Pentax Optio S10 Digital Camera Review

The Pentax Optio S10 is very small and neat. But is it just enough to give your kids a treat? Matt Grayson wipes the ring of chocolate from round his

05/11/2007 - 14:22

What happens when you fit a large sensor into a small metal body with a 3x optical zoom, Auto focus and Auto exposure face priority? The Optio S10, that's what.

Pentax Optio S10 Pentax Optio S10 Specification

  • Resolution: 10Mp
  • Screen: 2.5in TFT LCD
  • Lens: 3x optical zoom (38-114mm)
  • Focusing: 5-point AF, Spot AF, Tracking AF
  • Metering: Centre weighted TTL, Multi-segment, Spot
  • Storage: 22Mb internal/SD/SDHC
  • Movie: Yes
  • Interface: USB 2.0
  • Size/weight: 54x87x20.5mm/130g

The Pentax Optio S10 has 10Mp, 3x optical zoom and 2.5in screen. Similar models are the Olympus FE-300 at £189 with a higher 12Mp resolution, same 3x optical zoom and 2.5in screen or in terms of size, the Nikon Coolpix S51c at £199 with 8Mp, 3x optical zoom and 3in screen.

Pentax Optio S10 Modes and features
Sat down quite low on the front of the camera is the SMC 3x optical zoom lens with a plate of metal adorning the front of the camera with small ridges like those pictures that change when tilted in the light.

The top of the camera has the power button which in itself has a small light that shines merrily when the camera is powered on. The shutter release accompanies the power button. The back of the camera accommodates the 2.5in screen which is shoved over to the left side of the camera.

The zoom iPentax Optio S10s a simple rocker system and is big enough to operate, but not too big to get in the way of other operations. The Playback button is situated above the navigation pad which doubles up to give access to the Self timer, Flash, Macro and the Modes.

The Modes are the typical offerings. Auto and Program which is the same as Auto but will give more options available in the Menu, prioritise the options. Following is Nightshot, Movie, Voice recording, Landscape, Flowers, Natural skin tone, Kids, Digital shake reduction, Sport, Pets, Text, Food and the lovely Frame composite.

I am amused to see Pentax have decided that Movie, Voice recording and Digital Shake reduction are Modes as opposed to features, but it does bulk out the Modes. Saying that, there is a noticeable absence of Modes like Beach & snow, Sunset and the fabled Fireworks mode.

The Menu system has two main tabs for Recording options and Set up. The Recording tab allows changes to the Resolution, Quality, White balance, AF settings, Metering, ISO ratings, Exposure compensation, Movie menu, Digital zoom, Instant review, Memory menu, Green button options, Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast and the Date imprint feature.

The Set up menu can Format the card, has a link to the Sound options, Date adjusting, World time, Language, Folder name options, USB connections, Video output, Screen brightness level, Power save options, Quick zoom, Auto power off, Guide display to get rid of those instructions on what modes do what and Reset all.

Something that Pentax seem to be doing recently is putting other menus into the main two tabs so, for instance, the Sound and Movie menus are within the two main menu tabs and don't have ones of their own which is certainly unusual. I can only think that it is in an attempt to simplify things, but at the same time it is quite confusing.

Pentax Optio S10 Pentax Optio S10 Build and handling
The Pentax Optio S10 has an SMC lens fitted to it for better optics and also has a metal casing. The S from this range of cameras stands for silent although the flute chime when switching on is quite loud and the autofocus confirmation beep is also loud. The click when taking a picture has also been distinctly softened. All the special effects noises can be muted in the menu and this is the same for any camera, so it all boils down to mechanics and the zoom is only a little quieter than other models.

The Battery door is on the side of the camera and feels sturdy, but is quite long stretching nearly the entire height of the camera and this weakens it somewhat as the longer door can get snapped back easier.

