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I bout this camera 8 years ago and when I went on holiday it was stolen. I was so gutted and when I came back to the UK I paid a little bit more to buy the same camera. I really like the variety of options the camera provides and the quality of photos you can take. People have commented on the quality of the photos I take and it's all down to the camera. You can choose the pixel level and so the amount of photos you can take can go up or down. The best place to take quality photos with this camera is outside. The photos are really easy to upload. There are however few downsides to this camera. Since owning the camera I have had to buy 3 different batteries to replace the previous one. I am not sure if this is the quality of the battery rather than the camera though. The other problem I am facing now is that when you are taking photos you will need to put quite a bit of pressure on the button. As I am used to the camera I know how much pressure to put and how to take photos, for anyone else taking a photo for me it may be tricky. Sometimes they think that they have taken the photo but the pressure put on the button was not enough. I would also advice that if you are not going to take a photo to turn the camera off otherwise you may run out of battery very quickly. Over all I still use this camera and I am happy with it.
As the old photographer's adage has it: "what's the best camera? It's the one you have with you" - meaning that there's no point in all the DSLR quality in the world if you leave it at home because you don't want to carry the bulk. The Pentax Optio S does not have that problem: it might not have been the very first camera which could reasonably have called itself an ultra-compact, but it was certainly among the earliest to be both a technical and a commercial success. Dating from 2003 as it does, it's naturally showing its age a little now, but it remains a good enough camera that I carry it with me frequently simply because of its size.
That smallness was remarkable on the camera's release, and remains impressive now. There are plenty of pictures around the web showing the Optio S fitting neatly inside an empty Altoids mints tin - never included as standard, sadly; it would have been a great advertising gimmick! - and it's also almost exactly the same size (depth apart) as a credit card, but a more formal measurement gives figures of 83 x 52 x 20 mm. It's very light as well: ready for use, complete with battery and memory card, the whole thing weighs just 115 grams; most other cameras weigh considerably more than that completely empty!
To deal with a few more practicalities: the Optio S accepts standard SD cards (though not SDHC), so there are no problems in that department. The battery is a tiny proprietary Li-ion model, with the designation D-LI8, which unavoidably suffers a bit from its capacity of just 710 mAh but which recharges in well under an hour. These batteries are still easily available: at the time of writing Amazon seller had them for £21.99, but as long as you exercise the usual eBay precautions you can pick one up there for less than a tenner. You might want a spare in any case, as it's not all that long lasting: 100 shots is good going.
When I first got my Optio S, I spent some time simply turning it on and off to watch the lens expand and retract. Pentax's sliding design allows the lens, when the camera is active, to protrude further than the actual depth of the camera, which is quite an impressive sight! Its motor is not the smoothest, and the barrel moves with a slightly irritating whine. It's a run-of-the-mill 3x optical zoom contraption, which has no hidden special features up its sleeve but with a few exceptions (see below) does its job competently enough. The tiny flash isn't too bad for its size, though it's hardly best in class, but the 1.6-inch LCD does seem smaller than that number indicates and requires some squinting in remotely bright light, especially when using the menu system, which if only the print were larger would be very clear indeed.
You'd think that a camera this small and of this vintage would be lacking in features, but in fact the reverse is the case. You don't, it's true, get the full manual control of aperture and shutter speed that you do in a few of its contemporaries, but this is a little more than a basic point-and-shooter. You get a live histogram, for a start, albeit only in monochrome. Sharpening, contrast and saturation can be set from the camera. There's a two-stage macro, spot metering, and an option to select which settings you want to keep at power-off: with this, you can even make the camera return to the same zoom it was on before! There's also manual focus, although the diminutive size of the camera means that this is even more of a fiddle on the Optio S than it is on most compact cameras.
There are downsides, naturally. Those tiny dimensions mean that the buttons are very small indeed, and this problem is worst when it comes to the four-way controller, which really should have been larger than the *one centimetre* diameter it actually boasts. The ISO range is disappointing, with a maximum setting of only 200; yes, higher values would be noisy, but sometimes that's better than getting no picture at all. And there are also a few utterly ridiculous features which add very little to the usefulness of the camera, foremost among them a "slimming filter" setting which does nothing but squishes the picture in from the sides!
