Pentax Optio RZ10 2011

The Pentax brand is pivotal in the world of vision: its lenses have featured in everything from medical scopes to spectacles. The Optio range brings a fun, rugged appeal to this long-held prestige.  

Technical stuff
Phil: The Optio RZ10 features a solid zoom range suitable for a range of subjects – the wide end of the zoom at 28mm is a classic wide-angle focal length popular with landscape photographers, while the 10x telephoto range is long enough for most people’s needs. The rear screen is the smallest here, at 2.7in, while the screen’s resolution is also underwhelming as well. The ISO range is the best on test, though only use the higher sensitivities as a last resort – noise or grain at high ISOs can degrade the image on most cameras. As well as accepting SDHC cards, the Optio RZ10 also supports Eye-Fi wireless cards, which allow images to be wirelessly transferred to a compatible device and uploaded to sharing websites such as FlickR.

On the hill
Simon: I liked the Pentax Optio RZ10 right away: its rubberised shell means I wouldn’t panic too much if I dropped it, and it’s certainly a very compact, no-nonsense product. It has impressive features for such a dinky, seemingly basic camera: the Burst mode is capable of shooting at 9 frames per second, making it ideal for action, and there are a variety of Auto modes from the gimmicky (Pet mode) to the useful (Low Light modes, and a Super Macro mode for capturing detail.) The camera also has a modest built-in memory, and shoots HD movie. Actually using the camera is a mixed experience. The cheery little noise when you start it up, while pleasing, is a sign of things to come: it feels more like a toy than a tool. The buttons are small (though there’s a very handy ‘assignable function‘ button) and while the menus are easy to navigate, the interface is a little dated. That said, our test images (shot in ‘auto’ mode), despite being a touch under-exposed, were sharp and vibrant with decent balance across light and shadow – meaning the Pentax Optio RZ10 gets serious when it has to.

Resolution 14 megapixels
Lens 10x optical 28-280mm
Image stabiliser yes
Modes Auto, 22 scene modes
Weight 178g
Dimensions 97x61x33mm
Storage media SD/SDHC/Eye-Fi cards
Monitor 2.7inches, 230k dots
Movie mode HD 720p, 30fps
Connectivity USB

Cute, rugged, small and light, the Pentax Optio RZ10’s basic interface is easy to overlook thanks to its excellent lens, good images and price.

Review by Phil Hall of Digital Photo magazine and Simon Ingram of Trail magazine
First published in Trail magazine February 2011