Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pentax Optio S

Barely bigger than a business card, the diminutive Pentax Optio S was introduced back in 2003. I bought mine as a backup to my main digital camera and very quickly appreciated the high level design detail. Its shiny silver exterior has a surface composed of fine ribs radiating in a concentric pattern from the lens — a subtle, grippable surface that is surprisingly effective. In addition, a vertical capsule-shaped indentation on the back is a perfect thumb grip. A great little pocketable camera, it served me well on a vaction to England that Christmas as well as the following year as an ideal walk-around camera. It's tiny rear playback screen and meager three megapixel resolution very quickly became obsolete though — this was the era of rapidly advancing camera capabilities in the early "Oughts". Lately it seems like digital camera feature sets have plateaued, at least for now.

One of the few design flaws is the close proximity of the two buttons on the top surface — I sometimes got confused and ended up turning off the camera with the on/off button rather than taking a picture with the shutter release button. The shutter release button is actually bigger and falls more readily under your trigger finger than the tiny on/off button, so most of the time it worked as designed. A full, more technical review of this camera can be found here.

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