Pentax Optio I-10 Review

March 6th, 2010 52 Comments   Posted in Digital Compact Cameras

Pentax Optio I-10

The Pentax Optio I-10 is the latest compact camera to come out from Pentax and stands out from the crowd not because of a higher than average megapixel count, or smile technology, but because it offers a retro design similar to Pentax’s Auto 110 film camera. But can the camera that takes its heritage from yesteryear perform today? We were able to take it for a quick spin for a First Look review.

As not to mislead, this First Look impression is based on a pre-production sample sent to us by Pentax. While the handling, form factor and general performance of the camera are finalised, the image processing elements are still being worked on we are told. On the two models (a white version and black version) sent to us, the video capture feature wasn’t working for example, and we noticed blips in the performance of the rear display.

Those caveats aside, that doesn’t stop us telling you about the design and the feel of the camera. It’s light in weight to hold (approx 140 grams with battery), while that retro feel certainly stands it apart from most of the compact cameras on the market today gunning for a compact, slim, feel.

The front of the I-10 boasts a large lens that offers a 5x F/3.5-5.9 optical zoom and further digital zoom qualities beyond that. In reality that gives you the equivalent of a 28-140mm in 35mm speak. The digital zoom (which we always recommend against using) offers a 6.25x zoom giving you a possible total 31.3x if you are willing to forgo image quality.

Above the lens is the flash (rather than to the side) and whether it’s down to the handgrip or the mottled pattern layered over the camera, Pentax has successfully carried off the look they were after. Old meets new has been finely balanced.

Around the back you get a 2.7-inch LCD screen sporting a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio that gives you plenty of scope for seeing what you are doing. There is no electronic or optical viewfinder; the raised flash housing might make you expect one, but whether you need it or not comes down to personal preference.

Unfortunately if you opt to shoot at the highest resolution (12 megapixels) you won’t be able to benefit from the screen’s 16:9 aspect, with “widescreen” shooting coming in at 9 megapixels. Shooting in 12 megapixels means a black box down the left hand side is automatically filled with data like battery life, what scene mode you are in, whether face detection or smile mode is on, and how many shots you’ve got left, leaving your camera shot free of clutter. In other shooting modes this information is overlaid, but we like the fact that Pentax didn’t choose to put black bars either side of the image, as is often the case, so it looks nice and tidy.

To the right of the screen is the usual array of quick link buttons, nothing unusual there, and the on/off switch, shutter and zoom controls are found on the right hand shoulder. The left hand shoulder sports a finger grip and the zoom ring sits around the shutter button. Usually you’ll find the zoom ring on a compact camera has a knurled grip on the front, here it doesn’t – it faces you rather than away from you, which takes some getting used to.

As with previous Pentax models, the “Green” auto shooting mode will automatically choose the best option for you and let you get on with snapping the pictures. Those that want some control can opt for the specific scene from 24 on offer and here they range from fireworks, to parties to pets. Opting for the pets mode for example allows you to register your pets into the camera so it can then detect their faces in future photographs and make sure they are in focus.

You also get CCD-shift Shake Reduction, which can be used on both stills and video. The video is capable of shooting HD 720p

As for connections, there isn’t HDMI or a dedicated TV out, although a USB cable in the box will allow you to output to a TV via NTSC or PAL. The battery and SD card slot can be found on the bottom. It’s a slide and lock mechanism that won’t give you any problems and should hold up to the test of time.

The menu’s are basic in their approach, easy to understand, however from a graphical point of view not as smooth and styled as some of the camera interfaces out there. Everything is easy to find and we had no problems with them.

Overall the camera was quick to respond with plenty of options to suit most compact camera users. We will hold further judgement on photo quality when we get a full working model, although have included some shots to give you an idea.

First Impressions

The Pentax I-10 looks to offer you the usual Pentax compact camera capabilities in a rather eye-catching retro design. People we showed it too thought that it looked “cute” and rather “fun”, however we also got questions as to whether it was a DSLR (due the styling) and if it was more powerful than a regular compact.

That perception, mainly inspired by companies like Olympus and Panasonic with the Micro Four Thirds cameras (such as the Pen E-P1 and Lumix GF1), might mislead some at first glance. This is, and Pentax makes no claims otherwise, a standard compact digital camera in a funky retro body.

