Conclusion - Pros

  • Average three megapixel resolution
  • Good reliable metering, if slightly conservative (worth checking live histogram)
  • Low image noise at ISO 50 and 100
  • Excellent macro focus performance (for an ultra-compact)
  • Wide range of focus options including manual focus
  • Good image parameter control (5 levels per option)
  • Histogram display in live view and play modes (not record review)
  • Good auto focus speed (less so in low light)
  • Good flash exposure, no color cast
  • Ultra compact, ultra light weight, the smallest lightest 3x 3mp so far
  • Very fast startup time
  • Good build quality, case a little too easy to scratch
  • LCD monitor has anti-reflective coating
  • Customizable record mode control (left / right on 4-way controller)
  • Shooting priority play mode
  • Voice recorder mode

Conclusion - Cons

  • Lens softness, especially at corners and bottom of frame
  • Some chromatic aberrations visible (although average for this size of camera)
  • Some vignetting / light fall off in right-hand corner of frame at maximum aperture
  • Power and shutter release buttons are in my opinion the wrong way around
  • Four way controller can be difficult to use, too easy to press 'SET'
  • No 'next shot buffer' means you must wait for image to be saved before taking next
  • Only 10 MB internal flash storage included
  • Limited night exposure capability (longest shutter 1 second)

Overall conclusion

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

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8
Features 7.5
Image quality 7.5
Lens / CCD combination 7.5
Ease of use 8
Value for money 8

The Optio S is a camera which has immediate 'consumer appeal'. By this I'm talking about its design, size and weight. The ultra-slim lightweight aluminium body and flat front and rear mean the Optio S truly is a carry anywhere camera that is so light you'll hardly notice you're carrying it. Operationally the Optio S is perfect for its job, startup is quick, as is auto focus and the camera feels responsive almost all the time. The only niggle here was the lack of buffering which means you must wait for the current image to be saved before taking the next.

The 'S' however wasn't without a few problems, we found the lens to be soft, especially in the corners and at the bottom of the frame. The lens also had some mild chromatic aberrations and vignetting. All told however the Optio S is a great responsive, carry anywhere camera with good image quality at a good price point.


So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, the answer is that everyone has different requirements. 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 other questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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