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.