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Pentax Optio SV

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      08.04.2005 17:54
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      I bought this camera rather impulsively only a couple of weeks ago at Schipol Airport (prices there are very good) and have not regretted my choice. For some time I had been wanting a true pocket-sized digital camera, although I shall continue to use my very effective but much bulkier Fuji FinePix also. I chose the Pentax Optio SV for its compact size, light weight and clear features. Its best feature is unquestionably its remarkably good optical zoom, always a prime decisive factor for me, partly because I enjoy photographing wildlife but also because it enables me to take many more pictures of people without them being aware, which always produces much more natural shots.

      For the same reason, I also prefer to use a camera as silently as possible and have therefore experimented with switching off the 'ping' sound via the menu. This can be done, certainly, but it is then difficult to tell the exact moment at which the picture (as opposed to the pre-picture) is taken, as there is virtually no sensation in the button press. Moreover, the pre-picture sound has since reasserted istelf, so I shall be experimenting more with this aspect.

      When considering which camera to buy, I compared this against the Sony nearest equivalent but chose the Pentax because, although its LCD screen is slightly smaller, it does still have a normal viewfinder also. I find this a really important feature for shooting in bright sunlight, when LCD screens can be nearly impossible to use. I would actually like to be able to use the camera with the LCD screen switched off, a function I have often found useful on my Fuji FinePix as it is a real contributor to economising on battery use. I have not so far been able to find a way of doing this with the Pentax, so if any other user knows how, do please say. Spinning out battery time can be really important when out for long periods without access to re-charging. On this occasion I therefore felt bound to buy a spare battery, at additional cost of course.

      In automatic mode, the Pentax copes much less well with shooting against the light than the Fuji. For example, two shots taken in late afternoon towards the sun came out only as completely black silhouettes. There is a manual feature to help with this, and it will clearly be necessary to use it. A review on another website (a less good website, of course, than dooyoo!) found slight blurring at the edges of what was termed a 'wide-angle' shot. Actually, the breadth of field in normal picture mode is not particularly wide, which I find a bit disappointing. The only alternative is to shoot in panoramic mode, taking a sequence of shots and joining them together, and there is a feature to assist with this. If the reviewer meant in zoom mode, then I have not found any problem with blurring, even at the fullest extent of magnification.

      I have not used the movie mode at all yet and actually wonder how many users find this function useful (it is available on the Fuji too) - is it perhaps a refinement that most users don't really need? Nor have I used the 3D Picture mode, a feature that is new to me, though I shall be interested to give it a go.

      One small point is that, as a right-handed person, I would actually find it much more convenient to have had the strap-loop on the left of the camera, not the right. Finally, I decided against the (real leather and not cheap) case designed for this camera since, when showing me it, the sales assistant found it really inconvenient to get the camera in and out of the case quickly. Anyway, the anonymity of the Samsonite case I bought instead may have some benefit in making it less obvious that what I reckon I have bought is a pretty desirable little camera! Well done, Pentax.

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