|Home | Reviews | Q&A | Links | Gallery | Free Photo Hosting|
|Pentax Optio S30 - Digital Camera Review|
The camera offers very good value for money for a compact 3 megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom lens.
Pentax don't have anything to say about the Optio S30 on the Pentax.co.uk website, apart from the specifications. (This is where I would normally quote their introduction to the camera)
"3 Million pixel, Stylish aluminium body, 3x Optical zoom with Sliding Lens System, 18 Picture taking modes, PictBridge compatible"
You can find out full specifications of the Pentax Optio S30 on Pentax's website.
The Camera: It's
compact and made out of aluminium..
Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic, this camera is a bit smaller
than the 35mm Pentax.
Specifications / Features:
Full Specifications can be found on Pentax's site.
Average box contents - It's nice to see a decent printed manual, but rechargable batteries and a charger, case, and a much larger memory card would have been nice.
Menu Options / Modes and features: The main control is the 9 Position Mode Dial which is on top of the camera, the options are:- Auto (the green smiley face - in this mode, you can access the built in help system which gives you a guide to the camera), Portrait, Landscape, Night-Scene, Movie, Voice Recording (this lets you use the camera as a dictaphone), Digital Effect, Program, Picture
The camera has 10 Picture modes, available in the Picture mode:- Flower, Self-Portrait, Surf, Snow, Sunset, Museum, Text, Food, Landscape Portrait, Marine. Available in the Digital Effect mode: 2 in 1 and Panorama Assist functions, plus 8 Digital filters - Red, Green, Blue, B&W, Sepia, B&W+ Red or Green or Blue. You can also adjust sharpness, saturation and contrast in the photo menu.
Other features: White
Balance - Automatic, Manual or 4 selectable settings, Self timer, Continuous
shooting, Histogram display (available in playback and photo mode), Remote
Control (Optional), World time function.
Photo menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown below:
The options are: Image size, Quality, White Balance (includes custom white balance), Focusing area, AE Metering, Sensitivity (ISO), Digital Zoom, Instant Review, Memory, Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast, EV Compensation.
The Setup menu options are: Format, Sound, Date, World Time, Language, Screen setting, Brightness level, Video out, USB Connection, Auto power off, Fn setting, Reset.
Playback menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown below:
In playback mode the
options are: Protect, DPOF, Slideshow, Resize, Copy image/sound (from
internal memory to card or vice versa), Digital Filter (this lets you
apply some of the digital filters that are available in Photo mode, as
well as other filters), Quick zoom, quick delete.
Help menu / mode:
Pressing the ?/Fn button will bring up the built in help menu when on
the Auto setting (green face). You can choose which mode you want help
on - for example, you can see the help screen for the Auto mode, by
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures / and the following number of images will fit on the built in 11mb memory card: (an extra memory card is recommended)
You can't fit very many images on the provided 11mb built into the camera - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower quality settings. There is an good choice of image sizes, and compression options.
A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at least a 128mb or 256mb memory, or larger especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Pentax Optio S30:
128mb SD memory card
Speed, ease of use: The camera is easy to use, quick to switch on and quick to take photos, the controls on the back of the camera are easy to use. The screen updates are quick and smooth. The camera speed in use, seems quick when taking a photo, and shot to shot time is good. The camera is very compact, and very easily fits into pockets and despite it's small size, handling is good. The menus are easy to pick up and use - although could take a while to get used to due to the number of features this camera has. The different modes are easy to access (due to the top dial), and the menus seem quick.
Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, they are also labelled fairly well, although some could be a bit small for some people - and labelling could be a bit clearer. The Play button switches between Playback mode and Photo mode - I think this could be made a bit simpler or clearer - but once you are used to the button it is fine.
Battery usage: Battery life seems good - although high power rechargable batteries are highly recommended, as these will last much longer than Alkaline batteries, and are much better for you financially, as well as much better for the environment. They are also relatively cheap - for example, you can buy a set of 4 NiMh AA 2000mAh rechargable batteries and charger for only £12.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
LCD Display (Photo mode / Playback mode):
LCD display in photo mode: The screen is a decent resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate. The screen shows how many remaining photos you can take with the available memory, as well as current mode etc, the camera shows aperture / shutter speed when you half press the shutter and there is a live histogram.
