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Pentax Optio I-10 - Features and Design

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


The unusual styling of the I-10 is purely cosmetic, and does little to improve either the handling or function of the camera, although there might be a small advantage in having the flash a little further away from the lens, slightly reducing the instance of red-eye in close-range portraits. The camera is reasonably comfortable to handle and the shape and texture does provide a secure grip. Most of the controls are sensibly arranged and operate smoothly, however the zoom control is a bit odd. It's a rotary bezel around the shutter button, which isn't that unusual, but the lever to operate it faces backwards and the rotation direction is the opposite of the way such bezels usually operate.

In terms of photographic features the I-10 is virtually identical to the other three 12-megapixel compacts in Pentax's range, and indeed to most of Pentax's compact cameras over the past four or five years, although of course the I-10 does include sensor-shift image stabilisation. It is designed as a simple point-and-click compact, and as such offers little in the way of creative control. Exposure options include the usual Program Auto, 16 scene mode settings including ones for pets, kids, food, parties and many other common options. It also has Auto Pict, which has nothing to do with ancient Celtic tribesmen but is in fact an auto scene selection mode. Picture adjustments include sharpness, saturation and contrast, but only three steps of adjustment in each. It has a D-Range feature to boost shadow and highlight detail in high contrast situations, but it's not terribly effective.

The menu system is the same one that Pentax has been using since at least 2003, and looks rather dated compared to the slick new interfaces seen on some rival models. Some of the scene mode icons have been updated and look a bit fresher, but the menu and on-screen displays the same plain blocky and poorly aliased text as always. It detracts from the feel and appearance of the camera, and makes it look even cheaper than it really is.

The video recording mode is adequate, but it's no better than average by recent standards. It can shoot in 1280 x 720 resolution at 30 fps, with mono audio. Optical zoom cannot be used while recording, and only electronic image stabilisation is used. The video picture quality isn't brilliant, and the internal microphone is very prone to wind noise.


July 3, 2010, 2:32 am

The review is great however the pictures of the camera are not suitable on that background!


July 3, 2010, 4:10 am

@Cliff: Romanes eunt domus ;)

Nice review, pity that Pentax spoiled that nice looking camera...


July 3, 2010, 4:10 am

Wow. I think the phrase is "epic fail". Pentax took what could have been an interesting idea, and ruined it. The complete waste of potential is what frustrates. Ripping off the 110 could have worked, if the new camera offered advanced features or a high degree of flexibility for its size. A modern equivalent of the 110 - a compact interchangeable-lens camera (preferably with a decent sized sensor) - would have found a ready market; indeed that market is clearly growing as Sony's new models demonstrate.

Besides, surely they must realise that simply slapping the shell of a 110 on a sub-par cheapo compact is about the most counter-productive thing they could possibly do. It won't appeal to those who remember the 110 - some in that niche are still using film in classic cameras, while the rest have been won over by the potential quality of digital and will therefore see a crap digital camera draped in pointless nostalgia as the worst of both worlds.

The "retro" thing can be done well, as Olympus' new Pens and other rangefinder-inspired models (e.g. Canon G-series) demonstrate - you do this by retaining the unique advantages (and quality) that made the originals a success. Not like this.

Since the takeover, Hoya have allowed the Pentax guys to do what they do best with the dSLR range and produce great lenses and cameras. But in compacts, it's just been a bunch of mediocre me-too models, the type that normally carry a generic no-name brand, rather than that of one of the great optics companies. Never mind the Pentax of old - this rubbish is a far cry from the pre-takeover A or S series of just a couple of years ago.

Hoya really need to realise that they have some very talented people working for them, and that the best way to use them is to allow them to design high-quality imaging products with unique selling points, rather than hoping the brand name alone will sell any rubbish (in an age when most have already forgotten Minolta and some have barely heard of Nikon).

This rant is over. I hope Pentax is not - pull your finger out, guys.