Pentax Optio S10 Flash options
Six fabulous options are available in the Flash mode consisting of Auto, Flash off, Flash on, Red-eye auto, Red-eye on, and Soft flash. It is great to see all the modes in one place as, recently, other cameras have had red-eye options in the main menu.

Pentax Optio S10 Performance
In the 10 second test, the Pentax Optio S10 managed a total of eight images taken but then took Pentax Optio S10 an extra 20 seconds on top of that to download them all. Shutter lag is 0.008 according to our test which is a decent response time.

The colourchart image shows primaries boosted and the tones have good range. To be overly critical, I would say the skin tone is not perfect, but acceptable.

The Portrait mode springs up three separate options for taking Portraits. Natural skin tone, Portrait or Half length can be chosen from. The Natural skin tone image has lightened the image compared to the Portrait mode and both these have a warmer result compared to the Program mode.

One of the features of the S10 is a manual focus capability. It is interesting to see that the exposure also changes when the focus is adjusted. Note when the background is out of focus how blocky the tree line also becomes because of light bleeding over from the sky.

The canal image was taken in the morning at around 0845 so the sun was low and facing the camera. Lens flare is evident because of this. One benefit is the contrast of the building edge and the sky illustrates the fringing and shows as a green strip.

The same shot but in Program mode with Spot metering from the gate of the lock results in a punchier ground and lock area and more detail in the sky, too. Because of the sky darkening, the fringing is not as apparent on the roof of the building. The winch is under exposed because it is a darker part of the shot.

Pentax Optio S10
The colourchart shows a boost in the primaries and a good balance of the tones. The skin tone is a shade on the red side, but that is to help with portraiture.

Pentax Optio S10
The Macro mode has a close focus of 12cm and Super macro can get down to 6cm. By no means innovative.

Pentax Optio S10
The skin is lightened slightly to neutralise any contrast and texture.

Pentax Optio S10
Warmer colours are boosted slightly in the portrait mode.

Pentax Optio S10
Program mode still gives pleasing results though.


Pentax Optio S10
The focus is adjusted using the navigation pad.

Pentax Optio S10
The colour has changed on the image despite being taken a few seconds after.

Pentax Optio S10
The landscape image has tried to compansate for the ground and over exposed the sky.

Pentax Optio S10
Taking a reading off the lock gate balances the ground, but under exposes the winch.


Pentax Optio S10 Noise test
The Pentax Optio S10 goes down to ISO64 which is great for getting super smooth results on a lovely bright day and it doesn't fail to give great results with no noise showing and plenty of detail in the petals. ISO100 is the same with a slight splodgy outcome on the black card but that is being really critical.

You will still be happy with the ISO200 results as only a marginal amount of noise has started to seep through the image to the low key areas which then, predictably, start to get more defined from ISO400. ISO800 has definite noise with Red, Purple and Green dots appearing in the low and mid-key areas while ISO1600 has definite noise and the edges have started to decay.

The ISO64 test
The ISO64 test.

The ISO100 test
The ISO100 test.

The ISO200 test
The ISO200 test.

The ISO400 test
The ISO400 test.

The ISO800 test
The ISO800 test.

The ISO1600 test
The ISO1600 test.

Pentax Optio S10 Verdict
I can understand the need to fit a large resolution chip into a camera as that is what consumers want at the moment, but I fail to understand is why the camera will only then have a small zoom or few features to entice. Unfortunately that is how the Optio S10 has panned out and therefore fails to deliver in key areas.

The camera is attractive to look at and works well enough. It is a good build and has a good lens. If you are looking for a point and shoot with a high resolution but little else, then take a look at this one.

Pentax Optio S10 Plus points
Good build quality
Decent lens
Good shutter response

Pentax Optio S10 Minus points
Good resolution, but not backed up by any other decent features
Only 6cm macro





The Pentax Optio S10 price is to be confirmed and will be available soon.

Why not see what other great things Pentax have to offer at the ePHOTOzine shop here.


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