The Pentax Optio LS465 is a budget 5x optical zoom snapper that features swappable ‘skins’ to customise its looks and a 16-megapixel resolution sensor – it’s eminently pocketable but is it any good? We find out…
As well as purple model we tested, the camera comes in black and very, very, bright pink and you get 10 skins in the box that allow you change the look, from cow patterns or zebra stripes to adding your name and address. A rubberised ring around the lens throat holds it all in place.
Pentax Optio LS465 Review – Features and Design
Priced at a very affordable £89.99, the LS465 features a 16-megapixel resolution and HD video complete with a 5x optical zoom (that’s a 28-140mm range in 35mm terms). Every inch a point-and-shoot camera it is nonetheless a stylish little beauty; there’s a suite of auto picture modes and some of the more familiar creative filters such as miniature effects, HDR simulation, and the like, with some of the more ‘normal’ features built into its tiny 102mm x 46mm x 18mm and 125g body, includes face detection and smile capture.
The camera is small enough to slide effortlessly into most pockets (and of course hand bags), the slightly elongated design gives it the feel of a mobile phone in the hand. The shape is nice to hold and use, also making room for the widescreen format display that dominates the camera’s back. The screen’s resolution of just 230K-dots reflects the cameras price however and seems primarily aimed at helping you get the most from video capture.
Talking of which, the LS465 shoots video but only offers 1280 x 720-pixel resolution (720P), so not Full (1080P) HD and can capture footage at up to 30fps, while a small instant capture button on the back means you can be quickly shooting video without any fussing in menus.
However, to make the most of the screen when shooting stills, you lose the benefit of the camera’s 16-megapixel CCD, since to use the full area of the wider aspect ratio of the screen (for stills shooting) necessitates shooting at 12-megapixels. Set it to 16-megapixels and the amount of screen used for image display and composition is reduce to a central 4/3rd’s ratio area, leaving wide black bands either side.
At this point it’s also worth noting that although this camera’s 16-megapixel resolution is fast becoming the norm for most compacts (even budget models such as this). It means the actual light gathering pixels are very small indeed and densely packed – this invariably leads to inevitable problems associated with image noise.
And here, at all but the lowest sensitivity settings of ISO 64, noise can become visible, avoiding it above ISO 400 to be safe. The ‘normal’ ISO range goes to 1600, which is (barely) acceptable for internet use, but the dual expanded modes of ISO 3200 and 6400 that also use a reduced capture resolution of 7-megapixels, are plagued by noise issues and are best avoided.
The camera’s digital filters can be applied to your images when you shoot or after you’ve shot from within the Playback menu, which is nice as it’s enjoyable to have a tinker and snazz up a shot after you’ve taken it.
Using the LS465 is simple with an on/off button and shutter realise sat on the top of the camera the other buttons are nested on the back and include a small, square four-way jog control cluster with sliver-like zoom controls above. Playback, movie record, menu and an ‘Fn’ (function) button – which can be assigned various modes such as ISO, White Balance or EV compensation – feature on the model’s body.
All the buttons are on the small side for my fingers but will no doubt be fine for those with smaller hands.
Exposure modes run from the fully automatic point-and-shoot variety (as above) to the Auto Picture scene-recognition mode, while a Program mode and 22 subject program modes – such as the normal landscape and portrait settings – as well as the funkier stuff such as the HDR and Miniaturisation filters, all feature.
Something worth bearing in mind, and that represents another compromise due to the price of the camera, is the lack of a HDMI out port; you cannot connect it directly to an HD TV for example. Any images and movie footage will need to be transferred to a computer before you can then transfer it to an HD TV.
Performance, Image Quality and Verdict
Pentax Optio LS465 review – Performance and Image Quality
Overall, the performance is best described as adequate. Start-up time is around 3.5-seconds, while image processing times are quite slow with single-shot mode taking around 10-seconds to shoot three images, each shot taking just under three-seconds to process.
In continuous shooting around eight shots were achieved in nine-seconds, with the burst mode managing just eight shots in four-seconds (so around 2fps) whereupon the camera stops and buffers the data off to the storage.
The LS465’s 9-point contrast-detect AF system offer an automatic-area AF and single-point (in the centre) AF; there is a tracking AF feature too, but unless the thing it tracks is moving slowly it is completely inaccurate and not worth bothering with. The speed of the focusing is okay in good light, but gloomier conditions give a marked slowdown in performance with the LS465 struggling to key on the subject.; the omission of an AF-assist light on the front of the camera makes this a real problem.
Face Detection does work well in good light and can detect up to 16 faces in the frame and even better, there’s very little in the way of shutter lag.
In terms of image quality, the LS465 delivers good images at lower ISOs – so stick to sub ISO 400 shots and you’ll not be disappointed. The model is also capable of delivering crisp, punchy shots with good contrast, even in flat lighting conditions and overcast days.
Images are at their sharpest at the wider end of the lens; at its telephoto extreme however things are softer across the entire frame and no doubt the omission of image stabilisation is part of the issue.
The metering is accurate – the only issue being occasional underexposure – and the white balance did its job if you select the right setting for the conditions; use of the auto mode is less pleasing but given the price, it’s good enough for most users likely to buy the camera.
Pentax Optio LS465 review – Verdict
It’s probably obvious by now that the Pentax Optio LZ 465 is unlikely to suit most people, but it is inexpensive, fun to use, looks great and has enough kit to keep you happy. The camera is one likely to be bought in the knowledge that it would not matter overly should you lose it. But if you do, and you’ve used the name and address skin, anyone that finds it (may) send it back to you anyway.
And so, as a no-frills budget compact that offers 16MP resolution and a 5x optical zoom lens, if you’re looking for an inexpensive entry into point-and-shoot photography in compact package, you could do worse and double the price.