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Pentax Optio 430 RS Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
Review Date
User Level
Novice to experienced amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot / Full Manual Control
Picture Quality
Good, 4.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
Good prints to 5x7
Suggested Retail Price


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Test Images

Pentax is a camera maker with a long tradition in the film-based world, but a relative newcomer to the digital arena. 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 was crafted to come in at an entry-level price, and so had a plastic body, but the 330 and 430 had sleek, rugged all-metal bodies and very compact form factors. This year, Pentax has updated the 330 and 430 with the addition of 11 MB of internal memory (in addition to the Type I CompactFlash card slot), an improved LCD display, an updated user interface, and a handful of other feature tweaks. (Including a unique 3D picture mode.) In the case of the 430RS, the result is a stylish, rugged 4 megapixel model with decent photo quality and a nice feature set, all at a relatively affordable price. Read on below for all the details!


Camera Overview
(If you've already read my review of the Optio 330RS, you can skip most of this review, and go directly to the Test Results section. - The two cameras are virtually identical, differing only in their image sensors and image quality related issues. - And surprisingly, the 330RS beats the 430RS in terms of resolution and sharpness.)

Practically a carbon copy of the preceding Pentax Optio 430, the 430 RS is about the same size as 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 3.6 x 2.3 x 1.4 inches (92 x 59 x 31 millimeters) and 7.1 ounces (200 grams) without the battery or CompactFlash memory card, the Optio 430 RS was made for stashing in a shirt pocket or tiny purse. The compact design includes a built-in lens cover which opens like a shutter when the lens telescopes out. The Optio 430 RS' 3x zoom lens offers both manual and automatic focus control, which, combined with the variety of manual exposure options, packs an unusual amount of creative power into such a tiny camera. The 4.0-megapixel CCD produces high resolution, print quality images, but also offers options for lower resolution images suited for email. New to the 430 RS is a 3D shooting mode (which debuted on the earlier Optio 230 model), as well as Interval Shooting and Time Lapse Movie modes, and a host of creative effects with the Digital Filter mode. The 430 RS also features a full 11 megabytes of internal memory, so you can start snapping pictures right out of the box, without having to buy a memory card. (The camera does have a fully functional Type I CompactFlash card slot though.) Everything considered, the Optio 430 RS 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 430 RS has a 3x, 7.6-22.8mm lens, the equivalent of a 38-113mm lens on a 35mm camera. (Very slightly more telephoto than the 35-105mm range that's customary in consumer-level cameras with 3x zoom lenses.) 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 5.5 inches to 1.6 feet (0.14 to 0.5 meters). The Optio 430 RS offers both manual and automatic focus (AF) control, with Spot and Multiple AF modes. Within Spot AF mode, you can set the AF area to one of seven points. (Multiple mode bases focus on a larger area in the center of the frame.) There's also an Infinity / Landscape fixed focus setting. In addition to the optical zoom, the Optio 430 RS offers up to 2x digital zoom, (though I always remind readers that using digital zoom decreases image quality, since it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image). You can choose between the real-image optical viewfinder or the 1.6-inch, color TFT LCD monitor to compose images, although I found the LCD monitor provided much more accurate framing. (As is commonly the case.)

Exposure can be manually or automatically controlled on the Optio 430 RS, a nice feature for novices wanting to learn more about photography - the convenience of fully automatic exposure when you want it, or full manual control when you'd like to experiment. An On/Off button on top of the camera controls the power, and a Mode dial lets you select between Automatic, Night Scene, Manual, Movie, 3D, and Digital Filter 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, drive mode, exposure compensation, and the flash mode externally. In Manual exposure mode, the user controls aperture (selecting from two available apertures, which range from f/2.6 to f/4.8, and from f/5.0 to f/9.2, depending on the lens' zoom position) and shutter speed (from 1/2,000 to four seconds), in addition to the White Balance, Metering Mode, ISO, Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast, and Flash settings (also available in Automatic mode). The Optio 430 RS' built-in flash is effective from 5.52 inches to 12 feet (0.14 to 3.7 meters) with the lens at full wide angle, with a more limited range at the telephoto setting.

