Pentax S1 Review
|Dimensions:||3.6 x 2.1 x 0.8 in.
(92 x 54 x 21 mm)
|Weight:||4.4 oz (125 g)
Pentax Optio S1 Overview
The Pentax's Optio S1's stylish, ultracompact aluminum body is available in three different versions -- chrome with black trim, black with red trim, or green with silver trim -- each featuring translucent control buttons and laser-etched front panel markings. Inside, all three variants of the Pentax S1 include a 14 megapixel, 1/2.3"-type, CCD image sensor. The S1 places its imager behind a Pentax-branded 5x optical zoom lens with 35mm-equivalent focal lengths ranging from a useful 28mm wide angle to a 140mm telephoto. (Actual focal lengths are five to 25mm). Maximum aperture varies from f/3.9 to f/5.7 across the zoom range.
On its rear panel, a 2.7-inch LCD display with anti-reflective coating and 230,000 dot resolution is the sole option on which to frame and review images or movies, with the Pentax S1's design not providing for a separate optical viewfinder. Usefully, the S1 includes CCD shift-type image stabilization to fight blur from camera shake, as part of a multi-pronged approach which also includes software stabilization in Movie mode (with an increased focal length crop), plus the ability to raise ISO-equivalent sensitivity as high as ISO 6,400 to freeze motion via higher shutter speeds (although of course, at the same time, with higher noise levels).
The Optio S1 features nine-point contrast detection autofocusing, as well as a face detection function that is linked to both the camera's autofocus and autoexposure systems. The face detection function is said to have been upgraded, and is able to detect up to 16 faces in the image frame simultaneously. It's also used to provide a Natural Skin mode which smooths skin tones in subjects' faces, and further allows for both a Smile Capture function that trips the shutter when your primary subject is smiling, and a blink detection function that warns you post-capture if their eyes were closed. It's also possible to use single-point autofocus, or to focus manually, if preferred. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,600 to 1/4 second ordinarily, or as high as four seconds in night scene mode. A TTL metering system offers multi-segment, center-weighted, and spot metering modes, and 2.0 EV of exposure compensation is available in 1/3EV steps. Six white balance modes are offered, including Auto, Manual, and four presets. A built-in five-mode flash strobe has an effective range of up to 12 feet at wide angle, or 8.2 feet at telephoto, when using automatic ISO sensitivity control.
Pentax has included its approachable Auto Picture mode for the S1, which can automatically select between 15 different common scene types -- Landscape, Portrait, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Standard, Flower, Sport, Candlelight, Blue Sky, Sunset, Text, Group Photo, Blue Sky Portrait, Sunset Portrait, and Backlight Portrait. The Pentax S1 also includes a digital filter function that can apply one of nine creative effects to your images, including B&W, Sepia, Toy Camera, Retro, Color, Color Emphasis, Soft, Brightness, and Miniature. There's also an in-camera HDR function for the first time in a Pentax compact, although we don't currently know whether this is a true multi-shot HDR mode applied at capture-time, or an HDR-like simulated effect perfomed post capture. The Pentax S1 also has both highlight and shadow correction functions that aim to hold onto image detail in these areas by tweaking the tone curve.
The Pentax S1 can capture 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) high definition video with sound, with a frame rate of 30 fps, and features a dedicated movie capture button on its rear panel. It also offers VGA (640 x 480) and QVGA (320 x 240) recording modes, with all movies saved as Motion JPEG-compressed AVIs. No high-definition connectivity is provided on-camera, with the Pentax S1 instead opting solely for NTSC / PAL standard-definition video output, and USB 2.0 High-Speed data connectivity. To view images and movies on a high-def display, you'll either need to offload the images via USB, or physically transfer the flash card. The Optio S1 is also compatible with an optionally available infrared remote control, helping you get in the picture, or avoid camera shake when shooting on a tripod.
The Pentax Optio S1 includes a Secure Digital card slot, compatible with the newer SDHC and SXDC card types, although it doesn't take advantage of the higher-speed UHS rates on these. We don't currently know if it retains Eye-Fi compatibility, which has also been a hallmark of recent Pentax compacts. The S1 draws power from a D-LI78 lithium ion rechargeable battery pack which recharges in-camera. Information on battery life and internal memory -- if any -- wasn't available at press time. The product bundle includes ArcSoft MediaImpression 3.0 for PENTAX software for Windows machines, and MediaImpression 2.1 for PENTAX for Macs.
The Pentax S1 ships from March 2011, with pricing set at around the US$200 mark.
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