Pentax has announced the launch of two new cameras, increasing its foothold in two popular niche sectors of the market. First up is the new X90, a powerful 12.1 megapixel super-zoom camera with a 26x zoom lens equivalent to 26-676mm. The X90 is a replacement for the 24x zoom X70 launched last year. It features a 2.7-inch 230k LCD monitor, D-Range contrast optimisation, an 11fps burst shooting mode and Pentax's excellent sensor-shift image stabilisation system offering three stops of extra hand-held stability.
Other features include 6400 ISO maximum sensitivity, face detection exposure and focusing, a full range of manual exposure options and 1280 x 720 30fps HD video recording with digital image stabilisation and an HDMI Micro output socket. The electronic viewfinder has a resolution of 200k pixels and dioptre adjustment, and the X90 also has a more powerful battery than its predecessor, with a shooting duration of 255 shots on a full charge.
The camera comes with MediaImpression 2.0, and is compatible with Eye-Fi Wireles SD cards. The X90 goes on sale at the end of March at a recommended price of £329.99.
The second new camera is the W90, the latest in Pentax's long and successful line of waterproof compacts. It features a 5x zoom lens with 28mm wide angle, a 12.1 megapixel sensor, pixel track digital shake reduction and 1280 x 720 30fps HD video recording.
In the face of increased competition from other manufacturers, who have moved in on what used to be Pentax's exclusive territory, the new camera is more rugged than ever. The W90 is waterproof to a depth of six metres for up to two hours (it's predecessor the W80 was only good for 5m), and its tough rubber-coated body is shockproof against falls from 1.2m. As well as this it is dustproof and able to withstand freezing down to minus ten centigrade.
Other features include a 2.7-inch widescreen 230k LCD monitor with an anti-reflective coating and a screen-in-screen feature that allows a thumbnail of a previous shot to be shown on the monitor for reference while shooting. The body incorporates a chunky carabiner strap for attaching the camera to your rucksack.
The W90 has a number of unusual extra features, such as its digital microscope function, combining a 1cm macro focusing ability with the digital zoom. There are three bright white LED lights mounted around the lens to illuminate subjects at very close range without shadows. The face detection system has also been upgraded, and can now recognise up to 32 faces at once and automatically trigger the shutter when the subject's face turns towards the camera. It can also recognise the faces of cats and dogs, although given its underwater capabilities, surely fish would have been a better idea?
The W90 will be going on sale at the end of March, at a recommended price of £269.99.