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Pentax announces Optio S4i digital camera
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, February 2, 2004 - 11:01 EST)

Marking a third new model today from Pentax, the company has announced an Optio digital camera that couples a 4 megapixel imager with a 3x optical zoom lens.

The Pentax Optio S4i, an update to the existing Optio S4 model, also features a 1.8-inch LCD monitor on which to preview and review images, power from Lithium Ion batteries, a built-in 4-mode flash, 10MB of built-in memory and compatibility with Secure Digital and MultiMediaCards. Optional extras include a waterproof underwater housing and a remote control. The official press release along with a fact sheet on the Optio S4i follow below. The camera will be available in April, with pricing as-yet unannounced.

Pentax's Optio S4i digital camera. Courtesy of Eastman Kodak Co., with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Original Source Press Release:

PENTAX PACKS BIG MONITOR ON A LITTLE DIGITAL: NEW OPTIO S4i CAMERA BOASTS FIRST PENTAX CRADLE CHARGE

GOLDEN, Colorado (February 2, 2004) PENTAX USA packs a hefty 1.8 inch LCD monitor for larger viewing and focusing on the tiny, new Optio S4i digital camera. With 4.0 megapixels and a 3X optical zoom, this latest Optio digital camera also features the first PENTAX digital cradle-style lithium ion recharge base unit. The rechargeable unit design makes it so easy to recharge the Optio S4i. Simply set the camera in the recharge base until it ready to use again.

Featuring the legendary smc PENTAX lens and the unique PENTAX Sliding Lens system that allows the lens to retract fully when the camera is off lens, the Optio S4i is sleek and compact enough to carry everywhere. With the optional, acrylic waterproof housing that is newly-designed for the Optio S4i, everywhere may well include the exciting world of underwater digital photography! For optimal results, the Optio S4i now features both Marine Picture and Marine Movie modes to capture drama of blue underwater hues.

The PENTAX digital advantage doesn’t stop there. Equipped with PictBridge, a new direct-print standard released by the CIPA (Camera and Imaging Products Association), the Optio S4i connects directly to your printer so you may print images without the need for a personal computer. For more convenience, the PENTAX Optio S4i includes an ACDSee™ software package that is designed exclusively for PENTAX digital cameras. Valued at $150, the package includes ACDSee™ 5.1, FotoSlate™, FotoCanvas™ and Photostitcher. ACDSee™ digital camera software makes it easy to retrieve, view, manage, print, enhance and share your digital photos.

PENTAX U.S.A., Inc. will preview the Optio S4i on February 11 at the PMA Sneak Peek and the PEPCOM DigitalFocus media events in advance of the 2004 Photo Marketing Association (PMA) Trade Show from February 12-15 in Las Vegas. The camera will ship to retailers in April 2004.

PENTAX U.S.A., Inc. is an innovative leader in the production of digital and film cameras, binoculars, lenses, mobile printers, scanners and internet cameras. For more than 80 years, PENTAX technology has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of consumers and businesses. With headquarters in Golden, Colorado, PENTAX U.S.A., INC. is a wholly owned subsidiary of PENTAX CORPORATION.