In addition to these basic exposure options (offering surprising flexibility for a subcompact camera), the Optio 430 RS has a few other tricks up its sleeve. In Movie exposure mode, the camera captures moving images (without sound) for a maximum of 30 seconds per movie. Time Lapse Movie mode uses a slower frame rate to capture lengthy periods of motion (such as clouds moving across the sky), with capture ratios (the amount the camera will appear to speed up the action) ranging from 2 to 10. Interval recording mode takes this even further, for recording events taking place over long periods of time. Interval mode snaps from two to 99 successive photos at programmable intervals ranging from 30 seconds to 99 minutes. 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. A remote control is available as an accessory, meaning you can take your time arranging the shot before tripping the shutter with the remote. For shooting fast action subjects, the Optio 430 RS' 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. For low-light or twilight exposures, Night Scene mode slows down the shutter speed 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).

First introduced on the Optio 230, the Optio 430 RS, offers a unique 3D recording mode, which produces three-dimensional "stereo pairs" of images similar to old-fashioned stereographs. The camera guides you to capture two images of the same subject (one just slightly off-center from the other) and then combines them as a "stereo pair" in a single frame of image memory. A transparent display of the first image captured remains on the LCD monitor, so that you can keep everything aligned as you move the camera over slightly and capture the second image. (Very slick, this eliminates one of the biggest problems with hand held 3D stereo photography.) A pair of 3D viewing glasses comes with the Optio 430 RS, 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 430RS supports either method.)

The Optio 430 RS has a surprising range of creative tools, including a Digital Filter mode, which offers eight color filters for special effects. Color filters include Black and White, Sepia, Red, Pink, Violet, Blue, Green, and Yellow. Also included under the Digital Filter setting is the Slim filter, which stretches an image horizontally or vertically for a unique effect. Image contrast, saturation, and sharpness settings provide further creative options, and the six-mode White Balance setting includes a manual adjustment for accurate color balance.

The Optio 430 RS has 11 megabytes of built-in memory, but can also store images on CompactFlash Type I memory cards. This is handy, but really doesn't give you enough space to take many photos at the camera's best quality setting. Plan on buying at least a 32 or 64 megabyte card at the same time as the camera. The camera uses a D-LI2 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and both a battery and external charger are included with the camera. Since the Optio 430 RS does not accommodate AA batteries (or any other form of commonly available battery), I highly recommend buying an extra battery pack and keeping it freshly charged. (DigiPower now makes a battery pack to fit this camera, so availability of batteries should be better than in the past. - Look for the DigiPower model BP-NP60 in the stores.) The optional AC adapter could also be useful for preserving battery power when reviewing and downloading images.

Basic Features

  • 4.0-megapixel CCD.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.6-inch color TFT LCD monitor.
  • Glass, 3x, 7.6-22.8mm lens, equivalent to a 37-111mm lens on a 35mm camera.
  • 2x digital zoom.
  • Automatic or full-manual exposure control.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to four seconds.
  • Aperture range from f/2.6 to f/9.2, depending on lens zoom position.
  • Built-in flash with four modes.
  • 11MB built-in memory.
  • CompactFlash (Type I) card storage (card not included).
  • Power supplied by one D-LI2 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack or optional AC adapter.
  • ACDSee software and USB drivers included for both Windows and Mac platforms.

Special Features

  • Movie and Time Lapse Movie modes (without sound).
  • Continuous Shooting mode.
  • Interval Shooting and 3D modes.
  • Night Scene photography mode.
  • 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Remote-Control mode for use with optional remote control unit.
  • Digital Filter mode with eight color filters for special effects.
  • Macro (close-up) lens setting.
  • White balance (color) adjustment with six modes, including a manual adjustment.
  • Image Contrast, Sharpness, and Saturation adjustments.
  • Multi-Segment, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering modes.
  • Sensitivity setting with two ISO equivalents (100 and 200) and an Auto setting.
  • Adjustable, seven-point AF area.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).

The Optio 430 RS offers decent picture quality in a very compact, well-engineered package, although its images actually show a good bit less detail those of its less costly sibling, the 330RS. In full automatic mode, it'll be a good match for point-and-shoot photographers wanting a camera that travels easily in a shirt pocket or purse. With a full-manual mode though, it should also serve well as a "second camera" for enthusiasts too. The updated features on the 430 RS provide even more 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.) Overall, a decent entry into the ultra-compact digicam market, but for the money, it's "little" brother the Optio 330RS offers noticeably higher resolution and much better value.

