Dennis Hissink : September 3th 2003 - 23:43 CET
The new Optio 555 from Pentax
Pentax presents the Optio 555, a digital camera enabling the utmost in performance and portability. The successor of the Optio 550, it has exceptionally compact dimensions and is so light that it's ideal for use virtually anywhere. With enhanced operability, extended functionality, and maximized responsiveness, it allows satisfying shots to be taken with extreme ease. And with a 5X optical zoom, 4X digital zoom enabling 20X total zoom performance, and the superb clarity of 5 effective Megapixels, it blends extreme versatility with superb detail. The Optio 555 also has a highly sophisticated appearance, with a slender aluminum body that fits comfortably in the hand and fine concentric lines that radiate from the lens like ripples in a pond.|
|The major features are:|
Compact, powerful 5X optical zoom lens
Though satisfyingly compact, the lens of the Optio 555 delivers the versatility of 5X zooming that extends from 37.5mm wide angle to 187.5mm telephoto shooting. It also offers simple lever operation, achieves minimal distortion, and can be combined with the easy-to-operate 4X digital zoom for a combined capacity of 20X zooming.
High-level detail with 5.0 effective megapixels
With the power of 5.0 effective megapixels, the Optio 555 offers precision that sets it apart from other compact digital cameras. In addition to such an advantage, it also features a high-precision SMC Pentax lens and employs advanced image processing technologies to create truly pleasing shots.
Simplistic, swift operation
Responsiveness was considered a key quality in the development of the Optio 555. As a result, it has been designed to become ready within mere seconds of the power being turned on. It's also extremely easy to switch between playback and shooting modes at will — a single touch of the playback button will bring up recorded images, and just a touch of the shutter button is all that's required to return to shooting. Modes have also been made easy to select through the incorporation of a handy mode dial, and additional convenience has been achieved with the ability to assign frequently used functions to independent buttons.
11 easy-to-select modes
A turn of a dial is all it takes to choose from a selection of 11 modes. Just select the one most appropriate for the capture of your subject from Programmed exposure, Aperture-priority AE, Shutter-priority AE, Metered manual exposure, Picture mode, Movie, Voice recording, Panorama assist, 3D image, Digital filter, and User modes.
To enable casual shooing whenever an opportunity arises, the Optio 555 features programmed exposure mode, which automatically selects the most appropriate shutter and aperture settings for the subject.
With Aperture-priority AE, the Optio 555 lets you take control over depth of field. Select a large aperture to throw a background out of focus, or stop down to a small aperture for clarity that extends to the horizon. Indeed whichever aperture you choose, the Optio 555 automatically selects the most appropriate shutter speed for pleasing exposure.
Shutter-priority AE lets you select shutter speeds better suited to your subjects. Freeze a fast-moving object through selection of a fast shutter, or choose a slow shutter to create blurred effects that emphasize movement, for example.
Metered manual exposure
For greater involvement in the achievement of stunning shots, the Optio 555 has Metered manual mode. This allows you to select both shutter speed and aperture for yourself when dealing with difficult circumstances or striving to produce a more creative shot.
User mode lets you customize the Optio 555 to suit your own personal style, enabling you to select a combination of settings you find personally appealing and save them for easy access.
The Optio 555 offers a selection of nine convenient picture modes, Landscape, Night Scene, Flower, Portrait, Surf & Snow, Autumn Color, Sunset, Fireworks and Text. These prepare you for a wide range of conditions and situations and can be selected with ease.
When a single shot is not sufficient to capture a scene, Panorama assist is the ideal solution. It allows you to take a series of horizontal or vertical shots following the camera's guidance, which can then be aligned and combined on a PC through use of included software.
3D image mode
3D image mode adds another dimension to digital shooting. Simply take two shots following guidance given by the camera then enjoy a genuine sense of depth and perspective when you view the results through the special viewer provided.
