Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital Cameras (Point and Shoot) > Pentax

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Nov 28, 2004, 9:53 PM   #1
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Use your head when buying one of these tiny cameras. 5 MP does not mean you are buying a super high res camera. There are4 MP units with larger lenses that can outperform a camera like this. I got the Optio S5I as a SECOND camera to supplement the bulky 8 MP Nikon 8800 that I also use.
Let me start with the negatives:

I think the 1.8 display is so-so at best. You can't judge 100% when a reviewed pic is sharp or not. It shows some noise. Clearly they didn't go crazy over the screen quality.

No focus assist lamp for very low light work, but amazing (really!) auto focus system in even dim light.
Mediocre movie mode.

Button placement is less than intelligent. Some folks will wonder why pentax put the power button next to the shutter release. It's fine once you train your fingers.
Cradle does not sync via USB...duh! Why have a cradle at all?

Built in memory is just an excuse to ship the camera with no SD card. The built in 10 meg will let you take 3 pics, so buying at least a 256 is a must.
Here are the positives....

With a little practice the camera can take some wonderful shots. I have taken indoor portraits with no problems. The AF system works very well in low light. Sharpness is better than I expected for such a tiny lens. The camera's size means it can go anywhere, even a shirt pocket. In daylight the Optio excels and there are plenty (19) of scene modes to play with. It also has a built filtering system with 9 colors and even a effects for slimming a subject! The camera also has a Program mode with manual WB, Focus and metering options. It allows for an unusual amount of control for such a compact P&S. You'll even find a manual focus mode that works better than the one on my expensive Nikon. Pentax also sells a tiny remote control (20 bucks) for the camera and a underwater housing!

On softness issues: Yes, I can see some softness with the camera at wide, mostly in the corners. You have to shoot a field of wheat to see it at all. It goes away if you just zoom in a bit. 8X10 Prints look FANTASTIC. Looking at ALL of the other cameras, they all have somewhat soft edges and some look soft overall, such as the little Minolta. I see the same kind of softness from the Sony L1 and Casios and the Optio is a smaller camera! If you're looking for a primary unit for "serious" or "ciritcal" shooting, an ultra compact is not the best way to go.

While the cradle has no USB connectivity, it does allow you to charge two batteries at once. Nice.

Overall the Optio S5I is well done, but a better screen and ergonomics would have been welcome. Casio sells the Z50 and Z55 which are just a hair larger, but feature better ergonomics. Panasonic has a new camera of the same size (Lx-7) with image stabilization, but the screen quality and battery life appear to be poor compared to the Pentax and Casio. The only other camera I considered was the Sony L1, but it has only 4MP and is too thick for a shirt pocket. A few folks have commented that the Pentax has a more film-like look than other cameras and I agree. Looking at sample pics from Casio, Sony L1, T1, the Pentax looked best. The T1 pics were very sharp, but looked very un-film-like. It's a subjective call obviously. The tiny Panasonic was even better, but I don't want to carry 3 batteries around and the Optio S5I is more than 100.00 cheaper.

Camera is actually smaller in height andlength than a credit card. It can be tough to hold, but you WANTED a tiny camera! This camera goes into a shirt pocket and only the Panasonic can match it for size. The Casio 100 is even thinner, but 3.2 MP is a deal breaker.

If you want the smallest 5MP unit around, I doubt you'll be disappointed in the Pentax, but I'd still hesitate to recommend it as a primary camera simply because a larger lens set will give you better shots for the same money. I'm sure the next versions of all of these cameras will further improve.
Good luck!

Capt RB :cart:
  Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Nov 30, 2004, 2:36 AM   #2
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 2
Default

Capt,

thanks for review. Good stuff. I just picked up a s5i today and agree with points. I actually like the lcd screen. also very impressed with picture quality so far. And it's about as small as it gets.

But I'm almost tempted to return and swap for a sony p-150. Reason? I'm afraid the camera feels almost a little too small. Like I'll accidentally break it.
Hate the power button and the rubber flip outs for the usb seem like they'll pop off at a moments notice. So some aspects seem a bit flimsy but that may just be the deal with any camera so small.

