Pentax Optio 430 Digital Camera
|I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
|Outdoor Portrait: (1933 k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way. (And why I don't use fill-flash to lighten the shadows.) The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Pentax Optio 430 overcame the challenge well. The shot at right has a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened up the midtones, though some highlight details are lost. I chose the Auto (1933 k) setting for the main image, as overall color looked best. The Daylight (1934 k) setting resulted in a slight warm cast, while the Manual (1935 k) setting produced a greenish tint. Skin tones look good, and the blue flowers came out just about right (this is a difficult blue for many digicams, the 430 does better than average with it, with little of the purple tinge many cameras add). Resolution is high, though details are a little soft. There's quite a bit of noise in the image, even in some of the lighter areas - Overall, one of the noisier four megapixel cameras I've looked at.
|Closer Portrait: (1866 k)
Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, and the 3x zoom lens helps reduce the distortion of the model's features you'd get with typical wide-angle-only point & shoot cameras. Visible fine detail increases in the model's face and hair (even the pores of the skin are visible), and details are sharper than in the wider shot, but the image still lacks the crispness of the best 4 megapixel cameras I've tested. Still, very good for an ultra-compact model. The shadow areas show a fair amount of detail, but with a moderate amount of noise. This main shot was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment.
See files P43FACDP0.HTM and P43FACDP1.HTM on our thumbnail index page for the exposure adjustments of zero and +0.3 EV.
|Indoor Portrait, Flash: (1602 k)
Good flash/room lighting color balance, appropriate flash intensity.
The Optio 430's flash illuminated the subject well, with good balance between the room lighting and flash in the normal exposure mode (1602 k). The strong incandescent background lighting results in an orange cast, but overall color still looks good. I also shot this test with the camera in its Night Scene exposure mode, snapping images with no exposure compensation (1584 k) and with a +0.7 EV (1573 k) adjustment. Night Scene employs a slower shutter speed to allow more ambient light into the image, which helped brighten this portrait, although doing so increases the yellow cast from the room lighting. Overall, a very decent flash performance though.
Portrait, No Flash: (1341 k)
Good color with the Incandescent and Manual white balances.
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. While the Optio 430's Auto (1373 k) white balance system had a lot of trouble, its Incandescent (1357 k) and Manual (1360 k) settings did exceptionally well. I chose an exposure compensation adjustment of +1.0 EV for our main selection, in the Incandescent white balance. (Click here for an example with no exposure compensation (1318 k).) Skin tones are about right (though a touch magenta), while the blue flowers are a bit purple-colored. Really an excellent performance on this very difficult subject though!
|House Shot: (2402 k)
Good color, but detail is lower than what I'd normally expect from a four megapixel camera.
Both the Daylight (2402 k) and Auto (2386 k) white balance settings resulted in similar, slightly warm images here, while the Manual (2402 k) setting resulted in a slightly cooler, but more accurate color balance. (All were pretty good though.) The white trim has a slight magenta cast in Manual white balance, but overall color looks best here. Resolution is pretty good, but not by any means up to the best I've seen from four megapixel cameras. - I've generally seen lower resolution from ultra-compact cameras, and the Optio 430 seems to follow suit in that respect. There's also some corner softness in all four corners, with the strongest effect in the top left corner of the frame. Overall, not bad, but the Optio's sharpness isn't up to the best full-sized four megapixel cameras.
|Far-Field Test (2571 k)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.
This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The Optio 430 captures a fair bit of fine detail throughout the frame, but overall isn't up to the best full-sized four megapixel cameras. The fine foliage details in front of the house show pretty good definition, but are softer than the more linear details of the house front. The bright sunlight causes the camera to lose practically all detail in the white bay window area, revealing a very limited dynamic range. The shadow areas fare a little better, as the brick pattern above the front door is just faintly visible, but noise levels are higher than average. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, contrast, saturation, and sharpness series.
|Lens Zoom Range
A typical 3x zoom range.
I've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, I'm happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, at full 3x telephoto, and at full telephoto with the 2x digital zoom enabled. The Optio 430's lens covers a range equivalent to a 37-112.5mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Good color, decent resolution.
