Unfortunately, the Pentax Optio A10 proved to be a lethargic performer. The time to first shot was 3.8 seconds, and the Optio could manage no better than one shot every 4.2 seconds thereafter (4.7 seconds with flash). Shutter lag in high-contrast lighting proved more respectable at 0.8 seconds, rising to 1.4 seconds in low-contrast light with its red focus-assist lamp.
Burst mode was average but open ended. We were able to shoot full-resolution photos at 1.1fps for as long as the memory card held out. At 640x480 pixels, the A10 accelerated to 1.8fps. The novelty of burst mode was diminished, however, because the LCD blanked out during shooting -- with no optical viewfinder as backup, you're shooting blind.
Pictures were generally good for a point-and-shoot camera at ISO 50 and 100. We saw very slight JPEG artefacting at the lowest compression setting. Noise was barely evident at ISO 50, rose a bit at ISO 100, became noticeable at ISO 200, and was abundant by ISO 400. The ISO 800 setting is available in only Candlelight mode at a reduced resolution of 4 megapixels and generates enough multicoloured speckles to render the images barely acceptable.
Exposures were good, with less of a tendency for blown highlights than we've seen in some other high-megapixel point-and-shoot cameras, but the colours lacked saturation, and we noted a slight cyan cast in skin tones, particularly when using the flash. The built-in red-eye-prevention preflash didn't do a very good job of eliminating crimson pupils. We also noticed a moderate amount of purple fringing around backlit subjects.
Amateur photographers who frequently make enlargements larger than 203x254mm (8x10 inches) and need a pocketable camera will like the Pentax Optio A10's ultracompact size, 8-megapixel resolution and relatively low price. More finicky or ambitious photographers might want to consider laying down some extra cash for a camera with more controls. For example, Panasonic's pricier, though slightly wider and thicker, Lumix DMC-LX1 includes a full set of manual controls, as well as a full-resolution 16:9 mode.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
||Typical shot-to-shot time||
||Time to first shot||
||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Edited by Philip Ryan
Additional editing by Kate Macefield