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(Pocket-lint) - The diminutive five megapixel Optio X features a swivel-body design that rotates 270-degrees, one section housing an excellent 3x optical zoom lens and flash unit while the meat of the camera is in the other, larger section, which includes the large 2-inch LCD, camera controls, battery and removable SD/MMC storage.

The all-metal body measures a diminutive 116.5x46.5x75mm and weighs only 145g - including the battery and memory card. The Optio X is nothing if not extremely pocketable. Pentax say the camera is aimed towards the female camera purchaser but its specification is, ahem, man enough for most ‘snapping’ tasks.

The zoom lens section accommodates a fast, F2.6-F4.8 lens with 35.6mm to 107mm (35mm equiv) focal range and is emphasised nicely with a black fascia. The other body section includes the colour LCD - the camera lacks an optical viewfinder - and contains all the controls. Plus, you get 14MB of built-in storage.

Controls are not immediately intuitive; it takes a while to get used the multi-function approach to control afforded by a tiny joystick that doubles as the four-way controller and access point to most shooting and set-up options: the tiny zoom control adjacent to the LCD is particularly fiddly to use.

The mini-joystick activates most options including a separate menu for no less than 15 subject programs; these include settings such as a Firework mode and a Pet setting along with the ‘usual’ modes such as Portrait and Night scene. A neat Panorama Assist mode is in there too and the camera is supplied with (excellent) ACDSee software to help stitch your panorama images together and/or organise your images on PC.

I don’t know what Pentax thinks of its prospective female Optio X purchasers, but three on/off buttons seems excessive. There’s one each for sound ‘voice memo’ recording, another for the 320x240-pixel, 15fps movie capture (clip length restricted only by the limit of the storage) and another for still-image capture, for which you have Best, Better and Good quality settings.

Picture quality is pretty good in terms of metering, but the Auto Focus (AF) suffers if the subject lacks contrast; there’s a degree of barrel distortion at the lens’s wide-end too. Captured detail is compromised somewhat by the camera’s processing, even in the top, ‘Best’ setting, some detail is lost to JPEG artifacts.


The Optio X is replete with shooting options: a very comprehensive package indeed. Picture quality is marred by over compression, even when shooting in its top quality mode, detail is JPEG'd away in shots such as landscape photos form example.

PictBridge direct-print capability, great build, superb metering, fast operation and comprehensive scene modes compensate for these somewhat. Overall, the Pentax Optio X is good rather than great.

Writing by Doug Harman. Originally published on 15 November 2004.