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Pentax Optio X70 Review

12 Megapixels12 MegapixelsUltra-Zoom: At least 10X optical zoom.Ultra-Zoom: At least 10X optical zoom.Electronic View FinderElectronic View FinderStabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.720p HD Video: 1280 x 720 resolution or more but less than 1920 x 1080.720p HD Video: 1280 x 720 resolution or more but less than 1920 x 1080.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringAccepts Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) and SD memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed reviewDiscontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.Discontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.

Usability - How easy is it to use?

The Pentax Optio X70 is quite easy to handle and just as easy to operate. Its body is well built and features a good hand-grip to hold it steady. It feels sturdy enough.

The main controls are easy to use with positive click points. The shutter-release is good with a noticeable halfway point used to focus the camera before taking a picture. The X70 has one command dial which is set on the camera's rear right under the thumb. This is the only control that feels sticky and slow to use. It is used for zooming in playback mode, making this operation very slow compared to similar cameras.

The tethered lens-cap easily stays with the camera. It falls off automatically when the X70 is powered on with it in place. Underneath the X70, a plastic tripod mount is placed at the camera's physical center. It is better for panoramas if the tripod mount is aligned with the lens' center but for other uses the physical center gives more balance.

The X70 is powered on by a simple button on top of the camera, behind the shutter-release. The zoom control is wrapped around the shutter. Zooming is quite fast but too sensitive for precise control over such a range. The top of the camera also holds the mode dial. The usual Auto, Program, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority, Manual and Movie mode are present. Additionally, there are modes for digital shake reduction, sports and user settings. User settings are saved from another mode using the Record menu.

The mode dial also has a Scene-Mode which puts all individual scene modes under one mode. The specific Scene-Mode is chosen by calling up the Mode button using the down direction of the 4-way controller.

Pentax Optio X70 Mode-Dial

Continuous drive always shoots at 5 megapixels. The high-speed setting captures up to 21 images at 11 FPS. The medium-speed one takes up to 7 images at 6.3 FPS and the low-speed one takes up to 7 images at 4 FPS.

The Pentax Optio X70 has two great usability features: memory settings and a customizable green-button. The memory settings allow to specify which setting the X70 remembers after being powered-off. This is excellent to avoid taking pictures with the wrong exposure, white-balance or ISO, after having changed those settings the day before. The green button allows quick access to up to four settings of the user's choosing.

As most ultra-zooms, this digital camera features a large rear LCD and a small EVF. The EVF has a good protruding position. However, it is quite coarse, making judging details and focus nearly impossible. The LCD is better with great visibility.

Another problem with the LCD is that the preview isn't always accurate. The LCD is not exposure-priority in Manual mode and not in Aperture-priority or Shutter-priority when parameters are out of range. This is really too bad as you do not see the effects of being beyond the camera's exposure range.

Pentax Optio X70 EVF

The camera has a button to switch between EVF and LCD which is separate from the display mode button. The display mode button cycles through the image-only, information, information plus histogram and alignment grid modes which does not show any other information.

Pentax Optio X70 Rear ControlsOn the camera's rear, a standard 4-way controller is used to navigate menus and as a short-cut to some camera functions. Those functions are: flash-mode, drive-mode, focus mode and scene-mode. Unlike similar cameras, exposure-compensation is controlled by a dedicated button behind the shutter-release.

While ISO and white-balance do not have dedicated buttons, the green button can be configured to invoke these settings. The menus are easy to navigate. This camera is shooting-priority, so a halfway press of the shutter brings it back to the set shooting mode. There is a playback button which toggles playback mode. The X70 cannot enter playback mode without extending its lens by holding the playback button.

ISO is selectable between 50 and 6400. Up to 1600, the camera can shoot at its maximum resolution of 12 megapixels. From 3200 onwards, the X70 limits itself to 5 megapixels which is normally enough for an 8"x10" print and for displaying full-screen on most computer displays. Because the usable ISO range depends on the photographic medium, it is great when a camera like the X70 allows the Auto ISO range to be selected. The minimum ISO is fixed at 50 with highlight-correction off and 100 with it on. The maximum ISO can be selected between 200, 400, 800 and 1600.

This ultra-zoom allows for -2 to +2 stops of exposure compensation and flash compensation, both in 1/3 stop increments. Exposure bracketing, which always takes 3 frames, can be set in increments from 1/3 to 2 EVs, in 1/3 stop increments.

Pentax Optio X70
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By on 2009/08/20
2

Pentax X70 Facts

Large digital camera
12 Megapixels Ultra ZoomISO 50-1600
24X Wide Optical ZoomShutter 1/4000-4s
Built-in StabilizationFull manual controls, including Manual Focus
0.20" Built-in EVF 200K PixelsCustom white-balance
1.2 FPS Drive, 6 ImagesSpot-Metering
1280x720 @ 30 FPS Video RecordingLithium-Ion Battery
2.7" LCD 230K PixelsSecure Digital High Capacity
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