Loved the solid feel of the sony. Also like the ergonomics and the turndial mode vs onscreen. USB 2.0 for faster downloads. But ultimately still kind of stuck btwn these two. Sony's a wee bit too big Pentax maybe a wee bit too wee.

Anwyay thanks again for review.
m123456 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 30, 2004, 9:20 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1
Default

Capt RB wrote:
Quote:
Panasonic has a new camera of the same size (Lx-7) with image stabilization, but the screen quality and battery life appear to be poor compared to the Pentax and Casio.
Capt RB, what is the Panasonic camera you are referring to? You mention the Lx-7, but do you mean the Fx-7, or is there a different model? I can't find anything about it on the web. Do you have a link to it? Thanks!
mickeyjump is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 1, 2004, 3:33 AM   #4
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 24
Default

Ok, what is the real difference between the s5i and the s50? The most obvious differences being

The s50 is larger and heavier than the 5i (though it's controls, eg power,are better placed due to this)

Screen?

The s50 takes AA batteries rather than the propriatory ones for the S5i (which allow the 5i to be smaller)

The s50 has 11meg internal where the s5i has 10 (presumably this is due to a slighty bigger firmware on the s5i, leaving less of the internal memory free?)

No cradle on the s50.

3D mode, the s5i has a 3d mode, the s50 has something similar but not called 3d?

Movie mode, I think the s50 is only limited by card size, but the s5i is limited to time?

Price, the s5i is quite a lot more expensive than the s50.

Are there any other major differences, the pentax website doesn't really specify them and most comparison facilities on websites only list the internal memory difference.


rjm2k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 3, 2004, 3:52 PM   #5
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 21
Default

mickeyjump wrote:
Quote:
Capt RB wrote:
Quote:
Panasonic has a new camera of the same size (Lx-7) with image stabilization, but the screen quality and battery life appear to be poor compared to the Pentax and Casio.
Capt RB, what is the Panasonic camera you are referring to? You mention the Lx-7, but do you mean the Fx-7, or is there a different model? I can't find anything about it on the web. Do you have a link to it? Thanks!
I'm pretty sure he is referrig to the Fx-7.
skagen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 4, 2004, 4:16 PM   #6
Member
 
HappyMac's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 57
Default

rjm2k schrieb:
Quote:
Movie mode, I think the s50 is only limited by card size, but the s5i is limited to time?
The answer is: The only limit for both of them ist the memory card size!

Mark
HappyMac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 2004, 2:29 PM   #7
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3
Default

Here's my take on the Optio s5i:



Good points:

The Optio s5i is a superb little camera.

This is my second digital camera. My first was a Canon S400, but it had significant shutter lag (difficult to take pictures of the dog) and worse, its pre-flash always made me close my eyes in each picture (lesson learned: try the camera out on yourself before buying!).

The Optio s5i produces excellent pictures, and there is practically no shutter lag. When pre-focused, the picture is almost instantaneous. With autofocus, speeds are excellent when you're in wide / normal angle mode. When zooming in, autofocus slows down (probably to just a bit under 1 sec) and it definitely is noticible. AF was very good in low (indoor) light.

There's no closed-eyes for me now. Pre-flash is much quicker. Also, another big plus for me was the optional wireless remote. Every Christmas, my wife and I (and our dog) take a self-portrait. Prior to our Canon, we had a Pentax IQ zoom, and its wireless remote was wonderful for taking self-portraits. We really missed that in the Canon. The old remote actually works on our s5i. Nice!

Unlike the Sony of similar size, this camera has a tripod mount. This is a definite plus, and was one of the reasons I didn't pick the Sony (other reasons included the Sony's reportedly aggressive noise reduction and use of Memory Stick).

Overall this has really been a terrific camera.


Problems:

Here are the down-sides I've encountered so far:

Shot-to-shot speeds are slow. With flash, it's about 5 seconds or so. Not a big problem, but if you're needing to take pictures in rapid succession, forget it. "Continuous" mode is also slow-- about 1 shot per second without flash.

The LCD does not gain-up in very very dim light. As I usually have a lamp or two on indoors, this is not a great problem, though if you intend to shoot in near-darkness, you'll have to use the optical viewfinder. The LCD in low light can also look a bit grainy (though it is still very usable).

