A budget-priced model with interchangeable covers, can the Pentax Optio RS1500 deliver more than just good value?
The Pentax Optio RS1500 is a budget camera with some impressive specs, such as a 14MP sensor. The main draw will be the interchangeable front covers, enabling the user to add some creative flair to the aesthetics of the compact.
Pentax Optio RS1500 Review – Features
In order to alter the look of the camera outside of the plethora of supplied panels a number of blank options have been provided to print onto, although it wouldn’t be too tricky to cut out a panel from a 6×4î print. Elsewhere the Pentax Optio RS1500 offers a 720p HD movie mode, 3inch LCD and 4x optical zoom from a 27.5mm wide angle. All three of these aspects would usually add up to a reasonably decent camera, although the amount of models currently on the market for a similar amount with virtually identical specs means the RS1500 will have to try all the harder to impress. In terms of features there’s little else to report home about, with the likes of a panoramic mode and various digital filters being par for the course in the current compact camera market. The removable front panels, which form the most prominent feature, don’t feel particularly substantial as the plastic transparent cover is worryingly thin and simply falls off once the lens ring is removed. The value of such an extra is down, somewhat, to the user as one photographer may find the time and desire to change to cover weekly, where as another may stick with the provided option and not swap it. As there isn’t a premium attached to this extra there’s no need to dismiss it as a pointless extra, but simply an added bonus for those interested.
Pentax Optio RS1500 Review – Design
Design is, quite disappointingly, very boxy and basic. As a model concerned enough with style to allow users to swap the front panel it seems strange that the remaining sections are somewhat bland. The two tone colour scheme doesn’t belie the camera’s price tag, nor does the build quality. With a decidedly plasticy-feeling shell and extremely lightweight body there isn’t much to indicate the RS1500 is anything other than a budget camera, especially seeing as the LCD screen resolution is an annoyingly low 230k. In spite of the excessive lens noise the zoom is responsive and relatively rapid in moving, and the buttons are reactive when called upon.
Pentax Optio RS1500 Review – Image Quality
Image quality was a pleasant surprise, not least of all because the screen made it difficult to gain a full impression of the end quality due to the low resolution. Once on a computer screen the initial impression was positive, as the exposure was balanced and colour relatively even, if a little lacking in punch. After a small amount of magnification the main issue with the RS1500’s image quality revealed itself, as the amount of sharpening performed in post-processing was quite distracting. The edges suffer particularly, and a number of subjects gain an undesired glow. Without this the RS1500 would have been one of the more impressive budget models in terms of image quality, but the amount of influence the post-processing has is heavily to the detriment of the end result. The Super Macro mode was somewhat unreliable, with the standard macro providing far more consistently sharp results, and the Digital Blur Removal did little more than seemingly delay the shutter release after the button was pressed. Focus was rapid enough and reliable, although the aforementioned sharpening ruined any positives to be taken. In low light the ISO 800 mark, and beyond, where extremely limited tonally and produced generally poor results, making the RS1500 far more usable in sunnier conditions.
The Pentax Optio RS1500 has some excellent qualities, but falls down in the build quality stakes and, more importantly, image quality.
Auto, 4 Presets, Manual
720p HD Video
Auto Picture, P, Scene (20 Scene Modes)
Auto, on, off, Redeye reduction
92 x 56 x 22.5mm
JPEG, AVI M-JPEG