Pentax OptioX

The 5-megapixel Pentax OptioX’s split body (with the lens on one side, and the LCD on the other) swivels around like a Rubik’s Cube. It’s a novel design, but its picture quality is only average.

The twistable LCD is sharp and easy to read. It’s also handy for self-portraits and for shooting at odd angles. There’s no optical viewfinder. Menus are easy to navigate, but the controller is an awkward thumbstick. But there are some nice features; in addition to a live histogram, you’ll find over- and under-exposure warnings (rarely found on cameras in this class) to help you gauge exposure.

The OptioX offers 15 shooting modes, including a Panorama mode and three (three!) modes for shooting pets. Manual controls include manual focus (though it’s tough to control with the thumbstick), exposure compensation (quickly adjusted directly with the thumbstick; there’s no hunting through menus), white balance (including custom white balance), and ISO (80, 160, or 320). The lens can focus to 2.4 inches in Super Macro mode. There’s a continuous mode, but it’s too slow to be useful.

The OptioX’s movie mode maxes out at 320-by-240 pixels at 15fps, but you can record continuously until your memory is full. The resulting video is dark and grainy, and the audio is weak and muffled. There’s a time-lapse feature for the movie mode, as well as an interval timer for snapshots that lets you take pictures at intervals from 10 seconds to 99 minutes.

Jury Tests

Color Quality—Accuracy Good
Clarity—Detail Good
Clarity—Artifacts, Noise Flawed

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable

We rated color and detail as Good, but images were dark and murky, with lots of noise. We also noticed significant barrel distortion.

The OptioX supports SD cards and has 14MB of built-in memory. You’ll need the included cradle for recharging the battery and transferring pictures to your computer. Pentax gets bonus points for providing a thorough, compact, 178-page printed manual (all in English) that you can toss in your camera bag.

Specifications

Resolution 5.0 megapixels
Zoom/ Focal Length 3.0x Optical (36 to 107mm)
Maximum Aperture f2.6-f4.8
Size (wxhxd) 4.4inches x 2.1 inches x 0.7 inches
Weight 4.4 ounces

Macworld’s Buying Advice

The split body is unique, but as much as we like the OptioX, the pictures just don’t measure up. You can find other 6-megapixel cameras that take better pictures for about the same price.

Pentax OptioX

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