Pentax is packing every bell and whistle it can into its newest snapshot camera. The 7-megapixel Pentax Optio S7 sports features such as SDHC card support, MPEG-4 DivX movie recording, and ISO 1600 sensitivity. The camera's impressive feature list belies its budget price and makes it very attractive to tech heads looking for an inexpensive snapshot camera with nifty onboard toys.
The S7 is the first Pentax digital camera to support SDHC cards, Secure Digital cards with more than 2GB of space. SDHC cards are still uncommon, but the support will prove useful when 4GB and 8GB cards start to fill the market. The S7 has several other useful snapshot features, such as face-recognition autofocus and autoexposure for portraits, an MPEG-4 DivX mode with antishake, and ISO 1600 support. Unfortunately, the camera's narrow 37.5- to 112.5-equivalent lens will disappoint more experienced photographers.
The market is full of inexpensive, compact digital cameras, and the Optio S7 faces stiff competition from point-and-shoots such as the Canon PowerShot SD600 and the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W70. The S7's unique features and slightly higher than usual resolution may give it a slight edge, but it could still get lost in the crowd.
The S7 replaces last year's Pentax Optio S6 as its compact snapshot camera. The S6 suffered from lens artifacts and noise at higher ISO settings. The S7 sports the same lens as the S6, and Pentax didn't mention any major upgrade to the camera's sensor or image processor, so we fear that it might produce the same image flaws as its little brother.
The Pentax Optio S7 will be released in September, with a suggested retail price of $300.