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Pentax Optio E70 review: Pentax Optio E70

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MSRP: $259.99

The Good Large, easy-to-read controls; simple operation.

The Bad Slow; small LCD.

The Bottom Line For a low-cost pocket camera, the Pentax Optio E70 is a good option for those with simple needs.

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6.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 5
  • Image quality 6

The Pentax Optio E70 is an inexpensive ultracompact camera that takes good photos for the required investment in time and money. It's a nice-looking camera, too, with big controls well suited for beginners. Of course, you don't get much more than the basics at its price point and it certainly can't take on models priced a little higher in photo quality and especially not performance. But it would be tough to find something better with the E70's price, features, and size combination.

Key specs Pentax Optio E70
Price (MSRP) $139.95
Dimensions 3.8 inches wide by 2.4 inches high by 0.9 inch deep
Weight (with battery and media) 5.6 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 10 megapixels, 1/2.33-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution 2.4-inch LCD, 112K dots
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 3X, f3.1-5.9, 35-105mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/Motion JPEG
Highest resolution size (still/video) 3,648x2,736 pixels (4:3)/ 640x480 at 30fps (16:9)
Image stabilization type Electronic (auto, two types)
Battery type, rated life 2 AA (alkaline, Li-ion, NiMH), 620 shots (Li-ion)

The E70 is just small enough to be considered an ultracompact and is slight enough and light enough to stick in a pants pocket or small handbag--a rarity at its price. It's available in three colors, too: gold, blue, and red. Its design strength lies in its simplicity, though some may see this as just a lack of features. On top is a power button and shutter release with the rest of the controls (zoom rocker included) on the back.

If you really don't like small or cramped buttons, you'll probably love the E70. Buttons for menu navigation, flash, capture mode, drive mode, focus, playback, and even activating face detection are big and spaciously laid out and labeled with a large icon or word. This would be a front-runner for someone who has trouble seeing or using the smaller controls of other compact cameras. Pentax used a relatively small 2.4-inch LCD on the E70, though.

General shooting options Pentax Optio E70
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800
White balance Auto
Recording modes Auto Picture, Program, Scene, Movie
Focus 9-point AF, Spot AF, Auto-tracking AF
Metering Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot

Not surprisingly, there isn't a lot of shooting flexibility with the E70. The Mode button opens up a menu of 18 shooting modes, including Pentax's auto-scene-selection option called Auto Picture, which determines the best shooting mode for your subject such as Landscape, Night Scene, or Flower. The results are reliable, so those who like to leave it in auto should be happy with the outcome. There's also a Program mode, which lets you pick focus area and ISO sensitivity, and adjust exposure compensation, and Pentax's anti-Program setting, Green mode, which takes away all control.

One thing worth mentioning is Pentax's new Pixel Track SR for helping minimize the effects of motion blur. Turn it on and it will track motion blur at the pixel level, determining in real time the amount of blur. Once you've taken a shot, it filters the effect motion has on each pixel to sharpen them and remove blur (all of this takes a few seconds after the photo is captured). In my tests it worked better than the traditional method of electronic stabilization of boosting ISO and shutter speed, as Pixel Track doesn't introduce more noise. However, in some of my shots it sacrificed sharpness in order to remove a slight blur. So it's not perfect, but it would be worth turning on if camera shake is unavoidable.

With Pentax's Pixel Track SR off (left) you can see some motion blur caused by handshake. When turned on (right), the blur is gone but the rest of the photo isn't as sharp.

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