Pentax Optio Z10 Review
Review Date: November 19th 2007
Author: Mark Goldstein
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Ease of Use
The Pentax Optio Z10 is a compact, slim digital camera that fits into the palm of your hand, measuring 94(W) x 58 (H) x 25.5mm (D) and weighing 145g with the battery and SD memory card. This is a camera that you won't notice carrying in a trouser/shirt pocket or a handbag. It has a boxy, under-stated aluminium body that is fairly attractive, but which isn't going to really wow anyone either. There's a prominent sliding lens cover on the front of the Z10 which slides from right to left to reveal the lens. This is a non-extending model that has a protective clear cover in front of it, helping to keep things water and dust proof. A sticker on front of my review sample proudly proclaims that the Pentax Z10 has a 7x lens which is equivalent to 38-266 mm in 35mm format terms, a truly amazing feat of engineering in such a small camera. This is achieved by mounting the lens sideways inside the camera and using a prism to achieve the correct angle of view. It may not be the widest lens ever, but you'll soon learn to appreciate the telephoto focal lengths that the Z10 offers, which opens up all sorts of photographic possibilites and is a real improvement on the usual 3x zoom that you get in this class of camera.
The Pentax Optio Z10 is a point and shoot camera with no advanced exposure controls, so it's not particularly complex in terms of its design. There are 10 external controls in total. The large 2.5 inch LCD screen dominates the rear of the camera, with most of the controls situated to the right of the LCD, including a thumb-operated zoom lever. The camera is turned on and off by sliding the lens cover, and the shutter button is located on the top, battery and SD card slots on the bottom, and AV / DC In ports on the right-hand side. Pentax have also almost managed to locate the plastic tripod mount in the middle of the bottom of the camera.
The main menu system on the Pentax Optio Z10 is straight-forward to use and is accessed by pressing the Menu button below the navigation pad. There are two main menus, Rec Mode and Setting. The majority of the camera's main options, such as image size, sharpness, metering mode and ISO Speed, are accessed here, so the Rec Mode menu has 17 options spread over 3 screens. Due to the large LCD screen and restricting the number of on-screen choices to 6, the various options and icons are clear and legible.
|Rear Controls||Main Menu|
If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the comprehensive and easy-to-follow manual before you start is a must. Thankfully Pentax have chosen to supply it as a printed manual, rather than following the growing trend as a PDF on a CD. The large 2.5 inch LCD screen is the only way of framing your shots, so if you have to have an optical viewfinder, look elsewhere now. The various icons used to represent the camera settings are clear and legible, and the camera managed over 175 shots before the battery needed to be recharged, which isn't too bad.
The Pentax Optio Z10 has a digital anti-shake system called Digital SR, which works in both still and movie shooting modes. Choose this scene mode and the Pentax Optio Z10 automatically compensates for camera shake, which is a slight blurring of the image that typically occurs at slow shutter speeds. Unfortunately this isn't a mechanical-based system. Instead the camera just increases the ISO speed up to the maximum of ISO 3200, which allows for slower shutter speeds but also increases the noise levels. More experienced photographers will also already know how and when to manually change the ISO speed to help combat camera shake. The Digital SR is a good choice for beginners when shooting in low-light conditions, but be prepared for noisier images.
The Face Recognition feature offered by the Pentax Optio Z10 didn't make a great deal of difference if I'm being honest, as there's the tendency of the user to pre-focus on the subject – and obviously a face if taking a portrait – before fully pressing the shutter button anyway. Pentax have also only applied it to two specific scene modes (Portrait and Natural Skin Tone), rather than a general setting that applies to whichever shooting mode is currently selected, which rather limits its usefulness. Face recognition does work if the subjects are looking directly at the camera, but the Z10 takes a while to lock onto the subject, and I think that the tried and trusted method of half-pressing the shutter button to focus and then recomposing the shot is a quicker and more reliable method.
|Memory Card Slot||Battery Compartment|
The start-up time from turning the Pentax Optio Z10 on to being ready to take a photo is quite quick at around 2 seconds, and it takes 4 seconds to zoom from the widest focal length to the longest. Focusing is very quick in good light and the camera happily achieves focus most of the time indoors or in low-light situations, despite the lack of an AF assist lamp. The visibility and refresh rate of the 2.5 inch LCD screen are good. It takes about 0.5 second to store a JPEG image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card - there is no LCD blackout between each image. Note that there is a few seconds delay if you try and playback an image straight after taking it. In Continuous mode the camera takes 1.5 frames per second for up to 4 images at the highest JPEG image quality, which isn't particularly fast. There is a high-speed mode which gives 4fps, but the image resolution is reduced to 3 megapixels. Overall the Pentax Optio Z10 is fairly quick in terms of operational speed.
Once you have captured a photo, the Pentax Optio Z10 has an excellent range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails, and zoom in and out up to 8x magnification. You can view slideshows with audio and effects, set the print order, delete, protect, crop, rotate and resize an image. There are a range of different effects, including red-eye reduction, digital filters, frames and in-camera movie editing. There's also a new Image Recovery option which will rescue deleted images, just so long as you don't turn the camera off first. The OK button toggles detailed settings information about each picture on and off, such as the ISO rating and aperture / shutter speed, and there is a small histogram available during both shooting and playback. When taking a photo, pressing the OK button toggles between the detailed information, the histogram and no information.
In summary the Pentax Optio Z10 is an easy-to-use, fairly responsive and unassuming point and shoot camera with the obvious attraction of its very versatile 7x zoom lens.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Pentax Optio Z10 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.