Fujifilm FinePix HS10 Review

March 6th, 2010 264 Comments   Posted in Digital Compact Cameras

The Fujifilm FinePix HS10 is a DSLR-style camera with a massive 30x optical zoom lens and 10 megapixel CMOS sensor. Offering a focal range of 24-720mm, the Fujifilm HS10’s 30x lens has a twist-barrel manual zoom control and triple image stabilization to help reduce camera shake. The FinePix HS10’s Back Side Illuminated CMOS sensor offers a 200% increase in sensitivity over a conventional CMOS sensor. The HS10 also offers 10 frames-per-second high speed continuous shooting at maximum resolution, full HD movie mode (1080i) with stereo sound, a Super High Speed Movie function to freeze the action, 3” tilting up or down LCD screen and an electronic viewfinder. The Fujifilm FinePix HS10 will be available in March 2010 at a retail price of $499.95.

On a related note, Fujifilm have ruled out the possibility of any new DSLR cameras in the near future, although their medium-format system will be at this year’s PMA show in just over 2 weeks time.

Fujifilm Press Release

FUJIFILM UNVEILS ADVANCED NEW LONG ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA – THE FINEPIX HS10

Boasts 30x Optical Zoom Lens With Manual Zoom Mechanism, High-Speed Shooting and Full 1080p HD Movie Capture

Valhalla, NY, February 2, 2010 – FUJIFILM North America Corporation today announced its most impressive line of high speed, high performance D-SLR-styled digital cameras with the introduction of the Fujifilm FinePix HS10.  Serious photographers seeking the versatility and performance of a D-SLR system without the bulk or expense now have the perfect solution in the shape of the new Fujifilm FinePix HS10.  The latest addition to Fujifilm’s award-winning range of big zoom ‘bridge’ cameras offers an unprecedented feature set that combines a powerful Fujinon 30x (24-720mm equivalent) manual optical zoom lens with sophisticated photographic controls, advanced functionality and D-SLR-like handling in a single compact, affordable unit.

“Utilizing Back Side Illuminated CMOS sensor technology capture married to class-leading Fujinon optical design, the FinePix HS10’s unique mix of advanced technologies brings several new features designed to make achieving professional-looking pictures easier than ever to the FinePix range,” said David Troy, marketing manager, Consumer Digital Cameras, Electronic Imaging Division, FUJIFILM North America Corporation, “and all the while maintaining Fujifilm’s legendary image quality and low-light shooting performance.”

Powerful Lens
With a range that would require at least two or three bulky lenses on an SLR to capture the same zoom capabilities, the FinePix HS10’s built-in Fujinon 30x Wide-Telephoto zoom lens encompasses nearly every photographic requirement in a single compact unit. Furthermore, because the lens and body on the FinePix HS10 are built as a closed unit, it eliminates the possibility of dust on the image sensor.

The twist-barrel manual zoom control enables the photographer to make precision adjustments, and zooming is faster and more accurate than comparable powered zoom lenses in the same class of camera.

The class-leading Fujinon 30x optical zoom covers a uniquely versatile 24-720mm (equivalent on a 35mm camera) range from true wide-angle to ultra telephoto. From sweeping landscapes, interiors and large group shots to distant sports or wildlife action, the FinePix HS10 can handle nearly any photographic challenge. In addition to the impressive zoom capabilities, the Fujinon lens ensures optical quality across the entire range.  Fujinon lenses are acclaimed by photographers, broadcasters (as the world’s leading manufacturer of television camera lenses) and industrial users across the globe.  Fujinon lenses are also used in orbital satellites to capture high-resolution photos of the surface of the moon.

Triple Image Stabilization
Triple Image Stabilization combines a mechanically stabilized CMOS sensor with high ISO sensitivities and advanced multi-frame digital stabilization for total anti-blur protection.  Together these technologies reduce the blurring effect of both handshake and subject movement to provide sharp, clean and clear results even at the longest zoom settings or in the most challenging lighting conditions.

High Speed, High Definition
Capturing action with the FinePix HS10 is so easy it feels like cheating. Whether you’re shooting stills or movie clips, the FinePix HS10’s cutting-edge sensor and processing technologies open up a range of high speed capture modes and unique shooting possibilities.

While shooting sports action or wildlife, or simply trying to keep up with fast-moving children, the FinePix HS10 will give users an edge with up to 10 frames-per-second of high speed continuous shooting* at the maximum 10-MegaPixel setting. The FinePix HS10’s unique Best Frame Capture Mode means users don’t need the reactions of a pro sports photographer to get professional results either; in this mode the camera continuously records images from the moment the focus is activated, then saves up to seven shots captured before the shutter button is released.