Digital filters deliver the creative opportunities of conventional filters, without the hassle of having to carry a bag of accessories. The Optio 555 offers the choice of black & white and sepia shooting as well as a range of other tones (red, pink, purple, blue, green, and yellow). It also features a Soft focus filter that can be used to achieve more flattering portraits.
The Optio 555 has the power to capture more than just stills. In fact it also captures video at 15 frames per second, with 320 x 240 recorded pixels. What's more, all clips are recorded in MOV format, allowing easy playback on a PC.
Voice recording mode
Audio can be recorded to the full capacity of the external memory, allowing the Optio 555 to be used as a regular voice recording device. With a 64MB memory card allowing the recording of up to 2 hours and 12 minutes of audio, this mode makes the Optio 555 even more useful in so many more situations.
Voice memo mode
The Optio 555 has the additional advantage of being able to record up to 30 seconds of sound for each image.
Built-in auto flash
With an auto flash that can be set to fire automatically in low-light conditions, the Optio 555 extends your shooting options. The camera also features Flash-on, Flash-off, and red-eye reduction modes for greater control and additionally offers Slow shutter sync mode, which can be selected for use in combination with Night Scene mode.
Flash exposure compensation
Offering the ability to control the level of flash discharge, the Optio 555 allows you to avoid the "washing out" of subjects in close proximity.
A viewfinder offering actual image zoom allows you to conserve power by switching off the LCD monitor. It also features diopter adjustment for greater accuracy in relation to your eyesight.
The versatile 5X optical zoom of the Optio 555 can be augmented through combination with 4X digital zoom, achieving a combined zooming ability of an impressive 20X.
9-frame display/zoom display
Allowing nine images to be displayed simultaneously, the LCD screen of the Optio 555 significantly speeds the process of searching for a shot. Each shot can also be displayed with up to 8X magnification, allowing you to closely inspect each shot for focus and fine details.
Choice of autofocus
With a choice of Wide AF and Spot AF, the Optio 555 allows you to place the focus sharply on even off-center subjects within the focus frame, or select the desired center of focus from one of five horizontal and vertical points.
White balance settings
With a choice of eight white balance modes, the Optio 555 is ideally equipped for a range of different lighting circumstances. These include settings for daylight, shade, tungsten light, and three types of fluorescent light. There's also an auto setting, as well as the manual setting, which allows you to take greater control over the balance of color with regard to your lighting circumstances.
Three metering systems
With a selection of multi-segment metering, center-weighted metering, and spot metering, the Optio 555 confers closer control over the evaluation of exposure.
The Optio 555 enables exposure compensation across a range of +2EV in steps of 1/3EV. This allows you to take a set of shots of a single subject and then select the exposure most closely suited to your tastes.
Manual settings for sharpness, saturation and contrast
With settings that allow you to take manual control over sharpness, saturation, and contrast, with three grades for each, the Optio 555 lets you manipulate the final outcome to a greater extent than other digital cameras.
Auto sensitivity setting
An auto sensitivity setting allows the Optio 555 to make the best possible use of available light. It also enables manual selection, allowing you to choose from settings equivalent to ISO400, 200, 100, and even ISO64!
With the Optio 555, effective metering has been made much faster through the use of TTL contrast detection and an external passive sensor.
Macro shooting modes and Infinity-landscape mode
Selection of Macro mode allows the Optio 555 to be used for close-up compositions as close as 15cm from the subject. It also features a super macro mode that allows shots to be composed from as close as just 2cm, and both modes can be combined with 4X digital zoom too! At the other end of the scale, the Optio 555 also offers Infinity-landscape mode, which is ideal for capturing expansive scenes and even provides pleasing focus when shooting through windows.
Continuous shooting capability allows you to take a set of shots in rapid succession, capturing action scenes in a more expressive manner.
Interval shooting is an excellent way to capture events that take place over a long period of time. Simply select the time to start shooting, the duration of the interval between shots, and the number of frames — then leave the Optio 555 to operate by itself.
Time-lapse movie mode runs a set of sequential recorded frames together as a short film. It offers a selection of X2, X5, X10, X20, X50, or X100 recording speeds and can be used to achieve effects such as scenes of clouds rushing across the sky, for example.
