Pentax Optio 550 Review

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Pentax Optio 550
Review posted 5/26/03



Click to take a QuickTime tour of the Pentax Optio 550
Click to take a QuickTime tour of the Optio 550


Crafted from aluminum alloy with design accents on the lens bases, the Optio 550 and Optio 450 are comfortable to hold and simple to operate. An ultra-compact zoom system allows the lens to fully retract in two stages and helps reduce the size of both cameras. A single dial on both cameras offers shooting mode selections with minimal effort, including Metered Manual, Shutter-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE, Program, Picture, Movie, Panorama Assist, 3D image, Digital Filter, User and Voice Recording modes with minimal effort. The Optio 550 and 450 also feature standalone buttons for easy access to frequently used shooting and playback functions and handy image deletion and enlargement.

The Optio 550 and 450 excel at image recording quality with 5.0 and 4.0 effective megapixels respectively so each model will produce high quality, artistic images. Despite the compact size, both cameras feature a high performance 5X optical zoom lens with 4X digital for an impressive 20X combined zoom. Both cameras are capable of recording up to 10 minutes of video with sound at 15 frames per second with 320 x 240 recorded pixels. They also record audio, 30 second voice memos can be attached to still images or they can be used as standalone voice recorders.

Pentax Optio 550

A high-resolution 1.5-inch low-temperature polysilicon TFT color LCD monitor offers 100% view of the frame, which helps ensure easier, more accurate image composition and allows you to double-check recent shots. Both the Optio 550 and 450 are equipped with a diopter adjustment viewfinder offering actual image zoom to help conserve power when the LCD monitor is off.

Interval shooting lets you set the start time, the duration of the interval between shots, and the number of frames, and capture events that take place over an extended period of time such as a flower blooming. Multiple exposure function allows surreal creativity such as double images in the same shot. Macro shooting modes allows shots from as close as 5.9 inches (.15m) and super macro mode as close as .79 inches (.02m).

The digital filter mode gives you the freedom to influence the overall tone of your shot. With choices of black & white, sepia and other tones (red, pink, yellow, green, blue and purple), the digital filter mode lets you add mood to a sunset or tone down subjects that are too bright. The soft filter provides for a soft focus effect. For even greater control over the image, the Optio 550 and 450 allow sharpness, saturation and contrast to be set manually with a choice of three settings for each.


Optio 550 Features:

  • Compact aluminum alloy body, weighs only 7.2 oz.
  • 5-megapixel CCD, still images up to 2592 x 1944 pixels
  • 5x optical zoom (37.5 - 187.5mm equivalent) with 4x digital zoom
  • Super Macro mode focuses as close as 0.79 in.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD monitor, histogram and 8x playback
  • Shooting modes: Program AE, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, Metered Manual, Picture, Digital Filter, Movie, 3D, Panorama Assist, Auto Bracket
  • Picture modes: Landscape, Night scene, Flower, Portrait, Surf & Snow, Autumn color, Sunset, Fireworks, Text
  • Interval (time-lapse) mode and Multiple Exposure mode
  • Multi-segment, Center-weighted or Spot-metering
  • Exposure, White Balance, Saturation, Sharpness and Contrast Bracketing
  • Variable Sharpness, Saturation and Contrast in three different levels
  • Movie mode: 320x240 @ 15fps, up to 10 mins w/audio
  • Up to 30 sec audio memos can be attached to still images
  • Functions as a voice recorder, length limited to available memory
  • Built-in flash with Auto, Fill and Red-eye Reduction modes
  • White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent and Manual
  • Secure Digital or MultiMedia Card memory cards
  • World Time function displays the time in 62 countries
  • USB Mass Storage compatible for PC and Mac OS
  • Exif Print and PRINT Image Matching II compatible

The Optio 550 includes the following: 16MB SD card, USB cable, audio-video cable, ACDSee™ software, Stereo Viewer, neck strap, rechargeable lithium battery and AC charger.




Physical Views



Pentax Optio 550

Pentax Optio 550

Pentax Optio 550

Pentax Optio 550

Pentax Optio 550

Pentax Optio 550





Pentax Optio 550

Pentax Optio 550 and the super-compact Optio S



Pentax Optio 550





Pentax Optio 550

Pentax Optio 550 and a standard CD for size comparison





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Pentax Optio 550 Specifications

Type: Compact-type digital still camera with built-in zoom lens, autofocus, auto exposure and auto flash.
Effective Pixels: 5.0 megapixels
Sensor: 1/1.8 inch interline transfer CCD with a primary color filter
5.25 megapixels (total pixels).
Color Depth: 12 bit x 3 colors.
Recorded Pixels: Still:
2592 x 1944 pixels
2048 x 1536 pixels
1600 x 1200 pixels
1024 x 768 pixels
640 x 480 pixels

Movie:
320 x 240 pixels

Sensitivity: Auto, fixed (equivalent to ISO 64, 100, 200, 400)
File Formats: Still - JPEG (Exif 2.2), DCF, DPOF.

Movie - MOV (QuickTime Format) approx. 15 fps., w/sound

Quality Levels: TIFF uncompressed; "Best", "Better" or "Good" JPEG.
Storage Media: Secure Digital or MultiMedia Card, 16MB included
Lens: 5X Pentax power zoom 7.8mm-39mm. (Equivalent to 37.5mm-187.5mm in 35mm format) f/2.8-f/4.6, 9 elements in 7 groups (2 aspherical elements.)
Digital Zoom: 4X
Focusing System: Hybrid AF (TTL contrast detection autofocus system combined with exo-passive sensor.) Manual focus/Infinity-landscape mode available.
Focusing Areas: Wide and Spot AF. User can manually select one of 5 focus areas.
Focusing Range: Autofocus: Normal - 1.97 ft. (0.6m) to infinity.
Macro - 5.9 in. (0.15m) to 2.13 ft. (0.65m).
Super Macro: 0.79 in. (0.02m) to 2.13 ft. (0.65m)
Manual focus: 0.79 in. (0.02m) to infinity.
Metering System: TTL metering: Choice of Multi-segment metering, Center-weighted metering, Spot metering.
Exposure Control: Program AE, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, Metered Manual, Movie, 3D image, Auto Bracket.

Picture mode (Landscape, Night scene, Flower, Portrait, Surf & Snow, Autumn color, Sunset, Fireworks, Text)

Digital Filter - Black & White, Sepia, Red, Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Soft

Exposure Compensation: ± 2EV (in 1/3EV steps).
Movie: 320 x 240 resolution with sound. Recording time up to 10 minutes (depends on media capacity)
Shutter: Programmed AE electronic lens shutter with CCD electronic shutter. Shutter speed: approx. 1/4000 sec. to 4 sec. (1/1000 in Manual)
Drive Modes: Single shot, Continuous, Self-timer (2 or 10 secs), Remote, Interval, Multiple Exposure
Flash: Built-in auto flash. Automatic discharge under low lighting condition in auto modes. Flash-on and flash-off modes. "Red-eye" reduction function employs a single discharge.

Effective Range: Wide angle approx. 1.31 ft. - 17.1 ft. (0.4m - 5.2m) (7.8mm at ISO Auto)
Telephoto approx. 0.5 ft. - 10.5 ft. (0.15m - 3.2m) (39mm at ISO Auto).

White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent (W,N,D), Manual setting.
Digital Filter: Black & White, Sepia, Red, Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Soft focus
Optical Viewfinder: Real image zoomed, -3 m-1 to +1 m-1 dioptric adjustment, 83% coverage
LCD Monitor: 1.5 inch, low-temp polysilicon TFT color LCD with histogram display, coverage 100%
LCD Function: Nine-image, histogram and 1X-8X magnification available in playback mode.
Interfaces: Audio-Video output terminal, USB terminal, DC input terminal.
Video Output: Compatible with NTSC and PAL formats.
Power Sources: Rechargeable Pentax D-LI7 3.7v 1800mAh lithium-ion battery pack allows approximately 400 shots to be taken*

Optional AC adapter also available.

(* According to tests conducted in-house by Pentax.)

Dimensions: 3.9 (W) x 2.3 (H) x 1.6 (D) inches
(100mm x 59mm x 39.5mm)
(Excluding protrusions.)
Weight: 8.8 oz. (250g) loaded and ready. 7.2 oz. (205g) without battery and SD card.
OS Compatibility: Mac Requirements - OS: Mac OS 8.6 or later (QuickTime 4.0 or later to view movies), CPU: Power PC 266MHz or higher, Memory: 8MB or more, Hard disk space:6MB or more, Standard equipped USB port

PC Requirements - OS: Windows 98,98 second edition, 2000, Me, XP Home edition / Professional, CPU: Pentium or later recommended, Memory:64MB or more, Hard disk space: 15MB or more, Standard equipped USB port

Specifications as represented by the manufacturer




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