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PENTAX OPTIO S4i FACT SHEET

4.0 effective megapixel clarity
For superior clarity that extends from macro shooting to the capture of expansive landscapes, the Optio S4i is equipped with the power of 4.0 effective megapixels and features benefits of a primary color filter and advanced imaging technologies, which highlight brighter, more natural colors and significantly enhance general image quality.
Hefty High-precision LCD monitor
Composition is made significantly more convenient with a 1.8-inch LCD monitor that offers a 100% field of view. It’s also exceptionally useful for the viewing of recorded shots on the spot.
Recharge unit
Compatibility with lithium ion batteries means it’s easy to recharge the Optio S4i whenever power runs low. In fact all you have to do is simply sit the camera in the compact, lightweight recharge unit.
Ultra-compact, refined design
With a newly developed multi-chip module system and an innovative sliding lens that retracts to be flush with the body of the camera, the Optio S4i achieves exceptionally compact dimensions of just 3.3 inches x 2 inches x .81 inches. The Optio S4i body features aluminum alloy construction.
High-quality smc PENTAX lens offering 3X zoom
The Optio S4i features a lens from the smc PENTAX series — a lineup renowned throughout the world for sheer imaging excellence. With 3X zoom with a focal range covering angles of view equivalent to those of a 35-105mm lens in 35mm format, it delivers the freedom to zoom out for shots of scenic beauty and move in for telephoto shots that offer flatter, kinder perspective. All 5 groups of 6 elements are crafted entirely from glass, with two lenses crafted to be aspherical on each side, and optical zoom can also be augmented with 4X digital zoom, which takes the camera’s total zoom capability to an impressive 12X.
User-friendly operability
Exceptional user-friendly operability is achieved largely through use of newly designed processing circuitry and an innovative software algorithm — elements which work hand in hand to take responsiveness to a new level and support a shutter time release lag of a mere 0.01 seconds*. Independent buttons are also at hand to allow easy access to frequently used shooting and playback functions and modes can be selected in a virtually effortless manner through use of the handy virtual mode dial. The Optio S4i also offers the further advantage of allowing functional customization to suit different needs, enabling the user to gain access to their favorite capabilities with maximum convenience in minimal time.
* Time taken from the moment when the shutter release is fully depressed following focus lock to the moment the shutter opens, when the flash is switched off.
Green mode
Green mode allows you to simply press the shutter button to achieve stunning shots, while the camera automatically takes care of all the necessary settings.
Quick button
Should the user decide to exit the menu screen and move into simple shooting, all they have to do is press the Quick button and they’re instantly taken back to Green mode. The Quick button can also be configured to take the user direct to Mode Matrix (tentative name), White balance, Mode memory, Trimming, Resizing, other menus, and even sub menus should the user desire.
A selection of versatile shooting modes
The Mode Matrix (tentative name) offers a graphic display of all the following 21 shooting modes on the LCD, allowing the user to select the most appropriate and leave exposure, white balance and other settings to the Optio S4i.
Program
Program mode allows you to take control over a combination of functions at once.
Night Scene
Night Scene mode captures the mood of evening and night scenes and performs well shooting subjects with dark backgrounds.
Movie
With a movie mode that allows you to record video with sound to the full capacity of available memory at 15 frames per second with the definition of 320 x 240 pixels, the Optio S4i lets the user capture moments in a highly expressive manner. Video files are also recorded in AVI format, making it easy to play them back on a PC*.
*System requirements for use of the Movie function: PCs running Windows 98/98SE, or Windows 2000 operating systems which came with Direct X8.0 and Windows Media Player pre-installed. PCs running Windows Me or Windows XP operating systems featuring Windows Media Player or QuickTime3.0 or higher. Macintosh machines running operating systems, which came with QuickTime 4.0 or higher pre-installed.
Panorama Assist
Some scenes are simply too big to fit into a single frame. That’s when Panorama Assist comes in handy, allowing a series of shots to be taken horizontally or vertically following the camera’s simple guidance, which can then be aligned and combined with ease on a PC through use of the included software.
* ACD photostitcher is compatible with Windows systems only.
3D image
3D image mode lets the user produce shots that have a genuine sense of depth and perspective. Two shots can be taken following the camera’s guidance, printed out with postcard dimensions, and then looked at through the optionally available viewer for a real 3D effect.
Landscape mode
This mode has been specifically designed by PENTAX to make the most of the greens and blues of scenic shots.
Flower mode
As flowers are such a popular subject for photography, the Optio S4i is equipped with a special Flower mode, specially designed to bring out all their vivid color and detail.
Portrait mode
Portrait mode successfully captures skin tones in a more faithful manner for more flattering results.
Self-portrait mode
