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Pentax's Optio S4 digital camera. Courtesy of Pentax, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Pentax announces Optio S successor (UPDATED)
(Wednesday, September 3, 2003 - 11:00 EDT)

In the second of three announcements today from Pentax Corp., the company updates its Pentax Optio S - the model that first introduced an unusual lens whose internal elements actually "unstack" as the lens retracts, arranging themselves side by side within the camera body.

Announced in January, the Optio S was quickly followed by a similar model from partner company Casio - so when Casio overhauled their camera last week, we're sure astute readers immediately expected an announcement would be forthcoming from Pentax as well. The new Optio S4 digital camera retains the unusual lens design of the Optio S - which we were pleasantly surprised by when we reviewed that model earlier this year.As you'd expect, the compromise of the lens design does affect image quality a little - but nowhere near as much as we'd expected.

So - what's new in the Optio S4? Externally, the camera looks almost identical - size and weight are the same, and Pentax will still be able to impress at trade shows by fitting the camera inside an Altoids tin... Resolution has been increased from 3.2 to 4.0 megapixels (effective), for a maximum image size of 2304 x 1728 pixels. The digital zoom is now a 4x instead of 2x zoom, although this may be of little significance to users who understand that they can generally do as good or better a job interpolating images on their computer.

Longer exposures are no longer limited to 1 second - the Optio S4 offers shutter speeds from 1/2000 to 4 seconds. An extra digital filter simulating a soft-focus filter has been added. Movies can now be twice as long as the previous model, with a limit of 60 seconds per movie clip. The movies are also slightly faster, at 15fps vs. 12fps on the older camera.

The Pentax Optio S4 will ship in October, with pricing not yet announced. Specifications, product photos and the Pentax press release follow below:

Pentax Optio S4
Pentax's Optio S4 digital camera. Courtesy of Pentax, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Type Compact-type digital still camera with built-in zoom lens, autofocus, auto exposure and auto flash
Image Capture Device
Type 1/2.5 inch interline transfer CCD with a primary color filter
Total Pixels 4.23 megapixels
Effective Pixels 4.0 megapixels
Color Depth 10 bit x 3 colors
Recorded Pixels Still – 2304x1728 pixels, 1600x1200 pixels, 1024x768 pixels, 640x480 pixels; Movie – 320x240
Focus System
Type TTL contrast detection autofocus system
Autofocus 7 point AF, Spot AF & Infinity Landscape Mode
Manual Focus 2.4 inches (0.06m) to Infinity
Focusing Range
Normal: 1.31 ft (0.4m) to Infinity
Macro: 7.1 inches (0.18 m) to 1.64 ft (0.5m)
Super Macro: 2.4 inches (0.06m) to 7.9 inches (0.2m) at 10.2mm
Type smc PENTAX power zoom
Focal Length 5.8mm - 17.4mm
35mm Equivalent 35mm - 105mm
Aperture Range f2.6 - f4.8
Construction 6 elements in 5 groups (2 dual-sided aspherical elements)
Optical Zoom 3x
Digital Zoom 4x
Combined 12x
Exposure Control
Light Metering Method TTL metering with choice of: Multi-segment, Center-weighted & Spot meter
Sensitivity Auto, or user select ISO 50, 100, 200
Exposure Control Method Program AE
Exposure Modes Program, Picture mode, Night scene, Movie, Panorama assist, 3D image, Digital filter, User
Exposure Compensation +/-2 EV (1/3 steps)
Type - Programmed AE electronic lens shutter with CCD electronic shutter
Shutter Speed – approx. 1/2000 - 4 second
White Balance
White Balance Control - TTL Auto, Pre-set, Custom White Balance
Available Settings - Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten Light, Fluorescent Light, Manual
Flash Operation Modes - Auto, Flash-Off, Flash-On, Auto + red-eye reduction, Flash-On + red-eye reduction
Shooting Specifications
Shooting Modes Program, Picture mode, Night scene, Movie, Panorama assist, 3D image, Digital filter, User
Picture Modes Landscape, Flower, Portrait, Self-portrait, Surf & Snow, Autumn color, Sunset
Digital Filter Black & White, Sepia, Red, Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Soft, Slim
Drive Modes Single-shot, Continuous, Remote control (instant/3 sec.), Self-timer-10 sec.
Movie Mode Up to 60 seconds with sound
Modes dd/mm/yy, mm/dd/yy, yy/mm/dd
World Time Display of the time in 62 cities (28 time zones)
Alarm Clock Displays image with alarm (maximum of three memory settings)
Image Storage
Storage Media 11MB built-in memory, SD memory card / MMC removable
File Formats
Still - JPEG (Exif 2.2), DCF (Design rule for Camera File system), DPOF (Digital Print Order Format)
- Movie - AVI (Open DML motion JPEG Format) 15fps with sound
- Sound - WAV (ADPCM), Monaural, Recordable time depends on the remaining capacity of the memory card
JPEG Compression Mode Good, Better, Best
Recorded pixels with 11MB Built-in Memory
Best Better Good
2304 x 1728 3 7 10
1600 x 1200 9 15 21
1024 x 768 19 36 47
640 x 480 43 67 90
Optical Actual Image zoom viewfinder
LCD Monitor 1.6 inch, TFT color LCD - with Histogram Display
LCD Coverage 100%
LCD Resolution 84K pixels
Playback Specifications
Playback Modes File Single, Index- Nine image
Magnification 4x
LCD Function Slide show, voice memo available in playback mode
Size Change Trimming, Resize
Erase Modes Single, All
Image Protect Single, All
Type AV output terminal, USB terminal, DC input terminal
Video Output Compatible with NTSC and PAL formats (monaural sound)
Power Supply
Power Source Rechargeable lithium-ion D-LI8 battery, AC adaptor kit (optional)
Physical Specifications
Operating temperatures 32°– 104°F (0 – 40° Celsius)
Camera Casing Aluminum Alloy
Dimensions (W x H x D) 3.3 x 2.0 x 0.8 Inches (83 x 52 x 20 mm)
3.5 oz (98g) without battery and SD memory card
4.1 oz (115g) loaded and ready
Computer System Requirements
Mac Requirements OS: Mac OS 8.6 or later (QuickTime 4.0 or later to view movies), CPU: Power PC 266MHz or higher, Memory: 8MB or more, Hard disk space: 6MB or more, Standard equipped USB port
PC Requirements OS: Windows 98,98 second edition, 2000, Me, XP Home edition / Professional, CPU: Pentium or later recommended, Memory: 64MB or more, Hard disk space: 15MB or more, Standard equipped USB port
More Photos
Pentax's Optio S4 digital camera. Courtesy of Pentax, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Pentax's Optio S4 digital camera. Courtesy of Pentax, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Pentax's Optio S4 digital camera. Courtesy of Pentax, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

