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Pentax Optio S1 Digital Camera Review

Pentax product manager, Steve Sanderson treated us to a glimpse of their new slim and stylish compact digital camera, the S1.

| Pentax Optio S1 in Compact Cameras
Pentax Optio S1 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio S1 Mini, Chrome, Black

Ever since the Optio S, Pentax have carved themselves a niche making incredibly slim compact digital cameras with a metal chassis that have a strong style element to them. When it was first introduced, the three megapixel Optio S was incredibly popular due to its diminutive dimensions and excellent build and optical quality.

Times have changed since then, and many manufacturers now offer slim, stylish compacts of a similar ilk. So how does this Optio S1 from Pentax set itself apart from the pack?

Pentax Optio S1 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio S1 Chrome
Pentax Optio S1 Chrome Off.

Starting with the design, the S1 is only 20mm thick and the lightweight aluminium shell has a stylish mirror-like finish to it, which is available in black, chrome and aquamarine green finishes. To finish things off nicely, a colour accent has been added around the lens barrel. The black version we saw has a metallic red coating around each section of the lens barrel, which becomes visible when the camera is switched on. The body feels quite sturdy, despite it's light weight and all the controls are well laid out, making it easy to handle despite the camera's small size.

Pentax Optio S1 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio S1 Chrome 5x stabilised zoom lens
Pentax Optio S1 Chrome On - 5x stabilised zoom lens.

The lens itself covers a 5x zoom range, starting at a 28mm equivalent wide angle, which should be useful for group shots in tight spaces, or for getting all of the Eiffel Tower in shot without having to run back to Boulogne. A mechanical stabiliser should iron out shakiness in low light conditions too. High sensitivities up to ISO6400 are also provided, which should make this camera ideally for those who take most of their snaps at night after imbibing a few beverages.

High definition video can be recorded at 720p resolution and 30 frames per second in 16:9 format, suitable for viewing back on your fancy wide-screen television. The 2.7inch TFT LCD screen on the rear is also suitable for playback on the move. The 14 megapixel CCD sensor should be capable of recording plenty of detail, suitable even for large print sizes.

Pentax Optio S1 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio S1 Chrome Top
Pentax Optio S1 Chrome Top

The usual range of detections are provided to make snap-shooting easier. The face detection system is an updated version which also works out exposure based on any faces detected in the frame and a Smile Capture and Blink Detection features should mean the end of images where your visiting Uncle looks like he's swallowed a wasp.

Pentax Optio S1 Digital Camera Review: Pentax Optio S1 Back
The 2.7inch LCD screen fills much of the rear of this diminutive camera.

Those who wish for a little more creativity are catered for by nine creative imaging filters, which alter the look of your images in differing ways. Presets include a toy camera mode for Lomography fans and a miniature filter which provides a similar effect to tilt-shift photography.

Power is provided by a compact Li-Ion battery, which is charged inside the camera via the supplied cable from the mains, or from a powered USB 2.0 socket, much like many mobile phones do these days. This is good or those on the move, as it means a separate charger doesn't need to be packed for your journey. As SDXC cards are supported, this camera supports huge capacity cards, which may alleviate the need to carry spares.

This camera is expected to be available in the shops by the end of March 2011 with an RRP of only £119. For more photos of the Pentax Optio S1, have a look at our Focus on Imaging 2011 photos.

Pentax Optio S1: Specification
Price £119
What comes in the box AV cable, USB cable, Li-ion battery, power adapter, strap and software
Lens 5x optical zoom, 5-25mm (35mm equivalent: 28-140mm), f/3.9-5.7
Resolution 14Mp
Sensor size 1/2.3in
Sensor type CCD
Monitor 2.7’in (6.86cm) colour LCD, extra wide angle viewing with AR coating
Shutter speed 1/6000  - 1/4 sec.  4 sec max. (Night Scene mode)
Focusing system TTL Contrast detection Autofocus system
Focusing modes 9-point Multi‐AF, Spot AF, Auto‐tracking AF (anticipating moving subject)
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO64 - 6400
Metering modes Multi-segment metering, Centre-weighted metering, Spot metering
Exposure compensation -2EV to +2EV (in 1/3EV steps)
Image stabilisation CCD-shift Shake Reduction
Movie mode HDTV 720p (1280x720), VGA (640x480), QVGA (320x240) at 30 or 15 fps
Media type SD/SDHC/SDXC
Interface USB
Power Rechargeable D‐LI78 Lithium‐ion battery
Size 90 x 54 x 20mm
Weight 126g including batteries

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Photographs taken using the Pentax Pentax Optio S1

Fishing GearHeart of BricksThe Harbour, Lyme RegisWheels as WeightsIn ConversationThe Cobb, Lyme RegisBeach CombingSeaweedFerguson T35Old DoorsNant FfranconShackle and SeaweedChurch on the  Ickworth House estateEl Puertito, TenerifeSub-tropical Garden

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johnriley1uk Avatar
3 Mar 2011 2:32PM
Pentax seem to be firing on all cylinders with their compacts, with more to come yet in the form of new crushproof/waterproof models.

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