Better late than never? Pentax makes a surprisingly belated entry into the megazoom digital camera market with the $399.99 X70, a competitively spec'd camera. In fact, its lens and sensor specifications look amazingly similar to that of the
Unfortunately, there's not much here to differentiate it from the crowd, at least on the surface. The X70 incorporates a 2.7-inch LCD, but it's fixed--many competitors offer tilting or fully articulated displays. It doesn't support HD movie capture, instead maxing out at a 1,280x720-pixel resolutions at 15 frames per second using the rather inefficient Motion JPEG codec. While it offers sensor-shift image stabilization--every camera in this class has either mechanical or optical stabilization--the Movie SR (Shake Reduction) mode sounds like it's probably electronic. There's a high-speed burst mode, 11fps for 21 frames but at a reduced 5-megapixel resolution. And while it offers a full complement of manual and semimanual exposure modes, it lacks raw format support.
The weakest aspect of megazooms tends to be the lens: they're usually not terribly sharp across much of the zoom range, and prone to distortion and aberration. Nor are these models usually particularly speedy. So if Pentax's lens is a bit better or it's a faster shot than its competitors, then it's got a chance. I guess we'll find out when it ships in April.