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Pentax Optio RZ10 - Performance and Results

By Cliff Smith


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Review Price £99.00

The RZ10 starts up with what can only be described as enthusiasm. It springs to life and can take a picture in a little over two seconds, which is fairly impressive by compact camera standards. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 2.3 seconds, which is also faster than average, especially for a low-cost compact. In standard continuous shooting mode it can maintain just over one frame a second, and it also has three high-speed burst modes which can shoot up to 40 frames, but at 5MP resolution.

The RZ10 could be even faster if only it had a slightly quicker autofocus system. It's not slow enough to be annoying, but there is a bit of a lag, especially in low light. However while it may focus slowly in low light it does focus, despite having no AF assist lamp. It had no trouble focusing in a dimly-lit nightclub bar. The flash is very good, with a maximum range of over five metres and a recycle time of approximately five seconds.

The RZ10 is powered by a higher capacity battery than most recent Pentax compacts, with a rating of 925mAh. This is good for at least 260 shots or 300 minutes of playback, performance which is about average for the class.

This point in the review is where I normally discuss image quality, and it's here that some recent Pentax compacts have come unstuck. Not so the RZ10 however. It produces sharp, well-detailed images with good exposure and colour, the shadow and highlight correction modes give it reasonable dynamic range for a small-sensor 14MP compact, and the lens produces good edge-to-edge sharpness with minimal distortion or chromatic aberration. Images are a little over-sharpened and are very heavily compressed, but the overall result is quite acceptable.

The only tiny fly in the otherwise smooth and revitalising ointment is image noise, the bane of many small-sensor compacts. There is some noise visible in darker areas even at the minimum 80 ISO setting, although it doesn't really become a problem until 400 ISO when detail really starts to fade. Not surprisingly the 3200 and 6400 ISO settings, available at 5MP resolution, are of very poor quality. Nonetheless, considering its versatility, usability, handling, build quality and performance, and above all its price, a bit of high-ISO noise is just about forgiveable.


The Pentax Optio RZ10 is a surprisingly good little camera. Although it looks like a toy and is priced to match, it offers superior build quality, good performance and excellent handling, with more features than you'd expect for the money. Image quality is generally good as long as you stay away from the higher ISO settings. All in all, outstanding value for money.

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December 2, 2010, 9:22 pm

Why oh why are they intent on devaluing the brand? Not content with releasing endless sub-par cheapo compacts when they have proved time and again they can do much better; now even when they make a decent one they have to ruin it by making it look like something that came out a Christmas cracker... at the same time they're trying to regain part of the professional market with the 645D, is it really helpful to present a "cheap and cheerful" image with the entire compact range? The same applies to their dSLRs - as usual well-made cameras with excellent lenses, but now they have to make them in garish colours - as if there is a crossover between the market for SLR systems and the market for bright red cameras (who drew up that Venn diagram?). Honestly, sometimes I wonder if someone in Hoya or Pentax management is trying to sabotage the company :s


December 3, 2010, 5:03 am


I think it has something to do with brand recognition. Tell me, when the average consumer goes to a shop/online what brands do they have in their mind? Canon, Nikon, Sony etc etc. They don't even consider pentax. So they're trying to get noticed. From the TR score this isn't a bad little camera, and the colours set it apart from the rest. The DSLRs are, again, about recognition. Obviosuly a pro/semi-pro knows what Pentax are about, but the average joe who's buying their first DSLR probably doesn't. The colours set them apart. Not to mention that Pentax are much bigger in the East and they like their things a little... funky.


December 3, 2010, 6:11 am

@Cliff Smith - Any idea on when you'll be reviewing the Panasonic GH2?


December 3, 2010, 8:49 pm

Good review for a camera I would not buy, but that I understand in its target market. 8 out of 10 everywhere, that's an overall 10. It cannot be easy to write a review of a product that will be "beneath" the desires of most of the readers. Neat and tidy marketing by Pentax; all it needs now is to get noticed.


December 3, 2010, 10:08 pm

I can understand why the camera hobbyists wouldn't like the multi-coloured bodies as there are similar things I dislike in the spheres with which I am more familiar. But the reason why I came to look at this article was the colourful camera bodies; I might actually buy one!!! As long as there is a black one in the range I think everybody will be satisfied.


December 3, 2010, 11:03 pm

A question about the ISO tests. It says they are done in filtered natural light, which is fine, but light levels can be lower in the winter and therefore shutter speed and aperture may vary considerably. Has this been taken into account?

The main reason I ask is that my own camera in another review showed considerable increase in noise as the shutter speed got slower (it's something I've also noticed, once alerted admittedly, when using it) and this may be the case with other cameras.


December 13, 2010, 11:47 pm

Dear Pentax

I had a closer look to the test shots of the facade of the Exeter cathedral. The Pentax optio rz10 shows the best sharpness from corner to corner among all point-and shoot cameras! Pentax, why do you spoil the results of your excellent lens by putting an extremely small sensor with 14 megapixels into this camera? 14 megapixels with this small P&S camera is useless and only creates the very ugly noise visible in most of the shots, even at the lowest iso-speed (80). 8 or 10 megapixels is enough! Other camera makers think that they find the solution for the problem with an excessive noise reduction - also useless, this creates loss of details. The only solution is: step back to sensors with less megapixels!

(First, I wanted to buy this small camera with its good zoom range - after studying the test shots, I will choose another one).

tomislav Croatia

March 1, 2014, 2:20 pm

I have Pentax optio rz 10 in 2 years, fantastic ,,for evereything, always in my pocket,
very good photos and excelent video with amazing sound, concerts in club, for everymoment if you making video ; growing your child..


January 1, 2015, 3:43 pm

A very late review, I know, but thought I'd share my two cents. For SLR's, I have used Minolta, Nikon and Sony. For compacts. I have the usual Sony, Canon and Casio. So when I was looking for another compact, specifically one with higher resolution, I made the rare mistake of following the advice of the salesman. In the four years that this camera sits at my home, none of my children has ever taken it out to use. After taking a few shots at home, they looked at the resulting pictures with disgust. I tried taking landscapes with it and found the resolution is closer to 2 megs and definitely not the 14 megs it claimed. I think this camera has taken less than 50 pictures, with none worthy of viewing. Why am I now writing this review? I have hoped to locate a camera firmware that allows one to choose the amount of compression the software used. With newer high capacity SD cards, I could go with zero compression and take full advantage of the 14 megapixels this camera is supposed to have. No such luck, even today. Why Pentax use such high compression after using a 14 megapixel sensor is anyone's guess. So this will be my first and last Pentax.

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