One thing I miss from my Canon was its ability to auto rotate photos. It could tell when you were holding the camera sideways and adjust the picture playback accordingly. You'll have to manually do this on the Optio.

There's no aperture / shutter priority. A slightly larger Optio has this feature, but it did not have as good a review as the s5i.

The "docking" station is bulky and does not connect you to USB. I haven't seen the optional battery charger or AC adapter, but what comes in the box is significantly bigger than the Canon charger. This is only an issue when you're travelling-- you paid for a small camera; it'd be nice to not have to lug around a charger that's bigger than the camera itself (which to be fair is not that big).

With cameras of this size, the flash is not strong. It's more than adequate for picutres of family, but for far-away shots (about 11 ft+ according to some reviews), it's not very good. Also, red-eye (without red-eye reduction) is prominent.

Overall, the down-sides I've encountered are minimal, based on the way I generally take pictures (i.e. family pics).


-- Frank
ftlum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 11, 2005, 8:42 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 107
Default

Good, useful review. I get tired of people justifying their purchases by claiming their camera is best, and overlooking faults. This review seems honest, and thus useful for a potential S5i buyer who is willing to accept tradeoffs for the small size.

I'm getting one to complement my Nikon 8400.Planning to take the S5i with me almost all the time, and hope I get a lot of "discovered" photos, like when you're walking down the street and are suddenly presented with an odd or unusual sight created by an accidental juxtaposition of colors or unusual lighting.
rodmeister is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 16, 2005, 4:52 AM   #9
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 21
Default

rodmeister wrote:
Quote:
I'm getting one to complement my Nikon 8400.Planning to take the S5i with me almost all the time, and hope I get a lot of "discovered" photos, like when you're walking down the street and are suddenly presented with an odd or unusual sight created by an accidental juxtaposition of colors or unusual lighting.
The Optio S series is very good for that. I used to own the S4 and I took it with me everywhere, pretty much as instinctivley as aI took my keys and my phone. Got a lot of spontaneous pictures that way. The size of it really changes the way you use a camera.

Ultimately though the lens quality of the S4 was pretty unsatisfactory and Pentax hasn't been willing to acknowledge this or really give this camera the lens it should have to become the hands down winner in this category.

So I got the FX7 instead. Marginally bigger, but still very pocketable and much better lens. Been much more satisfied with that. But I sure wish Pentax had the gumption to put a top notch lens in the Optio.

I reviewed the Panasonic DMC-FX7 and the Pentax Optio S4 and the Casio QV-R40 over the past few years. You can read the reviews and see how I ended up deciding going the path I did.

skagen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 16, 2005, 12:46 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Indian Rocks Beach, FL
Posts: 4,036
Default

Quote:
another big plus for me was the optional wireless remote
Will the remote wake the camera after it goes to sleep mode? My Oly remote has an "On" button but doesn't waken the camera. I'm looking for a camera remote in a small camera that wakens the camera.

I find the lens to be quite good on my S4. Pentax quality control isn't the greatest and some of them came with poor lenses. The only option is to return it. I think it was with the S4i that Steve got a bad lens. The replacement was better.

The corners are a little soft, but that doesn't distract from photos unless you are copying documents or maybe photographing a wheat field. The old pros often softened and slightly darkened the corners to get more impact. There isn't usually anything there that has to be sharp. Other very small cameras seem to have corner softness as well.

I wish they had put an optical finder on the FX series. I'm waiting for a small stabilized camera with a viewfinder. I agree with Phil at dpreview that the stabilization on the FX7 series just about makes up for the poor stability of having to hold the camera in front of you to shoot.

I hadn't even noticed that my S4 LCD didn't brighten well in very low light. Not a big deal if you have a viewfinder. It would be a nuisance with the FX series though.

Pentax has a couple of new versions coming out. The S5n has movies at 640 X 480 and 30fps with a 2 inch LCD. It is the same size as the S5i. The S5Z is slightly wider and has a 2.5 inch LCD – also with the good MPEG4 movies. Neither are available yet in the US and I don't think they have a manual exposure mode.


slipe is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 4:10 AM.