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Pentax Optio 330 GS Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
Review Date
03/12/03
User Level
Novice to experienced amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot / Full Manual Control
Picture Quality
Good, 3.2-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
Good prints to 8x10
Availability
Now
Suggested Retail Price
$299

 

Introduction
Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Test Images
Specifications
Conclusion

Pentax is a camera maker with a long tradition in the film-based world, but a relative newcomer to the digital arena. Early on, they co-developed several cameras with Hewlett Packard, but now have stepped out on their own, with digicams entirely of their own design. Last year saw the introduction of their Optio line of compact digicams, with two-, three-, and four-megapixel models labeled the 230, 330, and 430 respectively. The 230, crafted to come in at an entry-level price, had a plastic body, but the 330 and 430 had sleek, rugged all-metal bodies and very compact form factors. With the 330 GS, Pentax has updated the 230 model with a 3.2-megapixel CCD for better resolution at a relatively affordable price. Among the new features on the 330 GS are Picture mode, providing seven preset shooting modes for special situations, and a live histogram display for checking exposure. - And the live histogram is only one of the advanced features not normally associated with an "entry level" camera. Read on below for all the details!


Camera Overview
With a body style and design nearly identical to the preceding Pentax Optio 230, the 330 GS is only a little larger than a deck of playing cards, and definitely one of the more portable digicams on the market (similar to the larger members of the Canon ELPH series). At 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches (103 x 63 x 42 millimeters) and 8.3 ounces (235 grams) with the battery and CompactFlash memory card, the Optio 330 GS was made for stashing in a shirt pocket or tiny purse. The compact design includes a built-in lens cover which automatically opens like a shutter when the lens telescopes out. The Optio 330 GS' 3x zoom lens offers both manual and automatic focus control, which, combined with the variety of exposure features, packs a lot of creative power into a tiny camera. The 3.2-megapixel CCD produces high resolution, print quality images, but also offers options for lower resolution images suited for email. Everything considered, the Optio 330 GS is a great "take anywhere" camera, simple to operate, yet with a range of advanced controls, and rugged enough to ride around in your pocket without fear of damage.

The Optio 330 GS has a 3x, 5.8-17.4mm lens, equivalent to a 38-114mm lens on a 35mm camera. (This is a fairly typical range, from a modest wide angle to a moderate telephoto.) The lens focuses over a range of 1.31 feet (0.4 meters) to infinity in normal shooting mode, with a Macro option covering from 3.9 inches to 1.6 feet (0.1 to 0.5 meters). The Optio 330 GS offers both manual and automatic focus (AF) control, with a Spot AF mode as well. In normal AF mode, the Optio 330 GS uses a five-point autofocus system to more accurately gauge the focus. There's also an Infinity / Landscape fixed focus setting. In addition to its optical zoom range, the Optio 330 GS offers up to 2.7x digital zoom (although I always remind readers that digital zoom decreases image quality, since it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image). For composing shots, the Optio 330 GS offers a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.6-inch color LCD monitor with backlight and brightness adjustment. The 330's optical viewfinder seems a bit more accurate than most, showing 90% of the final frame area in my tests, while the LCD viewfinder provides nearly 100% coverage. For more flexible framing, the LCD monitor swings out from the back panel, and turns around to face forward -- useful when framing yourself in the shot. The LCD monitor's information display includes detailed exposure information, including shutter speed and aperture settings (when the Shutter button is halfway pressed), so you have an idea of the exposure parameters the camera is using, even if you can't manually adjust them. Additionally, the LCD monitor reports the date, time, number of available images, special camera modes, and battery power. To quickly check exposure, you can also display a histogram -- either live in Record mode, or in Playback mode.

Exposure is automatically controlled on the Optio 330 GS, with a range of preset shooting modes available for specific situations. An On/Off button on top of the camera controls the power, and a Mode dial lets you select between Automatic, Picture, Night Scene, Movie, and 3D exposure modes. Most exposure options are controlled through the LCD's on-screen menu system, which offers very straightforward navigation. That said, you can control focus mode (auto, macro, landscape, or manual), the self-timer, exposure compensation, and the flash mode externally. White Balance, Metering, ISO, Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast, and Color mode settings are all accessed through the LCD menu. Metering modes include Multi-Segment, Center-Weighted, and Spot, with an Exposure Compensation adjustment from -2 to +2 in one-third-step increments. Additionally, an Auto Exposure Bracketing mode captures a series of three images at different exposure settings. One is captured at the normal metered setting, one with less exposure, and one with more exposure. Through the Record menu, you can also automatically bracket white balance, saturation, sharpness, or contrast. (This degree of auto bracketing control is rare in digicams selling at any price, let alone in an entry level model like the 330GS.) Light sensitivity is adjustable to 100, 200, or 400 ISO equivalents, with an Auto setting available as well. The Optio 330 GS' built-in flash is rated as effective from eight inches to 16 feet (0.2 to 5 meters) with the lens at full wide angle, with a more limited range of four inches to 8.9 feet (0.1 to 2.7 meters) at the telephoto setting. In my own tests, the flash power seemed a little weak at all test distances (8-14 feet), but decreased hardly at all out to the 14-foot limit of the test, even with the lens at its telephoto setting.)