Playback mode: The camera displays the information as shown above - you can choose how much information is displayed by pressing the display button. The camera will let you record an audio memo to go with the photo as well. Scrolling through the photos is quick. The zoom is fairly quick, and easy to use. Playback menu options are discussed above.
Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Full size (and medium size) versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!
Inside: The camera has quite a powerful flash, and copes fairly well with group photos. Red eye was noticable on some photos of people as is expected on nearly all compact point and shoot digital cameras. The camera produces rich well saturated colours and good skin colour, with good detail. Some of the images are slightly soft, and could do with sharpening. The camera did quite well focusing in low light.
Noise: Noise generally is a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. The camera has an Automatic mode and four ISO settings - ISO50, 100, 200 and 400 - I've taken the following pictures to demonstrate the amount of noise visible at the different settings.
ISO50 produces fairly smooth photos, ISO100 is slightly noisier. ISO200 shows a fairly acceptable amount of noise. ISO400 produces the most noise - and is probably best avoided.
Outside the camera had very good colour, they are accurate, well saturated colours with fairly low noise, I didn't notice jpeg artifacts in the images. Images are a tiny bit soft, could definitely do with a sharpen - or the sharpness setting increasing in camera. The Unisys building photo was taken as the same time with the HP Photosmart M307.
Zoom: This camera has a 3x Optical zoom and a built in 2.6x Digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below simply to show what these features do.
The digital zoom shows you on screen how much magnification you are using in the form of a bar. It is quite quick. When using the optical zoom, it's fairly quick, it has about 6 steps between wide and telephoto. The amount of optical zoom isn't displayed on screen numerically, the amount is only displayed using a bar. The digital zoom can be switched on and off. These clock tower photos were taken at the same time with the HP Photosmart M307.
Lens noise: The lens is not overly loud, but is not as quiet as some - I would say that the noise of the lens is average.
Other Image Quality issues: Chromatic Aberrations / Purple Fringing was only noticable in a small handful of photos.
Macro: When this camera is in macro mode, the lens is set to wide angle, and you can zoom in, you can also use the digital zoom - and you can use the flash. This camera can focus down to roughly 18cm in macro mode. You can also focus as close as roughly 6cm in the Super Macro mode - this sets the zoom at the telephoto setting.
The macro mode is okay - you can't get very close, and detail is a bit soft, however the super macro mode is excellent - the camera does a very good job of toning down the flash. Colour is very good when using the camera's flash.
Movie: 320x240 / 30fps with sound - you can use the digital zoom whilst recording a video, and you can zoom in using the optical zoom before you start recording. The movie is recorded as an .AVI file. Length is limited only by the size of the memory card.
The quality of the movie(s) is good, colour and focus are good - 320 x 240/30fps with sound is better than average.
Summary: You tend to expect a budget (<£100) digital camera to be basic and lacking in features - not so with the Pentax Optio S30 - a very compact 3 megapixel, 3x optical zoom digital camera with a good 1.6" colour screen, and an aluminium body. The camera generates good pictures, with rich saturated colour, and good skin tones. The camera can also record unlimited videos with sound at 30fps. For £99 (UK) / $179 (US Optio S40/4mp) this camera is excellent value for money, as a compact and stylish digital camera, with way more features than you would expect. If you want a compact, stylish, but fully featured digital camera that produces excellent 3 megapixel images on a budget, then the Pentax Optio S30 is highly recommended!
If you like the look of this camera, then take a look at the 4 megapixel version, the Pentax Optio S40 (£149 / $179), or the 5 megapixel version, the Pentax Optio S50 (£169 / $239). Or if you would prefer an even smaller version, take a look at the 4 megapixel Pentax Optio S4i, or the 5 megapixel Pentax Optio S5i (£233). Don't forget to buy an SD memory card to go with the camera: 128mb SD memory card - £11.99, 256mb SD memory card - £19.00, 512mb SD memory card - £33.99, 1gb (1000mb) SD memory card - £59.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Remember to have a look at the full size (and medium size) versions of these photos in the new gallery.