Simply select this handy mode, point the camera at yourself, and shoot to achieve results that come out satisfyingly crisp despite the close nature of the composition.
Surf & Snow mode
The highly reflective nature of snow or water can be a nightmare in terms of exposure. Fortunately the Optio S4i has the power to deal with exactly such circumstances.
Autumn Color mode
Selection of Autumn Color mode makes the most of reds, browns, and other colors associated with the season.
Sunset mode
A mode specifically designed to capture the warmth and splendor of sunrise and sunset scenes.
Art museum
The Optio S4i even features a mode ideally suited to photographing exhibits in museums, achieving optimal exposure while ensuring the flash doesn’t fire.
Text
A Text mode allows documents, notes or other written material to be photographed and recorded in a manner that assists in maintaining their legibility.
Cuisine
Cuisine mode enables the Optio S4i to achieve natural color, convey convincing texture, and communicate the real freshness of food.
Soft
Simple selection of Soft mode applies a soft focus to the subject, which can be used for flattering portraits or to convey a sense of the romantic.
Illustration
Illustration mode converts images to resemble an artist’s drawing.
Digital Filters
Equipped with a range of digital filters, the Optio S4i can be used to transform the mood of recorded shots. Choose black & white or sepia shooting for a marked difference in style, or choose from a range of colors (red, pink, yellow, green, blue, and purple). The Optio S4i also offers a special Slim filter that makes subjects appear more slender or broader and can be adjusted to different degrees.
User
User mode enables a combination of preferred settings to be saved for easy access whenever the user desires.
Marine*
The mode ensures blue tones are reproduced in a faithful, pleasing manner.
Marine movie*
*For use only with option underwater case housing.
Marine movie mode applies the same advantage when recording video underwater.
Voice recording mode
In addition to its range of imaging capabilities, the Optio S4i also has audio recording capability that rivals many standalone devices. This can be incredibly handy in a wide range of situations, offers index ability, and can be used to record audio to the capacity of the available memory.
PictBridge compatibility
The Optio S4i supports PictBridge, a new direct-print standard released by the CIPA (Camera and Imaging Products Association). This advance allows the Optio S4i to be connected to a printer that supports PictBridge directly via USB cable for control over printing, resizing, trimming, digital filters, and other functions without the need for a PC.
USB mass storage class compatibility*
USB cable connectivity allows multiple recorded shots to be quickly and easily imported into common PC applications, opening up a whole new world of imaging opportunities.
*System requirements: PCs running Windows 98/98SE, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows XP Home Edition/Professional or Mac OS 8.6 or higher (installation of the included driver software is required, except in the case of Mac 0S 9.0 or higher). Compliance with the aforementioned system requirements does not guarantee USB compatibility.
Useful software included
The Optio S4i comes bundled with a CD-ROM that features an exclusive USB driver as well as the popular ACDSee for PENTAX, which can be installed on both Windows and Macintosh systems.
Built-in auto flash
The Optio S4i has a built-in flash, which fires automatically in low-light conditions. For greater control, the camera also features Flash-on, Flash-off, and red-eye reduction* modes, and there’s also the option of Slow shutter sync which is useful when shooting in Night Scene mode. *This feature does not eliminate “red eyes” in all instances.
Optical viewfinder
Use of the optical viewfinder offers the advantage to switch-off the LCD monitor in order to conserve power.
Nine-image and Zoom display
Nine recorded shots can be displayed on the screen simultaneously to speed the search for recorded shots. Once the user has found the image they were looking for, the LCD monitor also allows them to zoom in on it with 4x magnification which makes it easier to check for focus and examine intricate detail.
Convenient self-timer
The handy self-timer lets you get in the frame whenever you want, enabling the shooting of self-portraits and allowing the user to enter into group shots.
Optional remote control
Two remote control units are optionally available for the Optio S4i. Named remote control E and remote control F, they offer remote immediate shutter release, the advantage of a three-second timer, and the former can even control zooming.
Continuous shooting
Just keep the shutter button held down and continuous shooting is activated, allowing fast-paced action to be recorded in a satisfying manner.
Interval shooting
The Interval shooting function allows sequential sets of shots to be recorded for playback as a short film. This can be used to achieve impressive effects, such as scenes of clouds rushing across the sky, for example, and offers a selection of recording speeds — X2, X5, X10, X20, X50, and X100.
Macro mode, Landscape mode
Macro mode allows the user to compose shots from as close as 7 inches from the subject, while selection of super macro shooting allows composition from as close as just 2.36 inches. The Optio S4i is also ideal for capturing truly expansive scenes, achieving sharp focus all the way up to the horizon through selection of Infinity-landscape mode.
Manual focus
When manual focus is selected, the central area of a potential shot on the LCD monitor is automatically enlarged to make it easier to achieve accuracy.
