Review: Pentax Optio 330GS
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Optio 330GS ($470) is the latest in Pentax's series of small,
3 Megapixel cameras. It follows in the footsteps of the Optio 330
and the 330RS. The 330GS is very similar to the 330RS, with the
main difference being the flip-out LCD display. But more on that
are an awful lot of compact cameras out there these days. So how
does the 330GS fare against the competition? Find out in our review!
in the Box?
Optio 330GS has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.2 (effective) Mpixel Optio 330GS camera
lithium battery (non-rechargeable)
page camera manual (printed)
throws a 16MB CompactFlash card in the box, which is enough to get
started. But once you start getting serious, you'll want a bigger
card. I'd get a 64MB card at the very minimum.
you'll have to buy even sooner than a memory card is a set of batteries.
Pentax gives you a throwaway CR-V3 lithium battery. I recommend
picking up some AA NiMH batteries instead. Since the 330GS only
uses two AA batteries at a time (or one CR-V3), a four-pack of batteries
will be perfect. With NiMH batteries, Pentax estimates that you'll
take about 200 pictures, or playback images for 100 minutes.
Optio 330GS has a built-in lens cover, so there is no lens cap to
what the heck is the 3D Image Viewer that's included in the box?
The 330GS has a unique feature which lets you take two shots in
a row and combine them into a 3D image. To view the images in 3D,
you can print them out and then use the 3D image viewer. Once you
get the hang of it, you can probably do it without the image viewer.
expect many accessories for this small camera. The only ones I could
find include an AC adapter and camera case.
includes ACD System's ACDSee for both Mac and PC. The software is
great for viewing and organizing your photos, but it's no substitute
for something like Photoshop Elements when it comes to retouching.
ACDSee is Mac OS X native.
manual included with the Optio 330GS is about average. Everything
you need to know is in it, but it may be a bit hard to read.
Optio 330GS is a compact, mostly plastic camera. Even though it's
plastic, it feels well built. Controls are well placed, and it's
easy to hold with one hand or two. It's not as small as cameras
like the Digital ELPH line, but it's still pocket-size.
official dimensions of the camera are 4.1 x 2.5 x 1.7 inches (W
x H x D), and it weights just 180 grams empty. For the sake of comparison,
the Canon PowerShot S230's dimensions are 3.4 x 2.2 x 1.1, with
the same weight.
begin our 360 degree tour of the 330GS now!
330GS uses an F2.6, 3X optical zoom Pentax lens. The lens has a
focal range of 5.8 - 17.4 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 114 mm.
The lens is not threaded. There's also a 2.7X digital zoom available,
but using it will lower the quality of your pictures.
above and to the right of the lens is the built-in flash. The flash
has a working range of 0.2 - 5.0 m at wide-angle, and 0.1 - 2.7
m at telephoto. As you'd expect, there are no external flash options
available on the Optio.
below the flash is the self-timer lamp, which doubles as an autofocus
(AF) illuminator. It's great to see Pentax adding this to their
cameras. In low light situations, this red light greatly aids in
of the new features on the 330GS is its flip-out LCD. Unfortunately,
it's vastly inferior to those found on other cameras for one reason:
it doesn't rotate. The LCD can be in two positions: what you see
above and below. It's not like the PowerShot G2/G3 where you can
rotate it around. It would probably cost Pentax $5 to add this part
to the camera... it's a shame that they didn't.
from it's lack of rotation, the 1.6" LCD on the Optio 330GS
is pretty good. It's not super high resolution, but most will find
it acceptable. Images on the LCD move fluidly, and the screen is
bright, though a bit grainy. If it's not bright enough, you can
adjust that too.
button on the bottom of the LCD will reverse the image, which is
needed when it's turned around the other way.
above the LCD is the optical viewfinder. It's good-sized for a small
camera, but it lacks diopter correction for those without perfect
the right of that are two buttons:
(Auto, off, on, auto w/redeye reduction, on w/redeye reduction)
/ Delete photo
(Self-timer, macro, landscape, manual focus) / Protect photo
the camera to manual focus mode, and the image will be enlarged
on the LCD, so you can make sure you're in focus. Too bad the guide
on the LCD doesn't give you a more exact focal distance aside from
somewhere between 0.1 m and infinity!
that you'll find the four-way switch, plus the menu and display
buttons. The four-way switch is used for menu navigation as well
as exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments). Pressing
the blue "ok" button will also enter playback mode.
final items on the back of the camera are the zoom controls, which
are at the top-right of the picture. The zoom moves very quickly,
taking just over a second to move from wide to telephoto.
the top of the camera, you can see the power button, mode wheel,
and shutter release button. The items on the mode wheel include:
mode is much like scene mode on other cameras. Pick a scene and
the camera chooses the best settings for that situation. The scenes
available on the 330GS include:
already touched on 3D Image Mode earlier in the review. There's
a split screen on the LCD in this mode. You try to take the same
picture on each side. You can also choose between parallel and cross
modes of viewing.
one side of the 330GS. Under those rubber covers, you'll find ports
for USB/video output, as well as DC in (for optional AC adapter).
to see over here... where's that memory card slot?
memory card slot is here, along with the battery compartment and
a plastic tripod mount. The 330GS uses Type I CompactFlash cards
only -- so no Microdrives.
the Pentax Optio 330GS
330GS takes about three seconds to extend its lens and warm up before
you can start shooting. Press the shutter release halfway, and the
camera locks focus in about one second. It may take a bit longer
if the AF illuminator is used. Press the button fully and the picture
is taken with just a minimal delay.
speed is about average. You'll want about three seconds before you
can take another shot.
