Pentax Optio 230 review
2Mp with 3x optical Zoom and 2x digital Zoom
Excellent Night time shots
Flip out screen
Compact Flash memory
Can take AA batteries
?3-D capture function
I purchased my camera at Morgan Computers near Tottenham Court Road (www.morgancomputers.co.uk) about 3 weeks ago as a Christmas present to myself. Initially impressed with the Pentax Optio 230 this camera comes complete with software including USB drivers, USB transfer cable, RCA TV-Out cable and 1 non-rechargable lithium battery (Panasonic CR-V3). The camera comes in at approximately 13x7x3cm with both optical view or 4cm TFT screen with 3x optical Zoom and 2x digital Zoom.
This is the 2Mp capture model with 3 different pixel settings, within the 3 pixel setting are then 3 different quality capture settings noted in stars. 3 Stars being best quality 1 star being the least. A great feature is that the TFT screen flips out so you can take self portraits of your self. A little button at the bottom of the screen inverts the image so you have a “mirror” image of yourself when you take a picture.
There are 4 main capture modes on the dial at the top of the camera: Auto, Full, Night time capture and video.
Auto: is exactly what it says it is. Just point and shoot and the camera will do the rest, including focusing, white balance and metering.
Full: is a little more interesting with control over flash, exposure, metering and white balance. Focusing can be split up into auto, timed, Macro (down to 10cm), Landscape and Manual setting. There’s no “Portrait” setting on this camera which I found very disappointing and the “Manual” setting extremely odd since you can’t seem to focus on any object and you revert back to the auto focus. Auto focus is achieved by pressing the shutter button half way down and then capturing the picture by pressing the shutter key completely down. This took about 1.5seconds to complete which compared to the Canon IXUS V2 and the Olympus C-2000 range and above is extremely slow. In both of these models focusing is achieved in well under a second with the Olympus model aperture setting down to f2.0 creating wonderfully sharp portrait focusing.
That said the pictures taken on the Pentax were all in focus with good white balance. White balance setting could be left on auto (AWB) or 5 different settings including Outdoors, Fluorescent, indoor, outdoor shade or manual. On my control samples there was no difference in leaving it on AWB or manually selecting the mode. I would leave it on AWB unless you wanted a particular effect.
Night time Capture: Very impressed with this setting. The camera basicly takes a shot with no flash and on a very long exposure, you can force the flash to come on if you wish but it can bleach the colour slightly. Compared with my Cannon 500N with 35-80mm lens pictures came out sharp and well saturated. You NEED a tripod on this setting. Suggest a small pocket tripod with adjustable legs and tilt.
Video mode: is a bit of a waste of time since it lack sound capture. The picture resolution is 680x420 with no flash.
The camera comes with a lithium battery (Panasonic CR-V3) or you can place 2 AA batteries. I have placed a fresh set of Ni-Mh batteries in and with flash and display on your lucky to get 25-30 shots! (1200x1024) admittedly the batteries are only 1300mah so there not the best. I have recently purchased a 4pk of 2000mah batteries from www.7dayshop.com at £6 (yes £6!) which greatly improves the usability of the camera I took just under 100 shots at 1200x1024 all with full flash and LCD screen on before I had to change the batteries.
From a cold start up would take about 5 seconds without flash and 8-9seconds with. Both Canon and Olympus models mentioned before started up within 3-4seconds from cold. The TFT screen is a little hard on the eyes sometimes and is not as sharp as the Canon but sharper than the Olympus. The body looks metallic, but is in fact plastic and just the right weight for its size (lighter than both Canon and Olympus). The flash is under a law of it’s own often over exposing shots at close range and underexposing beyond 3 metres, it’s best not to us the flash at all if you can get away with it. Memory is in the form of Compact Flash type I and it comes complete with 16mb memory (suggest www.7dayshop.com for good cheap memory and replacement batteries). Very few new cameras now take compact flash instead going for Secure Digital (SD) or Multi-Media Cards (MMC) which are both slower in reading and writing data than Compact Flash and more expensive at present. Picture transfer is fast and hassle-under Windows Xp.
This is the best bit about this camera. At the moment Morgan Computers (Tottenham Court Road) have 6 models left at £159.95 (Inc. VAT)!!! This camera usually retails for £279-£299 in Jessops, etc and even though I have painted a not so good picture of this camera on balance it’s still far superior to other models in this price bracket with good sharp focusing and colour saturation and generally good exposure I would still not hesitate in recommending this model to a friend.
Delayed picture capture*
No “Portrait” setting
Very fast battery drain with Ni-Mh
No Sound on video capture*
Noisy start up*
*(Compared to Canon IXUS and Olympus C-2000 range)