The digital camera market, as you're no doubt sick of me telling you, is extremely competitive. Manufacturers will go to extraordinary lengths to make their cameras stand out and be noticed, in a desperate bit to out-sell their rivals. Many will add previously rare and sought after features such as image stabilisation and HD video recording to budget-priced models, while others will invest in research and come up with advanced new technologies such as back-illuminated CMOS sensors and ultra-high-speed shooting. However in these recession-hit times some manufacturers have had to come up with more cost-effective ways of getting their cameras noticed, which is probably what prompted someone in Pentax's design department to come up with today's camera, the Optio RS1000.
The RS1000 is an extremely basic ultra-compact with a 14-megapixel 1/2.33-inch CCD sensor, a 4x zoom lens equivalent to 27.5-110mm, and a 7.62cm (3.0in) 230k resolution LCD monitor. It has a very plain rectangular plastic body, available in black or white, and extremely simple controls. It is quite similar in size, shape and features to another recent Pentax compact, the Optio H90, launched earlier this year. Like the H90 it is aimed squarely at the budget end of the market, and is currently selling for less than £100.
The RS1000's gimmick is its interchangeable “skin”. The front panel of the camera has a transparent plastic cover, held on by four small screws. This can be removed using a small Allen-key tool, which is supplied, and paper inserts can be placed underneath it, allowing users to customise their camera. A small selection of inserts are supplied, and Pentax has created a website where users can upload their own images and design their own skins, which can be printed on any domestic printer, cut out and applied to the camera.