Something small, shiny and simple from Pentax
Weighing only 126g (with the battery and SD memory card included), the Pentax Optio S1 is never going to feel like much of a burden. And, at just 20mm thick, it will fit easily in most pockets.
The design is unobtrusive and appealing, with a smooth, reflective body available in four colours: black, blue, red and silver. The rear screen is a decent size at 2.7in, but the buttons were too small for our liking. Like most cheap cameras there is no viewfinder.
Photos can be taken at up to 14 megapixels, which is fair for a camera of its cost – it's around £120 in the shops and just under £100 online. There are several 16-megapixel cameras available for a similar price but these are often susceptible to increased noise, which wasn't the case with the S1.
Pictures shot in bright daylight conditions were pleasantly sharp and detailed with relatively little noise. Blur was kept to a minimum too, thanks to an effective anti-shake mechanism. Indoors, shooting without a flash resulted in some noise, but only at levels that are usual for a mid-range compact cameras.
We also noticed some odd colour inconsistencies during our tests of the S1's auto mode. The most likely cause of this is probably to do with the camera's automatic white balance and it was only evident in a few of the shots we took.
In most cases, image quality was certainly acceptable and is supported by a strong roster of supporting features. The S1's 5x optical zoom lens has a wide angle of 28mm, which is good for capturing group shots and landscapes. High-definition video recording is also possible at the 720p resolution, but there is no HDMI socket on the camera, so you can't connect it directly to a flat-panel TV for movie playback or slideshows.
For such a modestly priced camera, the S1 offers a good selection of shooting options and settings, including face detection, red-eye compensation and several different exposure modes, filters and effects. It was all fairly easy to use with familiar menu layouts and a familiar, logical navigation system.
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The Pentax Optio S1 is a reasonably cheap compact camera with a stylish, slim design and several useful creative features but it's not the best model available in its price range.
Slim, light design; simple to use; lots of shooting options; HD video
Buttons are small; no HDMI output; some occasional colour issues
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