Picture mode offers seven presets, including Landscape, Flower (brighter, more saturated colors), Portrait, Self-Portrait, Soft, Surf & Snow, and Sunset modes. These are definitely useful when shooting under more challenging conditions, automatically adjusting a range of camera functions. For low-light or twilight exposures, Night Scene mode extends the maximum shutter time to allow more ambient light into the image (a tripod is recommended when shooting in this mode to keep the camera steady and prevent any blurring). In Movie exposure mode, the camera captures moving images (without sound) for a maximum of 30 seconds per movie. A Self-Timer mode provides a 10-second delay between pressing the Shutter button and the camera actually taking the picture, allowing you to get into your own shots. For shooting fast-moving subjects, Continuous Shooting mode captures a rapid series of images for as long as you hold down the Shutter button, much like a motor drive on a traditional 35mm camera. The space available on the memory card determines the maximum number of images the camera will capture in the series, and details like resolution, shutter speed, and the state of the camera's "buffer" memory determine the shooting interval.

First introduced on the Optio 230, the Optio 330 GS offers a unique 3D recording mode, which produces three-dimensional "stereo pairs" of images similar to old-fashioned stereographs. The camera guides you through the process of capturing two images of the same subject (with the camera shifted laterally slightly between shots) before combining them into a "stereo pair" in a single frame of image memory. A transparent display of the first image captured remains on the LCD monitor, making it easy to keep everything aligned as you move the camera over slightly to capture the second image. (Very slick, this eliminates one of the biggest problems with handheld 3D stereo photography.) A pair of 3D viewing glasses comes with the Optio 330 GS, and works whether viewing 3D images in the Parallel or Cross formats. (Parallel means you view the stereo photo with your eyes looking straight on, while Cross means that you cross your eyes to see the stereo effect. Most people seem to have an easier time with the Cross format, but the 330GS supports either method.)

The Optio 330 GS also features a Color option, for capturing your choice of full color, black and white, or sepia images. Image contrast, saturation, and sharpness settings provide further creative options, and the six-mode White Balance setting includes a manual adjustment for more accurate color balance.

The Optio 330 GS stores images on CompactFlash Type I memory cards, and comes with a 16-megabyte card. Plan on buying at least a 32- or 64-megabyte card at the same time as the camera. The camera uses either two AA-type batteries, a single CR-V3 battery pack (included), or the optional AC adapter for power. As always, I strongly recommend purchasing a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a good charger, and keeping a spare set of batteries charged at all times. Click here to read my "battery shootout" page to see which batteries currently on the market are best, or here for my review of the Maha C-204F charger, my longtime favorite.

Basic Features

  • 3.2-megapixel CCD.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.6-inch color TFT LCD monitor that flips forward.
  • Glass, 3x, 5.8-17.4mm lens, equivalent to a 38-114mm lens on a 35mm camera.
  • 2.7x digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure control.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/1500 to four seconds.
  • Maximum aperture of f/2.6 to f/5.0, depending on lens zoom position.
  • Built-in flash with five modes.
  • CompactFlash (Type I) card storage (16MB card included).
  • Power supplied by two AA-type batteries, a single CR-V3 battery pack (included), or optional AC adapter.
  • ACDSee software and USB drivers included for both Windows and Mac platforms.

Special Features

  • Movie mode (without sound).
  • Continuous Shooting and Auto Exposure Bracketing modes.
  • 3D shooting mode.
  • Night Scene photography mode, plus seven preset Picture modes.
  • 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Macro (close-up) lens setting.
  • White balance (color) adjustment with six modes, including a manual adjustment.
  • Image Contrast, Sharpness, and Saturation adjustments.
  • Black & White and Sepia shooting modes.
  • Multi-Segment, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering modes.
  • Sensitivity setting with three ISO equivalents (100, 200, and 400) and an Auto setting.
  • Spot AF mode.
  • Manual and fixed focus modes.
  • World Time setting with 62 cities (28 time zones).
  • Exif 2.2 compatibility.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • PRINT Image Matching II compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).


