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Pentax Announces Three New Compacts


Pentax Announces Three New Compacts

Pentax has announced the launch of three new digital compacts, two of which have distinctive retro styling. First up, and due to hit the shops next month, is the Optio I-10, the first of a new series for Pentax's consumer compact range. The I-10 features a 5x zoom lens (equivalent to 28-140mm), a 12.1-megapixel CCD with mechanical sensor-shift image stabilisation, and 1280 x 720 30fps movie recording with in-camera editing and titling. Its eye-catching body design is modeled after a vintage SLR camera, complete with leatherette finish.

Other features include an upgraded face detection system capable of recognising up to 32 faces, including cats and dogs, a range of creative filter effects and a unique screen-in-screen function that can display a previously recorded image in the corner of the screen while shooting. It has automatic D-Range enhancement for high-contrast shooting, and a Digital Wide feature that simulates a 21mm wide-angle shot by stitching two images together. It even has an optional wireless remote control.

Older readers may notice a passing resemblance to the unique Pentax Auto 110 from 1978, a tiny but surprisingly excellent SLR camera with its own range of miniature interchangeable lenses, flash units and even a power winder, using the now defunct 110 film cassette format. It still holds the record as the smallest interchangeable lens SLR system ever made, and has become something of a collectors item. The Auto 110 measured 99mm x 56mm x 45mm and weighed 172g, while the new Optio I-10 measures 100.5 x 65 x 28mm and weighs 153g. It would be interesting to see the two cameras next to each other.

Sadly the Pentax Auto 110 won't be seeing a re-launch

The Optio I-10 will be available in Classic Black and Pearl White, and will be available from February priced at a very reasonable £199.

The second new model joining the Optio range is the H90, which also has something of a retro look about it, although this time it resembles a classic 1970s compact camera such as the Instamatic or Olympus Trip. It has a similar internal specification to the I-90, with a 5x zoom lens, 12.1-megapixel CCD and 2.7-inch 230k monitor. It can also capture 1280 x 720 video at 30fps.

Like the I-90, features include improved face detection which detects up to 32 faces including cats and dogs, and has Smile Capture and Blink Detection. It lacks the I-90's sensor-shift image stabilisation, but does have pixel-tracking digital stabilisation. It also has D-Range enhancement for high contrast situations, tracking AF, digital filters and a digital panorama mode which can automatically stitch up to three images into one panoramic shot.

The H90 will be available in three different retro colour schemes, and goes on sale next month priced at £129.99.

Last but not least is the new Optio E90, a budget-priced compact featuring a 3x zoom lens, 10.1-megapixel sensor and a 2.7-inch 230k monitor. It has a number of automatic features including automatic face detection, auto scene selection, digital filters and digital panorama stitching. It can shoot video at 640 x 480 and 30fps, and is powered by a pair of AA batteries, available all over the world.

The Optio E90 will be available in either black or burgundy, and goes on sale in February priced at a very cheap £79.99.



January 27, 2010, 8:25 pm

The most interesing looking camera there is the Auto 110 from 1978. By far.

I'm not sure what that says about me, but it's probably not good.

Yours in fossildom...


January 27, 2010, 8:38 pm

I'm just imagining the scene in the Pentax boardroom when they came up with this "inspired" idea..

Pentax Exec - Right everyone, retro styled large sensor compacts are the new must have, so lets develop our own. We've got the heritage and technology, so lets start right away.

Lowly Junior - Erm boss, at the moment we can barely pay the gas bill..

Pentax Exec - Oh.. Not to worry, we can still get onto the bandwagon by just dressing up a regular pixel stuffed compact camera, I mean who's going to notice..

Cliff Smith

January 27, 2010, 9:07 pm

One of the guys at Pentax very kindly got their only remaining Auto 110 out of a display cabinet and photographed it for me.

It was a great little system with good range of lenses. In fact I've just been looking at an Auto 110 system on eBay for £30, and there are still a few places that have stocks of 110 film...

Cliff Smith

January 27, 2010, 9:23 pm

Noodles - That's a little harsh. Regardless of how it looks, a 12MP 5x zoom compact with sensor-shift image stabilisation for under £200 is a pretty good deal. Also, I think you missed a line:

Hoya Exec - Here's lots of money and some new factories. Please continue to make cameras and all that neato medical technology.


January 27, 2010, 10:10 pm

@ Cliff - I still think it's a cynical attempt to get into the retro styled camera segment by the cheapest way possible, and one which also brings absolutely nothing new to the market at all. It's just another tiny sensor camera, but this time comes with a fake viewfinder hump.

"All that neato medical technology" What? Olympus is by far the dominant global player in that sector..

Martin Daler

January 27, 2010, 11:44 pm

"Older readers may notice..."

One would prefer "readers with longer memories..." :)

Anyway, all generations may notice a passing resemblance between the Optio E90 and the Fujifilm Finepix A170. I bought one for the kids, it looks identical, even down to the little pinhole at about 7 o'clock on the lens ring. Same exact spec and features. Only significany difference is the price - £49



January 28, 2010, 12:09 am

Noodles: Cliff never said Pentax were the dominant global player? They still design and make medical technology. What is your point here?

As for barely being able to pay the gas bill, see Cliff's point about all the lovely Hoya money. Some people seem to be determined that Pentax are going to disappear tomorrow, nothing will convince them otherwise, and no news is good news. Hoya are buying Pentax? Then they must surely be planning to sell it for scrap - Pentax is doooomed! Samsung start working with Pentax - wait, now Samsung are doing their own thing? It can only be because they know Pentax is dooooomed! :P


January 28, 2010, 2:01 am

No one wants Pentax to fail, not me (I shoot pro on Olympus, so I know what it's like to be part of a endangered breed) or not even the biggest Canon/Nikon fanboys. it's just that when the Hoya CEO starts making odd statements, then even the most ardent of Pentaxians will start to worry about what really is going on at Pentax HQ..

A quick search of the AP website comes up with the following:

Tuesday 12th February 2008

Hoya's CEO Hiroshi Suzuki is reported to have told Japanese trade magazine Pen News Weekly that Pentax will concentrate on DSLRs and 'gradually phase down development and production of compact digicams in future'.

Wednesday 19th August 2009

'Our digital camera business is not exactly a big operation,' Suzuki told Reuters. There are naturally questions among us whether it is big enough to go it alone&#8230. I'm afraid it will need some sort of alliance with another company in the long term.'

Don't forget the full frame 645D will-they-make-it-or-not fiasco, that has been dragging on since 2005, and then you've got plenty of material for the rumour mills to work on..

The point I was trying to make about the medical imaging is that "neato technology" doesn't mean success and profit, especially when you're up against much, much larger competitors.


January 28, 2010, 10:05 pm

Actually Pentaxians are among the worst offenders when it comes to doom and gloom mongering.

However, go to any photography forum and see the "Pick my equipment for me" threads. Invariably the overwhelming response will be to choose a Canon or Nikon, but when people ask "Why not Pentax" then "The company probably won't be around for long" is one of the main reasons given - and this is based purely on a few odd quotes and the aforementioned rumour mill. Pentax then loses more potential customers. I believe this is what's known as a self-fulfilling prophesy...

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