The Pentax Optio S5z is an ultra compact digital camera. This type of camera is very small and slips easily into a pocket or small bag. You can take it anywhere ready for a quick photo opportunity. The Optio S5z is a five megapixel model with a three times optical zoom lens. This is a fairly standard set up for an ultra compact camera.
Operating the camera is straightforward and it is likely to appeal to the casual photography who takes photos for fun rather than a more serious photographer.
83 x 55 x 21.5mm
This is the first Pentax digital camera that I have reviewed and I was not sure what to expect. I shouldn't have worried as I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of images produced by the Optio S5z. If I had to pick one area that really impressed me it is the vibrant colours. They really do stand out giving skies a deep blue colour in particular.
The strength of the colours is especially noticeable in the outdoor scenic shots. There is a warm feel to the photos and the camera also makes a fair attempt at bringing out detail in the pictures. I also like the sharpness of the images.
The portrait photos both work very well. This proves that the Optio S5z is a good performer indoors as well as outside. Skin tones are good, there are no problems with red eye and detail in the darker areas of the hair is brought out well by the camera.
The indoor shot of bottles taken almost in complete darkness also comes out well. The flash is a touch heavy, but the camera manages to focus well despite the conditions.
Not surprisingly the dedicated test for colour produces a very pleasing result. The blue is a very deep colour indeed.
Finally the macro shot is one of the best that I have managed to produce. It is outsranding and you should be able to produce high quality close up and macro shots.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
Shutter lag is the time it takes to take each picture. A constant criticism of digital cameras is the delay in between clicking the shutter button, the picture being taken and also the camera being ready to take the next picture. From a pure shutter lag view the Optio S5z took a picture and recorded it in 0.22 seconds. This is a fast time.
In terms of recycling times I was able to take five pictures in the space of 21.88 seconds. That works out at a rate of 4.38 seconds per picture. I am not claiming that this is the most scientific tests, but it should give you an indication of the recycling speed of the camera. This is a slow time. My test is carried out indoors under standard conditions and it is possible that you would see better results outside.
Although the Optio S5z was able to take one shot and record it very quickly it has a slow recycling process. This will only be a problem if you are looking for a camera where you can take shots in quick succession.
The three times optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 35.6mm to 107mm in 35mm format. This is backed up by a four times digital zoom. For close up photography there is a macro mode that lets you get in as close as 18cms and a super macro mode that gets you in closer at 6cms.
For focusing you can select either automatic or manual focusing. There is also an infinity focusing setting. This can prove useful for landscape photography.
The built in flash unit has a range of 3.5m. This drops down to around 2m when the zoom lens is in use. The flash modes you can use are Auto flash, flash on, flash off and red-eye reduction.
For composing shots and accessing the menu there is a 2.5" LCD screen. The LCD screen carries a number of useful indicators such as battery level and memory space remaining. You can also display a histogram. There is no room for a viewfinder though.
There are a wide section of scene modes available. These are preset modes that help you take the best possible shot in a variety of different situations. All you need to do is select the most appropriate mode. The scene modes are Night Scene, Panorama Assist, Landscape, Flower, Portrait, Self-Portrait, Sunset, Food, Pet, Text, Sport and Surf & Snow.
As well as the scene modes there are a range of digital effects for you to try. These include postalization, soft, slim filter and comment space. There are also filters you can add for Black and White, Sepia, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink, Purple and Brightness. Levels of sharpness, saturation and contrast can be adjusted as well.
For when you would like to appear in the picture there is a self timer mechanism. This can be set to either a ten or two second delay. You can also add voice memos to still photos.
You can shoot short movies at a maximum resolution of 320x240. These can be shot at a maximum speed of thirty frames per second. The duration of each movie is only limited by the space available on the memory card. You can also shoot time lapse movies. These are typically taken to show a flower opening or clouds drifting across the sky. Continuous shooting of still images is available too.
Among the more advanced features are metering (TTL Multi segment, centre-weighted or spot), exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV in 1/3 EV steps), shutter speeds (1/2000 seconds to 4 seconds) and white balance (Automatic, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent(N/W/D), Manual).
Pentax supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the Optio S5z to a computer, television set and a PictBridge compatible printer.
Ease of Use
Pentax have clearly put a lot of thought into the design of the Optio S5z. All the key features such as flash and zoom are controlled by buttons on the back of the camera. There is a separate mode button that allows you to select automatic mode, movie mode or a particular scene mode easily. The remaining settings are all listing within the menu. Everything is in one list that you scroll through until you find the setting you wish to amend. This way it is easy to find the option you are looking for. The large 2.5" LCD screen makes it easy to read the menu options as well.
You can pick up a Pentax Optio S5z for around £210. This compares to around £220 for a Canon IXUS 50, £215 for a Nikon Coolpix S1 and £230 for a Sony DSC T33. This looks to be a very fair price to me.
This is a typical ultra compact digital camera. It is small and slim, with a typical rectangular shape. There is a small grip on the front to help you hold the camera steady on a shot. The Optio S5z weighs in at 105g and has dimensions of 83 x 55 x 21.5mm.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Power is supplied by a lithium ion battery. Pentax supplies a battery and charger with the Optio S5z. The only downside of lithium ion batteries is that spares tend to be expensive. Therefore always make sure the battery is fully charged before you set off to take any important shots.
The camera has 9.3mb of built in memory. This soon becomes full and I only managed to take five shots before I ran out of room. This is an area where Pentax could do better. You will therefore need to buy a high capacity card to go with the camera. Click here to save money on SD cards.
Points I like:
Ease of use
Where it is not so hot:
Struggles to take more than two shots in quick succession
Limited internal memory
I have been looking for a really good ultra compact digital camera for quite a while. With the Pentax Optio S5z I have finally found it. It all comes down to picture quality and this camera produced a great set of shots. This camera is also easy to use and it is hard to find any real faults with it.
Pentax Optio S5z Front View
Pentax OPTIO S5Z Back View
Pentax OPTIO S5Z Top View
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