Recommendation

Midrange Point & Shoots
If you're interested in the camera in this review, here are some competing models that may also interest you. (Camera names that aren't links are those we haven't reviewed yet. - Stay tuned.)
Three Megapixel, 3x zoom
Canon A70 Prices
Fuji A303 Prices
Kodak DX4330 Prices
Minolta Xi (subcompact) Prices
Nikon 3100 Prices
Olympus 560 Prices
Olympus 550* Prices
Pentax 330GS Prices
Sony P72 Prices
* - model phasing out
Confused?
Check out Dave's Picks!

The Optio 330 GS offers decent picture quality in a very compact, well-engineered package. Its full automatic mode is a good match for point-and-shoot photographers who want a camera that travels easily in a shirt pocket or purse. Its range of preset shooting modes lets even novice users handle difficult shooting situations with aplomb. The updated features on the 330 GS provide creative flexibility, and make the camera fun to use. (If you're a 3D fan, the camera's 3D mode is worth the price of admission all by itself.) The straightforward user interface and automatic exposure control will make novice users comfortable, while more experienced amateurs will enjoy the extended exposure options. A great little all-around camera for family trips and special events, with creative tools for turning ordinary snapshots into unique photographs.


Design
The all-plastic, silver body of the Optio 330 GS is light and compact, perfect for carrying along on a hike or family outing. Although the camera doesn't have much of a handgrip (just a slight bulge on the back to catch your thumb), it does come with a wrist strap for a more secure hold, and fits the pretty hand well. Its sleek, smooth styling is free from any significant protrusions except for the lens, which telescopes outward when powered on. When powered off, its small dimensions of 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches (103.5 x 63.5 x 42 millimeters) mean you can stash it in a shirt pocket or even a small evening bag for shooting on the fly. The Optio 330 GS is light weight as well, at just 8.3 ounces (235 grams) with the battery and CompactFlash card installed.

Apart from the slight protrusion of the lens barrel, the Optio 330 GS has a smooth front panel. With the lens stowed, the lens barrel only projects a quarter-inch or so beyond the camera's front face. Once extended, the telescoping lens protrudes an additional 3/4 of an inch from the camera body. A protective shutter protects the lens when not in use, automatically opening whenever the camera is powered on. Also on the front panel are the flash, optical viewfinder window, and lamp that blinks to count down the time to exposure in self-timer mode. A very slight lip serves as a small finger grip down the right side (as viewed from the back).

The right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) holds only the eyelet for attaching the wrist strap.

On the opposite side of the camera are two connector compartments, both covered by soft, rubbery flaps that bend out of the way to reveal the connectors. The top compartment holds the dual-purpose PC/Video jack, while the bottom flap reveals the DC In power connector.

A large, ribbed Mode dial dominates the right side of the Optio 330 GS' top panel, offering Auto, Picture, Night Scene, Movie, and 3D modes. In the center of the Mode dial is the shiny, silver Shutter button. The only other control on the top panel is the Power button.

The remaining camera controls dot the back panel, along with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and LCD monitor. The viewfinder eyepiece has two LED lamps on its right side, which light or blink to indicate camera status (such as when focus is set or the flash is charging). Though it doesn't offer a diopter adjustment, the eyepiece has a reasonably high eyepoint. I could see the full view with my glasses on, even with the eyepiece a slight distance from my lenses. Most eyeglass thicknesses thus shouldn't pose a problem, although the corners of the viewfinder will be slightly obscured with thicker eyeglass lenses. Hinged on the left side of the back panel, the LCD monitor swings out a full 180 degrees to face frontward (but doesn't swivel up and down). This lets you see yourself in the viewfinder so you can snap a self-portrait, but doesn't convey the advantages of over-the-head or ground-level shooting offered by full tilt/swivel LCD screens. Spread across the back panel are the Flash/Erase, Focus Mode/Protect, Zoom, Menu, Four-Way Arrow pad with center OK button, Display, and Reverse buttons. (This last button flips the LCD view left for right, so it has the proper orientation when the LCD monitor is facing forward.)

