Pentax Optio RZ10 Review

November 5, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Pentax Optio RZ10 is a new travel-zoom compact digital camera sporting a wide-angle 10x zoom lens. Offering a versatile focal range of 28-280mm, the Pentax RZ10 also features a 14 megapixel sensor, Dual Shake Reduction system, 2.7 inch LCD screen, 720p HD movie recording, 1cm macro mode, range of digital filters and an Auto Picture Mode. Available in five different colours - black, white, purple, green, orange - the Pentax Optio RZ10 officially retails for £179.99 / $219.95.

Ease of Use

Looking at official press photographs, it's difficult to get an accurate impression of just how small the new Optio RZ10 from Pentax actually is. This is one of the smallest and lightest, if not the slimmest, cameras with a 10x zoom that we've reviewed, easily fitting in the palm of your hand and therefore inside a coat or even trouser pocket at a push. A rubberised, rounded grip to the front extends right around the rear of the camera, making gripping the RZ10 easy despite its diminutive size. Our two-tone white/black sample doesn't really flatter the RZ10, making it look a little bit like a toy - the all-black version looks much more professional and more like a premium product than its asking price would suggest.

The RZ10, much like the more contemporary styled H90 and quirky I-10 models from Pentax that we recently tested, is a point and shoot snapper pure and simple. The stand-out feature is the 10x wide optical zoom which offers a focal range of 28-280mm, making it well suited to everything from landscapes to close-up candids and even some sports. Even when set to 280mm, the lens doesn't extend too far from the front of the RZ10, looking to all intents and purposes like a "normal" camera. This helps to make it a great candid camera, as people assume that you're using just a standard point and shoot.

The lens isn't particularly fast at either the wide-angle setting with a maximum aperture of f/3.2, or the telephoto setting with a maximum aperture of f/5.9, but the CCD-shift shake reduction system provides compensation equivalent to 2.5 steps and helps to ensure that the majority of photos taken in good light are sharp. Plus there's a Dual option which boosts sensitivity up to an equivalent of ISO 6400, while the trade off is that resolution drops to five megapixels. Otherwise the ISO range extends from 80 to 6400, the resolution drop occurring automatically above ISO 1600. There's a small lozenge-shaped flash at the front-left of the RZ10, along with an activity LED, and to the right is the built-in microphone.

Also included are the latest must haves of 1280x720 pixels HD movies, along with stills recording to regular-issue SD/SDHC card or the new wireless capable Eye-Fi cards. The camera's intelligent/smart auto-style 'Auto Picture' technology is the default shooting mode setting. It sizes up potential subjects and automatically selects the most pertinent settings to deliver the (theoretically) best results. As such we found it did so reliably.

The shooting mode options are presented as unthreateningly cartoon-ish icons on screen. These are intuitively tabbed through with a thumb press of the four-way control pad on the backplate, selections instigated with a press of the centrally located 'OK' button. Smile Capture and Face Detection (now instantly recognising up to 32 faces in the frame) have their own joint access button on the camera back - denoted by a can't-miss-it smiley face icon.

Pentax Optio RZ10 Pentax Optio RZ10
Front Rear

A press of the on/off button on the camera's top plate, which has a rather misleading red dot in the middle that makes it look like a Movie Record button, and the RZ10 powers up speedily in just over a second. The rear screen briefly displays the Pentax logo before revealing the scene itself, while the lens extends from storage flush to the body to its slightly proud wide angle setting ready for the first shot.

The RZ10's top plate also houses the large and obvious shutter release button with just the right amount of 'give' to enable the user to accurately determine the halfway point for lining up a shot. This control is surrounded by a chunky lever for operating the zoom, the lip of which points backwards so falls neatly under the thumb, leaving the forefinger free to hover over the shutter release: convenience and comfort. Completing the top of the RZ10 is the speaker which is positioned in-line with the lens.

The zoom takes three seconds to cover the entirety of its 28-280mm equivalent range, and if used in playback mode doubles up as means of enlarging images to check detail or, if the lever is nudged in the opposite (wide) direction, displaying shots as a collection of thumbnails. Take a shot at maximum JPEG resolution and the writing time to the memory card is around two seconds, with the message "Data Being Recorded" annoyingly shown if you attempt to take another shot or use the menu system. The RZ10 has a headline-grabbing Burst Shooting mode of up to 40 images at a maximum speed of 9.1 images per second, but sadly this reduces the resolution to 5 megapixels.

