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Since the company was taken over by the Hoya Corporation in 2008, the future of Pentax's digital camera range has been a subject of some debate. It was generally thought that Hoya was primarily interested in Pentax for its advanced medical technology, and that the camera business would be sold off, possibly to Samsung, but in fact Hoya has continued to develop and market new Pentax cameras, including some very competitive digital SLRs, the X90 superzoom which I reviewed yesterday, and a small but interesting range of digital compacts. One of the most recent, and arguably the most interesting, is this Optio I-10.
Launched in February this year, the Optio I-10 is most notable for its distinctive retro styling, or “neo-vintage” as Pentax calls it. It has an SLR-style viewfinder turret on the top, which houses the flash on the front and the speaker on the back, but does not in fact contain a viewfinder. The body has a small raised handgrip on the right hand end, with a leatherette-style textured surface that covers the grip and extends across the middle section of the front panel. The I-10 is available in black or the cream-and-white finish shown here. The overall shape and size of the I-10 is somewhat reminiscent of the Pentax Auto 110 miniature SLR camera from 1978.
The general build quality is reasonable, but there are a few creaks when the body is squeezed, and the fit of some of the panels could be better. Thanks to its plastic shell the I-10 is surprisingly light, weighing 153g including battery and card, despite being somewhat thicker (28mm) than most comparable ultra-compacts, and as a result it feels rather insubstantial. The battery hatch is quite flimsy and the tripod bush is made of plastic. The I-10 is currently selling for around £130, which almost puts it into the budget compact category, and makes it one of the cheapest cameras on the market to feature mechanical image stabilisation.
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