Conclusion - Pros

  • Good colour, good white balance presets
  • Lens exhibited hardly any chromatic aberrations
  • Low noise at ISO 200, camera appears to have some flat area noise reduction
  • Live view histogram
  • Ultra-compact size, light weight
  • Fast performer, good startup, shot-to-shot and write times
  • Metal body, solid feel, average build quality
  • Controls are easy to understand, nice record / play switch
  • Very user friendly menu interface
  • Interesting world time and alarm functions (not sure I'd use them though)
  • Full manual control (but no aperture priority which would have been nice)
  • Good control over in-camera image processing algorithms
  • Automatic lens cover
  • Viewfinder has dioptre adjustment
  • Supplied battery & charger / AC adapter

Conclusion - Cons

  • Lens resolution lets down its 3 megapixel label
  • Noisy lens extension and zoom motor
  • Produces 'overly contrasty' images
  • Images can seem 'over-processed' and almost video like
  • Unsophisticated bayer interpolation / sharpening algorithms
  • Sometimes underexposes image
  • Average low light auto focus
  • Flash underexposure / colour cast
  • Edge positioned tripod mount
  • Average battery performance (you'll need a spare)
  • Price

Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Pentax Optio 330: (3 megapixel ultra-compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8
Features 7
Image quality 8
Lens / CCD combination 6
Ease of use 8
Value for money 7

The Optio 330 is a camera which left me with a luke warm feeling. There are lots of things to like about the Optio 330, it operates quickly, the user interface is friendly and easy to understand, there are lots of manual features you can 'grow into', image quality is on the whole good, especially if you're going to reduce the images in size or shoot at XGA size. It's small, powered off you can just drop it into your pocket and know it'll be there, it takes Compact Flash which means you won't have any storage problems.

On the other side of things the lens is noisy, resolution isn't up to a three megapixel level, images can seem 'over processed', there's no AF assist lamp (and low light AF is pretty poor), no aperture priority mode and worst of all the camera weighs in with a street price of $700 (although I hear there are some rebate packages around).

If you're looking for a properly pocketable digital camera and you're shooting primarily for the web or personal electronic albums then the Optio 330 should be high on your list, but make sure you also check out some of the ultra-compact 2 megapixel competition.

Above Average

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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