Literally no bigger than a (slightly thick) deck of playing cards, the Optio 430 RS is among the most portable digicams on the market. Its sleek, smooth styling is free from any significant protrusions except for the lens, which telescopes outward when powered on. When powered off, the Optio 430 RS' small dimensions of 3.6 x 2.3 x 1.4 inches (92 x 59 x 31 millimeters) mean you can stash it in a shirt pocket or even a small evening bag for shooting on the fly. The Optio 430 RS is light weight as well, at just 7.1 ounces (200 grams) without the battery or optional CompactFlash card.

The front of the camera holds the lens, flash, optical viewfinder window, flash sensor, self-timer lamp, and the sensor window for the optional remote control. A shutter-like, retractable lens cover protects the lens whenever the camera is powered off, sliding quickly out of the way when the camera is turned on. The lens then telescopes out from the camera body about an inch. The front of the camera is flat without any finger grips, making the grip a little tenuous. - I'd recommend keeping the wrist strap securely around your wrist when holding the camera.

The right side of the camera (as viewed from the back) holds the CompactFlash memory card slot. A hinged door protects the compartment, and opens from the rear panel. The center of the door hinge serves as the eyelet for attaching the wrist strap.

On the opposite side of the camera are the USB and DC In jacks, covered by a flexible plastic flap that pops out and rotates out of the way to reveal the connectors.

The Optio 430 RS's top panel is fairly smooth, and features the Mode dial, Shutter button, and Power button.

A handful of external controls dot the camera's back panel, along with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and 1.6-inch color LCD monitor. Two LEDs next to the optical viewfinder report the camera's status, such as when focus is set, when the flash is charged, etc. At the top of the optical viewfinder eyepiece is a diopter adjustment control, which adjusts to accommodate eyeglass wearers. (It seems to have a pretty wide range, almost accommodating my 20/180 vision. It also offers a fairly high eyepoint, such that I could use it reasonably well with my eyeglasses on.) To the left of the viewfinder eyepiece are three multi-function buttons, which access different settings in Playback and Record modes. In the top right corner is the optical zoom control, which also controls playback zoom. A Four Way Arrow pad dominates the center of the back panel, with an "OK" button in the middle for confirming menu selections. The two remaining controls are the Menu and Display buttons.

On the bottom panel of the Optio 430 RS are the tripod mount and battery compartment. The plastic, threaded tripod mount is just off-center from the lens because of the camera's small size, but provides a fairly stable mount. I prefer metal tripod sockets, but the small size and low weight of the 430 RS mean the plastic socket should hold up fine. The battery compartment features a locking, hinged door, too close to the tripod mount to allow quick battery changes while working with a tripod. (I doubt that this will be of much concern to most users though, as the Optio 430 RS is clearly designed for on-the-go shooting.)

Camera Operation
The Optio 430 RS' user interface is very straightforward, with only a few external controls and a fairly concise (though still three page long) LCD menu system. For standard point-and-shoot operation, the most basic features such as flash, focus mode, and zoom are all adjusted via external controls. The Mode dial lets you quickly set the camera's main operating mode, with just a turn of the dial. When it is necessary to enter the LCD menu system, you'll find it simple to navigate. Three menus are available, delineated by subject tabs at the top of the screen. The arrow keys of the Four Way Arrow pad scroll through each selection, and the OK button in the center of the pad confirms any changes. It shouldn't take much more then a half-hour or so to become familiar with the camera setup, as it's fairly intuitive.

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, with the following options available:

  • Automatic Record: Places the camera in Record mode, lets you adjust all exposure features except for shutter speed and aperture.
  • Night Scene: Basic exposure remains under the camera's control, though now with a bias toward longer exposures for darker shooting conditions.
  • Manual Record: Gives you full control over the exposure, including shutter speed and lens aperture settings.
  • Movie: Records silent, moving images, for a maximum of 30 seconds per movie.
  • 3D: Records a stereographic pair of images in a single frame, for viewing as 3D images using the viewing glasses included with the camera.
  • Digital Filter: Offers a selection of eight color filter modes, as well as a "Slim" filter for stretching images horizontally or vertically.

