Pentax E90 Front
We’ve reviewed the new Pentax Optio E90 – a budget compact camera that features a 10 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom lens, 2.7″ screen, face detection, VGA 30fps video mode, rubberised grip, and takes AA batteries. The Pentax Optio E90 is available for £49 from Amazon UK, in black or red.

Pentax intro: “Combining a 10.1 megapixels sensor to a high performance PENTAX zoom lens, the Optio E90 delivers high-quality images with sharp details and faithfull color reproduction. The Optio E90 features a wide-angle 3x zoom lens equivalent to 32-96mm in 35mm format, allowing you to handle landscapes as well as group shots in a confined space. The high resolution 2.7” LCD screen (230.000 dots) offers absolute convenience not only to view captured images but also to make camera settings. The Optio E90’s exterior has been treated with a smooth rubber coating, and the right side of the front panel forms a grip for a firm and comfortable hold of the camera.”

Read our Pentax Optio E90 Review
View our Pentax Optio E90 Sample Photo Gallery.

Pentax Optio E90 – Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 23/07/2010
Rating: Recommended
Author: Joshua Waller

Specifications / Features:
10 megapixel sensor
3x optical zoom, 32 – 96mm, f/2.9 (W) – 5.2 (T)
2.7″ screen 230k pixels
AF, Macro, Infinity, or Pan focus
(Focus tracking also available, in menu)
Face detection, Smile detection, Off.
ISO100 – 1600
10x zoom in playback, Image recovery also available in playback.
Modes: Auto, Program, Night, Night Portrait, Half Length Portrait, Movie (VGA, 30fps, Optical zoom unavailable during recording), Landscape, Flower, Portrait, Surf and Snow, Sport, Digital SR (Shake Reduction), Kids, Pets, Food, Natural Skin tone, Candlelight, Digital Panorama (stitches photos together in camera), Frame, Sunset. Green mode?
Date imprint.
10M High, 10M, 7M, 5M, 3M, 16:9 2.1MP, 1024x, VGA photo resolutions.
High speed VGA shooting mode (16 shots, 7/8fps), Normal continuous 1fps
World-time function to keep track of local time for 75 cities in – 28 time zones around the world
Smooth touch rubber coating
10cm macro mode
Shutter speeds: 1/2000 to 1/4 sec. 4 sec max. (Night Scene mode)
6mb internal memory, takes SD/SDHC
Height 60mm, Width 92.5mm, Depth 28mm
Weight 122g unloaded, 170g loaded and ready.

Pentax Optio E90 Back

Box Contents: Camera, European warranty, USB cable, 2 AA Alkaline batteries, strap, Quick start guide, CD-ROM (Software and full manual)

Recommended accessories: 4GB SDHC Card recommended (eg Transcend 4gb Class 6). Case needed (eg, Lowepro Rezo 20). Screen cover – the camera comes with a temporary screen cover – and a replacement is highly recommended to protect the screen against scratches.

Pentax Optio E90

Battery Life: Alkaline AA batteries provided – recommend high power rechargeable Ni-Mh batteries (eg 2700mah Hama) – battery life rated at 220 shots with Alkaline batteries, or 600 shots with Lithium (according to CIPA / Pentax testing). I managed 200+ shots with Ni-Mh batteries – which was disappointing.

Speed: A little slow to switch on, and a little slow to focus in low light, but this was generally successful even though the camera lacks a focus assist lamp. Continuous shooting is rated at 1fps at full resolution, with a quicker 8fps mode available at VGA resolution. Menus were fine, and playback was quick enough.

Pentax Optio E90

Ease of use / Menus: Easy to use, clear, with easy to read explanations for most things. The detailed manual is on CD, so where things aren’t self-explanatory, you will need to delve into the manual.

Ergonomics / Buttons etc: Feels quite nice, has a nice texture. Feels very light weight with a flimsy batter cover, but when batteries are put in the camera feels more solid. Buttons are a generally good, well labelled, however the on/off button fell a little unresponsive, and the shutter release seemed a little “squishy”? The camera has a good size hand grip and the rubber coating makes it very easy to feel like you’ve got a good grip on the camera.

Image Quality: Images are very bright and colourful, with strongly saturated reds, perhaps overly saturated at times. There is some vignetting and noise in images, with some purple fringing in areas of extreme contrast. Dynamic range could be better, as often bright areas and clouds are overexposed – as with most compact cameras it can help to set exposure compensation to -0.3 or -0.7. Images are quite sharp and overall quite pleasing, and should make decent prints up to A4 size.

Noise / IQ Issues? Vignetting, purple fringing, over-saturated reds, nothing too hideous considering the low price. For snap shot photos the camera quality should be adequate, and the bright vibrant colours should be pleasing to people interested in happy snap shot photos. Noise is slightly higher than I would have liked to see.

Video: VGA, 30fps, with sound, optical zoom is not available while recording, but can be set before hand, and digital zoom can be used while filming.

Anything else interesting? Panoramic stitching built in, stitches 3 photos together in camera… there’s a good set of features and scene modes.

Conclusions

Pentax Optio E90

Image Quality: Good, with generally sharp results. Noticeable noise especially in low light, and some purple fringing. Some over-exposure and limited dynamic range. Images benefit from exposure compensation at times. Overall images are bright and colourful, and best results happen in bright sunny conditions. 7.5/10

Everything else: It does almost everything you’d want from a budget digital camera – the benefits you get from spending more money on a different camera are optical image stabilisation that can help in low light, a wide angle lens, more optical zoom, HD video recording, and more compact body. However, for such a low price, the camera features a 10 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom lens which is slightly wider than most starting at 32mm equivalent, a decent 2.7″ screen, compact body, several scene modes, and VGA video at 30fps with sound. It does the job well and if you need further features then you will definitely need to spend more money. 7.5/10

Value for Money: Very good – one of the cheapest available with 3x optical zoom lens. 9/10

RecommendedConclusion: The Pentax Optio E90 is a budget camera that offers pretty much the same as everybody else, a 10 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom lens, 2.7″ screen, and takes AA batteries. However, the E90 offers a slightly rubberised body, offering additional grip, this sets it apart from some of the others, and the low price, and bright colourful photos should suit a large number of people.

Pentax Optio E90 Rating: Recommended (8/10)
Check for the latest prices on Amazon UK

What I Like:
– Excellent value for money
– 32mm 3x optical zoom lens (slightly wider than most)
– Good 2.7″ screen (works reasonably well in bright sun)
– Built in panoramic stitch
– Easy to use
– Rubber coated body
– Lots of scene modes

What I Don’t Like:
– Lacks focus assist lamp
– Some over-exposure which can be avoided
– Noise, some vignetting, some purple fringing
– Flimsy battery cover

View our Pentax Optio E90 Sample Photo Gallery
Pentax Optio E90 available from Amazon UK.

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2 Responses to Pentax Optio E90 Budget Review

  1. Oscar Diaz says:

    This model (Pentax Optio E90 ) looks interesting. It seems that it does’nt have manual option. Perhaps i am wrong because there is a mode called PROGRAM and i don’t know if it is some sort of manual. Please explain what is the program mode. Thank you very much.

  2. John says:

    I bought this and have been very happy with it. The picture qaulity rivals my duaghters much more expensive Canon. As an admitted amatuer, I like the ease of use and simply commands. Best camera for the money i’ve ever purchased.

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