For this test, I shot with the Auto (2153 k), Daylight (2187 k), and Manual (2186 k) white balance settings, choosing the Daylight setting as the most accurate overall. The Auto setting resulted in too warm of an image (probably in response to the large amount of blue in the composition), while the Manual setting produced much cooler results. Though the Daylight setting appears slightly warm, the skin tones of the models look best here. The Oriental model's blue robe looks about right, with only faint purple tints in the darker areas. (This is a tough blue for many digicams to get right.) Resolution is high, with a nice level of detail in the embroidery of the blue robe.
Less than average macro, flash has trouble throttling down.
The Optio 430 performs a bit below average in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 5.4 x 4.1 inches (138 x 104 millimeters). Resolution is pretty high though, with sharp details visible on the coins and dollar bill. Color is about right, though slightly warm, and the overall exposure appears a little dark on the right side. Corner softness is again present, but is pretty slight. The 430's flash (1976 k) had a little trouble throttling down for the macro area, creating a hot spot in the center of the image and dark falloff at the corners of the frame. Overall an OK performance, but not the camera to pick if you need to photograph lots of small objects for eBay, etc.
|"Davebox" Test Target
Great color and saturation, good shadow and highlight detail.
I shot samples of this target with the Auto (1510 k), Daylight (1515 k), and Manual (1516 k) white balance settings, noticing the most accurate color balance with the Manual setting. Both Daylight and Auto resulted in warm images, while the Manual setting resulted in a more accurate white value on the mini-resolution target. Exposure is good, as the Optio 430 picks up the subtle tonal variations in the pastels of the Q60 chart. The large color blocks look accurate and show good saturation. Detail is pretty good in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with a small amount of noise present. (Surprisingly less noise than we saw in some other shots.) Following are contrast and saturation series.
Not sensitive enough for even standard city street lighting.
The Optio 430's maximum shutter time of two seconds severely limits its low-light shooting capabilities. The camera captured bright images at light levels only as low as about four foot-candles (44 lux) when shooting at ISO 100, and as low as two foot-candles (22 lux) when shooting at ISO 200. (Average city street lighting at night is about one foot-candle, or 11 lux.) Noise was surprisingly low at both ISO settings, given the relatively high levels I saw under normal light levels. The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
|Flash Range Test
Pentax's stated flash range of 9.2 feet is accurate.
Pentax rates the Optio 430's flash as effective to 9.2 feet (2.8 meters) at the wide-angle lens setting and to about 5.2 feet (1.6 meters) with the lens at full telephoto, which matches my findings. In our testing, the 430's flash was brightest at eight feet from the target, becoming progressively darker from that point on as I increased the distance from the target as well as the zoom setting. Flash power was very dim at the 14 foot distance, much too dim for use. Below is a flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
|ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1508 k)
The Optio 430 performed well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height vertically, but I noticed a few artifacts as low as 600 lines horizontally. The 430 produced "strong detail" out to about 1,050 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,200 lines.
Optical distortion on the 430 is moderately high at the wide-angle end, where I found 0.72 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, with only about half a pixel of barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is low, showing about two or three pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines, which are exaggerated by the corner softness. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Sharpness Series, Wide Angle
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
A somewhat tight optical viewfinder, though the LCD monitor is very accurate.
The Optio 430's optical viewfinder produced mixed results. Framing was quite good at wide angle, as I measured an approximate 93 percent frame accuracy. At telephoto however, framing was much tighter, with only about 87 percent frame accuracy. (Both numbers are a bit better than the 85 percent average for digicam optical viewfinders though.) The LCD monitor fared a little better, showing approximately 98 percent of the frame at wide angle. At telephoto, the top measurement lines were just outside of the final image area, so I couldn't get an exact measurement. Still, telephoto framing is very close to accurate, just remember to add some space at the top of the frame. Given that I like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Optio 430 performed well, though telephoto framing could use some improvement. Flash distribution at wide angle is brightest in the center, with falloff in the corners and edges of the frame (slightly stronger on the right side of the frame). At telephoto, flash distribution is more even.
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