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. Pressing the "W" side of the button activates the nine-image thumbnail index display mode.

Focus / Protect Button: Directly to the left of the zoom toggle button, this button is the first in a series of three across the top of the back panel. In any record mode, this button cycles through the available focus modes: Autofocus (no icon), Macro mode (flower symbol), Infinity / Landscape focus mode (mountain symbol), and Manual Focus mode ("MF"). In Spot AF mode, pressing this button a fifth time lets you adjust the AF area to one of seven spots around the center of the frame. In Playback mode, this button marks the currently selected image as protected, or removes protection. ("Protection" means that the image cannot be altered or deleted, except by formatting the card.)

Drive Mode / DPOF Button: To the left of the Focus / Protect button, pressing this button cycles through Self-Timer, Remote Control, and Continuous Shooting modes when the camera is in Record mode. With the camera set to Playback mode, this button pulls up the DPOF on-screen menu, allowing you to mark individual or all images for printing, as well as establish the number of print copies, crop the image, and activate a time and date stamp.

Flash / Erase Button: The final button in the series, this button cycles through the available flash modes in any Record mode. Flash modes include Auto, On, Off, and Red-Eye Reduction. In Playback mode, pressing this button displays the Erase menu, allowing you to erase all images on the card or just specific ones.

Diopter Adjustment Control: Hidden in the top of the optical viewfinder eyepiece, this sliding control adjusts the viewfinder display to accommodate eyeglass wearers. (As noted earlier, it seems to offer a wider than average range of adjustment.)

Menu Button: Just above 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: Below the Menu button, this set of arrow keys navigates through settings menus.

In Manual exposure mode, the up and down keys adjust the aperture setting, while the left and right keys change the shutter speed. In any other Record mode, the left and right keys adjust the exposure compensation, from -2 to + 2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. In Playback mode, the left and right keys scroll through captured images on the memory card. In Digital Filter mode, the left and right arrow modes scroll through the available filters.

OK / Playback Button: Nestled in the center of the Four Way Arrow pad, this button confirms menu selections in any mode. In any Record mode, pressing this button during normal display enables Playback mode.

Display Button: The final control button on the back panel, the Display button is just off the lower right corner of the LCD monitor. In Record mode, pressing this once calls up a histogram display of the subject area (a graphical representation of the light and dark values in the image), as well as a readout of basic settings such as resolution, quality, white balance, etc. A second press dismisses the histogram and information display, showing just the image area, and a third press disables the LCD monitor entirely. In Playback mode, pressing the Display button pulls up the same histogram and information display, as well as dismisses it.

Camera Modes and Menus

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, Night Scene, Metered Manual, Movie, 3D, and Digital Filter 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:

  • Record Mode Settings
    • Resolution: Sets the image resolution to 2,304 x 1712; 2,240 x 1680; 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 lets you pick one of seven AF areas, or use the default center area to determine focus. Multiple mode bases focus on a large area in the center of the frame.
    • Digital Zoom: Turns the 2x 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.
    • 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, ISO 100, or ISO 200.
    • Instant Review: Turns the Instant Review function off, or sets the review time on the LCD screen to 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 seconds.
    • Interval Shooting: Activates the Interval Shooting mode, and lets you designate the time interval between shots, the number of shots to record in a series, and how long to wait before beginning shooting. Intervals can range from 30 seconds to 99 minutes, the number of shots captured can range from 2 to 99, and the delay before starting can run from 1 minute to 3 hours 59 minutes.
    • Time Lapse Movie: Turns on the Time Lapse Movie mode, which uses a slower frame rate to capture long periods of activity. Frame settings extend from x2 to x100 (referring to the rate of playback speed).
    • Applied Photo 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.)
    • 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.
  • 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, White Balance, EV Compensation, Digital Zoom, AE Metering, ISO Speed, Focus Mode, Zoom Position, MF, Display, and File Numbering.

