Steve's Digicams - Breaking News - Pentax 02/18/03 Press Release


Press Release - February 18, 2003

Pentax Digital Camera Duo Offers Big Advancements In Little: Optio 550 And Optio 450 Join Pentax Digital Line

Pentax Optio 550

ENGLEWOOD, Colorado (February 18, 2003)…PENTAX USA continues to make big advancements in little cameras with the introduction of the new 5 megapixel Optio 550 and the 4 megapixel Optio 450 digital cameras. Both models host a variety of features including a high resolution 1.5 inch LCD monitor, a movie mode that captures up to ten minutes of video with sound, a voice memo recording mode, panorama assist, full manual control and a 5X optical zoom (20X combined).

"This powerful digital duo carries on our PENTAX tradition of providing full-featured, compact, durable, easy-to-use digital cameras," said PENTAX sales and marketing director Jim Leffel.

PENTAX will debut the two little, but loaded, digital cameras at the Photo Marketing Association's (PMA) Show from March 2-5 in Las Vegas. PMA hosts an annual trade show where manufacturers in the photography industry showcase their newest products.

PENTAX U.S.A., Inc. is an innovative leader in the production of digital and film cameras, binoculars, lenses, mobile printers, scanners and internet cameras. For more than 80 years, Pentax technology has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of consumers and businesses. With corporate headquarters located in Englewood, Colorado, PENTAX U.S.A., INC. is a wholly owned subsidiary of PENTAX CORPORATION.


Compact, easy-to-use design

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 that allows the lens to fully retract in two stages helps reduce the size of both cameras A single dial on both new Optio digital 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 Optio 450 also feature standalone buttons for easy access to frequently used shooting and playback functions and handy image deletion and enlargement.

The digital precision of 5.0 and 4.0 effective megapixels

The Optio 550 and the Optio 450 excel at image recording quality with 5.0 and 4.0 effective megapixels respectively so each model will produce high quality, artistic images.

5X optical zooming with an ultra-compact lens

Despite the compact size, both the Optio 550 and 450 feature a high performance 5X optical zoom lens with 4X digital for an impressive 20X combined zoom.

10 minute movie mode

Both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are capable of recording up to 10 minutes of video with sound at 15 frames per second with 320 x 240 recorded pixels. For additional convenience, all clips are recorded in MOV format to facilitate simple playback on PCs.*

*System requirements for use of the Movie function: PCs running Windows 98/98SE, or Windows 2000 operating systems which came with Direct X8.0 or higher and Windows Media Player pre-installed. PC running Windows Me or Windows XP operating systems featuring Windows Media Player or QuickTime or higher. Macintosh machines running operating systems, which came with QuickTime 4.0 or higher pre-installed. Voice recording and voice memo mode. The Optio 550 and Optio 450 each may be used as an audio recorder.* In addition, up to 30 seconds of sound may be added to images. *Recording time is based on available memory. For example: 128mb = approximately 8 hours.

Time-lapse movie

Time-lapse movie allows you to run a set of sequential recorded frames in order as a short film to create scenes of clouds rushing across the sky with a selection of X2, X5, X10, X20, X50, or X100 recording speeds.

Precise LCD monitor

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.

Optical Viewfinder

Both the Optio and the Optio 450 are equipped with a diopter adjustment viewfinder offering actual image zoom to help conserve power when the LCD monitor is off.

Nine-image / Zoom display

Searching time for recorded images is minimized through a function that allows nine images to be displayed on the LCD screen at once. The screen also may display images with up to 8X magnification to make it easy to check for clear focus and inspect details on recorded shots.

Digital filter mode offers creative freedom

The digital filter mode allows the freedom to influence the overall tone of your shot. With choices of black & white and sepia as well as a range of other tones (red, pink, yellow, green, blue and purple), the digital filter mode allows you to add mood to a sunset or tone down subjects that are too bright. The soft filter setting provides a soft focus effect.

Built-in auto flash

Auto flash may be set to discharge automatically when shooting scenes in low-light conditions. For greater control, each model also features Flash-on, Flash-off, and red-eye reduction* modes as well as Slow shutter sync mode for use with Night Scene mode.
*This feature does not eliminate "red eye" in all instances.

A broad range of shooting modes

A selection of ten shooting modes are accessible with just the turn of a dial including Metered Manual, Shutter-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE, Program, Picture, Movie, Panorama Assist, 3D image, Digital Filter, and User modes.

Metered manual gives you the freedom to decide both shutter speed and aperture settings so you can take difficult shots or achieve more creative results.

Shutter-priority AE lets you select the shutter speed to deliver the desired effect and Shutter-priority AE will select the ideal corresponding aperture for your shot so you may create a sense of movement with blurring or to freeze rapid moving objects in time.

Aperture-priority AE provides subtle control over depth of field and exposure. Throw background elements out of focus to add emphasis to a main subject or capture everything up to the horizon with clarity while the camera calculates the optimal shutter speed.

Program mode allows you to take control over a whole range of functions to produce results much closer to the ones you desire.

Picture modes provide optimal results with a settings and subjects: Landscape, Night Scene, Flower, Portrait, Surf & Snow, Autumn Color, Sunset, Fire Works and Text.

