If you’re on a tight budget, the M60 is great value for money
For under £100, the Pentax Optio M60 offers a surprisingly complete specification, with a slim all-metal body, 10.0-megapixel resolution, 5x zoom range and a 2.5in LCD monitor with a good angle of view. It is a well-made camera from a big name brand, and both looks and feels more expensive than it actually is.
The M60 is designed primarily to be easy and fun to use. It has 24 scene modes that cover just about every possibility, as well as Auto Scene Selection, which works very well, and Pentax’s usual Green Button option, which activates an idiot-proof auto-everything mode. There is also a program auto mode for more confident users, and the green button can be reassigned to something more useful.
The main menu is clear but comprehensive, and includes multiple metering modes, tracking AF and adjustable sharpness, contrast and saturation. There are also a number of fun and creative options in playback mode, including over 80 composite frames, and colour filters.
However, the camera does lack some features found on more-expensive models, most notably any form of image stabilisation, which could be a problem when using the long telephoto setting of 180mm. There is a digital shake reduction option in playback, but it isn’t terribly effective. The M60 also has no AF assist lamp – however, it does focus surprisingly well in low light, albeit rather slowly. Focusing in good light isn’t that quick either, taking around two seconds to focus in daylight.
Although it is a very small camera, the shape is easy to hold and grip securely, and the controls are very simple and well laid out. The 2.5in monitor is sharp and bright, with an anti-glare finish, and is recessed slightly so it will avoid being scratched. The M60 is extremely light, weighing only 130g including battery and card, and is only 23.5mm thick, so it will fit unobtrusively into a shirt pocket.
The M60’s performance is generally a bit on the slow side, but not disastrously so. It starts up in around three seconds, which is slower than average, but the shot-to-shot time is approximately 4.4 seconds, which is pretty slow by recent standards.
Unfortunately the M60’s main weakness is its lens quality. Images are soft, there is visible chromatic aberration on many pictures, and there is significant corner blurring, especially at wideangle. Wideangle barrel distortion isn’t too bad, though.
Other aspects of image quality are quite good. Colour reproduction is excellent, noise is well handled, and while there is noise visible from ISO 200 upwards, shots are quite usable up to ISO 1600.
For under £100 the Pentax M60 offers good build quality and an attractive, easy-to-use design. It’s a bit slow and lens quality could be better, but it’s excellent value for money.