In November last year I took a look at the 10-megapixel Pentax Optio S10, at the time the newest incarnation of the original ultra-compact digital camera, the Pentax Optio S. I was impressed by its simple classic design, solid build quality, brisk performance and excellent value for money. Naturally however technology marches onward, so today I'm taking a look at the S10's successor, the new 12-megapixel Optio S12.
There's a time-honoured saying, the polite version of which is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", and that's exactly what Pentax has done with the design of the S12. Apart from a few detail changes to the appearance of the front panel, and of course the new 1/1.7-inch 12-megapixel CCD sensor, it is virtually identical to the S10. It has exactly the same durable all-aluminium body with the same pocket-sized 87 x 54 x 21mm dimensions and the same ultra-light 130g shooting weight. It has the same f/2.8 - f /5.4 3x zoom folding lens, and the same 2.5-inch 232k LCD monitor. Even the price is the same. You can buy an S12 in the high street for £149.99, which was the street price of the S10 when I reviewed it, although the older model is now a bargain-priced £99.
There are quite a few 12-megapixel compact cameras on the market at the moment. Recent examples include the Nikon CoolPix S700 (£171), the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (£177), the Panasonic Lumix FX100 (£202), the Canon IXUS 960 IS (£236) and even Pentax's own Optio A40 (£200). Looking at those prices the S12 looks like a total bargain, but all of those models feature some form of mechanical image stabilisation technology. The S12 lacks this feature, so a more valid comparison would be with the Kodak EasyShare V1233 (£126) or the Casio Exilim EX-Z1200 (£155).