In the absence of a viewfinder, all shot composition and review is obviously done via the RZ10's 2.7-inch 4:3 ratio LCD which has an adequate 230,000 dots. Overlaid icons reveal the selected shooting mode, a battery life indicator, flash mode, number of shots remaining, time and date, and if the user already has face detection/smile shutter modes selected, that option as well.

By changing the resolution/quality settings via the three-folder menu screen, there is the alternative option to shoot in 16:9 ratio or 1:1 ratio. As this is in effect a cropped image, the resolution drops from the full 14 megapixels to 10 megapixels. If you really want to squeeze as much as possible on the available memory, there's also a further 4:3 optio at 7 megapixels and a 16:9 option at 2 megapixels.

Pentax Optio RZ10 Pentax Optio RZ10
Front Top

To the right of the screen at the camera's rear is a control pad with central 'OK' button for effecting changes, top and tailed by two pairs of buttons. The top two are a dedicated playback button, and to its right the aforementioned Face/Smile Detection control to manually activate the function when shooting portraits.

Beneath this pairing is the main control pad, with designated functions accessible at each edge. At 12 o'clock we find the self-timer/drive mode control, to the right, at three o'clock, the macro/close up control (also where you'll find a manual focus option with adjustable slider from 0.8 metres to infinity), and at the bottom, at six o'clock, a 'mode' button in the absence of a possible alternative shooting dial/wheel control for the same. Press this and the user has access to 24 scene/shooting modes, with the option of the slightly more expansive Program as an alternative to Auto Picture.

This is also where the user selects video mode, in the absence of a dedicated record button for the movies feature. The other options selectable here include the usual run of pre-optimised settings for photographing night scenes, landscapes, pets and people as well as the Digital Wide - stitching together two images shot in the portrait format to provide one slightly wider 21mm equivalent landscape image than the lens itself will allow - plus panoramic modes as found on the Pentax H90 and W90, and already touched on in those reviews.

The final control on the pad - at nine o'clock - is for adjustment of the built-in flash. The user selectable options here include auto flash, flash off, forced flash, auto flash with red eye reduction, forced flash with red eye reduction and soft flash modes.

Keeping things simple still, below this pad the final two buttons on the backplate - and the RZ10 itself - are menu and green mode/delete button. A press of the former in either image capture or playback modes brings up three record folders. If in Auto Picture mode some settings (governing the likes of white balance, metering and exposure compensation) are automatically deselected, so switch to Program instead to access the full gamut. It's here that one can adjust movie resolution and quality levels - as well as that of stills - plus access a D-Range setting so the camera automatically corrects for shadows, for highlights - or for both. This isn't an automatic default feature; it has to be selected by the user.

Pentax Optio RZ10 Pentax Optio RZ10
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

In 'menu' mode, by tabbing to the right of the record folders there's access to three further setting (set up) folders. This is where you'll find the normal date and time settings plus a slider for adjusting the brightness of the LCD. More unusually, this is where a pixel mapping function is also to be found hiding, as a means of correcting defective pixels.

A press of the 'green' or easy mode button to the right of menu and the info display is immediately writ large for the myopic. Try pressing the menu button in this mode and all you'll have access to will be set up options rather than anything that could directly influence image capture. So the recording folders disappear entirely - meaning operation is point and shoot in its purest sense. In playback mode, as we've noted, this same button doubles up as a very useful delete key.

If the Pentax RZ10 truly is missing something it's that there's no HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) output at one flank for hooking the camera up directly to a flat panel TV - all there is, is a lug for attaching a wrist strap and a merely standard AV/USB out port, but then this is hardly a deal breaker. And you do also get compatibility with Eye-Fi cards should you want to transfer images wirelessly of course.

The camera bottom features a centrally-located screw thread for attaching a tripod, and the shared rechargeable lithium ion battery and card compartment for optional media. Media cards are easily inserted and removed and battery life is good for 250 pictures from a full charge. That's par for the course for the camera's class, though not exactly exceptional.

In terms of operation the Pentax Optio RZ10 gives a perfectly adequate performance, what controls and buttons there are falling quickly to hand. There's little here that feels compromised or sacrificed just to deliver a trendy design, and perhaps that is partly due to being based on an existing design that has worked previously for the company.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 14 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 2Mb.