Options for autofocus
The Optio S4i even offers a choice in terms of autofocus, allowing the user to select Spot AF to place the center of focus on any one of 49 spots in the frame, or 7-point autofocus which allows simultaneous focusing on multiple subjects in different parts of the frame.
White balance settings
A range of white balance modes makes the Optio S4i well suited to shooting in different types of light. It features settings for Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, and Fluorescent light, and there is also a manual setting that lets the user take control of the selection.
Histogram display
A histogram display accurately represents light levels during both shooting and playback, which allows the user to make a more educated evaluation of each shot.
Multiple choices for metering
With the ample choice of multi-segment metering, center-weighted metering, and spot metering, the Optio S4i can achieve the most appropriate exposure in myriad situations.
ISO settings
Light sensitivity is easy to adjust, with a selection of ISO50, 100, 200 and 400 (TBD), as well as an auto setting.
Exposure compensation
Some photographers like the effects of slight overexposure, while others feel a touch of underexposure can be particularly attractive. That’s why the Optio S4i offers exposure compensation that can be set across a range of +2EV in 1/3EV steps.
Settings for sharpness, saturation, and contrast
With five grades of settings for sharpness, saturation, and contrast, the Optio S4i provides the user with a satisfying degree of control over each and every shot.
Image protection
The Optio S4i has also been designed to prevent the accidental deletion of images, with a special function that allows the user to specify particular shots that should be kept.
Mode memory function
The handy mode memory function allows a combination of settings to be saved at once, then automatically returned to when the power is next switched on.
World time function
The Optio S4i can display the time for 62 different cities around the world. It can also record the time and date for each shot taken to make sorting much simpler.
Alarm function
The Optio S4i is additionally equipped with an alarm function too. This can be set to sound accompanied by a selected image so that users can be woken up to the sight of a friendly face or reminded of something in their schedule by the display of something relevant.
DPOF compatibility
DPOF compatibility gives the user a further degree of control over printouts, letting them take control of the date function and decide the number of copies*.
* Some printers may not support the above function. Please consult the supplier of your printer for more information.
Exif Print and PRINT Image Matching compatibility
When used with Exif Print (Exif 2.2) and PRINT Image Matching-compatible printers, the Optio S4i can produce prints that are more faithful to the original subject.
Approximately 10MB of built-in memory
The Optio S4i can also take shots when used without additional media. Indeed it has approximately 10MB of built-in memory that allows the recording of a substantial amount of images.
SD memory card and Multimediacard compatibility
The Optio S4i is compatible with both SD memory cards and Multimedia cards for easy transfer of data to PCs.
Resize function
The data size of recorded shots can be reduced through use of a handy Resize function. This frees up space for the capture of more shots without forcing the user to delete ones already taken. The reduced-size files can then overwrite their heavier versions or be saved as entirely separate files. Moreover, all images can be selected for resizing at once, freeing up a larger amount of memory in one easy action.
Trimming
The Trimming function allows unwanted elements in images to be cropped out, or important parts to be selected on their own for storage as individual files.
Voice memo function
Up to 30 seconds of sound can be attached to recorded images, allowing situations to be captured in a much more memorable manner.
Function customization
Two frequently used functions can be selected from a choice of nine. These can then be assigned to the left and right positions of the four-way controller for easier access in the future.
Customization
An image stored in the Optio S4i can be used to appear on the camera’s start up screen. The user can also customize the camera further by selecting a sound to accompany shutter release and a range of other actions.
AV (video/audio) output terminal
The Optio S4i makes it easy to display images on the larger dimensions of a TV screen through use of an AV output terminal and the provided AV cable.
Power sources
With the Optio S4i, choice even exists in terms of power, through compatibility with the commonly available batteries, the exclusive rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and an optionally available AC adapter.
Operation in 9 languages
All menus and messages of the Optio S4i can be set for display in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese (both traditional and simplified), Korean, or Japanese.
Optional accessories
Waterproof case
The Optio S4i can be easily housed in an optionally available waterproof case, opening up the exciting world of underwater photography.
AC adapter kit
The handy AC adapter makes the Optio S4i better suited to worldwide travel, allowing battery power to be saved when shooting near a power outlet anywhere in the world. Images can be shot in 3D mode to achieve a real sense of depth and perspective when the results are seen through the special viewer.
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Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate