Pentax Optio 550 Review

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Pentax Optio 550


Record Screens & Menus



Pentax Optio 550

Program AE mode, the camera selects both shutter speed and aperture automatically. The "70" indicates the number of pictures remaining. The white AF target marks in the center indicate Spot focus mode, they turn green for an AF lock or red when the auto focus fails. There are icons here for flash mode, selftimer, macro focus, battery level, exposure compensation, date and time.



Pentax Optio 550

Pressing the DISPLAY button enables a realtime histogram and display of the current image size, image quality, white balance, metering and ISO value. The shutter is half-pressed and the AF is locked, the shutter speed and aperture are displayed on the bottom.



Pentax Optio 550

Record mode options::

    Resolution - 2592x1944, 2048x1536, 1600x1200, 1024x768 or 640x480
    Quality Level - TIFF, *** (Best), ** (Better) or * (Good)
    White Balance - Auto, Sunny, Shade, Incandescent, Fluorescent or Manual
    Focusing Area - Wide (default) or Spot
    AE Metering - Matrix, Center-weighted or Spot
    ISO Speed - Auto or fixed at 64, 100, 200, 400 equivalents


Pentax Optio 550

    Auto Bracket - Bracket Exposure, White Balance, Contrast, Sharpness or Saturation
    Digital Zoom - Enable or disable digital zoom feature
    Instant Review - Post-capture revew time: 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 secs or Off
    Interval Shoot - Set start time (0 min to 23 hr 59 min), delay time (10 secs to 4 mins) and # of frames (2-99) for time-lapse recording
    Fast Fwd Movie - Off or run a set of sequential recorded frames in order as a short film, selection of X2, X5, X10, X20, X50, or X100 recording speeds.
    3D Mode - Parallel or Cross mode


Pentax Optio 550

    Memory - Memorize settings between power on and off
    Sharpness - Settings for soft, normal, hard
    Saturation - Settings for soft, normal, hard
    Contrast - Settings for soft, normal, hard
    USER - Setup the parameters of the USER position on the Mode Dial




Pentax Optio 550

Manual mode, you set both the shutter speed and the aperture manually. The camera will display the metering icon to indicate over- or under-exposure with current settings.



Pentax Optio 550

Shutter-priority AE, you select the desired shutter speed and the camera will select the best aperture setting automatically. Slower shutter speeds can give moving objects a motion-blur effect, faster speeds will "freeze" a moving object.



Pentax Optio 550

Aperture-priority AE, you select the desired aperture value and the camera will select the best shutter speed automatically. Small aperture numbers yield less depth of field (range of focus), large aperture numbers yield greater depth of field.



Pentax Optio 550

PICTure Mode (called Scene mode on other cameras) has selections for: Landscape, Night scene, Flower, Portrait, Surf & Snow, Autumn color, Sunset, Fireworks and Text. You choose the scene that best suits the conditions you are shooting in and the camera makes the best settings for you.



Pentax Optio 550

The Digital Filter mode gives you access to color creative modes that include: Black & White, Sepia, Red, Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple and Soft Focus.



Pentax Optio 550

Panorama Assist mode helps you capture up to 10 frames (top to bottom, bottom to top, right to left or left to right orientation) with the proper inter-image overlap to create a panoramic image to be stitched together later in ACD Photostitcher software (English and Japanese models only).



Pentax Optio 550

The 3D capture mode is rather unique. You select either the parallel or cross method and then capture your first image. Similar to a panorama assist mode, the LCD shows a "ghost" image outline of the edge of the first image which you use to line up the camera when you move it right for the second frame.


Pentax Optio 550

You take this side-by-side 3D image and print it out (4-5 inches wide) and view it with the supplied 3D stereographic viewing aid.



Pentax Optio 550

The Macro focus mode is excellent with coverage down to about six inches in normal Macro. You have use of the zoom so you can back away from your subject to avoid wide angle barrel distortion - see the next example of super macro.



Pentax Optio 550

The Super Macro mode will get you as close as .79 inches but as you can see, the wide angle barrel distortion is very visible. The focal length is fixed, the zoom cannot be used.



Pentax Optio 550

The user can manually select the AF focus point. Choices are center (default), top, bottom, left or right.



Pentax Optio 550

Press the Focus mode button 3 times to enter the Manual Focus mode. A sliding scale is shown while you are adjusting the distance and the display is enlarged so you can visually "see" the focus change.



Pentax Optio 550

Movie mode record up to a maximum of 10 minutes (depends on capacity of memory card) of 320 x 240 motion video at 15fps with audio. Movie clips are saved as QuickTime MOV format video files. The optical zoom cannot be used during movie recording, you can use the digital zoom but expect a certain amount of image degradation.



Pentax Optio 550

And finally, you can Record Audio. The length is limited only by the amount of space that is on your memory card. The display here says we can record up to 8 hours, 19 minutes and 46 seconds of audio - there is a 256MB SD card in this camera. Audio recordings are saved as Windows WAVE format files.





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