Review: Pentax Optio 430
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2001
Thursday, January 31, 2002
in the "old days", Canon was the only game in town when
it came to tiny digital cameras. Soon came Casio, and then Kyocera,
and now Pentax. These micro-cameras are very popular, since they're
easy to pocket, and can do about anywhere.
first mini-camera from Pentax was the 3.3 Megapixel Optio 330 ($699,
see our review). Shortly
after that camera was released, they announced the Optio
430 ($799), which is the 4.0 Megapixel version.
the two cameras are virtually identical, this review is an updated
version of the Optio 330 review, with changes made where necessary).
in the Box?
Optio 430 has an excellent bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
4.0 (effective) Mpixel Pentax Optio 430 camera
Li-ion rechargeable battery
featuring ACDSee software and drivers
page manual (printed)
the manual says that a CompactFlash card is optional. But rest assured,
it's not -- a Lexar 8X 16MB card is in the box. The 16MB card is
a little skimpy for a 4 Megapixel camera. Considering just how cheap
memory cards are these days, couldn't they have at least included
a 32MB card?
almost unavoidable to have a proprietary battery on these micro-cameras
and the Optio is no exception. The D-LI2 is a rechargeable Lithium-ion
battery about the size of two CompactFlash cards put together. If
you're thinking that you won't get much life out of such a small
battery, you're right. Pentax estimates playback time at 75 minutes,
or about 145 photos, depending on flash and LCD use.
includes a battery charger, which takes about 2 hours. An AC adapter
of optional extras, the only thing I could find was a wireless remote
control, but I don't know much about it.
camera has a built-in lens cover, so you need not worry about lens
includes the popular ACDSee software with the camera, for both Mac
and PC. I only played with it briefly but it seems pretty good.
The Optio 430 was compatible with Mac OS X 10.1. It loaded up Image
Capture right when it was connected.
camera manual wasn't too bad -- there weren't a lot of "notes"
at the bottom of each page, and its laid out well.
Optio 430 is a small, metal camera about the size of a deck of cards.
While it's small, it's not necessarily light, since it's all metal.
It's easy to stuff in your pocket, and you can use it with one hand.
chart below compares the dimensions and weight of the Optio twins
with the other mini-cameras out there:
x 2.3 x 1.2
x 2.2 x 1.2
x 2.2 x 1.1
x 2.5 x 1.2
you can see, it's neither the smallest nor the lightest camera out
there. Let's take our tour of the Optio 430 now.
Optio 430 has a F2.6 Pentax lens with a 3X optical zoom. The focal
range of the lens is 7.6 - 22.8 mm, which is equivalent to 37.5
- 112.5 mm. The lens is not threaded.
flash on the camera has a working range of 0.14 - 2.8 m at wide-angle,
and 0.4 - 1.6 m at telephoto. Note that the range is shorter on
the Optio 430 than it was on the 330.
like to see some sort of AF assist lamp on this camera, since it
had trouble focusing in low-light situations sometimes.
is the back of the camera. The 1.6" LCD is smaller than normal
due to the size of the camera, but its still of excellent quality.
Nose smudges on the LCD will only be a problem if you use your left
eye for the optical viewfinder.
of which, the optical viewfinder is a little small, but that's not
surprising. It does have diopter correction for those without perfect
vision. None of the other mini-cams I've mentioned in this review
have diopter correction.
buttons to the right of the LCD are the usual suspects: Menu, Display,
and the Four-way switch, which is used for changing settings in
the menus and in manual mode.
those buttons are a few multifunction buttons:
[record] / Delete photo [playback]
Remote control, continuous shooting [rec] / DPOF print mark [play]
Landscape, Manual focus [rec] / Protect photo [play]
shooting mode really varies depending on the resolution and quality
you've chosen. At the highest resolution, it was slow - maybe 1
frame/second. You'll want to lower the resolution or quality to
get decent, but not good, continuous shooting speeds.
manual focus feature puts a "bar" on the left side of
the LCD, but it doesn't give you any units to provide an idea of
how far out you're focusing. I would imagine a firmware upgrade
could fix this.
the right of that, you can see the zoom controls. I found the zoom
to be smooth and responsive.
top of the camera, you'll find the power button, mode wheel, and
shutter release button. Like all of the mini-cameras, there is no
LCD info display up here, so you're forced to use the main LCD to
see remaining shots, flash settings, etc.
are six choices on the mode wheel:
Exposure mode lets you combine two images into one. You can give
preference to the brighter or darker image, or just average them
record mode lets you choose both the shutter speed and aperture.
Unlike most cameras with manual controls, there is no shutter or
aperture priority mode -- just full manual.
wide-angle, you can choose between F2.6 and F5.0 for aperture. At
full telephoto, you can pick from F4.8 or F9.2. Shutter speeds range
from 1/2000 sec to 2 sec. Interestingly enough, on the Optio 330,
the range was 1/1000 - 15 sec!
this side of the Optio, you'll find the I/O ports under a rubber
cover. Those ports include USB/Video out, and DC in.
the other side of the camera is the CompactFlash slot. This is a
Type I slot, so no Microdrive support. The included 16MB card is
shown. The door covering the slot is one of the few plastic pieces
on the camera, and I worry that it could bust off if you force it.
here's the bottom of the camera. A metal tripod mount, as well as
the battery compartment are located down here.
the Pentax Optio 430
Optio 430 takes 3 seconds to extend the lens and "warm up"
before you can start taking photos. When you depress the shutter
release halfway and it locks focus, it takes less than a second
to do so. I had a lot of trouble with auto-focus on the Optio 330,
and less of a problem here. When the camera wouldn't lock focus,
it would usually be indoors, though not necessarily in low-light.
