Touch the innovative 3.0 inch LCD panel to allow image customization with the drawing functions while a unique Mode Pallete includes Auto Picture mode to access camera settings. All this and a 7.1 megapixel CCD, 3X optical smc PENTAX lens with an ultra-slim and stylish aluminum alloy exterior, makes the Optio T30 a camera you won't want to be without.
A swanky 3-inch touch screen display is the highlight of the 7.1-megapixel, pocket-sized Pentax Optio T30 digital camera. Heavy on the features, the Optio T30 is light in the pocket as well as on the pocketbook.
Slow image transfer via supplied USB cable (20 minutes for 1GB)
Big LCD display may be easily scratched
Touch screen controls can be accidentally activated
The last time I touched a Pentax camera was in high school when I used a K1000 35mm SLR. Fast forward 15 years and I'm happy to report that Pentax has adapted quite well to the digital age. The Pentax Optio T30 digital camera pushes the limits of point-and-shoots with its touch screen technology. Like a PDA, you access camera functions and menus by tapping the LCD screen.
Three friends and I decided to take a barbeque road trip, in search of great restaurants and other interesting destinations. We drove from Chicago to Louisville to Nashville to Memphis to Little Rock to Austin in eight days - a lot of driving. Since this was my vacation I didn't want to bring a big, bulky digital SLR. I wanted a camera that would fit in my pocket. The Pentax Optio T30 is about the size of a pack of playing cards and slides into my pocket perfectly. I kept the camera in a small pouch to protect the wonderfully bright, sharp touch screen display.
Pentax Optio T30 Features
The Pentax Optio T30 has a lot of cool factor. Two of the professional photographers I was traveling with really dug the camera. One
lamented the fact that he had just purchased a Canon digital point-and-shoot last year - wishing he had waited for the Optio T30.
Thanks to prerelease of the Apple iPhone, touch screen technology is the next big thing. Touch screen means buttons can be quite large without increasing the camera size. Many of the touch screen buttons are two to four times larger than corresponding physical controls on comparable cameras. This is great for people who need glasses or who have big fingers. Bigger, easier to see buttons also make it easy to navigate around the menus and change camera settings.
All the typical point-and-shoot digital scene modes are included. Scene modes help photographers take better pictures by using pre-programmed settings that work well with difficult or creative photography subjects. The Optio T30 has settings for Sport,
Portrait, Snow, Flower, Night Scene, etc.; as well as some fun ones like Food, which saturates the image "to make it look appetizing;" and Pet, described as, "a setting suitable for the pet's coat."
I like the Optio T30's "P" mode. The "P" stands for "Program," and allows you some control over the images via exposure compensation, white balance selection, ISO control, etc.
Left: Pentax Optio T30 Capture Palette, with Program mode selected Right: Pentax Optio T30 Digital Shake Reduction shooting mode (Digital SR) information display
One of the things that set this and other Pentax digital cameras apart is their innovative exposure modes. The Optio T30 has "Auto adjust" ISO settings that choose the best sensitivity for current lighting conditions within limits set by the photographer. Auto adjust options include ISO 64-100, 64-200, and 64-400. This makes it possible for the photographer to have some control over the image quality and exposure settings while allowing the camera's processor to adjust sensitivity to best match lighting conditions.
As well as recording sound for video capture, the Optio T30 can also be used as an audio recorder. Sounds can be recorded and played back, as well as attached to photos to be used as notes. There are even tools for editing images in the camera. You can crop, resize, draw and add notes, attach a frame, add a sound file, remove red-eye, and more - all using the touch screen display on the back of the camera. A stylus is included with the T30, so the photographer can write notes or draw on their images using the My Drawing mode included in the Special Effects menu.
Pentax Optio T30 Design
From the front, the Pentax Optio T30 it looks like any other point-and-shoot digital camera - not very exciting. It's at the back of the camera that all the magic happens. And since that's where you - the photographer - will be directing most of your attention, the "back" of the camera is the most important part. The rear of the Optio T30 is elegant in its simplicity. There are only four buttons on this camera (see image at right)! Let me repeat that - only four buttons! Most digital cameras have 10 or 12. The touch screen display eliminates the need for all the extra buttons. There's so much room on the back that there's even a comfortable indentation for your thumb! The four buttons are an on/off button, a Menu button, a play button, and the shutter release. There is also a zoom lever around the shutter release.
The tripod socket and battery/memory card door are plastic. The socket is offset to one end of the camera and allows the battery door to be opened when using some smaller tripods. A plastic tripod socket isn't a very good idea as it's very likely to be ruined by cross-threading or otherwise damaging the plastic threads.
The shutter release is nice and big and there's no way you'll confuse it with the on/off button when you're in a dark room. The on/off button has a bright green light in the center, when the camera is turned on. I'm a fan of the color green, but that light is a bit too bright and obnoxious for my taste.