The Pentax Optio RZ10 produces images of 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 RZ10 handled chromatic aberrations quite 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 28mm. 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 excellent, allowing you to focus as close as 1cm away from the subject. The images were a little soft straight out of the Pentax Optio RZ10 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.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Pentax Optio RZ10. 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 RZ10's 10x zoom lens offers a very versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:




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 RZ10 handled chromatic aberrations quite 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)


The Pentax Optio RZ10 has a fantastic Super Macro mode that allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm 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.


100% Crop


The flash settings on the Pentax Optio RZ10 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 (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (280mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (280mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. Neither the Flash On or the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Pentax Optio RZ10'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 4 seconds at ISO 80.


Night (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction

The Pentax Optio RZ10 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. As you can see, with shake reduction turned on, the images are sharper than with shake reduction turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length shake reduction Off (100% Crop) shake reduction On (100% Crop)
1/6th sec / 28mm
1/4th sec / 280mm

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.



Digital Filters

The Pentax RZ10 has a range of Digital Filters that can be applied to an image during playback to add creative visual effects.




Toy Camera




Extract Color


Color Emphasis

High Contrast







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.


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Pentax Optio RZ10 camera, which were all taken using the 14 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 14 second movie is 42.9Mb in size.

Product Images

Pentax Optio RZ10

Front of the Camera

Pentax Optio RZ10

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Pentax Optio RZ10

Isometric View

Pentax Optio RZ10

Isometric View

Pentax Optio RZ10

Rear of the Camera

Pentax Optio RZ10

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Pentax Optio RZ10

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Pentax Optio RZ10

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu


Pentax Optio RZ10

Rear of the Camera / Mode Menu

Pentax Optio RZ10
Top of the Camera
Pentax Optio RZ10
Bottom of the Camera
Pentax Optio RZ10
Side of the Camera
Pentax Optio RZ10
Side of the Camera
Pentax Optio RZ10
Front of the Camera
Pentax Optio RZ10
Front of the Camera
Pentax Optio RZ10
Memory Card Slot
Pentax Optio RZ10
Battery Compartment


The Optio RZ10 offers the same value for money as other recent Pentax compacts, combining the main attraction of a 10x zoom lens with a small and easy-to-use design. Sadly the below-par image quality and no-frills approach make the RZ10 hard to recommend.

The RZ10 is an inexpensive travel-zoom camera that fits inside a trouser pocket yet is versatile enough to cover everything from landscapes to up close and personal candids. As a cheaper alternative to mostly more full-featured rivals, it makes perfect sense for the point-and-shoot user who doesn't need the added complications. While it won't turn heads either with its looks or specification, the RZ10 is nothing if not refreshingly pared back to the essentials.

Unfortunately the RZ10's image quality is something of a let-down, particularly when shooting in anything less than perfect lighting conditions. The relatively slow ISO speed of 200 suffers from visible noise, smearing of fine detail and loss of colour saturation, with all three problems getting progressively worse as you work your way up the range to the true top speed of ISO 1600. If image quality is higher on your shopping list than features or price, then look away now.

Which leaves cost as the Pentax Optio RZ10's saving grace. A street price of around £170 / $200 is remarkably good value for a straightforward, well-proven travel-zoom camera that delivers most of what most people will actually need. It's just a shame about the pictures that it produces...

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Pentax Optio RZ10 from around the web. »

The 14-megapixel Pentax Optio RZ10 is part of an ever-less-exclusive club of compact cameras with long zoom ranges -- 10x in this case. Available for around £160, has it got what it takes to compete with the Canon PowerShot SX210 IS (14x), Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 (12x) and Fujifilm FinePix F300 EXR (15x), to name but three competitors?
Read the full review »


Camera Type Digital zoom compact camera
Type 1/2.33’’ CCD
Size 1/2.33’’
Effective Pixels Approx. 14 megapixels
Still 14M (4288x3216), 10M (16:9) (4224x2376), 10M (3216x3216), 7M (3072x2304), 2M (16:9) (1920x1080), 640 (640x480 pixels)
Movie HDTV (1280x720), 30/15fps
VGA (640x480), 30/15fps
QVGA (320x240), 30/15 fps? ?
Colour Depth 12 bits x 3 colours
Sensitivity Auto, Fixed (ISO 80 - 6400)
Shake Reduction CCD-shift Shake Reduction
Focal Length 5.0 ? 50.0mm f/3.2(W) - f/5.9(T), equ. to 28?280mm in 35mm
Digital Zoom
  • Optical zoom: 10x
  • Digital zoom: approx. 6.7x
  • Intelligent zoom: approx. 14x at 7M, approx. 67x at 640 (including optical zoom)
Construction PENTAX zoom lens, 9 elements in 6 groups (5 aspherical elements)
Focusing System
Type TTL Contrast detection Autofocus system
Functions 9-point Multi?AF, Spot AF, Auto?tracking AF (anticipating moving subject)
Focus Range (automatic) Normal : 0.4m ? infinity (at wide setting), 0.9m ? infinity (at tele setting)
Macro : 0.1m ? 0.5m (at wide setting), 0.3 m ? 0.5m (at medium magnification length)
Super macro : 0.01m ? 0.3m (at focal length of 7.3mm)