The FinePix HS10 also features a full HD movie mode (1080i) with stereo sound, and the camera’s mini HDMI output allows users to easily display ultra clear high definition photographs and movies on high definition televisions. A new Super High Speed Movie function can freeze action and capture breathtaking movies at up to 1000 frames per second for amazing slow-motion movies that reveal the hidden world of events that normally occur in the blink of an eye.
*10 fps up to 7 shots

Advanced Modes, Limitless Expression
The FinePix HS10 boasts several unique features and modes designed to expand shooting possibilities and to take the work out of creating genuinely eye-catching images.
• Motion Panorama Mode
Captures an ultra-wide panoramic view in a single sweeping shot.  As the camera pans across the scene (left/right or up/down), the FinePix HS10 captures a series of shots in rapid succession.  The shots are then stitched in-camera to produce a seamless panorama.
• Motion Remover Mode
Remove moving subjects from your shots.  This mode captures 5 images of a scene in quick succession; the five images are then analyzed and combined in-camera to produce a single image** where anything moving in the scene is removed.
• Multi-Motion Capture Mode
Previously only possible with highly specialized equipment, this mode captures 5 images of a moving subject in rapid succession and combines them into a single composite image** containing multiple sharply-captured views of the subject motion.
• Multi-Frame Image Stabilization
Combines high and low ISO exposures of the scene being photographed to reduce blur caused by camera shake without significantly increasing image noise. The FinePix HS10 also sports the remarkable ‘Pro Low Light’ mode, first seen on the FinePix S200EXR and F70EXR, which combines several exposures into a single image for ultra-low noise output in low light.
** M or S resolution output image

Low Light Performance
Thanks to Fujifilm’s award-winning sensor and processing technologies FinePix cameras have become market leaders in low-light performance, setting the standard for high sensitivity, low noise results in the most challenging shooting conditions. The FinePix HS10’s BSI-CMOS sensor continues this tradition with an innovative new design that significantly increases the light gathering ability of every pixel, resulting in a 200% increase in sensitivity over a conventional CMOS sensor.  Combined with Fujifilm’s image processing expertise the new sensor produces stunning richly detailed low noise images, even when shooting in very low light.

The improved sensitivity isn’t just for taking noise-free photographs at night: it also allows the use of high shutter speeds in daylight required when shooting at telephoto end of the FinePix HS10’s 30x optical zoom, or when attempting to capture fast-moving subjects.  Photographers no longer need to worry about blurred pictures with such a long telephoto as they can rely on the FinePix HS10 to produce clear, sharp output even at higher ISO settings.

A True Photographer’s Camera
As well as a range of advanced automatic functions – including Fujifilm’s acclaimed SR Auto mode – and scene modes designed to produce perfect ‘point and shoot’ results, the FinePix HS10 sports a full complement of sophisticated manual and semi-automatic shooting modes and photographic controls.  The extensive external controls give the more advanced photographer direct access to virtually every control they will need for uninterrupted shooting, and the body includes dedicated command buttons for quick and easy key functions such as ISO, white balance, focus and metering.

The large command dial, manual focus ring, twist and zoom lens barrel, bright, clear electronic viewfinder, high quality tilting LCD screen and deep hand grip ensure the FinePix HS10 handles at least as well as a digital SLR, despite its compact dimensions.  AA batteries (ships with alkaline) provide excellent performance (up to 300 shots with Alkaline batteries) combined with the convenience of a universally available format when shooting for extended periods away from main power.

The FinePix HS10 also offers these additional features:
• 3.0” High-Contrast Tilting LCD and Electronic View Finder: The FinePix HS10 is fitted with a high contrast 230K-pixel 3.0” LCD and Electronic View Finder.  To improve user interaction with the camera, Fujifilm for the first time has included a clever sensor to the side of the EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) that automatically switches the picture between the EVF and the LCD screen when the eye is withdrawn.
• Face Detection and Automatic Red-eye Removal: To provide perfectly exposed and focused portrait shots, the FinePix HS10 is fitted with Fujifilm’s latest Face Detection technology which is able to track up to 10 faces simultaneously, at almost any angle to the camera.  The system instantly corrects red-eye and then saves both the original and the corrected image file automatically.
• Combined RAW/JPEG shooting: The FinePix HS10 has the ability to shoot both a RAW and JPEG shot simultaneously.  RAW is for ultimate quality shots via post processing, JPEG is for great quality with no need for further post-production work.

The FinePix HS10 will be available in March 2010

NOTE:  For complete camera specifications, please go to: http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/