Pentax Optio E50 Digital Camera Review

The Pentax Optio E50 is an 8 megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom lens. This is a starter camera that comes in at the lower end in terms of

03/02/2009 - 14:18

Pentax Optio E50 FrontWhy Buy the Pentax Optio E50?

The two main attractions of the Optio E50 are likely to be ease of use and shutter delay times. It has a very basic set of functions and this helps to keep the camera very simple.

Image Quality

Pentax Optio E50 Outdoors 1 Pentax Optio E50 Outdoors 2
Outdoor 1 (Medium Zoom)
I had hoped that although this is one of the cheaper cameras picture quality would still be reasonable. The Optio E50 falls at the first hurdle. The photo is out of focus and there is far more detail lost on the boats than I am used to seeing. This suggests any photos where there is a lot of light and dark areas could be a problem.
Outdoor 2 (No Zoom)
This picture is a real struggle for the Optio E50. Noise is a serious issue and can be seen even on smaller prints. There is also a problem with darkness creeping into the corners of the shot. Focusing is well below average.

Pentax Optio E50 Outdoors 3 Pentax Optio E50 Buildings
Outdoor 3 (Maximum Zoom)
There is no point in me trying to pretend otherwise, this is a poor shot. Even taking the price of the camera into consideration you should be able to expect more from a photo taken in more or less optimum lighting conditions.
Outdoor 4 (Building)
This is the best effort so far, but even so the picture is below average. Sharpness is about what I would have expected before I had seen any of my other test shots, but the photo does become very soft towards the edges.
Pentax Optio E50 Outdoor Portrait Pentax Optio E50 Indoor Portrait
Outdoor Portrait
The Optio E50 has produced a dark photo. This has lead to some noise showing. Normally this is a relatively problem free photo.
Indoor Portrait with Flash
There is a green tinge to this photo. It is the first time in a long time a camera has not been able to focus sharply for this test.
Pentax Optio E50 Indoor Portrait Pentax Optio E50 Colours
Indoor Portrait without Flash
This is another poor effort. There is a lot of noise showing in the photo and the pink in the skin tones is too strong. 
The colours are o.k., but from time to time the Optio E50 has a problem. Noise and lack of sharpness are a far greater concern than any colour issues.
Pentax Optio E50 Macro  
Compared with my other test shots, this is probably the best one. The camera can only focus when it is 15cm away from the subject and my tests shot has been cropped for display.

ISO 400 and ISO 1600 - You do not need to push the ISO setting up to 400 before the photos start to suffer from noise. Noise levels are higher than I am used to seeing.

Overall - I am very disappointed. I was not expecting the Optio E50 to match up to some of the more expensive cameras, but picture quality is surprisingly poor.

Shutter Lag and Recycling Times - There is some good news when it comes to shutter lag. Here the camera did manage to outperform a number of more expensive digital cameras. A single photo took 0.24 seconds and five photos recorded 11.83 seconds. Even with flash the response times were very competitive with a single photo taking 0/36 seconds and five photos 13.2 seconds. Turning the camera on and taking the first picture did not match up to my shutter lag times. The time recorded for this test was 3.14 seconds.

Pentax Optio E50 TopStyle - This is quite a standard cheaper, digital camera. It has a plastic body and a raised area on the front to help you grip the camera when taking a photo. It is available in black and silver.

Dimensions -
96.5 x 60 x 27mm

Weight - 120g

Batteries - Two AA batteries are required to power the camera. Pentax estimates you should be able to take around 250 shots between charges. Based on past experience this could be very optimistic.

Memory Cards -
9.5mb of storage has been built into the camera. This is enough for about 5 photos. The Optio E50 is also compatible with SD and SDHC cards.

Ease of Use Rating -
Very good. With a limited set of features there are not too many places to get lost. I did find some of the writing in the menus small.

Pentax Optio E50 BackPoints I Like - Ease of use - shutter delay times

Where it Could Improve -
Picture quality

Alternatives -
Try taking a look at the Olympus FE-360. You get better picture quality and better build quality. The FE-360 is also small enough to fit into a pocket.

David Tyman's verdict -
Even when compared to other inexpensive digital cameras the Pentax Optio E50 is some way off in terms of quality. Yes it is cheap, but I'm not convinced it offers value for money.

David Tymon works with

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