Pentax Optio A10 Review
Timing & Performance
Although the A10 doesn't feel particularly sluggish when walking around casually snapping shots of scenery, by 2006 standards the performance is pedestrian at best. Some critical areas - focus speed, shutter lag, shot-to-shot times for example - are well below the class average, making the A10 less than ideal for grabbing quick shots. In low light social situations you'd better have patient subjects as even at the wide end of the zoom the combined time for focusing and taking the picture is over a second, getting on for twice as long as you'd have to wait for the best similarly-specified Canon, Sony or Panasonic models in the same circumstances. How much of an impact the disappointing performance will have on you depends on the type of photography you will be using the A10 for; if it's a pocket camera for taking out walking, no problem; if it's a party camera or a camera for catching snaps of the kids at play, you're going to miss a lot of shots.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3624 x 2448 Fine JPEG image (approx. 2,650 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.
|Power: Off to Record||3.4|
|Power: Off to Play||Direct mode||~1.5|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.8|
|Power: Play to Off||Lens extended, buffer empty||1.6|
|Power: Play to Off||Lens not extended, buffer empty||~0.2|
|Record Review||Image displayed||~1.7|
|Mode: Record to Play||~0.3|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens already extended||~0.3|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (4x)||2.0|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||~1.1 *1|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||~0.3|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||35 to 105 mm (13 x)||1.6|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle||~0.9 *2|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto||~1.5 *2|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view||~0.3|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||1.3|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~4.2|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||3.2|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (anti red-eye off)||4.5|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (anti red-eye on)||5.0|
|*1||Low res previews are loaded in around 0.3 seconds, so you can scroll through images fairly quickly. The time mentioned above is to load the full image.|
|*2||Focusing under our test conditions (indoors). The focus speed outdoors in good light is marginally better for subjects at distance.|
Lag Timing Definitions
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)
The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. Media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/100 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
In burst mode the A10 shows neither preview nor review image, which in the absence of an optical viewfinder is slightly annoying, to say the least. It offers a single continuous shooting mode, and the length of each burst (how many pictures you can take) is limited only by the amount of space on the memory card. The speed you can shoot at depends on the size/quality setting used and the speed of the card.
Frames in a burst *1
|3264 x 2448 (8M) JPEG ***||Continuous||0.5 fps||n/a||n/a|
|3264 x 2448 (8M) JPEG **||Continuous||0.6 fps||n/a||n/a|
|3264 x 2448 (8M) JPEG *||Continuous||1.2 fps||n/a||n/a|
|2592 x 1944 (5M) JPEG ***||Continuous||0.5 fps||n/a||n/a|
|2592 x 1944 (5M) JPEG **||Continuous||1.0 fps||n/a||n/a|
|2592 x 1944 (5M) JPEG *||Continuous||1.1 fps||n/a||n/a|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).|
|*2||The A10 can continue to shoot in burst mode indefinitely as long as you have space on the card.|
Although it's nice to be able to keep shooting indefinitely, the A10's burst mode is hardly something to write home about, managing only one shot every two seconds at the highest quality setting (8MP/fine). Dropping to the most basic quality setting improves things slightly, but it's not a camera for anyone wanting to capture fast moving action.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and 'flush' the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when the activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to 'complete the task'. The media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.
Time to store
File size *1
Images on a *2
|3264 x 2448 (8M) JPEG ***||~2.4||~1.2 *3||2,650 KB||150|
|3264 x 2448 (8M) JPEG **||~2.2||~1.0 *3||1,510 KB||291|
|3264 x 2448 (8M) JPEG *||~2.1||~1.0 *3||926 KB||495|
|2304 x 1728 (4M) JPEG ***||~2.6||~0.7 *3||1,328 KB||247|
|2048 x 1536 (2M) JPEG ***||~2.0||~0.7 *3||823 KB||412|
|640 x 480 (0.3M) JPEG ***||~1.9||~0.7 *3||165 KB||900|
|*1||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).|
|*3||In call cases a low res preview image is loaded in approx 0.25 secs.|
With write times averaging around 2.4 seconds for a 8MP Fine JPEG the A10 is hardly the fastest camera in its class - managing approximately 1.1MB/s. The relatively slow write speed, combined with the small buffer (which appears to be only big enough to hold a single 8MP JPEG) explains the lengthy shot-to-shot times.