The original Pentax Optio S, launched in 2003, was one of the first truly ultra-compact digital cameras. It utilised a unique Pentax-designed Sliding Lens system, which meant that a 3x zoom lens could fit into a camera just 20mm thick and fold away flush with the camera body. It was a terrific piece of design and has been much imitated, not least by Pentax itself, which has launched a long series of Optio compact cameras over the past four and a half years most of which have been based on the same concept. The latest and greatest so far is the new Optio S10, and the family resemblance is striking.
The Optio S10 follows the same form factor as all the previous S-series cameras. It is an ultra-compact point-and-shoot camera featuring 10-megapixel 1/1.8-inch CCD sensor, a 2.5-inch 232k monitor and a high quality SMC Pentax 3x zoom Sliding Lens. In size it is a bit bigger than the original Optio S, measuring 87 x 54 x 21mm (the Optio S was 83 x 52 x 20mm) and a little heavier too at 130g including battery and card (the Optio S was 115g), however this weight translates not into bulk but into a feeling of solidity and quality. The S10 certainly feels a lot more expensive than it actually is. Although it was only announced in August, it is already available from many retailers for as little as £149.99, which is below the average for a 10-megapixel camera.
The S10 has an all-metal aluminium body, and the build quality is very good. The buttons fit to tolerances close enough to keep out dust, and the card/battery hatch, although plastic, has a sprung metal hinge. The S10 bears a strong resemblance to its earliest ancestor, as though in deliberate acknowledgement. The Optio S had a distinctive pattern of concentric circular ridges on its front panel, and the S10 has the same, although on the new model the actual ridges are almost too small to see, and can only be felt as a roughness with the edge of a fingernail. However they are enough to provide a surprisingly secure grip.