With its durable design and 7X zoom, the Pentax Optio Z10 is perfectly suited for outdoor use. The lens is powerful enough to capture both distant sporting scenes and landscapes, and at 6.4 ounces this digicam is half the weight as many higher-zoom cameras. We were disappointed at the lack of optical image stabilization, which is a godsend for taking blur-free action shots, but this point-and-shoot delivers pretty good photos for the money.
Design & Ease of Use
In addition to the 7X zoom, the Optio Z10's rugged feature set includes a black scratch-resistant coating, metal port covers, and a sliding lens cover, which also turns the camera on. The lens never protrudes from the camera. With the exception of the shutter, located on the top, all eight buttons are on the back, to the right of the 2.5-inch screen. The camera's interface was easy to learn and has 13 scene modes, as well as a voice recorder.
Optio Z10 Image Quality
On maximum zoom, we were able to capture moderately distant details, such as leaves on a tree a block away. The Optio Z10's lens has a range of 38mm to 266mm, so if you want a panoramic shot, you'll have to use digital wide, which is about as effective as digital zoom.
Our 8-megapixel shots showed decent color on a sunny day, but in the shade, photos started to look wan; fall leaves looked radiant, but a turquoise scarf looked drab. Natural Skin Tone mode does a good job of brightening faces.
Hold the Flash
The Optio Z10 performed well in low light. Our pictures didn't become unacceptably grainy until we pushed the ISO to 1600. On the other hand, the auto ISO settings seemed high. When we took a picture in a dim room, the default setting was 800, but the picture was bright enough even at level 100.
A Little Shaky
In Auto mode, moving hands looked out of focus, and the Digital Shake Reduction mode didn't seem to work. On the plus side, the Optio Z10 turned on in just 2 seconds after we slid the lens cover open, although the camera took a full 4 seconds to ready itself for another shot.
Optio Z10 Verdict
At $249, the Optio Z10 is cheaper than similar cameras on the market, but in exchange for a low price and compact design, you get blurrier shots. If action photography is a priority, look elsewhere. But if you want a long zoom lens and you're looking to save money, you'll be satisfied with the Optio Z10.
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