UPDATED 2003-09-05 11:24ET: We now have pricing information for the Pentax Optio S4. In the USA, suggested list price will be US$550, and street pricing is anticipated at US$429.95. In Canada, street pricing is expected to be CAD$599.

Original Source Press Release:


ENGLEWOOD, Colorado (September 3, 2003)…The innovative manufacturer that introduced a popular digital camera tucked inside a breath mint tin, has introduced a second generation. PENTAX U.S.A., Inc. announced the launch of the Optio S4. Sporting the tiny dimensions and light weight of its predecessor, the Optio S4 boasts a hefty 4.23 effective megapixels, a 3X zoom lens, and a variety of features including a large, easy-to-use manual control playback button.

PENTAX U.S.A., Inc. will preview the tiny but powerful digital camera at the Digital Focus media event on Monday, September 15 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City during the PC EXPO trade show.

How does PENTAX continue to load so much into such a small space? The Optio S4 features an innovative Sliding Lens system that allows the camera’s powerful 3X zoom lens to move up and away so the retracted lens is completely flush with the camera body. This novel system protects the lens and helps reduce the size.

Despite the size, the Optio S4 boasts all the features found on other Optio digital cameras: a movie mode with sound playback, a voice recording memo for attaching 30 second memos to select images, a well-placed 1.6 monitor, and approximately 11MB of built-in memory. All these features and more are made even more accessible through a larger, well-placed manual control playback button on the Optio S4.

The Optio S4 includes an ACDSee™ software package designed exclusively for PENTAX Optio digital cameras that includes ACDSee™ 5.0. Valued at more than $150, ACDSee™ digital camera software makes it easy to retrieve, view, manage, print, enhance and share your digital photos. The Optio S4 will ship with the software in October in plenty of time for the Holiday 2003 buying season.

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. PENTAX U.S.A., INC. is a wholly owned subsidiary of PENTAX CORPORATION.

