Last week I received an Optio RS1500 from Pentax to review. I’m normally a DSLR guy, but if you understand how to frame your subjects, almost any camera can take a nice picture. Point and shoot cameras are pretty cool. They offer a better camera than your cell phone, and with better control and optical zoom. Pentax is a brand that has been producing camera and lens equipment since 1919, so they’re not new to the game. The Optio RS1500 is their newest point and shoot, and hits the shelves at around $150. It’s a good camera for tossing in a bag, shoving in a cargo pocket or just have around.
Lets toss out some basic specifications:
- 14 Megapixels
- 4x Optical/6.7X Digital Zoom
- 3″ Color LCD viewfinder
- Internal Memory: 21.6MB
- Expandable via SD or SDHC
- 4.5 oz with battery
- Timer Mode: 2 or 10 s
- Video: 720p/30fps
- Max length of 10:35 per shot
Now, onto the review. The RS1500 is surprisingly light. It is made of an aluminum chassis, and feels like it. The battery is a rechargeable, and is charged separately from the camera itself in a wall-wart. The front of the camera is grooved, and is covered by a sheet of plastic. Why? Well, because you can add one of 10 pre-cut skins to it. If you remove the black plastic ring around the lens, the plastic sheet comes out and is replaced over the cover of your choice. The black ring can even be replaced with an orange one (included). If pink houndstooth isn’t your style, there’s even an option to create your own skin. The camera is quick to boot, taking less than 2 seconds to take a picture from start-up, which is pretty impressive considering the pop-out lens. The rear LCD/viewfinder is nice and bright, but refreshes slowly when framing a picture, but more on that later. The display contains all of the information you’d expect; shooting mode, flash status, room on the card, battery life and even if the smile capture or face recognition is enabled. The battery and SD card both fit under a small flap on the bottom of the camera. The top of the camera has a dimple on the left side to match the shutter on the right, making it easy to hold the camera. The power button in the top is slightly recessed, so it isn’t confused with the shutter. On the rear of the camera you have a zoom rocker which is textured, a review button, smile capture/face detection and menu buttons. The button ring contains timer, macro, flash and shooting mode, all surrounding the OK or Select button. The last button on the lower right serves two purposes. In shooting mode, it is customizable, allowing you to change ISO, exposure or image size on the fly, or quickly switch to video mode. When reviewing pictures, this is the delete button.
The camera is quick and responsive. It focuses quickly, and returns to the shooting screen in a timely manner. The menu system seems to be a little… dated, I guess, but it may be the large font and large icons. You can select one of 22 shooting modes, including panorama, but not including Macro and Super Macro, as they are separate. Depending on the shooting mode you select, you can edit various parameters of the shot, including ISO, exposure, white balance, EV compensation and image size. When viewing pictures on the device, you actually have a pretty cool set of features. You can rotate the image in-camera, as well as crop, resize and even apply a skin tone filter to even out blemishes. Other filters include B&W, Sepia, vignette, color shift, soften, pinch and zoom. Not Photoshop quality filters, but they do the job considerably well considering they are done on a pocket sized device. You can even cut or take stills from a video on-camera. That’s pretty impressive. Shooting video seems to be the strength of this camera. It’s smooth. The normally laggy LCD picks right up when you’re recording video. The output is smooth, although bright lights tend to leave harsh vertical lines in the video. It’s also worth noting that this camera does not have an IR filter, and can see and display IR lights from your remote or security cameras. Just sayin’
As you can see in the video, the video looks good, but there isn’t much wind protection for the microphone. I’m actually talking to it at the end there, but you can barely hear it.
As for pictures, they’re pretty good. Nothing super fancy, but not horrid quality. The colors seem a little saturated to me, but I’m colorblind, what do I know? Check the gallery for picture samples.
Overall, the Pentax Optio RS1500 is a great carry-around camera. While some of the features like heart inlays and frames as well as the skins are aimed for the younger crowd, the camera is capable. It even shoots excellent video. It’s lightweight, and the construction is pretty solid. The buttons don’t have much play, and the metal frame really adds to the sturdiness.