Build quality is very good: unlike most cameras in its class, the Optio S is made from aluminium alloy rather than plastic. This does mark fairly easily - my camera has several small scratches and dents - but somehow it still retains its good looks. An exception to this praise is the battery/memory card door (annoyingly, if expectedly, the two are stored in the same compartment) which is held to the camera body by no more than a flimsy strip of flexible plastic. The buttons, although very small as already mentioned, are not too uncomfortable - with the exception of that four-way controller - unless you have huge hands, and they have a nice, definite action.
Finally, and most importantly, we come to the matter of photo quality. The Optio S does seem to me to have compromised on this somewhat to achieve its tiny size, although it has to be said that Pentax lenses of this era tended to be uninspiring and somewhat lacking in quality. Certainly, a Canon A75 - a much bulkier camera, but with the same resolution - produces better pictures. However, apart from a disappointing level of barrel distortion and a slight softness at the edges, the Pentax's pictures aren't too bad, with nice bright colour, and would certainly do for snapshots or web use.
I would only recommend you buy an Optio S if the smallness is something you would find attractive - but if you do, then go for it. It is not the best camera in its resolution class in terms of picture quality, and that whining lens motor can be a serious annoyance after a while, but there are very few other cameras of this age that are genuinely comfortable to carry around in a trouser pocket. As to price: naturally you will have to buy this second-hand, but a solid if not pristine example with a good battery and charger included should not set you back much more than £20.
(3.5 stars, really, but bumped up to four because the smallness and lightness really is impressive.)
**** Introduction ****
Looking back at some of my reviews you might think that I have a lot of camera's, well I do like my gadgets but I work in the photographic industry so it's usually me that gets saddled with the responsibility of buying camera's or at least giving advice to family members. This particular camera is a purchase for my teenage niece and the specification was small, easy to use, very durable, must look good and of course the most important feature as low in price as possible. So after having a look around I decided on the pentax optio s because it satisfied all of the measures above.
**** The Camera ****
The pentax optio s is not a brand new camera; in fact it has been on the market for nearly two years now. So if you are looking to buy one of these you will be more likely to have to buy one second hand, as I did in this case.
**** The Cost ****
On looking around on various auction sites you should expect to get this camera for between 30-70 pounds depending on overall condition and what accessories you will get with it. I payed just over 50 pounds for a full kit that even had the original box instructions and all the original accessories and was in excellent condition.
**** The specs ****
This may seem low for a camera when you consider that your average new product will usually have 5-6 mega pixels but this camera is second hand and about 2 years old now. The mega pixels are high enough to give you excellent quality prints up to 9x6 inches in size (I find most people usually order prints at 6x4 sizes) so this spec should be ample for your everyday user.
3x optic zoom (2x digital zoom)-
Once again a pretty standard powered zoom even for the latest models and very good on this camera, I would advise against using to much digital zoom as this will affect overall picture quality and you may be disappointed with the end results. The zoom action is motorized and smooth in action.
This in my opinion is the best feature of the camera, pentax manufacture not only lenses for their own cameras but make them for others as well. They probably produce some of the best performing lenses around today which deliver lifelike vibrant colors and are very durable in everyday use. The high performance lens is evident on this camera as it produces fantastic looking photographs.
This camera has a metal case which makes the product feel expensive and also offers better protection over its plastic counterparts. The buttons feel firm and even though this camera is very small the build quality is very robust and will survive even the roughest of handling.
This is a another main feature of this camera as it is very small in size(no larger than a credit card but about ten times thicker)making it ideal for someone who want to easily carry it around for everyday use. The camera is also very light weighing in a respectable 115g.
Dimensions-Width 8.3cm Depth 2cm Height 5.2cm
Due to the overall size of the camera the display on the back of the camera is very small (1.6 inch LCD display) but is ok when in everyday use. You may find that when it is very bright sunshine it is best to use the viewfinder as the older LCD displays are difficult to use in very bright sunshine.
