Pentax Optio W90 Review

May 14, 2010 | Gavin Stoker |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

Given ideal - bright, clear - conditions, the images the W90 delivers aren't bad at all; clean and crisp for the most part with subjects rendered sharply. Exposures are even and if purple fringing is visible between areas of high contrast when zooming in to check detail, the camera isn't the worst offender we've seen.

At maximum wide angle setting the camera holds sharpness well from edge to edge, with little evidence of barrel distortion, and colours are bright and vivid when left on default automatic settings, without ever straying into the realm of the unnatural.

As we found when testing the H90 snapper, shots taken handheld at maximum telephoto setting do however suffer from noticeable softness, even when there's plenty of light around. Like that model the W90 features only electronic, software based anti-shake methods, when mechanical or optical based mechanisms would arguably do the job better of maintaining sharpness at extremes.

The Digital Microscope setting is fun and works well, though it's a shame obviously that we lose some resolution when shooting in this mode, as it shows - as well as limiting how large said images can be reproduced and displayed.

In terms of low light performance, with a broad selectable range of ISO 80-6400 offered, the W90 displays a clean bill of health when shooting up to ISO 400, detail starting to soften at ISO 800. Even without enlarging portions of the image, at ISO 1600 the entire shot is soft, progressively worsening at ISO 3200 and results at ISO 6400 that appear as it the lens has been smeared with Vaseline - as gone too is detail. So here the compromise for a lack of distinctly gritty noise is a lack of detail too - 'helped' by the resolution drop to a maximum 5MP in the highest two settings.

Overall though, the W90 acquits itself better than expected. And whilst it's not the sharpest compact we've ever seen, it nevertheless delivers a consistent and so reliable performance in terms of image quality that puts it up there with Panasonic's rugged offerings and slightly betters that of recent Mju Toughs.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Pentax Optio W90. 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)


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 W90 handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review, with very limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)


The Pentax Optio W90 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 W90 are Flash-on, Flash-off, Red-eye reduction, Low-speed synchro, and Low-speed synchro + Red-eye. 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 (140mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (140mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, 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 W90's maximum shutter speed is 4 seconds, 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 (100% Crop)