The bottom panel is reasonably flat, though the area directly beneath the LCD monitor is indented somewhat, and the LCD bulges gently outward when it's stowed in place. The battery compartment and CompactFlash slot both open from the bottom, a setup I'm not too fond of for studio shooting. (This means you have to dismount the camera from the tripod whenever you want to change memory cards or batteries.) Given the Optio 330 GS' point-and-shoot design and compact size though, I doubt this will be an issue for many users. A plastic threaded tripod mount is slightly off-center from the lens, but provides a fairly stable tripod connection.


Camera Operation
With just a handful of control buttons and a straightforward menu system, the Optio 330 GS' user interface won't take long to master. The Mode dial on top of the camera controls the main operating mode, and you can change flash mode, focus mode, exposure compensation, and optical zoom externally. Though the remaining exposure features require the LCD menu system, the menus are uncomplicated and simple to navigate. The camera's Setup menu is available in all modes, making it quick to change the main settings. With the instruction manual in-hand, it should take an hour or so to get comfortable with the controls (if you even need the instruction manual at all.)


External Controls


Power Button: Located unobtrusively on the camera's top panel, this button powers the camera on and off.


Mode Dial: Sitting on the far right side of the top panel, this dial controls the camera's operating modes. Automatic, Picture (PICT), Night Scene, Movie, and 3D modes are available.

Shutter Button: Surrounded by the Mode dial on top of the camera, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed.


Zoom Toggle: Located in the top right corner of the back panel, this button controls the optical and digital zoom in any record mode. In Playback mode, this button lets you zoom in on captured images, to check focus or precise framing, or view multiple images as small thumbnails to let you quickly scan through the images on the memory card. Pressing the "W" side of the button activates the nine-image thumbnail index display mode, while the "T" side of the button enlarges captured images for close-up viewing.

Self-Timer / Focus Mode / Protect Button: Directly to the right of the Flash / Erase button, this button cycles through Self-Timer, Macro, Landscape Infinity, and Manual Focus modes in any record mode.

In Playback mode, this button lets you write-protect the current image or all images on the memory card. If the displayed image already has write-protection, this button lets you cancel the setting.

Flash / Erase Button: On the right side of the viewfinder eyepiece on the camera's back panel, this button cycles through the available flash modes in Auto, Full Selectable, and Night Scene modes. Choices are:
  • Auto: Fires the flash in low lighting or when subjects are backlit.
  • Flash Off: Completely disables the flash.
  • Flash On: Fires the flash with every shot, regardless of light level.
  • Auto Red-Eye Reduction: Just like Auto mode, only fires the flash in low lighting or backlit conditions. However, this mode also fires a small preflash before the full flash, to reduce the occurrence of the Red-Eye Effect in people.
  • Flash On Red-Eye Reduction: Fires the flash with every exposure, using the Red-Eye Reduction preflash as well.

In Playback mode, this button displays the Delete options. You can delete the currently-displayed image, or all of the images on the memory card.


Menu Button: Adjacent to the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button calls up the settings menu in both Record and Playback modes.

Four Way Arrow Pad and OK Button: This diamond-shaped rocker button is just to the right of center on the back panel. Arrows point up, down, left, and right, with an OK button in the center. In any settings menu, the arrow keys navigate through settings, while the OK button confirms any changes.

In any record mode, the right and left arrows adjust the exposure compensation from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments.

The OK button switches into Playback mode, for image review. In Playback mode, the right and left arrows scroll through captured images on the memory card. If an image has been enlarged, all four arrows pan around within the view.


Display Button: Adjacent to the lower right corner of the LCD monitor, this button controls the LCD monitor display mode. In any record mode, pressing the button sequentially cycles through the display options of image with information display, image with histogram, image only, and no display at all (LCD off).

In Playback mode, this button turns the information display on and off, and also activates a histogram display.


Camera Modes and Menus

The Optio 330GS' main operating modes are selected with the Mode Dial on the camera's top panel. Options are normal recording, "PICT" for specific shooting conditions, Night Scene, Movie, and 3D. The menu options remain the same in each mode, as described below.

