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(Pocket-lint) - While most camera manufacturers are ploughing on with the neverending quest of creating the biggest most powerful digital camera in the world, Pentax has taken a different approach and produced an affordable 2.1 megapixel camera for under £300.

Shipping with a 16Mb CF Card, this compact and bijou camera, weighting in at a respectable 230g, is well styled and offers plenty to play with for both the camera fanatics and newcomers alike.

The camera has a 3x zoom lens which gives it an equivalent range of 38mm - 118mm in 35mm format and you can view your images through the manual viewfinder or fairly large LCD display on the rear of the camera. A sharp display with an auto-light correcting feature means the LCD works well in both light and dark conditions but Pentax’s attempts at introducing what could have been a fantastic idea seems to fall at the first hurdle. The display is attached to the camera via a hinge, which allows the display to rotate from left to right and designed to allow you to take a self portrait. If it however had been hinged to allow movement up and down it would have turned a 30second gimmick into the key facet of this machine.

Offering three different quality settings (Best, Better and Good) the Optio 230 allows you to set the pixel level (1600x1210, 1600x1200, 1024x768, 640x640, and 320x320). On the lowest setting the 16Mb CF card can store approximately 130 images while the highest gives you only two.

Those looking to capture video can do so, if not at a limited amount at a low resolution, but nonetheless it is useful feature to have if the need ever arises.

For the newcomers looking for one hit wonder gadgets, the camera comes with an option that although slightly confusing allows you to take 3D images that can be viewed with a special image viewer shipped with the product.

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To recap

In spite of the inevitable range changeover we were pleased enough by the 230’s performance to recommend shortlisting the replacement.

Writing by Stuart Miles.