Pentax Optio M900 review

Daniel Bell reviews the Pentax Optio M900 with a 5x optical zoom and 12.1Mp sensor.

12/11/2010 - 14:16


Pentax Optio M900 front
Daniel Bell reviews the Pentax Optio M900.

The Pentax Optio M900 is designed to be easy to use, as well as being light-weight with advanced basic functions. It is available in black and burgundy red from around £99. The M900 has a 5x optical zoom, equivalent to 28 - 240mm in 35mm format and a 12Mp sensor. At this price range you may be considering a wide range of cameras such as the Samsung PL90 or the Nikon Coolpix S3000.

Pentax Optio M900: Features
  • Pentax 5x optical zoom lens 5.1 - 25.3mm f/3.5 - 5.9, (equ. to 28-140mm in 35mm format)
  • 12.1 Megapixel sensor
  • 2.7in TFT LCD screen
  • 2 - 1/2000 second shutter speed (dependent on mode)
  • ISO80 - 1600
  • Easy-to-use button interface
  • Face detection
  • Auto picture mode
  • Digital panorama mode
  • Movie mode
Pentax Optio M900 Key features: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Pentax Optio M900 battery compartment   Pentax Optio M900 front lens extended
The camera is powered by a rechargeable D-LI108 Lithium-ion battery.   There is a 5x optical zoom which is a 28 - 140mm 35mm equivalent.
Pentax Optio M900 back   Pentax Optio M900 top
On the rear there is a 2.7in TFT LCD screen.   The Pentax Optio M900 is just 23mm deep.

Pentax Optio M900: Handling
After switching on the camera it is ready within a couple of seconds to take pictures. Most of the controls for the camera are on the rear, where there are the typical buttons found on a compact, such as the zoom rocker, menu, playback and a d-pad with a central OK button. Also on the rear is the 2.7in TFT LCD screen which is easy to view in all conditions.

When changing the length of the lens, the zoom rocker is simple to control as is navigating through the cameras menu system. Overall, the camera looks and feels great and all users from beginners to advanced will enjoy using it.

Pentax Optio M900: Performance
Although the colours are well represented accurately by the M900 but the quality of the images leaves something to be desired when viewed at full size. The best images are produced at the wide-angle length but there is some detail missing. The performance does worsen at the telephoto length. Images produced are more suited to the web, such as Facebook and Flickr or as 6x4 prints.

Pentax Optio M900 Performance: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Pentax Optio M900 wide-angle   Pentax Optio M900 telephoto
Wide-angle.   Telephoto.

ISO and noise performance
Noise is handled extremely well at ISO80 and ISO100. There is increased noise at ISO200 and ISO400 but again the images produced are acceptable. Beyond this, at ISO800 and ISO1600, the images produced are poor and not ISO settings I'd recommend using.

Pentax Optio M900 Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Pentax Optio M900 ISO80
Pentax Optio M900 ISO80 Pentax Optio M900 ISO100 Pentax Optio M900 ISO200
ISO80 ISO100 ISO200
Pentax Optio M900 ISO400 Pentax Optio M900 ISO800 Pentax Optio M900 ISO1600
ISO400 ISO800 ISO1600

Under the incandescent lighting in our studio the white-balance performance whether using auto or the incandescent preset the performance is good. Under the fluorescent lights the images were both quite dark although performance was again similar using the auto or fluorecent preset. You can rely on the auto white-balance performance but may need to use a higher ISO in fluorescent lighting.

Pentax Optio M900 White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Pentax Optio M900 Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting   Pentax Optio M900 Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting.   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting.
Pentax Optio M900 Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting   Pentax Optio M900 Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting.   Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting.

Scene modes
There are a fair amount of scene modes available on the Pentax Optio M900 such as auto, p-mode, panorama, smile catch, sport, landscape, night landscape, portrait, self portrait, night portrait, museum, snow, sunset, fireworks, beach, party, foliage, kids & pets, copy, backlight and frame composite.

Below are some examples using the scene modes. The landscape mode increased the green and blue in the image slightly but not by much. The copy mode was quite impressive, the newspaper article is readable even on the thumbnail. The panoramic mode was easy to use but it is possible to see where the images have been joined.

Pentax Optio M900 scene modes: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Pentax Optio M900 landscape mode   Pentax Optio M900 text mode
Landscape mode.   Copy mode.
Pentax Optio M900 panoramic
Panoramic mode.

Pentax Optio M900: Verdict
Even though the M900 only costs around £99 it is fair to say that there are other cameras out there that can produce better images for this price. If you are looking for a camera to take with you when out with friends and like sharing images on social networking sites then the Pentax Optio M900 is worth your consideration.

Pentax Optio M900: Pros
Looks good
Noise performance at ISO80 and ISO100

Pentax Optio M900: Cons
Image quality at full size
Noise performance at ISO800 and ISO1600


Pentax Optio M900: Specification
Price £99
What comes in the box USB/AV cable, battery charger kit, Li-ion rechargeable battery, strap, software.
Lens Pentax 5x optical zoom lens 5.1 - 25.3mm f/3.5 - 5.9, (equ. to 28-140mm in 35mm format)
Resolution 12.1Mp
Max. Image size 4000 x 3000
Aspect ratio 4:3
LCD monitor 2.7in TFT, 230,000px
Focusing system

Contrast detection TTL Autofocus system

Focusing modes Multi-AF 3-point zone, Spot AF, Auto-tracking AF (anticipating moving subject)
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO80-1600
Metering system Multi-segment metering
Metering modes Auto Picture, Program, Auto-Panorama, Sport, Landscape, Night landscape, Self-portrait, Night portrait, Museum, Snow, Sunset, Fireworks, Beach, Party, Foliage, Kids&Pets, Copy, Backlight, Frame Composite, Audio, Video, Portrait
White-balance Automatic, Sunny, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Cloudy
Exposure compensation +/- 2EV (1/3EV steps)
Shutter speed range 2 - 1/1000 sec
Anti-shake mode Yes
Movie mode VGA (640x480 pixels) at 30 fps, QVGA (320x240 pixels) at 30 fps
Media type SD / SDHC
Interface USB and AV output
Power Rechargeable D-LI108 Lithium-ion battery
Size (wxhxd) 97.5 x 58.5 x 23mm
Weight (with battery) 133g

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