July 3, 2010, 2:58 pm

I just compared the waterproof Pentax Optio WS80 with the Samsung WP10 and came to pretty much the same conclusion. As in the olden days, OPTIO still stands for Oh Please Turn It Off. The only remarkable thing I noticed was the low light focus what is the best I have seen in 9 years of digital camera use and they do it without focus assist lamp!

Cliff Smith

July 3, 2010, 4:31 pm

To be fair the I-10 isn't intended to be a copy of the Auto 110, but I have to agree that a digital version of the Auto 110 would be a great idea, and just the thing Pentax needs right now. The 1978 original was a superb little camera with high quality miniature lenses. As a digital kit it would make even the new Sony NEX models look oversized.

I'm hoping to get the Optio W90 waterproof compact in for review soon.


July 5, 2010, 11:29 am

@Cliff Smith - Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but I didn't know where else to post it...and I would greatly appreciate it if you took the time to answer these questions.

When will you be reviewing Sony's NEX-3 and NEX-5? And what about Fujifilm's new HS10, and Samsung's EX1, any plans on reviewing them anytime soon?? Just a few models I would like to get your opinion on..(I'm interested in versatile cameras with articulated monitors that produce great quality images)

BTW, how would you compare the image quality between a Panasonic DMC-GH1 and a Canon Powershot G11?? (I know they're not in the same category at all, that's why I'm asking)

Have a good one!!

Cliff Smith

July 8, 2010, 4:32 pm

JK - I've put in a request for the NEX-3 and NEX-5, and I've been assured by Sony that we're at the top of the waiting list as soon as samples are available. The same goes for the Fuji HS10, but hopefully I should have the Samsung EX1 in by next week.

As for the G11 vs. GF1, they're both excellent cameras, but on image quality alone I'd pick the GF1 without a doubt.


July 10, 2010, 7:11 am

It makes you wonder, how can Pentax produce such a poor camera like the Optio I-10 which has an beautiful design with elegant details, but somehow neglected to emphasis on image quality.

This is a real shame! I realy love the deign of this camera, and if they had put more thoughts into this camera, it would definitely be a top seller for the P&S market.

Pentax had been doing some great works with their DSLR products line lately,

like the K-7, it is an outstanding camera which deserved great consumer recognition in terms of both value and performance for Pentax, and I can't wait for their latest DSLR "Pentax 645D"(40 Megapixels), it has some amazing new technology implementation to their DSLR Line up.

We know that Pentax is trying hard to win over some more consumer confidence for their products, but they need to pay more attention to image qualtity of their cameras.


July 10, 2010, 5:33 pm

What a missed opportunity! This little gem has all the looks of the original 110 based film casstte SLR that Pentax developed in the early 80's and I was sold on the looks when it first appeared with all the latest talk of tiny cameras with interchangeable lenses the original 110 whilst flawed would make a certain comeback.

IF only Penat could have done the job properly. But no. The consumer once again gets off-loaded with a permanent soft focus lens. poor sensor performance at anything over its slowest speed/sensitivity.

There are only so many soft-focus glamour shots that one needs in a photo collection. This is a boat not so much missed as not yet constructed! One really expected better the potential was there in the history archive; nail a half decent sensor in the old 110 body and the potential for a winner is there. At the same time beating Sony with their NEX to the smallest interchangeable lens system.

No doubt there were issues with the 110 at the time but it suited my then girlfriend's introduction to and SLR interchangeable lens camera with a handbag sized system which could produce a passable quality result without her having to take up weight training.

Sorry Pentax but you are going to have to try VERY MUCH harder.

Looking at the other reto-camera offering the Optio H-90, which visually harks back to the 126 cassette film instamatic designs for its inspiration. One wonders why some one like Pentax/Hoya mis-spent all that cash on producing such cr*p optic/sensor combinations.

Beginners wanting a compact digital camera won't look here as they get better picture quality from their mobile phones than either of these cameras...

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