The Optio T30's touch screen worked perfectly. The only problem is that it's possible to accidentally push the LCD and activate the controls when you didn't mean to. But that could happen even with a camera that has normal buttons. Pressing the Menu button or tapping the screen easily accesses most controls. You can assign frequently used functions to four touch screen buttons or just save certain functions - such as whether or not you want the flash to stay on or off. It's probably easier to access the movie mode with some other cameras. Getting to the movie mode with the Optio T30 is a two-button process. But the extra pushes mean one less button on the back of the camera.
The T30's auto focus is a bit temperamental but for the most part worked well. The shutter-lag is pretty minimal. Shot-to-shot time was disappointingly slow. According to the manual, capture rate varies according to resolution and quality. At highest resolution and Best quality level, the Continuous Shooting mode is slower than one frame-per-second. I would like to see at least 2-3 frames per second.
The sensitivity ranges from ISO 64 to a whopping ISO 3200. Why you'd ever put it on 3200 I don't know. Maybe if you were trying to get a make a picture look like some type of pointillist painting - there's a lot of noise at ISO 3200 . The 7.1 megapixel sensor is plenty big for most point-and-shoot photographers and the 640x480 movie size is about twice the size you'll need to upload to your YouTube account.
The Optio T30 allows you to select different sounds for camera functions - I chose a cat's "meow" for the start-up. The meow sounds so real that at one point someone thought there was a cat in the room! A digital camera pet peeve of mine is having the camera's lens come out when I only want to review photos. Thankfully, by holding down the "review" button and hitting the power button at the same time you can view stored images without the lens popping out.
Transferring images to the computer with the supplied USB cable was painfully slow. Try about 20 minutes for a 1-gig card. It's much faster to remove the SD card and just use a card reader. With Best quality image photo sizes averaging about 2.5MB, a 1GB card fills up quickly, too. So make sure to have at least a 1GB SD card - maybe two. And buy yourself a USB card reader to speed up transfer times.
The flash, even in the "Soft Flash" was too harsh. A point and shoot should have a flash mode that balances the ambient light with the flash so that the flash is used as a fill light. Unfortunately the T30's did not balance very well, it wasn't totally blown out but nowhere near as soft as it should be.
Pentax Optio T30 playback mode with image info and histogram displayed
Pentax Optio T30 during capture with image info and histogram on
Pentax Optio T30 main menu
Pentax Optio T30 Capture Toolbar, accessed by simply touching the LCD
Like all point-and-shoot digital cameras I've used, the Optio T30's image quality is typically okay. It may be a wee bit better than other point-and-shoots I've used. It's good enough, but it's not great.
Image sharpness is good at default settings. Images in contrasty light came out pretty good, with detail in both the highlights and the shadows.
During our bbq road trip, I photographed some dark food in very difficult conditions. -Even in dim, mixed fluorescent light, my photos came out good and there is even some detail in the barbecue.
Surprisingly, I ended up getting the best results at 400 ISO - as long as the light was decent. Low light ISO 400 images are very grainy. Strangely, images shot at ISO 64 appeared over saturated. Generally, the color looked pretty good. But every so often there would be a photo that looked a bit over-saturated.
Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.
Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.
Pentax should be marketing the hell out of their Optio T30 and bragging about the touch screen LCD. Everyone I've shown it to - mostly other photographers - think that it's super cool. None of us knew there were any touch screen cameras available until I got a hold of this one. (Editor's note: Sony also has a touch screen digital camera - the Sony Cybershot DSC-T50.)
The Pentax Optio T30 is leading the way for point-and-shoot digital camera design. With some minor improvements to the camera and some image quality improvement the Optio T30 could be the camera all others will be measured against. And the price is great, too! Similar quality (image-wise) cameras run $100 more and they don't have the whiz-bang touch screen. This one is going on my short list of must buy point-and-shoots.
Who Should Buy The Pentax Optio T30
People who appreciate easy to use, pocket-sized, cutting edge technology will enjoy the Pentax Optio T30. There is no doubt that the touch screen LCD will impress your friends. Anyone who will benefit from larger, easy to see buttons will also find the T30 a good digital camera choice. It's a flexible, easy to use camera that should have some appeal for almost anyone that needs a good point-and-shoot digital camera.
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Weaknesses: Need two batteries to do field work. Will not charge battery with battery inside camera.
I work in the investigative field and this camera has given me the edge in pointing out exactly what I want you to look at when viewing a crime or accident scene. In fact, i think I have sold over a dozen to others who have seen the pictures I have used as evidence. Very easy to use and fast... Clear resolution where I can take a picture from 12-15 feet and zoom in to the name tag and read the name of the individual. This camera is worth investing $200.
I am no expert on touch panels, but this is one of the best touch panel experiences I've ever had. The Pentax Optio T30 is a 7.1 MP point-and-shoot featuring a clear and easy-to-read touch panel interface, ISO-shifting "Digital Shake Reduction," and of course, Face Recognition. The lens is a 37.5mm ... Read More »
[B][CENTER]LATEST PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAS OFFER NEW FEATURES AND SLIM DESIGN[/CENTER][/B]
GOLDEN, COLORADO (January 22, 2007)…PENTAX Imaging Company has announced two new compact digital cameras. The PENTAX Optio T30 is one of the thinnest digital cameras featuring a three inch LCD monitor. In ... Read More »