Record Mode: In Record mode, the camera can capture still images or movie files. The Mode dial on top of the camera selects between Auto, Picture, Night Scene, Movie, and 3D modes, which provide varying levels of control over the exposure. The Record menu is displayed by pressing the Menu button in any of these exposure modes, and the following options are available (some options are not available in all modes):

  • Record Mode Settings
    • Resolution: Sets the image resolution to 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; 1,024 x 768; or 640 x 480 pixels.
    • Quality level: Sets the JPEG compression level to Good, Better, or Best (three stars being Best and one star being Good).
    • White Balance: Adjusts the overall color balance of the scene. Options include Auto, Daylight, Shade, Incandescent, Fluorescent, and Manual. (Manual white balance lets you use a white object to set the camera's color balance. This is an unusual feature to find in a primarily "point-and-shoot" camera.)
    • Focusing Area: Designates the area of the frame that the camera determines focus from, either Spot or Multiple. Spot AF uses the center area to determine focus. Multiple mode bases focus on a larger area in the center of the frame.
    • AE Metering: Chooses how the camera determines exposure, choices are Spot, Center-Weighted, and Multi-Segment.
    • ISO Speed: Adjusts the camera's light sensitivity, options are Auto, 100, 200, or 400.
    • Auto Bracket: Lets you bracket exposure, sharpness, contrast, saturation, or white balance in a series of three images.
    • Color: Captures images in Full Color, Black and White, or Sepia tones.
    • Digital Zoom: Turns the 2.7x digital zoom on and off. When enabled, the digital zoom kicks in after you've zoomed the optical lens all the way to its telephoto position.
    • Instant Review: Turns the Instant Review function off, or sets the review time on the LCD screen to 0.5, 1, 2, 3, or 5 seconds.
    • Continuous Shooting: Turns Continuous Shooting on or off.
    • 3D Mode: Sets the 3D recording mode to Cross or Parallel. (Cross means you need to cross your eyes slightly to see the 3D effect. Parallel means you need to look straight ahead. Actually slightly "wall-eyed." Most people find the crossed-eye method easier.)
    • Memory: Lets you decide which settings will be remembered when the camera is shut off. Any setting not selected returns to the default setting whenever the camera is turned off and back on again. Features that can be remembered include Flash, EV Compensation, White Balance, Focusing Area, AE Metering, ISO Speed, Digital Zoom, Focus Mode, Zoom Position, Display, and File Numbering.
    • Sharpness: Adjusts the overall image sharpness to Normal, Hard, or Soft.
    • Saturation: Controls the level of color saturation. Options are Normal, High, or Low.
    • Contrast: Adjusts overall image contrast to Normal, High, or Low.
  • Setup
    • Format Card: Formats the CompactFlash card, erasing all files (even protected ones).
    • Beep: Turns the camera's beep sound on or off.
    • Date Style: Cycles through available date formats.
    • Date Adjust: Sets the camera's internal date and time.
    • World Time: Allows you to display the time in a city other than the local Home time set with Date Adjust. For example, the LCD monitor can display the time in London, while you shoot in New York. A full list of cities is in the manual.
    • Language: Changes the menu language to English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, or Japanese.
    • Screen Effect: Activates a transition effect that occurs when the LCD monitor switches modes.
    • Video Out: Designates the Video Out signal as PAL or NTSC.
    • Sleep Timeout: Disables the Sleep function, or sets the camera to go to sleep after 30 seconds, one, or two minutes of inactivity.
    • Brightness Level: Adjusts the overall brightness of the LCD display.
    • Reset: Resets all camera settings to their defaults.

Playback Mode: This mode lets review captured images on the memory card, erase them, protect them, set them up for printing, etc. Pressing the Menu button in playback mode displays the Playback menu below, as well as the same Setup menu.

  • Playback
    • DPOF: Displays the DPOF print settings menu, which lets you mark an image for printing, establish the number of copies to be printed, and activate a date overlay.
    • Slideshow: Plays back all images on the CompactFlash card in a slideshow. You can select image display intervals from three to 30 seconds.

 Test Images
See all my test images and detailed analysis on the Test Images page for the P330 GS. The thumbnails below show just a subset of the test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.

Outdoor
Indoor
Indoor Flash
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy

 

 

Specifications
See the specifications sheet here.

Picky Details
Information on shooting speed, battery life, etc. can be found here.

Test Results
In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Optio 330GS "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how 330GS' images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

  • Color: Overall, the Optio 330 GS produced pretty good color throughout my testing. While the skin tones and some other colors looked a little undersaturated in my Outdoor Portrait test, the highly saturated colors of the MacBeth chart in my "Davebox" test looked very good. White balance was also pretty good, although none of the white balance settings really nailed the color in any given lighting condition. Indoors, the auto white balance had a terrible time with the incandescent lighting of my Indoor Portrait test, but both incandescent and manual options did quite well with that difficult light source. Overall, a good performance for an inexpensive camera.

