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It is getting increasingly difficult to know what to write about Pentax’s ever-expanding line of five megapixel compacts. The range now consists of no less than nine models, all very similar in both specification and appearance. The new S5z joins the S5n, S5i, SV, SVi, S50, 50, and S55, as well as the Optio WP and Optio X, all of which sport 5MP sensors and either 3x or 5x optical zoom lenses, and range in price from around £112 to just over £200. Only detail differences in such things as LCD monitor size, battery type and a few special features differentiate most of these cameras. Pentax leads the market in ultra-compact digital cameras so one has to assume that it knows what it’s doing, but it certainly doesn’t make the reviewer’s job particularly easy.
In the case of the £198 Optio S5z, the main feature distinguishing it from the virtually identical S5n is its big 2.5in monitor. To accommodate such a big screen on such a small camera the case has been partially redesigned and is 3mm taller and 1mm thicker than its predecessor, but the size and position of the lens, flash, AF illuminator and self-timer indicator are unchanged. The extra height comes from the curvature of the previously flat top panel, but the positions of the on/off button and shutter release are identical to the previous model.
The only other real difference is that where the S5n has a charging cradle that also accommodates a spare battery, the S5z has a separate battery charger. It doesn’t have the charging contacts on the base, and because it is slightly thicker it doesn’t fit into the old cradle anyway.