Pentax Optio RS1500 review
1/2.33in 14.0-megapixel sensor, 4.0x zoom (27.5-110mm equivalent), 127g
It's not easy coming up with a unique selling point for a budget camera, but Pentax has done it with the RS1500's interchangeable front panel designs. There are 13 included in the box, including a snakeskin effect, a kitsch vintage camera design and various abstract patterns. There's also a pack of five pre-cut, ready-to-print sheets of paper, and even a web browser-based app for creating your own designs. We found it surprisingly sophisticated but various bugs meant we didn't manage to get our design printed.
These designs sit behind a plastic sheet, held in place by the orange rubber lens ring – there's a black one included too. Overall, the camera still looks like a budget model but it has a fun charm. The 3in screen is welcome, although it's no more detailed than 2.7in screens used elsewhere and its colours looked slightly drab. The silver-on-white button labels were hard to see in some light, and the power button's red dot makes it look like a video record button.
The video function is actually located among the scene presets. Its 720p resolution is welcome but clips are limited to 10 minutes. Autofocus and optical zoom are fixed for the duration of clips, with the camera instead resorting to an ugly digital zoom function. Wide-angle clips suffered from heavy barrel distortion and soundtracks were marred by a fizz of digital interference. Despite all these flaws, it's still an improvement on other cameras' VGA-resolution videos.