Infinity-landscape, Pan Focus, Manual Focus: available?
Type 2.7’’ (6.86mm) colour LCD, extra wide angle viewing
Resolution approx. 230k dots
Type Program controlled electronic auto exposure with electronic shutter with CCD
Speed 1/2000  - 1/4 sec.  4 sec at most. (Night Scene mode setting)
Exposure system
Metering Multi-segment metering, Centre-weighted metering, Spot metering
Exposure Modes Auto Picture, Program, Portrait, Night Scene Portrait, Night Scene, Movie, Landscape, Blue Sky, Sunset, Flower, Sport, Pet, Digital SR, Natural Skin Tone, Kids, Fireworks, Frame composite, Party, Food, Candlelight, Text, Surf & Snow, Digital Wide, Digital Panorama, Green
Compensation +/-2EV (1/3 EV steps)
Type Integrated auto flash control
Modes Flash-on and Flash-off modes
"Red-eye" reduction function employs a pre-discharge.  Soft flash
Effective Range Wide: approx. 0.2 ? 5.3m (ISO Auto)
Tele: approx. 0.9 ? 2.8m (ISO Auto)
Exposure Parameters
Modes One shot, Self-timer (2 or 10 sec)
Continuous shooting (1.0 fps)
Burst Shooting (L/M/H)
L: approx. 3.7fps for up to 14 frames at 5MP
M: approx. 6.3fps for up to 20 frames at 5MP
H: approx. 9.1fps for up to 40 frames at 5MP?
Face Recognition Face recognition AF&AE is available for all modes up to 32 faces, Smile Capture, Blink Detection
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Manual setting
Digital Filter B&W, Sepia, Toy camera, Retro, Colours, Extract colour, Colour Emphasis, High Contrast, Soft, Starburst, Brightness?
Recording Sound : Yes
Movie “Shake reduction” ? stabilized video
Duration : Depends on memory card capacity
Resolution : HDTV (1280x720), 30/15fps ; VGA (640x480) 30/15fps ; QVGA (320x240), 30/15 fps
Editing Video Editing
Digital Filter B&W, Sepia, Toy camera, Retro, Colours, Extract colour, Colour Emphasis, High Contrast, Soft, Starburst, Brightness?
Options Slideshow, Image Rotation, Small Face filter, Digital Filter, Frame composite, Movie Edit, Red-Eye compensation, Resize, Cropping, Image / Sound copy, Voice memo, Protect, DPOF, Face close-up playback, Startup image, Eye-Fi compatible?
Internal Approx. 82.7 MB
External Compatible with SD, SDHC, and Eye?Fi wireless memory cards
Special Features

World time :
75 cities, 28 time zones

Others :

Noise reduction if shutter speed exceeds 0.25 sec. Motion Blur reduction. Shake Reduction system.
EyeFi cards compatible


English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Greek, Russian, Thai, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese

Interface USB2.0 (Hi-Speed), PC/AV terminal (NTSC/PAL, mono), AC power input
Source Rechargeable D?LI92 Lithium?ion battery
Performance Approx. 260 shots* and 300 min** in play mode    * Recording capacity shows approximate number of shots recorded during CIPA-compliant testing. Actual performance may vary depending on operating conditions. ** According to the result of PENTAX in-house testing.
Height 61 mm
Width 97 mm
Depth 33 mm
Weight 157 g unloaded, 178 g loaded and ready?
PC Windows XP SP2, VistaTM and 7
Mac OS X 10.3.9 or above
Included Software Arcsoft Media Impression 2.0 pour PENTAX
Kit Content AV cable, USB cable, AC cable, Li-ion battery, battery charger, strap and software

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