Another great feature is that this camera has a rechargeable Li Ion battery which is about the same size as a small mobile phone battery and is very light. When you need to charge this you have to remove the battery from the camera and place it in the supplied charger. It will take about 40-60 mins to fully charge and I have had 130-150 shots of a full charge. If you are buying this second hand you will need to check what condition the battery is in as it will cost you about 20 pounds to replace one of these(I know because I bought a spare one for my niece to use as a back-up)
This camera comes with 3 ISO settings which are-
ISO 200- best for everyday use in bright light conditions
ISO 100-best for lower light conditions and inside photography
ISO 50-best for night time photography and really low light conditions (I found this setting fantastic for use outside at night with the flash)
This camera comes complete with 11mb's of internal memory which will allow you to take between 10-20 photos, but you will need to buy extra cards. This model uses SD cards which are some of the lowest priced cards you can get and you will find a large choice on the internet or your local retailer.
This isn't the most powerful flash you can get but is ample as long as your subject is no more than 2-3 metres away; you have the option of auto, no flash or red eye on the settings. I found it best to use the auto setting so that the camera will decide when it needs to use the flash. The red eye reduction setting is ok but I found that it will not always work hence the name reduction, it will only reduce the chance of red-eye not totally eliminate it.
There are several different settings on this camera like-
Sports mode-this is for fast action photos and will help to eliminate blurred photos
Panoramic mode-This will allow you to take two or more photo's of a landscape and join them together (I have used this feature and found with practice it works really well but not a feature I would use often)
Portrait mode- This will put the focus on the subject that you are taking a picture of and may cause the background to lose focus ideal if you need the subject matter to be sharp(wedding photo's or pictures of large groups of people)
Landscape mode- This will set the focus to infinity and is best used when taking pictures of landscapes (hence the name)
Macro mode-This is when you are shooting something very close up like a flower or other very small object. It sets the focus to a very short range.
User setting-This is where you can decide on what combination of settings to use and save then for future use (this is best used by the more advanced user)
3D mode-This is a bit of a gimmicky feature that is supposed to create 3d images when used in conjunction with the supplied 3d glasses (I didn't have any with my kit so I can't comment on how useful this feature is).As a guideline this feature has been dropped from later models so I guess it didn't go down that well.
Photo finishes-You can also choose between Black & White, Negative Art and Sepia finishes to your photographs and all of the setting work very well especially the sepia to make your photographs look old fashioned.
As with most recent digital cameras this model has movie mode with sound, this does work relatively well but is only useful if you don't have a camcorder to hand. The footage is good when viewed in a small window on your PC but does lose quality if viewed back on a TV.
The image quality is very good for a 3 mega pixel camera and the images are very crisp and natural looking, this camera will struggle to deliver images in really large sizes but will suffice for standard size photos. Its small size may cause a problem if you don't have very steady hands so bear this in mind when considering this model. Picture quality is good for all conditions and I especially liked the lower ISO setting foot use in low light and at night.
**** Summary ****
It's size, features and overall performance make this an ideal camera for a teenager or use as a back-up to slip in your pocket, because of it's age you will need to check the condition of the camera and battery before considering what is the best price to pay. There is still a lot of life in this model so if you see one available for less than 40 pounds consider it as a useful standby camera that is really portable and useful to have with you.
This review is listed on ciao under the user name phensh
This camera is so small and light weight. The case (doesnt come with it but can be bought for about £30) screws in the bottom and fits perfectly so that the camera is protected but doesnt become bulky!
This camera is excellent value for such a high quality and small sized camera. It is nice looking and the functions are clear, can spend a lot of time just flicking through!
The software is easy to use and has good editing techniques also.
I bought my Optio S about a month ago, upgrading from a tiny Sony Cybershot U. I've taken it on holiday and taken all kinds of pictures, from pretty landscapes to drunken-night-out close ups.
This camera really does suit my needs perfectly, and I imagine it would suit the needs of most other people too! The 3MP resolution is more than adequate for generating quality 6x4 images (I get my pics developed at Jessops - very convenient service) and the camera has works well in all kinds of conditions.
This camera pretty much addresses all the criticisms I had of my old Cybershot camera:
No zoom - this camera has a 3x optical zoom, which works great.
