Pentax Optio X90 Review

June 7, 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 3.5Mb.

We were shooting with the Pentax after a typically British mixture of sunshine and rain that had given rise to some particularly verdant natural hues. This, coupled with the X90's willingness to boost colour saturation anyway (common across its range) gave rise to striking colours that if we hadn't witnessed them in nature ourselves would have appeared quite unrealistic. Exposures are even however and metering is generally spot on, so require little adjustment post capture, which again suggests the camera is suitable for an amateur/family audience.

As our white wall test shots indicate, there is some barrel distortion at maximum 26mm equivalent wideangle setting on the X90, but this is kept fairly minimal and so unobtrusive. And, though shots taken handheld with the lens set at maximum telephoto occasionally lack critical sharpness, this is only to be expected given the much better than average reach. Pixel fringing is kept well under control - much better than on consumer-level DSLRs in fact. We also had very occasional white balance issues where there was a dominance of one particular colour in the frame - but this is easily adjusted.

In terms of light sensitivity, up to ISO 800 the X90's performance is pretty good, though detail is beginning to soften at ISO 800. At ISO 1600 images really are quite noisy, though as processing kicks in more conclusively at ISO 3200 this lessens; unfortunately at the expense of critical detail. At ISO 6400 pictures look distinctly painterly. Not a great showing in low light then; the best we can say is that's it's an adequate one.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Pentax Optio X90. 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 X90 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 X90 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 X90 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 (26mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (26mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (676mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (676mm)

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 X90'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 1.6 seconds at ISO 800.


Night (100% Crop)