Panorama Assist software included with kit creates panorama pictures through the vertical or horizontal combination of multiple pictures on a PC.

3D image creates side-by-side double shots with a real sense of depth when seen through the enclosed special viewer.

Digital Filter mode provides conventional filter capability including black & white, sepia and soft as well as a range of colors (red, pink, yellow, green, blue and purple).

User mode retains any combination of preferred settings easy access in the future.

Additional shooting modes

A variety of additional shooting modes are accessible via drive buttons on the back of the camera including:

Convenient self timer

Both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are equipped with a useful self-timer. This can be used to allow you to enter group shots, or to reduce camera shake when making extended exposures.

Optional remote control

Two optional remote control units are available for both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 . Remote controls E and F offer the convenience of three-second shutter release as well as immediate shutter release.

Continuous shooting captures action scenes by taking multiple shots in quick succession

Interval shooting lets you set the shooting 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 just .79 inches (.02m)

Infinity-landscape mode is ideal for shooting natural scenery even through glass.

Manual focus enlarges the central part of the frame on the LCD monitor to achieve the sharpest degree of focus possible.

Choice of autofocus

Wide AutoFocus allows greater focal emphasis on your subject, while Spot AF offers a choice of a desired center point of focus selected from five positioned horizontally and vertically.

Histogram display

A detailed histogram display allows you to check light levels with accuracy during both playback and shooting.

White Balance Mode helps achieve excellent results in different kinds of light including Daylight, Shade, Tungsten Light, Fluorescent Light (three different kinds), and Auto to preserve natural colors as well as a Manual setting to experiment with lighting.

Metering options

Both cameras also offer metering freedom with a choice of multi-segment metering, center-weighted metering, and spot metering.

Light sensitivity

Both cameras offer the choice of ISO100, ISO200, ISO400, an auto setting, and the Optio 550 offers the additional versatility of a setting for ISO64.

Exposure compensation

Both cameras are capable of exposure compensation across a range of +2EV in steps of 1/3EV to make it easy to take a set of shots and select your favorite.

Settings for sharpness, saturation, and contrast

For even greater control over the outcome of each shot, the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 allow sharpness, saturation and contrast to be set manually with a choice of three grades for each.

Image protection

Both cameras feature a useful image protection function to guard precious shots against accidental deletion.

Mode memory function

This handy mode saves favored setting combinations for future use.

World time function

This function displays the time accurately in 62 different cities around the world for travelers and records the time and date shots are taken to help make sorting simpler when you return home.

Alarm clock

The cameras will display an image when the alarm sounds, so you can awake to a favorite shot or a schedule reminder. There's even a snooze function.


Recorded image data may now be decreased after shooting to lower the number of recorded pixels or the level of quality so you may free up memory space for further shooting.


Optio 550 and the Optio 450 will crop images exactly as you desire or store parts of images as individual new files.

Function customization

Four functions can be customized from a selection of eleven and allocated to the four-way controller for simple, convenient access.

Camera customization

Each camera can be customized with a favorite image displayed on the start-up screen and favorite audio sounds to accompany the action of the shutter, start-up, and other operations.

SD memory card / MultiMediaCard

Both the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 are compatible with the widely available SD memory card and MultiMediaCard.

DPOF function

When used in combination with DPOF-compatible printers, this function lets you take control over the number of printouts and the date function.
*Some printers may not support the above functions. Please consult the supplier of your printer for more information.

Exif Print (Exif2.2) and PRINT Image Matching II* compatibility

The Optio 550 and the Optio 450 provide even greater quality printouts when connected to Exif-compatible printers. Each of these cameras is also compatible with PRINT Image Matching II. This achieves a higher level of quality through creating a stronger link between the camera and the printer and provides you with a much greater degree of control over the outcome.
*This product supports PRINT Image Matching II. When used in combination, PRINT Image Matching II enabled digital still cameras, printers, and software help photographers to produce images more faithful to their intentions. Copyright 2001 Seiko Epson Corporation. All Rights Reserved. PRINT Image Matching is a trademark of Seiko Epson Corporation. The PRINT Image Matching logo is a trademark of Seiko Epson Corporation.

AV output terminal included

Recorded images and audio sounds may be viewed on your television by connect the Optio 550 and the Optio 450 with enclosed AV cable.

Power sources

For greater versatility and convenience, the cameras may be powered by an exclusive rechargeable lithium-ion battery or by an optional AC adapter.

USB compatibility*

Digital photography offers the ability to transfer images to PCs, and these cameras make this process as easy as can be through connection to a USB cable, allowing you to import your shots into a wide range of common applications with speed and ease. What's more, the advantage of USB also means that you can import a number of images simultaneously.
*System requirements: PC running Windows 98/98SE, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows XP Home Edition/Professional or Mac OS 9.0 or higher (installation of the included driver software is required, except in the case of Mac 0S 9.0 or higher, Windows Me, Windows 2000 or Windows XP). Compliance with the aforementioned system requirements does not guarantee USB compatibility.

Additional software

Optio 550 and Optio 450 comes complete with its own CD-ROM. This not only contains a USB driver, but also features the popular ACDSee™ application which is compatible with both Windows and Mac systems.

Multilingual operation

Convenient multilingual operation allows all menus and messages to be displayed in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, or Japanese.

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