Pentax Optio A10 Review

Ultra Compact

Picture
Pentax Optio A10 Ease of Use 9
Features 8
Movie Mode 8
Build Quality8
Colours 8
Photo Quality 7
Style 8
Lowlight 9
Macro 8
Value for Money 7
8 Megapixels
3x Zoom
2.5 inch LCD Screen
88.5 x 54.5 x 23mm
125g

Overview

The Pentax Optio A10 is an attractive pocket sized digital camera. It has eight megapixels and a standard three times optical zoom lens. Like other similar digital cameras it is basically a well made point and shoot model. Another noteworthy feature of the Optio A10 is image stabilisation.

This camera is likely to appeal to anyone who is looking for a slim model that is easy to use with a large number of megapixels.

Main Features

Megapixels:
Zoom:
LCD Screen:
Dimensions:
Weight:

8
3x
2.5 inches
88.5 x 54.5 x 23mm
125g

Macro:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Batteries:
Memory Cards:

6cm
No
No
Lithium-ion Rechargeable
SD

Image Quality

When I was checking the photos on the camera's LCD screen I must admit to having some major concerns about their quality. It came as a pleasant surprise to see the quality of the images on a computer screen. Therefore I would suggest not being overly alarmed if when you review your own photos on the LCD screen they do not look brilliant.

There are two points that are instantly noticeable when looking through the test photos produced by the Optio A10. The first is the depth of the colours and the second is that a number of the shots are darker than I would like to see.

All of the outdoor shots, plus the dedicated test for colour highlight just how vivid the colours are. They are especially prominent in the skies and foliage. I can see many people liking the striking colours while others could feel it is overdone. The darkness shows up in the second and third outdoor shots. As you move out towards the edges of each shot the darkness tends to increase. I am not really sure if there is a way you can really solve this problem. You can work with features such as white balance and contrast, but personally I feel this is a mark against the camera.

In terms of focusing the Optio A10 does quite well. I am left with the impression that the sharpening of each photo is slightly overdone. The camera appears to be at its best for focusing when you are using the zoom without fully extending it. When the zoom is not being used at all some of the photos I took tended to be on the soft side. This can be seen in the second outdoor shot.

The Optio A10 does quite a good job of handling glare from the sun and also brighter areas of photos too. This is illustrated by the first outdoor shot.

My favourite photos are the two portrait pictures. The outdoor shot has a natural feel to it. The indoor shot is very sharply focused considering the conditions. The Optio A10 also makes a very good fist of controlling red eye.

Another success is the other indoor shot. This is taken in almost complete darkness and the Optio A10 produces a well focused shot with a good level of brightness. As long as you keep your expectations to a reasonable level this camera should work well in lowlight situations.

The macro shot is about average. It is not the sharpest shot I have ever taken, but it is roughly in line with the standard I am used to.

Finally the shot taken at a higher ISO level is quite acceptable. It is perhaps a little darker than I would like to see, but the loss of quality in the shot at ISO 400 is certainly within acceptable bounds.

Looking back over my comments about picture quality I have a nagging feeling that I have been a bit harsh in places about the Optio A10. It does take a fairly decent photo, but I do wish lighting levels were a shade or two higher.

Shutter Lag and Recycling Times

I was able to take a single picture in 1.75 seconds and five photos in 18.35 seconds. Both these times are slow and the time taken to take a single photo is extremely slow.

You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.

Features

The 3x optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 37.5mm to 112.5mm in 35mm format. The lens aperture works in a range of f/2.8 to f5.4. There is also a 3x digital zoom function.

For composing images there is a 2.5" LCD screen. This is made up of around 232,000 pixels. There is no room for a viewfinder.

The built in flash unit has a maximum range of 5m. This falls to around 2.5m when the zoom lens is in use. The flash modes available to use are Auto, Flash-off, Flash-on, Auto + Red-eye reduction, Flash-on + Red-eye reduction, Auto backlight compensation.

There is a selection of scene modes. These are Night scene, Landscape, Flower, Portrait, Surf & Snow, Candle Light, Text, Food and Sport. When you use a scene mode the Optio A10 will attempt to use what it believes to be the optimum settings for the photo.