Optio 330GS offers a live histogram in record mode, a handy feature
for judging exposure.
here's a look at the image size and quality choices available on
shots on 16MB card
(included with camera)
no TIFF or RAW mode available on this camera. The camera names files
as IMGP####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. The camera maintains the
numbering even if you erase the card.
330GS has an easy to use menu system, with quite a few options available.
Here's a look:
Pixels (2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480)
Level (Best, better, good)
Balance (Auto, daylight, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, manual)
Area (Normal/wide, spot)
Metering (Multi-segment, center-weighted, spot)
Speed (Auto, 100, 200, 400)
Photo Mode (Exposure bracketing, white balance, saturation,
Amount (0.3, 0.7, 1.0, 1.3, 1.7, 2.0 EV) - these are only
for exposure and white balance bracketing
Mode (Full, B&W, sepia)
Review (Off, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5 sec) - amount of time that photo
is shown on LCD after it is taken
- see below
you can see, the Optio 330GS has tons of manual controls! Here are
some more details about some of them.
first is white balance (Pentax calls it color balance). You can
use a white or gray card to manually set the white balance, which
is a handy feature when lighting is unusual.
330GS has one of the most impressive auto-bracketing systems I've
seen. Not only can you bracket exposure, but you can do things like
saturation, white balance, and sharpness as well. Cool!
continuous shooting mode, you fire off shots at the unimpressive
rate of about 1 frame/second.
memory feature lets you choose which settings the camera stores
when it's turned off. This is one of those features that I wish
every camera had. The settings that can be stored include:
- ISO speed
- Digital zoom
- Focus mode
- Zoom position
- Display mode
- File numbering
to the record menu, there's also a setup menu. It has items such
as date/time, card formatting, video output format, display language,
LCD brightness, and world time.
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
Optio 330GS did a fine job with the macro test. The colors look
nice, though the red is slightly over-saturated. The subject is
sharp, too. The focal range in macro mode is 10 - 50 cm.
there's no manual shutter speed control, the only way I could get
this shot to come out was to use the Optio's night scene mode. That
allowed the camera to take a long exposure, which was four seconds
in this case. The camera was able to take in a lot of light, so
the shot looks good. I was also impressed with the lack of noise.
One thing I was not impressed with was all the purple fringing that
you can see.
Optio 330GS did a decent job with the redeye test. There's a bit
of it in one eye, but I don't think it's horrible. Redeye can be
cleaned up pretty well using software (though not the bundled ACDSee,
as far as I know). Note that I blew up this image a bit so you could
see the details.
quality on the 330GS is acceptable for a smaller, 3 Megapixel camera.
The photos I took were generally well exposed, with good color.
Many of them were on the soft side, but I would imagine tinkering
with the camera's sharpness controls would clear that up. Don't
just take my word for it, have a look at the photo
gallery and judge for yourself!
330GS has a pretty basic movie mode. You can record clips, without
sound, for up to 30 seconds.
are saved in AVI format using the Motion JPEG codec. The resolution
is the usual 320 x 240.
sound is not recorded, you can use the zoom lens during filming.
a rather long sample movie for you. The quality is not great.
to play movie (6.2MB, 320 x 240, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
mode on the Optio 330GS is pretty basic. You've got slide shows,
DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and zoom and
zoom and scroll feature lets you quickly zoom in as much as 12X
(with many stops along the way) and then scroll around in the enlarged
area. It's a handy feature for checking focus, among other things.
no image rotation feature or anything fancy like that on the 330GS.
camera does provide a good amount of information about your picture,
including a histogram. It also moves through images very quickly.
Does it Compare?
not really a standout in any area, the Pentax Optio 330GS does hold
up against the competition. This small camera takes good quality
pictures (though a little soft), offers a decent amount of manual
controls, and is easy to use. The multiple bracketing options and
scene modes are a treat as well. The flip-out LCD isn't really useful
because it cannot rotate, and the 3D feature sounds a little gimmicky
to me. I would've also liked to see a microphone, so you can record
sound along with your movies. There are a lot of compact cameras
out there, and the 330GS should definitely be one you consider.
an AF illuminator lamp
of controls for a point-and-shoot camera
options rarely seen even on expensive cameras
in record and playback modes
I didn't care for:
LCD not very useful (since it can't rotate)
sound in movie mode
shutter speed/aperture controls
other low cost 3 Megapixel cameras to consider include the Canon
QV-R3, Fuji FinePix 3800
Kyocera Finecam S3x
EasyShare DX4330, Minolta
DiMAGE Xi, Nikon
Coolpix 3500, Olympus
D-550Z, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P7
and the Toshiba
PDR-3320. It's a lengthy list but it shows that you have a lot
of choices -- and that you need to do your homework before you buy!
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the Optio 330GS and it's competitors before you buy!
how the photo quality stacks up in our
a review of the 330GS at Steve's
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not send me requests
for personal camera recommendations.