Short battery life - this one seems much better than the Sony, and my battery really takes a hammering as there always seem to be people who want to look at the pics on the display screen again and again afterwards.
Can't charge batteries without removing - this camera has an optional AC adaptor to charge the batteries whilst in the camera.
Small buttons aside, I really can't fault this camera. It's very simple and intuitive to use, it's a very smart design, and it gets just as many admiring glances as my old tiny Cybershot did! The camera uses an SD memeory card, and I've just upgraded to a 1Gb SD card - these are now quite widely available.
I have never used a digital camera before in my life but I decided I needed one to go with internet auctions and for my own general use. I was looking for something pretty basic and something not too expensive so I went and brought a Praktica DCZ 2.2S. For someone who has never used anything like this it's perfect for getting started with, the internal memory was pretty limited only allowing 30 pictures but that is what you would expect with the item I brought. The picture quality is very good, much better if you use a memory card and it comes with it's own software so you can use the camera for all sorts of tasks. It comes with a self timer, PC Cam mode, digital zoom, red eye reduction and TV out and is compatiable with microsoft windows 98SE, ME, 2000 and XP. I had a few teething problems when I first got started but I found their help line to be fantastic, calling me shortly after I left a message and the member of staff was able to help me with any problems I had and it was only technical stuff that I didn't understand, there was no problem with the camera. It cost me £99,I know there are more state of the art ones on the market but I wouldn't of spent much more on a camera to get started with and it is all so straight forward I can recommend it to any beginner.
I am not an expert by any means but I love this camera. I have put away my old BULKY digital for this LITTLE pentax that I keep in its new case (an Altoids tin! - yes it really is a good case!). I narrowed my choices down to the Optio S, the Casio Elixm E3 and the Canon ES400. I thought the Canon was a great camera that took great pictures but was a bit bulky and [costs] more. Just couldn't see spending that since I would not be printing out 8x10's that often (the 4 megapixel camera is better for these large pictures apparently, although the 3.2 should do just fine for the average person like me. I'm sure a photographer will notice the difference but I probably will not). The Casio was a good camera also but I didn't go with it because it uses a PENTAX lens and was a tiny bit bigger. So, why buy the Casio with a Pentax lens when I could buy the Pentax with the Pentax lens. What I don't like: 1. The biggest complaint I have is that you have to take the battery out to charge it. Plugging the adapter into the camera would have been a better choice. 2. The buttons for scroll through the menu are sooooo small...but a sacrafice I am willing to live with for the size of this camera. 3. The LCD screen could have been a bit bigger. The Casio has a great 2" LCD and it is a considerable difference. Again, willing to sacrafice for a good lens. 4. Movie mode is a pain to get to. You have to go through the menu to get there. 5. Software - it's horrible. Don't even install it. There are other products out on the market so go get one of those. Things I like: 1. Obviously the size. 2. Picture quality has been great. 3. Taking pictures at night or even in "total" darkness is very good. Compared to my old digital this is a great feature. 4. Lots of features that help even people like me take good pictures. 5. SD slot - This was another selling point over the Canon as I have
a computer with a built in SD reader and the Canon took a CF card. 6. Battery life has been incredible. I took over 150 pictures before I needed to recharge the battery and had this little guy on for almost 4 hours straight! 7. WOW factor - being a gadgeteer I always love it when peopl say "Wow, what is that!" I have owned this camera for 3 weeks now and while I have listed some shortcomings they are by no means any reason NOT to buy this camera. I am just pointing out these things because you should have as much info as you can when making your purchasing decision.
Have had Optio S for two weeks, taking both indoor and outdoor pics with a variety of settings. Picture quality at best resolution is stunning. Has some problems autofocusing in low light, but it has a manual focus. The Minolta Dimage Xi did not. Loaded with features found on larger digital cameras - see technical specs. Only complaint is the tiny multi-function toggle button. Easy to get wrong function - takes some getting used to. Battery life is about 2 hours with LCD display constantly on. Need spare battery for travel - currently hard to find as of April 2, 2003. If you are looking for a tiny camera, but loaded with features, and excellent picture quality, even up to 8x10 or possibly larger, this is your camera.