  • Exposure: The Optio 330 GS' autoexposure sensor did a good job most of the time, even under the harsh lighting of the Outdoor portrait, where it required less positive exposure compensation than usual. The camera does seem to have a somewhat limited dynamic range though, as it's prone to losing highlight detail under contrasty lighting. (Such as direct sun.) The biggest exposure problem was on the Indoor Portrait test, where the +1.3 EV of exposure compensation I used was just barely enough. (I found that the 330GS' viewfinder display gave an overly-bright rendition of captured images, leading me to terminate my exposure bracketing series too soon in several instances. - You'll definitely need to "calibrate" your eyes to interpret what you see on the 330GS' LCD display.)

  • Resolution/Sharpness: The Optio 330 GS performed well on my "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height in both vertical and horizontal directions. I found "strong detail" out to roughly 1,050 lines horizontally and 950 lines vertically, but the image looked rather soft overall. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,200 lines.

  • Closeups: The Optio 330 GS performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.01 x 1.5 inches (51 x 38 millimeters). Resolution was very high, with excellent detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. All four corners of the frame were somewhat soft though, with the upper and lower left the softest of the lot. The camera's flash had a little trouble throttling down for the macro area, overexposing the shot a fair bit.

  • Night Shots: With a maximum shutter speed of four seconds and an adjustable ISO setting from 100 to 400, the Optio 330 GS performs well in low-light. The camera produced bright exposures as low as 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) at ISO 400, and 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux) at ISO 200. At ISO 100, images were bright as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), about equivalent to average city street lighting at night. Noise was moderately high at ISO 400, but fairly low at ISO 200 and 100.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: The Optio 330 GS' optical viewfinder was a little tight, showing approximately 92 percent of the frame at wide angle, and 95 percent at telephoto. These are good numbers for an optical viewfinder though, as most are closer to 85 percent accurate. The LCD monitor fared only a little better, showing approximately 96 percent frame accuracy at wide angle and telephoto. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Optio 330 GS' LCD monitor fell just a little short in that area, but optical VF accuracy was better than average.

  • Optical Distortion: Optical distortion was high at wide angle, with a 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, with an approximate 0.2 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration was moderately high, with five to six pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. Corner softness was moderate, mainly noticeable in the Macro shot and outdoor house shot.

  • Battery Life: For a camera powered by only two AA cells, the 330GS shows surprisingly good battery life. Still, you'll definitely want to pack along extra batteries on any outing. Read my NiMH Battery Shootout page for the latest on actual battery performance, or my review of the Maha C204F to see why it's my favorite charger.

In the Box
The following items are packaged with the Optio 330 GS:

  • CR-V3 lithium battery pack.
  • Video cable.
  • USB cable.
  • Wrist strap.
  • 3D image viewer.
  • 16MB CompactFlash card.
  • Software CD.
  • Operating manual and registration card.


Recommended Accessories

  • Larger capacity CompactFlash memory card. (I'd recommend 32MB as a bare minimum, 64MB would be preferable.)
  • Two sets of rechargeable AA batteries and charger.
  • AC adapter.
  • Small camera case.


Recommended Software: Rescue your images!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. I get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

 

Conclusion

Midrange Point & Shoots
If you're interested in the camera in this review, here are some competing models that may also interest you. (Camera names that aren't links are those we haven't reviewed yet. - Stay tuned.)
Three Megapixel, 3x zoom
Canon A70 Prices
Fuji A303 Prices
Kodak DX4330 Prices
Minolta Xi (subcompact) Prices
Nikon 3100 Prices
Olympus 560 Prices
Olympus 550* Prices
Pentax 330GS Prices
Sony P72 Prices
* - model phasing out
Confused?
Check out Dave's Picks!
Free Photo Lessons

Check out the Free Photo School program for lessons and tips on improving your photographs!
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Although the Pentax Optio 330 GS offers only fully automatic exposure control, its array of exposure options extends its ability well beyond the typical boundaries of the point and shoot category (much like the previous Optio 230). The addition of a range of preset Picture modes adds flexibility, and the larger 3.2-megapixel CCD offers good image quality, although its photos are a little softer than those of higher-end 3-megapixel cameras. The camera's 3D image capture mode is fun and creative, and the ability to adjust color, saturation, sharpness, and contrast give you a surprising amount of creative control for an inexpensive camera. While novices will enjoy the fully automatic operation, more experienced users will appreciate the extended exposure capabilities. With all it has to offer, the Optio 330 GS is a great little digicam at a great price.

 

 

Reader Comments!
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Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
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1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate