On the top of the camera is the rectangular shutter release button,
beside this is the power button. Press the button once to power
the camera up into shooting mode, press and hold to enter voice
recording mode (limited only by storage space). The white power
button surround glows green when the camera is in shooting mode
and red when in voice recording mode.
I would have preferred the power button on the left, shutter on
One quite annoying problem with the Optio S is shutter release while
the camera is writing images to the SD card. After taking a shot the camera
returns to live view and flashes both lights beside the viewfinder to
indicate it is still writing the image. At this stage you can re-press
the shutter release (as in a fast action situation) and the camera will
auto focus but will not allow you to take the shot until the last image
has been written. This is compounded if you enable operation sounds as
the camera 'beeps' to confirm AF lock, this can easily be mistaken for
confirmation of shutter release.
Rear of camera controls
The rear of the camera features a molded thumb grip with the zoom control
lever at the top. There are two function buttons, three monitor action
buttons and the rather awkwardly designed 4-way controller (a bit like
a notebook joystick but no where near as well implemented). I found this
4-way controller to be particularly difficult to use, you literally have
to just 'tap' the edge to choose left / right / up or down, it was too
easy to press the OK function of the button while trying to navigate menus.
Buttons functions in shooting (record) mode
Flash On (fill-in)
Auto Flash with red-eye reduction
Flash On with red-eye reduction
Auto focus (wide area)
Macro auto focus
Super-Macro auto focus
Infinity lock (landscape)
Manual focus (magnifies center of frame while focusing)
Select AF area (any one of 49 areas, a 7 x 7 grid)
Press the zoom lever in this direction to zoom towards wide angle
(35 mm equiv.), there are seven steps from telephoto to wide angle.
Press the zoom lever in this direction to zoom towards telephoto
(105 mm equiv.)
Drive mode (up arrow of 4-way controller)
Remote control (3 sec self-timer)
4-way direction controller
The up arrow function is to change Drive mode (above), the down
arrow function is to change shooting mode (below). Left and right
by default adjust exposure compensation but this can be customized
for Image size, Image quality, White balance, Focus area, Metering
mode, Sensitivity, Instant Review, Fast Forward movie or Exposure
OK / Confirm
Has no function in shooting mode other than in menus and to confirm
Shooting mode menu (down arrow of 4-way controller)
The mode menu is a circular menu of eight options, use the left
and right arrows of the 4-way controller to change shooting mode,
OK to confirm, down arrow to change options (some shooting modes
only). All shooting mode menu options are described below.
Enters or leaves the camera menu.
Switches the current LCD monitor display mode:
Default display (brief settings, exposure mode, date)
Histogram display (detailed settings, overlaid live histogram)
AF brackets (just AF brackets)
LCD monitor off
Enter play mode
Switches to the camera's play mode, from here you can browse, erase,
protect and perform other functions on previously taken images.
The camera by default displays the last image taken or the last
image on the card. Use the 4-way controller's left or right buttons
to browse. The Optio 550 is a shooting priority camera which means
you can always return to shooting mode by simply half-pressing the
shutter release (or press Play again).
Shooting mode menu
Program Auto Exposure
This is the camera's main shooting mode, exposure is metered and
set automatically based on the current sensitivity, metering mode
and exposure compensation. This mode can be used as point and shoot
or with more manual adjustment such as sensitivity selection, exposure
Picture Mode is the Optio's range of preprogrammed scene exposure
settings. Use the up and down arrows on the 4-way controller to
select picture mode, depending on the picture mode certain camera
features (such as flash mode) may not be available. Descriptions
below are from the Optio S manual.
to take landscape photos with bright colors.
to take flower photos bright in color.
to take portraits with spatial effect, by emphasizing the person.
you to take pictures of yourself or to be included in pictures.
to take clear photos at dazzling places like beaches and snow
you to take colorful photos of trees in autumn.
to reproduce beautiful colors for sunrise and sunset photos.
Night Scene Mode
Night scene mode allows you to take long exposures of up to 1 second,
the normal longest exposure is 1/8 sec.
Movie Clip Mode
The Optio S records movie clips at 320 x 240, 15 fps with audio.
The camera records while you hold down the shutter release button.
Exposure is automatically adjusted during shooting, pressing the
zoom buttons invokes digital zoom, optical zoom is not available.
The Optio S allows you to take clips of 30 seconds maximum. Note
that from the camera menu you can also enable a 'fast forward movie
mode', this slows movie recording by 2, 5, 10, 50 or 100 times to
create a 'time lapse' movie (audio recording is disabled in this
Panorama Assist Mode
This mode allows you to take a series of images which will be later
stitched together to make a wide or tall panorama image. When you
first enter Panorama Assist Mode the camera prompts you to select
the direction of the Panorama, after the first shot it overlays
a quarter of the previous image at the edge of the frame to help
align the next shot. Unfortunately this mode doesn't appear to lock
Auto Exposure or Auto White balance, both of which are pretty essential
for quality Panorama's.
Stereo Pictures (3D Image Mode)
This mode allows you to take 'Stereo 3D' images, it does so by prompting
you to take one image from the left of a subject and one shifted
slightly (normally around 1 cm) to the right. When printed and viewed
with the supplied 3D Image Viewer (a clip together vertical spectacles
set) the image can appear to take on a 3D appearance. What a gimmick.
Digital Filter Mode
This mode allows you to simulate certain 'lens filters', these are:
Black & White, Sepia, Red, Pink, Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow
and "slim filter". The slim filter option allows you to
stretch the image either horizontally or vertically (a very odd
User mode allows you to preprogram the camera with any combination
of settings from any exposure mode to be quickly retrieved when
User Mode is selected.
Buttons functions in play mode
Pressing the erase button displays an Delete / Cancel option, press
Erase twice to have the option to erase all images on the card.
If the image has an attached sound annotation you can choose to
remove that from the image ('Sound Delete').
Pressing the protect button displays an option to Protect or Unprotect
the current image, it seems to me that it would have been easier
to simply make this a toggle switch for protection. Press Protect
twice to Protect or Unprotect all images. Note that when an image
is protected its 'read-only' flag on the flash card filesystem is
set, this can guard against accidental deletion from the camera
but not from a full card format.
Thumbnail index (nine image display)
Press this button to switch to a 3x3 thumbnail index, navigate through
the images using the 4-way controller and press OK (or this button
again) to return to a single image view.
Magnifies the current image up to 4x zoom, once magnified you can
pan around the image using the 4-way controller. Press OK to return
to a single image view. There are four steps to 4x zoom.
Displays the DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) option for the current
image, select the number of copies you want and if you want the
date overlaid. Press the DPOF button twice to set DPOF options for
all images. DPOF works by writing a small 'print order' file onto
the flash card which compatible printers and photo finishing kiosks
4-way direction controller
In single image view press left or right to browse through images,
in thumbnail index view you can use all four arrows to move around
the images, in magnified view you can use the arrows to pan around
the magnified image.
OK / Confirm
In single image view press OK to record a voice annotation of up
to 30 seconds, otherwise the OK button is used to return to single
image view from either thumbnail index or magnified view modes.
Enters the play menu which provides functions such as image resizing,
trimming, slideshow and even setting a photo alarm.
Switches the current LCD monitor display mode:
Default display (filename, date and time)
Histogram display (as above plus exposure info, settings
and a histogram overlaid)
No overlay (just the image, no information)