This intruder, well, that is to say: only for his appearance, was introduced rather unexpectedly at the PMA show 2004 in Las Vegas. The design reminds the veterans amongst us, of an ultra compact super 8 camera, but equipped with nowadays technique. The compact Optio MX camera is a digital camera combining film and video. The camera is equipped with a 1/2.7 inch CCD and offers 3.2 effective Megapixels, delivering a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels. Beside that the MX camera features a smc Pentax 10x optical zoom lens with a focal range of 38-380mm (equivalent of a 35mm camera). The Optio MX I am holding in my hands at the moment is a pre-production model. So no conclusions may be drawn from this first impression and certain specifications are not officially released yet. I will not mention these specifications.
The Pentax 10x optical zoom lens has a bright wide of f2.9 and ends at a bright tele of f3.5. One who wants to bring forward even more details during the recording beside the optical zoom can also use the digital zoom function. This multiplies the zoom range 10x which finally gives a result of a total of 100x zoom! Of course we will have to wait and see what will be left of the image quality with a 100x zoom but at least we can speak of a new record. It is also possible to put a filter on the front lens. The Optio MX stores photos in JPEG format; the video clips are stored in MPEG4 (MOV) format. The video clips can be stored in three different resolutions: 160x120, 320x240 and 640x480 pixels at a rate of 15 or 30 frames per second. The maximum recording time depends on the storage capacity of the memory card that is used.
Beside the automatic Program mode the Optio MX also features a number of manual settings. The Program mode has a number of pre-programmed scenes; Landscape, Flowers, Portrait, Self Portrait, Sunset, Night scene, Surf & Snow, Soft, Illustration and Panorama. The Optio MX also features certain filters: Black & White, Sepia, Red, Pink, Purple, Blue, Green and Yellow. However, these filters can only be used in Playback mode. If you want to use the camera in a more photographic way, you can select Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority and for the perfect freedom select Manual mode. Aperture values are in wide angle f2.9 - f8.0 and in telephoto f3.5 - f8.7. The specifications of the shutter speed are not officially confirmed yet.
On the back of the camera we find a pop-up and in different angles adjustable 1.8-inch LCD monitor. The resolution of the monitor is approximately 134.000 pixels and can be turned 210 degrees vertically and 180 degrees horizontally. On top of the camera the built-in flash is placed which pops up through a small button placed on the side of the camera. The flash has standard flash settings like: red eye reduction, automatic flash, fill-in flash and by pushing it back in, deactivate the flash.
The side of the MX has an eye catching grip that can be turned approximately 90 degrees. The grip gives the stability needed during filming or photographing, especially when using the 10x optical zoom. Inside this grip we find the battery compartment for a 3.7V 1800mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery (D-L17) or for a Cr-V3 Lithium battery. The Li-ion rechargeable battery can not be charged through the camera but has to be placed in a separate charger. The grip has two buttons: one to operate the zoom and as a second function to take an image. The second button gives directly access to the movie mode. At first it seems a strange application, this handgrip, but to be honest, it is a functional application: the camera lies very stable in the hand.
On top of the camera a number of (mini) buttons are placed, amongst them the command dial with the main functions, and a multi-functional button to scroll through the menu for example. Just above the handgrip, on the side of the camera, a small button is placed to give access to the memory compartment. The Optio MX supports Secure Digital memory cards as storage medium.
The Pentax Optio MX camera is a digital camera with an exclusive design with which one really has to become acquainted. It will be a while before the Optio MX is really available but when this model gets onto the shelves of the dealer around the corner it is definitely worth while to get to know it better...