  • Setup
    • Format Card: Formats the CompactFlash card, erasing all files (even protected ones).
    • Copy Image: Copies images from the internal memory to the CompactFlash card or vice versa.
    • Resize: Resizes the selected image to smaller pixel dimensions.
    • Trimming: Crops an image and saves it as a smaller file.
    • Alarm: Turns on the camera's alarm clock function, and lets you set as many as three alarm settings.
    • Beep: Turns the camera's beep sound on or off.
    • Start-up Screen: Determines what image is displayed when the camera is powered on. The "Pentax" screen is the default, but you can specify an image from the CompactFlash card or internal memory.
    • Date Style: Cycles through available date formats.
    • Date Adjust: Sets the camera's internal date and time.
    • World Time: Allows you to set the time in another city, so that you can display the time in London, for example, on the LCD monitor. A full list of cities is in the manual.
    • Language: Changes the menu language to English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, or Japanese.
    • Sleep Timeout: Disables the Sleep function, or sets the camera to go to sleep after 30 seconds, one, or two minutes of inactivity.
    • Auto Power Off: Turns this feature off, or sets the camera to shut off after three or five minutes of inactivity.
    • Quick Delete: When activated, this function displays the Delete screen (whenever the Flash / Erase button is pressed in review mode) with "All Images" automatically selected.
    • Quick Enlargement: When turned on, this function enlarges images to the full resolution size with only one press of the zoom toggle button.
    • 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 same menu screens described above.

 Test Images
See all my test images and detailed analysis on the Test Images page for the P430 RS. The thumbnails below show just a subset of the test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.

Indoor Flash





Viewfinder Accuracy


See the specifications sheet here.

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

Test Results
Here's a summary of my test results for the 430RS. For full details and links to all the test shots I captured, see the 430RS' sample pictures page.

Overall, I was a little disappointed in the 430RS, after having tested the 330RS first. The 430's color is nearly identical to that of the 330RS, but the issue is image noise and resolution. Noise per se wasn't too bad, but there's more of it than there should be, and the images from my test sample were terribly soft. Looking at them closely, it's apparent that the sensor was in fact very noisy, to the point that the noise-suppression algorithms had to work so hard that they scrubbed out much of the detail at the same time that they cut the noise. The result is that the 430RS actually shows considerably lower resolution than its 3.2 megapixel sibling the 330RS. - My recommendation therefore is to save yourself some money, and pick the 330RS over the 430RS model. You'll get a nice little digicam with great resolution for a lot less than you'd expect.

Apart from its reduced resolution, I liked the 430RS quite a bit, although I found its shutter response rather annoying. (It and the 330RS behaved similarly in this respect.) On the test bench, it ranged from fairly quick to rather slow in full autofocus mode, but in actual use, it sometimes seemed to take quite a while. I never nailed down what the circumstances were that caused it to take longer for the shutter to release, and it wasn't on every shot, but it was rather annoying when it happened. Apart from that though, the camera's performance was very good, as summarized below.

Most of the information here is identical to that of the Optio 330RS (the two cameras have virtually identical performance, apart from resolution and ISO capabilities), so if you've read that review, you can skip to the sections below on resolution and night shooting...

  • Color: The Optio 430RS generally showed good color, although it had the same tendency toward slight magenta casts that the 330RS did, most noticeable under strong sunlight. The effect wasn't extreme, but tended to make skin tones a little overly pink IMHO. Apart from the slight cast, color rendering was quite good, with accurate hues and appropriate saturation across the board. The 430RS had a little trouble with the incandescent lighting of my "indoor portrait" test, but produced an acceptable result using its incandescent white balance setting, and an excellent one with its manual white balance option.

  • Exposure: The 430 RS' automatic exposure system did pretty well with my standard test shots. It underexposed the very bright Outdoor Portrait test by about the same amount as other cameras I've tested, but normal exposure was quite good in most other cases. (It did require slightly more exposure compensation than normal for the Indoor Portrait shot however.) The camera's default settings produce bright, attractive pictures, with somewhat high contrast. For those who like lower contrast though, the camera's contrast adjustment provides a convenient adjustment. Despite the slightly high contrast, the camera generally did pretty well at holding both highlight and shadow detail.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: The area of my disappointment with the 430RS, and also an example of why you can't trust laboratory test targets to tell you everything about a camera. On my laboratory resolution test, the 430RS edged out the 330RS slightly (1100 lines per picture height resolution, vs 1050 lines), but in "real-world" shots, the 330RS had it all over the 430RS. It looks to me like the 430RS has a very noisy sensor, and the Pentax engineers had to crank so hard on the noise suppression algorithms that they ended up throwing out a lot of the picture detail as well. It's possible that this was simply the result of my getting a bad sample of the 430RS though, so I'll see about getting a second unit to re-test.

