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Marking the first digital camera in the company's new X-series, the Pentax X70 is what the company terms a "megazoom", offering a whopping 24x optical zoom - everything from a generous 26mm wide angle to a far-reaching 624mm telephoto equivalent. Macro shooting is possible to as close as just 0.4 inches (one centimeter) in Super Macro mode. With a lens that powerful, you'd expect to find some form of mechanical image stabilization to prevent blur from camera shake - and Pentax doesn't disappoint, mounting the X70's image sensor on a moveable platter to allow for CCD shift-type image stabilization. The Pentax X70's 4:3 aspect ratio image sensor has a native resolution of twelve megapixels (4,000 x 3,000 pixels), and can offer ISO sensitivies from 50 to 1,600 equivalent at this full resolution. The X70 also offers a selection of alternate aspect ratios, including 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1.

In low-light or when high shutter speeds are a must, resolution can be traded off against further increased sensitivity, for a maximum of ISO 6,400 equivalent at five megapixels or below. As well as increasing the maximum sensitivity, shooting at reduced resolution also brings a potential increase in frame rates on offer. We don't currently have a specification for frame rate at the X70's maximum twelve megapixel resolution, but when shooting at five megapixels or below, the camera can offer an impressive 11 frames per second for up to 21 frames.

Focusing is achieved using contrast detection, and the Pentax X70 also includes an autofocus tracking function that helps deal with moving subjects. Face detection functionality is also offered, capable of identifying up to 32 faces in a scene within just 0.03 seconds. Once detected, the locations of your subjects' faces are taken into account when determining both autofocus and exposure variables. The face detection function is also used for two related features - a Smile Capture mode which triggers the shutter when your subject smiles, and a Blink Detection function which warns you when your subject blinked during an exposure.

For photographers wanting maximum ease of use, the Pentax X70 offers a Programmed AE exposure mode, a wide selection of twenty scene modes, and an Auto Picture mode which can detect the subject and then automatically select the relevant option from a subset of seven common scene modes. If you desire a little more control over the creative process, the Pentax X70 also offers both Aperture- and Shutter-priority modes as well as the ability to shoot completely manually, specifying your own choice of shutter speed and aperture. An unusual "Digital Wide" mode automatically stitches two images together in-camera to yield a single extra-wide angle image equivalent to 20mm on a 35mm camera.

Pentax X70 owners will frame and review their images and movies either on the camera's 200,000 dot electronic viewfinder, or on a 2.7" LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution. Movie resolutions up to full 720p high definition (1280 x 720 pixels) with sound are available, however the frame rate drops to just 15 frames per second when shooting in high definition. For the full frame rate of 30 fps, Pentax X70 owners will want to set their camera to record at resolutions of 840 x 480 pixels or below. Usefully, shake reduction is also offered when shooting movies. Images are stored on Secure Digital cards, including the newer SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) types, or in 33.6MB of built-in memory. Power is provided by a proprietary D-LI92 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery.

The Pentax X70 goes on sale in the USA from April 2009, priced in the region of $400.