Point-and-shoot predator

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1 April 2005 | 0

Pentax’s Optio MX is an eccentric in a field of look-alike point-and-shoot digital cameras. Though its features are strongly rooted in still photography, its shape is reminiscent of a video camera; it captures both still images and video nicely. A versatile camera with numerous exposure controls, the Optio MX features a 1.8in LCD screen that can flip up and rotate.

The images we took with a shipping unit wouldn’t satisfy fine-art standards, but they were more than adequate for a family photo album. While stills reproduced colours well, we found their exposure accuracy somewhat erratic, especially in high-contrast outdoor shots. The sharpness of the photos was average for a 3.2Megapixel camera. You won’t want to crop and enlarge the MX’s images, but
on long-distance shots, the camera’s 10x zoom does compensate for its lower resolution.

Our biggest gripe is that the four-way selector is so diminutive (the size of a small shirt button) that adjusting settings was difficult. Working with the selector was hardest when we attempted to alter the unit’s aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and manual exposure settings. If you like to shoot video clips occasionally, you’ll enjoy using the MX. It supports the MPEG-4 video format, which lets you pack in more minutes of video than does the typical Motion JPEG format that most still cameras use.

The MX’s grip has two buttons: the usual trigger button and a second one dedicated to recording movies. This setup makes switching between video and stills instantaneous. The autofocus seemed a bit slow in the videos we took, but the clip played back smoothly with no dropped frames. Once you get beyond the control issues, the Optio MX is a solid still camera with video features that will appeal to amateurs who want a little of both worlds.

Pentax Optio MX
Features: 3.2 million effective pixels; 10x Optical Zoom; Rotate/swivel TFT LCD
monitor; Rotating grip; Video MPEG4
Contact: Pemberton ???

The Verdict
Rating: 3 stars
Good camera for people who seek both still and video options.

10/01/05

 

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