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Pentax Optio E70L review

Ben Pitt
25 Jun 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
89
inc VAT

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Specifications

1/2.3in 10.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (32-96mm equivalent), 125g

Today's upmarket compact cameras pack in more pixels than you'll ever need, and now even the budget models are joining the megapixel arms race.

The E70L's 10-megapixel sensor was in last year's premium models, and was responsible for a notable slump in image quality in 2008. Otherwise, this is a no-frills camera with a plain plastic body, low-resolution screen, 3x zoom and AA batteries.

The menu system is a departure from those of previous Pentax cameras. Its horizontal rather than vertical scrolling made it harder to jump to a particular setting, but the camera is generally easy to use. Perhaps that's because there are so few features to complicate its operation. Its only notable feature is smile detection, which captures a frame automatically when the subject smiles. On other cameras this mode often requires the subject to perform a maniacal toothy snarl, but here, a beaming smile was enough to trigger the shutter. It's more of a gimmick than a practical feature, but we still find it a fun novelty.

The E70L performs respectably, taking around 2.4 seconds to switch on and shoot, and a similar time between shots. However, the shutter button must be half-pressed to focus before being fully pressed to take a photo. Quickly pressing the shutter button all the way down resulted in out-of-focus shots. This is a serious flaw in a point-and-shoot camera, as many people won't know the half-press trick. Even after using it for a few days, it's easy to bungle shots taken in a hurry.

Then again, even if you ignore this issue, there are better cameras available for the price. The E70L's images didn't display any major faults and in bright light they bordered on excellent, but Nikon's similarly priced L19 produced notably smoother, sharper photos indoors. If you can find remaining stock, Pentax's Optio M50 is better than both models and has a 5x zoom and Li-ion battery.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
CCD effective megapixels10.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.3in
Viewfindernone
LCD screen size2.4in
LCD screen resolution112,000 pixels
Optical zoom3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent32-96mm
Image stabilisationnone
Maximum image resolution3,648x2,736
Maximum movie resolution640x480
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; AVI (M-JPEG)

Physical

Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied11MB internal
Battery type2x AA
Battery Life (tested)510 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV
Body materialplastic
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight125g
Size61x94x26mm

Buying Information

Price£89
Supplierhttp://www.bristolcameras.co.uk
Detailswww.pentax.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speedauto
Aperture rangeauto
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 1600
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 4 presets
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus10cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, smile detect