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In terms of general performance the Optio SVi is a bit on the sluggish side. Start-up time is a positively glacial four seconds, while shot-to-shot time in continuous shooting mode is rather slow at two seconds. For general snapshot shooting the sluggish autofocus means that many spur-of-the-moment shots will be lost because the camera just can’t focus on a moving subject fast enough. Pentax makes many outstanding cameras, but it really needs to work on improving things like start-up times, shot-to-shot times and autofocus speed. In all of these areas it is lagging dangerously behind its rivals.
Many Pentax compacts are loaded with odd features such as colour masking filters, but the SVi seems at first to be a bit lacking in this department. It has picture modes for portraits, landscapes, action, snow scenes, sunsets, flowers, autumn colours, museums and food, as well as Pentax’s unique stereoscopic 3D mode and a panorama stitching mode. There are special effects modes, but they are implemented differently on the SVi.
Instead of slowing down picture taking by adding special effects while shooting, the camera has the option to add effects in playback mode, including the aforementioned colour mask filters, as well as sepia, monochrome, soft focus, full-spectrum colour alteration and a special ‘illustration’ mode that resembles the Photoshop ‘posterisation’ filter. This means that you can take the shot you want then experiment on it with different effects afterwards. After adding filters and effects you can save the altered image as a different file, keeping your original photo intact.
Creativity is further enhanced by a good range of focus modes, including manual focus and selectable 5-point AF. Most importantly there is also an extremely good and easy-to-use manual exposure mode with shutter speeds of 4 to 1/1000th seconds and full aperture control from F2.8 to F8.0. This well-thought-out range of creative features and options sets the SVi apart from mere snapshot cameras and actually turns it into a useful creative photographic tool.