For focusing you can choose between 5 point AF, Spot AF, Tracking AF, Infinity Landscape, and Pan Focus. Manual focusing is also available. In macro mode the camera can focus from 12cm away from the subject. There is also a super macro mode allowing you to focus from 6cm.

For when you would like to appear in a photo there is a self timer. This can be set to a delay or either two or ten seconds. A histogram is also available. This can help you to check exposure levels.

More advanced features include three types of metering (Multi-segment, Center-weighted & Spot), ISO sensitivity (50, 100, 200, 400 (800 during Candle Mode)), Exposure Compensation - +/-2 EV (1/3 steps) and white balance (Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten Light, Fluorescent Light). Shutter speeds are set automatically by the camera. These work in the range of 1/2000 - 4 seconds.

There are also two types of continuous shooting standard and high speed. I cannot find any frames per second rates for these.

Movie footage can be recorded up to the capacity of the memory card. The maximum resolution for a movie is 640 x 480 pixels. The top speed is thirty frames per second. Although you can use zoom before you start recording a movie you cannot zoom in and out while recording is in progress. Sound can be captured.

Before taking a photo you can adjust the levels of sharpness, saturation and contrast. After a picture has been taken there are a number of effects and changes you can apply to it. These include making a small copy, trimming, adding colour filters (black and white, sepia, red, green, blue purple and yellow), adding a digital filter (includes stretch a photo, soft focus and pencil drawing), changing the brightness level, attempting to remove red eye and adding a voice memo. You can also create a black and white photo whilst picking out a single colour (red, blue, green).

Pentax supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the Optio A10 to a computer, PictBridge compatible printer and a television set.

The camera can also be used as a voice recorder.

Ease of Use

This is a pretty straightforward digital camera and it should not take you long to find your way around. Buttons on the back of the camera control most of the key settings and the menu system is easy to use when you need to dip into it.

Cost

You can pick up a Pentax Optio A10 for around £170. This compares to around £200 for a Sony DSC W100, £190 for a Casio Exilim EX-Z850 and £190 for an Olympus MJU 810.

Although the Optio A10 is cheaper than some other similar eight megapixel digital cameras I think it only offers average value for money.

Style

The camera has a straightforward and simple design. In many ways the camera is a fairly typical rectangular model. It is rounded at one end. I found the back of the camera to be very buy with buttons and it was difficult to find somewhere to put my thumb in order to get a good grip on the camera. This is definitely a camera for someone with small hands.

It has dimensions of 88.5 x 54.5 x 23mm and weighs 125g.

Batteries and Memory Cards

A rechargeable lithium ion battery (D-L18) is used to supply power to the camera. Both the battery and charger are supplied as standard. Pentax estimates you should be able to take around 150 photos before the battery needs to be recharged.

Pentax have built 24mb of storage into the Optio A10. I was able to take 18 shots before the memory was full. Therefore before you can do any serious photo taking you will need to pick up a high capacity memory card. The Optio A10 is compatible with SD cards.

Click here to save money on SD cards..

Points I like:

Easy to use
No red eye in test shot
Good build quality

Where it is not so hot:

Shutter lag
Little room on the back of the camera

Summary

I am struggling to come up with any really solid reasons for buying the Pentax Optio A10 over other digital cameras with a similar specification. It is not a bad camera or anything like that it is just in a competitive market a digital camera needs something to stand out and say buy me. Try as I might I cannot come up with that elusive reason to buy the Optio A10.

Pentax Optio A10 Front View Pentax Optio A10 Front View

Pentax Optio A10 Back View Pentax Optio A10 Back View

Pentax Optio A10 Top View Pentax Optio A10 Top View

Sample Menus

Pentax Optio A10 metering Pentax Optio A10 white balance

Pentax Optio A10 menu Pentax Optio A10 ISO

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Related Pages

Pentax Optio A10 Review Pentax Optio A10 Specification Pentax Optio A10 Sample Images Pentax Digital Cameras

Review Date

August 2006

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