In most situations (meaning outdoors), the camera focuses just fine.
is no noticeable shutter lag on the Optio 430, and the shot-to-shot
speed is superb. After a shot is taken, you can take another almost
instantly. You have the option of pressing the Display button to
delete a photo before it's recorded to the CompactFlash card, but
you'll need to be quick about it.
other thing I noticed is that the right hand grip of the camera
starts to warm up after using the camera for a while.
Mode LCD screen
Mode LCD screen with stats
using the LCD to take a picture, you can hit the display button
to show some exposure statistics and a histogram. Of course this
blocks the view of the subject!
are three resolution and three quality levels to choose from on
the Optio 430. This chart shows them all:
of photos on 16MB CF card
is no TIFF or "RAW" mode on the Optio cameras.
nice thing about the Optio is that the menus don't differ between
Auto and Manual record modes. Many cameras prevent you from using
some of the manual features found in the menus when in Auto mode,
but not here. Here are the menu choices on this camera:
(2240 x 1680, 1120 x 840, 640 x 480)
(***, **, *)
Balance (Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Manual)
Area (Wide, Spot, Free)
Zoom (on, off) - adds a 2X digital zoom
Metering (Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot)
Speed (Auto, 100, 200)
(Full, B&W, Sepia)
Review (Off, 0.5 sec, 1-5 sec) - how long an image is shown on
the LCD after it was taken
(Hard, Normal, Soft)
(High, Normal, Low)
(High, Normal, Low)
of the AF Area choices is "free". This lets you position
the cursor to the point where you'd like the camera to focus. The
Optio also has a manual white balance mode, which lets you shoot
a white or gray card (or whatever you want as a baseline white color),
for photos in any lighting.
is another menu available called Memory. This allows you to choose
the settings that are saved when the camera is shut off. The settings
that can be stored in memory are:
(manual focus) Position
are two rather unique features to this camera that I haven't seen
anywhere else. The first is that the Optio can store two clock settings:
home, and world time. The camera has many cities programmed in,
so you can just change the city name to change the time. The second
feature, though I'm not sure how useful, is the ability for the
camera to act as an alarm clock. You can have up to three alarms,
Optio 430 did quite well with the macro test shot. The colors are
good, and the image doesn't seem over-sharpened like it did on the
330. When it macro mode, the camera locks the lens at full wide-angle.
The macro focal range is 14 - 50cm.
gotta love a tiny camera which can take night shots too. While the
image isn't super sharp, it's still pretty darn good. When you have
manual controls, these kinds of shots are easy -- just remember
I was satisfied with the photo quality from the Optio 430. Images
were sharp, and the color was accurate as well. I did not see any
major chromatic aberrations ("purple fringing") either.
If you don't believe me, check out the photo
gallery and judge for yourself.
movie mode on the Optio 430, you can record silent movies as long
as 30 seconds. They are saved as AVI files, at a resolution of 320
x 240. Since sound is not recorded, you can use the zoom lens during
an "action movie" featuring a dog running through the
water after a ball:
to play movie (1.6MB, AVI format)
Optio 430's playback mode may look bare from the menu above, but
it has most of the features that people need. That includes slideshows,
DPOF print marking, 9 thumbnail mode, and image protection.
venerable "zoom and scroll" feature is here as well. For
those of you just joining us, this lets you zoom into a photo, and
then move around it it. This is useful for checking focus, or showing
off to your friends. The Optio's implementation isn't my favorite,
though. You can't tell how far in you've zoomed, and scrolling is
between images on the Optio 430 is pretty quick. When you press
left or right on the 4-way switch, the camera instantly shows a
low-res image of the next photo. A high-res image replaces it in
under 3 seconds.
Detailed Info + Histogram
like in record mode, you can get basic info about a photo (left),
or more detailed information including a histogram (right).
Does it Compare?
Pentax Optio 330 and 430 are the two best mini-camera out there,
just edging out the Kyocera Finecam S3. For some people, I think
the 330 is fine -- 4 Megapixels may be overkill. If you choose the
430, there are some tradeoffs: the shorter flash range, and smaller
shutter speed range. There is also the occasional focusing difficulties,
and poor battery life. But for a tiny, easily pocketable digital
camera, the Optios are a great choice.
small, good looking, easy to carry camera
manual controls, unusual for a micro-camera
and exposure info in record and playback mode
use zoom in movie mode
I didn't care for:
sound in movie mode
troubles in lower light
and scroll", manual focus features could better
speeds limited to 2 secs; Optio 330 could do 15 sec.
other micro-cameras to check out include the Canon PowerShot S110
Finecam S3, Nikon
Coolpix 775, Olympus
D-40, and of course the Pentax
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the Optio 430 and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion?
out Steves Digicams review
of the Pentax Optio 430.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for
a personal recommendation.