Pentax enters the superzoom market with a 12MP, 24x optical zoom monster
While Pentax has a long heritage in the world of photography, it was one of the few manufacturers yet to enter the world of superzooms. However, that all changed at this year’s PMA convention in Birmingham, where Pentax announced the all-new X70 – a small camera that boasts a large 24x zoom and shake reduction, as well as full manual control.
The new addition is noticeably small in the hand, and weighs in at just 390g, making it quite a bit lighter than most superzooms.
The 24x optical zoom offers an impressive focal range of 26-624mm in 35mm equivalent terms, which is an awful lot of zoom for such a small camera. The camera also benefits from optical image stabilisation – almost vital for such a far-reaching lens.
The rear is fitted with a 2.7in, 230k- dot LCD screen with an anti-reflection coating. There’s also a 200k-dot EVF for when using the LCD is neither preferable nor practical. Focus is achieved via a nine-point AF system, with multi-segment, centreweighted and spot metering options. Image files are stored solely as JPEGs, with Raw capture disappointingly not offered.
Where Pentax really gets things right is with the dimensions – photographers looking to purchase a superzoom more often than not have portability at the top of their agenda, and the X70 is truly tiny.
User interface and button layout is kept simple, with all functions easily reached. Pentax also offers its proprietary ‘green button’ on the rear of the camera for quick shooting.
A DSLR-style chunky mode dial rests on the top of the camera, as does the exposure compensation button and shutter and zoom control.
In use, the X70 is best described as a bit of a slouch; start-up time is well over two seconds, while focus times leave a lot to be desired.
At the wide end of the focal range, the X70 focuses fairly promptly, but at the tele end you can often be left with the X70 hunting for focus almost indefinitely. Continuous shooting speed is also by no means quick, and if you shoot more than five or six images in succession you can be left crippled by the X70 as it clears its buffer.
Images produced with the X70 are fairly average.
Overall, exposures are fairly reliable, though images do lack a touch of contrast and ‘punch’. However, the X70 does very well at preserving shadow and highlight detail, and as such images are easily improved in post-production.
Fine detail is a touch mushy when viewed at 100%, meaning that any large-scale reproductions are probably a no-no. Considering the extensive focal range the X70 possesses, fringing is admirably minimal, with it only rearing its ugly head in areas of extreme contrast. ISO performance is also fairly impressive, with noise well controlled up to the maximum ISO 1600 at full resolution.
Value For Money
With an RRP of £370, the Pentax X70 sails very close to DSLR territory. In fact, it’s actually more expensive than the Pentax K-M. And while you do get a lot of camera and focal range for your money, it’s still very much on the pricey side.
The X70 offers the usual array of scene modes, plus the full PASM complement. What’s more impressive, though, is how it manages to squeeze a 24x optical zoom in to a body not much larger or heavier than some bulkier compacts. On paper at least, it’s a good little camera. However, in use the X70 is slow, image quality is distinctly average, and it’s far too expensive.