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Ultra compact 3X optical zoom
Equivalent to a 35 – 105mm lens in 35mm format, the 3X optical zoom allows a full range of shooting from expansive scenery to telephoto shots. All elements are crafted entirely from glass and two of the lenses are aspherical on each side. Combined with 4X digital zoom, the Optio S4 offers 12X combined zoom capability.

4.0 effective megapixels image quality
With the high-level imaging power of 4.0 effective megapixels, the Optio S4 captures everything from macro shots to distant scenery with exceptional sharpness and accuracy. Such performance is also enhanced through the a primary color filter, which serves to bring out brighter, more natural colors and enhanced image quality.

Fast, user-friendly operation
The Optio S4 offers more heightened responsiveness across all aspects of operation. With a shutter release time lag of just 0.01 sec.*, the Optio S4 allows switching from viewing to shooting with a single touch of the shutter or playback button at any time. Independent buttons serve to allow frequently used shooting and playback functions to be accessed with the same ease, and modes can be switched easily via the handy virtual mode dial. Finally, to speed operation in a way best suited to each user, the Optio S4 also allows the customization of functions such as enlargement and deletion. * 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.

A full selection of shooting modes
The virtual mode dial offers eight different shooting modes:

  • Program
    Program mode allows you to control a combination of functions all at once.
  • Picture
    The Optio S4 offers seven convenient picture modes, including Landscape, Flower, Portrait, Self-portrait, Surf & Snow, Autumn Color, and Sunset.
  • Night scene
    Night scene captures evening and night scenes and is ideal for shooting subjects with dark backgrounds.
  • Movie*
    The Optio S4 records up to 60 seconds of video with sound at 15 frames per second, with the definition of 320 x 240 pixels. Video files are also recorded in AVI format, making it easy to play them back on a PC.
    * System requirements: PCs running Windows 98, 98SE, 2000, Me, and XP operating systems which came with Direct X9.0 and Windows Media Player pre-installed, or have QuickTime™ 6.0 or higher installed (included on the accompanying CD-ROM). Macintosh machines running OS8.6 or higher operating systems, which came with QuickTime 6.0 or higher pre-installed.
  • Panorama assist
    For expansive scenes, this mode allows multiple shots either horizontally or vertically that may be aligned and combined on a PC using the enclosed, powerful ACDSee software Photostitcher.
    * ACDSee Photostitcher is compatible with Windows systems only.
  • 3D image
    3D image mode produces images with a real sense of depth and perspective. Just take two shots, then take a look at the genuine 3D effect achieved when the images are seen through the special viewer provided.

Digital filter
The Optio S4 offers a range of digital filters that can be used to add a different mood to shots. Choose black & white, sepia, or a range of colors (red, pink, yellow, green, blue, and purple). The Optio S4 also offers a special Slim filter that makes subjects appear slender or broader and can be adjusted to different degrees.

  • User
    User mode allows a combination of preferred settings to be saved for easy access whenever you need them. Seven different picture modes allow you to shoot subjects while the camera automatically controls exposure, focus, and white balance.
  • Landscape mode
    A mode specifically designed to make the most of the greens and blues of scenic shots.
  • Flower mode
    Ideal for capturing the vivid colors and tiny details of flowers.
  • Portrait mode
    A mode developed to capture natural skin tones for more flattering shots.
  • Self-portrait mode
    Provides pleasing results when you want to take a shot of yourself or join a friend in the frame.
  • Surf & Snow mode
    A mode that guards against the underexposure of darker elements when other areas of an image are reflecting high levels of light.
  • 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 designed to faithfully capture the splendid tones of sunrise and sunset scenes.

Voice recording mode
The Optio S4 recording ability rivals that of stand alone audio recording devices. Equipped with a 64MB memory card, the Optio S4 has the power to record an impressive 4 hours and 17 minutes of audio!

USB mass storage class compatibility*
USB cable connectivity allows multiple recorded shots to be quickly and easily imported into a range of common PC applications.
* System requirements: PC 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.

ACDSee 5.0 handy application software (exclusive USB driver, image viewer/ACDSee for PENTAX)
As with all PENTAX Optio digital cameras, the Optio S4 includes the latest version of ACDSee™ 5.0 software designed exclusively for PENTAX Optio digital cameras.

Built-in auto flash
The built-in flash on the Optio S4 can be set to fire automatically when shooting 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 when shooting in Night Scene mode.
* This feature does not eliminate “red eyes” in all instances.

