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This little Pentax is a neat machine. No bigger than a box of cigarettes I think it punches well above its weight. And that’s the first thing you feel when you pick it up ... its weight. It feels solidly built and robust in its stainless steel casing. The only slightly tacky (and weaker-feeling) parts to it are the plastic covers for the battery and flash card compartments. It’s also packed with options. You can take individual pictures at three main resolutions (2048x1536 or 1024x768 or 640x480 pixels), three ‘degrees’ of ‘quality’ and three degrees of sharpness. The only thing is ... pictures at the highest setting come out as pretty big files, 1.5KB and more. But they are of very high quality. It has a 3x optical zoom backed up by a further 2x digital. And, as you are zooming you can see where it is at by a little scale in the monitor (which is well protected by a sheet of clear plastic). Unfortunately the optical viewfinder only shows what the mechanical zoom is doing. If you go on to digital zoom the optical finder stays static. In fact, I hardly use the optical viewfinder. I don’t know why they bother to have one. There’s also a night photography setting, a continuous setting (when it takes pictures for as long as you hold down the shutter release), an option for taking up to 30 seconds of video and an amusing ‘superimposition’ mode. I haven’t got the hang of this last one yet but it seems fun (if a bit gimmicky). The camera doesn’t come with a flash (memory) card so you have to buy one separately. I got a 64MB one which (so the handbook says) will hold up to 40 images at the highest setting. I don’t know if that is true, I’ve not yet reached its limit. The monitor screen can be set to several display modes - from showing everything (including a graph of the lightness/darkness of the image which doesn’t seem an awful
lot of use to me), to switched off completely. So ... what are the downsides of this neat little machine? The main one is the low-light auto focussing. This is pretty hopeless and I’ve taken a number of pictures in dim light which were way out of focus. So if you are taking a picture under these conditions, and you’re going to need flash, you’d best focus manually (yes, it’s an option, but not a very easy one to use). The flash also seems a bit irregular. I haven’t worked this one out yet, but sometimes the lighting seems to fall off quite dramatically around the edges of the picture. For some reason, when being used hard, the front right of the camera gets hot - not too hot to hold, but distinctly and slightly uncomfortably warm. Another minus point is the noise it makes when you switch it on, the lens extends and the lens cap retracts. Quiet it ain’t, and there’s no taking of surreptitious piccies with this (unless you have it switched on in advance). All in all, a great machine. It will fit easily in your pocket and can go with you everywhere. I’ve always used standard film cameras before but, although this digital camera isn't cheap, I'd recommend it highly.