Multiple exposure mode lets you combine multiple frames as one shot. Use it to make a person appear twice in the same shot, for example, or combine vastly different scenes for surreal results.
A handy self-timer allows the user to enter into group shots or minimize camera shake when taking pictures in low light.
Four functions can be customized from a selection of twelve. These can then each be allocated to the useful four-way controller for easy access that suits user needs.
Digital filter function for after shooting
With the Optio 555, the use of digital filters is not confined to the time of shooting. Indeed it has a special function that allows the user to choose from ten different filters (B&W, sepia, red, pink, purple, blue, green, yellow, soft, and brightness) to apply to images that have already been recorded.
A handy resize function allows you to free up more memory space without having to delete a single shot, altering the data size of recorded pictures or reducing the level of quality to allow further shooting. Once you’ve resized the data, you even have the choice of whether to save it as a new file or use it to overwrite the original image.
Excellent composition doesn’t have to be confined to the time of shooting. Indeed with the convenient Trimming function, images can be cropped at any time and selected parts can be stored as individual new files.
The detailed histogram function is extremely handy during both playback and shooting, allowing you to check the range of light levels with greater accuracy.
With digital photography, it's sometimes a little too easy to delete a shot. That’s why the Optio 555 has been designed to feature a function that prevents the deletion of shots you definitely want to keep.
A shot of your choice can be displayed at the same time as an alarm sounds. This convenient function makes it easy to remind yourself of something related to your schedule, or can be simply set to wake you with the face of a loved one. The Optio 555 also has a handy snooze function, so there’s no need to worry about sleeping through the alarm.
Noise reduction function
For longer exposures, the Optio 555 automatically activates a function for reduced interference.
The Optio 555 can be customized to match your style more closely, allowing you to select a favorite shot for use as the start-up screen, and choose different sounds to accompany different functions and actions.
Mode memory function
Combinations of settings producing pleasing results can be simply saved, then returned to automatically when the power is next switched on.
World time function
The Optio 555 can display the time for 62 different cities around the world. It can also be set to record the time and date for each recorded shot, making it the ideal choice of camera for traveling and allowing simpler sorting of shots upon your return.
DPOF print convenience
When used in combination with DPOF-compatible printers, the Optio 555 gives you a greater degree of control over the date function and the number of prints.
Operation in 8 languages
With multilingual operation extending to all menus and messages, the Optio 555 can be easily operated by speakers of English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese.
USB and ACDSee for Pentax
USB compatibility makes it fast and easy to import multiple recorded images into common PC applications via simple cable connection. The camera also comes complete with a CD-ROM containing the ACDSee for Pentax application, which can be easily installed and used on both Windows and Mac systems.
AV (video/audio) output terminal
An AV output terminal makes it easy to connect the Optio 555 to a TV, allowing the display of images on a much grander scale.
The Optio 555 even offers options in terms of its power source. Choose from an exclusive rechargeable lithium-ion battery for shooting anywhere, or make use of an optional AC adapter if you happen to be close to a power outlet.
High-precision LCD monitor
The 1.5-inch TFT LCD monitor delivers quality images of your potential subjects. The monitor is also ideal for inspecting shots that are already recorded.
SD memory card/MultiMediaCard
With SD memory card and MultiMediaCard compatibility, the Optio 555 is able to store a large amount of images while retaining high-level accuracy.
Exif Print (Exif2.2) and PRINT Image Matching II compatibility
Exif Print and PRINT Image Matching II compatibility allows the creation of a stronger link between the camera and printer for greater control.
PictBridge compatibility does away with the need for PC connectivity during printing. Indeed it allows the camera to be connected straight to a compatible printer for direct control over printing and a range of other functions.
Remote control (optional)
Even greater versatility comes in the form of two remote control units available as options. Known as remote control E and remote control F, they offer the convenience of immediate shutter release and a three-second timer, while the former also offers the advantage of zoom control.