Pentax Optio RZ18 Review

3.5
December 12, 2011 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 2.5Mb.

The Pentax Optio RZ18 produces images of above average quality. It recorded noise-free images at ISO 80-100, but there's already some noise and slight colour desaturation at the relatively slow speed of ISO 200. ISO 400 and 800 show progressively more obvious noise and loss of colour, and the fastest full resolution setting of ISO 1600 is virtually unusable.

The Pentax Optio RZ18 handled chromatic aberrations well, with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure, although there's noticeable vignetting at 25mm. The night photograph was only adequate, with the maximum shutter speed of 4 seconds not really long enough for most after-dark shots. The Dynamic Range setting didn't have too much effect compared to a standard image.

Anti-shake works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. Macro performance is good, allowing you to focus as close as 4cm away from the subject. The images were a little soft straight out of the Pentax Optio RZ18 at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting.

Noise

There are 8 ISO settings available on the Pentax Optio RZ18. The resolution is automatically reduced to 5 megapixels for ISO 3200 and 6400. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Pentax Optio RZ18's 18x zoom lens offers a very versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:

25mm

450mm

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Pentax Optio RZ18 handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Pentax Optio RZ18 has a good Super Macro mode that allows you to focus on a subject that is 4cms away from the camera. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Pentax Optio RZ18 are Flash-on, Flash-off, Red-eye reduction, and Soft Flash. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (450mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (450mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. Both the Flash On or the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused a tiny amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Pentax Optio RZ18's maximum shutter speed is 4 seconds in the Night Scene mode, which is not very good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 2 seconds at ISO 800.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction

The Pentax Optio RZ18 has an CCD-based shake reduction mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length shake reduction Off (100% Crop) shake reduction On (100% Crop)
1/5th sec / 25mm
     
1/4th sec / 450mm

Dynamic Range

The Dynamic Range setting corrects for either highlights, shadows or both, expanding the detail in the image. The effect of turning both on is quite subtle, though, as shown in this example.

Off

On

Digital Panorama

The Digital Panorama scene mode create a single panoramic picture by automtically stitching together either two or three images. Unfortunately it doesn't stitch the edges together very seamlessly.

Panorama

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, review, 720p, 16 megapixel, travel-zoom, travel, pentax, 18x zoom, rz18, RZ18 review, Pentax RZ18 Review, Pentax Optio RZ18 Review

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