High precision LCD monitor
A high-resolution 1.6-inch LCD monitor offers a 100% field of view for simple composition, and it is handy for checking recorded images on the spot.

Optical viewfinder
Composition is additionally made easy by a viewfinder that offers actual image zoom. Use of the viewfinder also allows you to conserve power by switching off the LCD monitor.

Nine-image and Zoom display
To speed the search for recorded images, the Optio S4 is able to display nine recorded shots on the LCD screen at once. Each image can also be displayed with 4X magnification, allowing you to make close-up inspections for focus and minor details.

Convenient self-timer
A handy self-timer lets you join group shots and produce self-portraits.

Optional remote control
Two remote control units are available as options for use with the Optio S4. Remote controls E or F both offer immediate shutter release and a three-second timer, while Remote control E offers zoom control as well.

Time-lapse movie
The Time-lapse movie function allows a sequential set of shots to be run as a short film. This can be used for 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 shots from as close as 7.08 inches from the subject, while selection of super macro shooting allows you to compose from as close as just 2.36 inches. Both modes may be combined with 4X digital zooming. The Optio S4 also is ideal for capturing truly expansive scenes, achieving sharp focus of the horizon through selection of Infinity-landscape mode.

Continuous shooting
Continuous shots can be taken just by keeping the shutter button held down, allowing fast-occurring events to be captured in a more expressive manner.

Manual focus
With an LCD monitor that enlarges the central part of a potential shot, manual focus can be achieved with a higher degree of accuracy.

Options for autofocus
The Optio S4 offers a choice of two kinds of autofocus. 7-point autofocus helps you achieve sharp focus even when subjects are off-center. Spot AF, on the other hand, lets you place the center of focus on one point out of a choice of 49 in the frame, marking that point in the viewfinder for easier use.

White balance settings
With a variety of white balance modes, the Optio S4 is able to balance colors correctly when 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 you decide the selection yourself.

Histogram display
With a histogram display that accurately represents light levels during both shooting and playback, the Optio S4 enables you to make a more educated evaluation of each image.

Multiple choices for metering
The Optio S4 offers a choice of multi-segment metering, center-weighted metering, and spot metering, allowing you to achieve the most appropriate exposure in myriad situations.

Sensitivity settings
Light sensitivity is easy to adjust, with a selection of equivalent to ISO50, 100, and 200, as well as an auto setting.

Exposure compensation
With exposure compensation across a range of +2EV in of 1/3EV steps, the Optio S4 allows you to take a set of images and be more creative.

Settings for sharpness, saturation, and contrast
With five grades of settings for sharpness, saturation, and contrast, the Optio S4 gives you an exceptional amount of control over each and every shot.

Image protection
The image protection function guards select images from unintentional deletion.

Mode memory function
This feature save a combination of settings at once with the handy mode memory function so you may return to the settings when power is restored.

World time function
The Optio S4 can display the time for 62 different cities around the world. It can also record the time and date for each shot taken, making the sorting of shots so much easier upon your return.

Alarm function
An alarm function makes the Optio S4 handier to have around. The camera may be set to display the image of your choice when the alarm sounds, showing something related to your schedule, for example, or simply displaying a friendly face.

DPOF compatibility
The user can claim a further degree of control over printouts thanks to DPOF compatibility, which lets you make use 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 S4 can produce prints of an even higher quality.

Approximately 11MB of built-in memory
The convenience of approximately 11MB of built-in memory allows the user to record a substantial amount of images without the need for additional media.

SD memory card and Multimediacard compatibility
The Optio S4 is compatible with both SD memory cards and Multimedia cards, both of which can be purchased virtually anywhere. Such media also supports simplistic transfer of data to a PC.

Resize function
A resize function allows the data size of recorded shots to be reduced. This frees up space to capture more shots without having to delete ones already taken, and resized data can be stored as new files or used to overwrite the previous images.

The useful Trimming function allows images to be cropped and parts to be selected for storage on their own 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.

AV (video/audio) output terminal
Thanks to the incorporation of an AV output terminal and a provided AV cable, the Optio S4 makes it easy to display recorded shots on a TV screen.

Power sources
The Optio S4 offers a choice of power sources, with exclusive rechargeable lithium-ion battery compatibility and an AC adapter available as an option.

Operation in 8 languages
All menus and messages of the Optio S4 can be set for display in the user’s choice of English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, or Japanese.

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