinity-landscape mode, which is ideal for shooting expansive outdoor scenes and even achieves pleasing focus when shooting through windows.

13. Manual focus
Manual focus allows you to check for precise focus on the LCD monitor prior to pressing the shutter, and the central part of the frame also offers enlargement for greater detail.

14. Convenient autofocus
The OptioS offers a choice of autofocus settings. 7-point autofocus allows you to place greater focal emphasis on the subject by making a subtle reduction in the sharpness of the background. There's also spot AF, which provides you with greater compositional freedom by letting you place the center of focus anywhere in the frame.

15. White balance mode
Through use of its White balance mode, the OptioS achieves a pleasing balance of colors when shooting in different kinds of light. It features settings for Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, and Fluorescent light, and there is also a manual setting that gives you the freedom to experiment.

16. Histogram display
Exposure levels can be shown in graph form on the LCD monitor during both shooting and playback, allowing you to check the images with greater accuracy.

17. Metering options
Different circumstances can require different kinds of metering. With a choice of multi-segment metering, center-weighted metering, and spot metering, however, the OptioS allows you to shoot pleasing pictures in virtually any situation.

18. Light sensitivity
Light sensitivity can also be adjusted with ease - simply select from ISO50, ISO100, ISO200, and auto.

19. Exposure compensation
The OptioS is capable of exposure compensation across a range of +2EV in steps of 1/3EV.

20. Settings for sharpness, saturation, and contrast
The OptioS allows sharpness, saturation, and contrast to be set as you like with five grades for each. This gives greater control over the shot for more satisfying results.

21. Image protection
With some digital cameras, it can be all too easy to delete shots you wanted to keep. Fortunately, the OptioS gets around this problem with a special function that guards against the accidental deletion of your favorite shots.


22. Mode memory function
The useful mode memory function lets you save a combination of settings at once. Just choose the settings that give results you like and return to them automatically the next time the power is switched on.

23. World time function
The world time function makes the OptioS the ideal travel companion. It can display the correct time in 62 cities around the world and also records the time each shot was taken for simpler sorting upon your return.

24. Alarm clock
The OptioS even features its own alarm clock, and it can also be set to display something related to your schedule at a relevant time, or a friendly face when you wake up!

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

26. Exif Print (Exif 2.2) and PRINT Image Matching II* compatibility
When used with Exif Print (Exif 2.2) and PRINT Image Matching II compatible printers, the OptioS has the power to produce an even higher quality of printout.

*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.

Copyright 2001 Seiko Epson Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
PRINT Image Matching is a trademark of Seiko Epson Corporation.
The PRINT Image Matching logo is a trademark of Seiko Epson Corporation.

27. 11MB built-in memory
The OptioS features approximately 11MB of built-in memory. This brings you the convenience of being able to record images without the need for additional media.


28. SD memory card / MultiMediaCard
The OptioS is compatible with the SD memory card and the MultiMediaCard. These are widely available, and data transfer both to and from the built-in memory is also possible.

29. Resize
Recorded images can be adjusted at a later time in order to become less data heavy. This allows a greater amount of shots to be stored in total through a reduction in the number of pixels or quality of existing stored shots.

30. Trimming
With the trimming function, images can be cropped and parts can be selected on their own for storage as completely new files. This allows unwanted elements to be removed from recorded shots.

31. Voice memo function
In order to bring even more enjoyment to the viewing of recorded shots, up to 30 seconds of sound recordings can be added to images.

32. Function customization
A frequently used function can be selected from a choice of nine. This can then be allotted to the right and left keys of the four-way controller for easy access. The default setting for these two buttons is exposure compensation.

33. Camera customization
The OptioS can be made more personal with a degree of customization. Favorite shots can be chosen for the start-up screen, and specific sounds can be chosen to accompany the action of the shutter, start-up, and various other operations.

34. AV output terminal included
Recorded shots and sounds can be easily enjoyed on your TV! Simply connect the OptioS to a television using the AV cable provided.

35. Power sources
Options even exist for the power source of the OptioS. It can be powered using an exclusive rechargeable lithium-ion battery or by use of an optional AC adapter.

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

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