  • Closeups: The Optio 430RS performed a bit below average in the macro category, capturing a fairly large minimum area of 5.4 x 4.1 inches (137 x 102 mm). Resolution was fairly high in the center of the frame, but there was a lot of softness in the corners. (A not-uncommon digicam failing in closeup work.) The Optio 430RS' flash throttled down for the macro area reasonably well, though coverage was uneven with dark corners. Overall, the 430RS will be acceptable for occasional closeup shots, but probably not your camera of choice if you need to do a lot of macro work.

  • Night Shots: The 430RS did pretty well in the low-light department, capturing bright images at levels as low as 1/2 foot-candle at ISO 100, and 1/4 foot-candle at ISO 200. Noise was low at ISO 100, moderate at 200. Color was good, but with a slight pink tint. Since typical city street lighting corresponds to a light level of about 1 foot-candle, the 430RS should do well in typical night shooting conditions.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: The Optio 430RS' optical viewfinder is tight, showing about 87 percent of the frame at wide angle and approximately 85 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor turned out to be just slightly "loose," as my standard lines of measurement were very slightly outside of the frame in both shots. The LCD monitor is close to 100 percent accuracy though, so the 430RS' LCD finder is about as accurate as you'll find.
  • Optical Distortion: Optical distortion on the Optio 430RS is fairly high at the wide-angle end, where I measured a 0.91 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I measured a 0.02 percent barrel distortion. (Almost undetectable.) Oddly, chromatic aberration was higher than on the 330RS, showing about eight or nine pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. - A small amount of the increase could be accounted for by the smaller pixels of the 430RS,but that wouldn't account for the full magnitude of the difference I saw. (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.) The strongest visible distortion was some corner softness, along the left side of the frame.
  • Battery Life: The Optio 430RS uses a custom LiIon battery, providing surprisingly good battery life for a compact camera. Based on my power drain measurements, worst-case battery life (capture mode with the LCD turned on) should be nearly two hours. With the LCD off, capture-mode run time increases to a bit over 2.5 hours, and run time in playback mode is almost 3 hours. I still strongly recommend purchasing a second battery though - (DigiPower now makes their model BP-NP60 replacement battery, so it should be fairly easy to find the extra battery in stores.)

In the Box
The following items are packaged with the Optio 430 RS in the US (Bundles in other countries may differ):

  • D-Ll2 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack.
  • Battery charger with AC plug cord.
  • USB cable.
  • Wrist strap.
  • 3D image viewer.
  • Software CD.
  • Operating manual and registration card.

Recommended Accessories

  • Large capacity CompactFlash memory card. (I'd recommend 32MB as a bare minimum, 64MB would be preferable.)
  • Additional D-LI2 lithium-ion battery pack.
  • AC adapter.
  • Small camera case.

The Optio 430 RS offers a lot in a small package at a reasonable price, but its 3 megapixel sibling the Optio 330RS is a much stronger choice. Color and tone on the 430RS are quite good, and the camera manages to offer a wide range of features without losing the ease of use that's key to a successful digicam, but the 330RS actually offers much better resolution at a lower price. I found its shutter response annoying at times, as it sometimes seemed to take much longer than average to take a shot, but apart from that one wrinkle, it performed well, shot good (albeit soft) pictures, and ran for a surprisingly long time on each charge of the battery. (Something I'm not accustomed to seeing in compact digicams.) Overall, I'd give it high marks as a take-anywhere digicam, with good color and a surprising range of capabilities, but for its disappointing resolution performance. If you're intrigued by the 430RS' specs, you should definitely check out the Optio 330RS, which delivers sharper pictures at a lower price point.

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