Pentax Optio E70L
The Optio E70L isn't the fastest camera off the blocks, taking around 2.5 seconds to get up and running, but it’s probably quick enough for most people.
The LCD's small and low res
Using the menu system involves scrolling along of row of icons at the bottom of the LCD screen, pressing the OK button and then selecting the setting you want from a vertical list. Using the scene button involves scrolling along four rows of icons - there are 20 in total. Pentax also provides a short text description for each icon and has wisely put all the icons onto a single screen, so you don’t have to toggle between screens - other camera manufacturers, take note.
If you use the four way controller to adjust the settings, any changes are displayed as tiny on-screen icons. For example, if you select the smile mode, a small smiley icon is displayed. However, you have to look very closely at the screen to check you’ve selected the parameter you want.
The shooting modes include auto, program AE, Sport, Landscape, Fireworks and Night Portrait. If the auto mode isn’t enough, you can make a number of tweaks. There are several AF modes: multi-zone, centre, selected; AE metering modes: matrix, centre-weighted, spot; flash modes: auto, off, fill and red eye; plus exposure compensation - +2.0 EV with 1/3 EV steps - and white balance settings.
Surprisingly for a camera at this price point, there are several options for multi-burst shooting. In addition to being able to select two shooting modes – one of them shoots continuously until you release the shutter, while another shoots 16 frames at VGA resolution with just a single touch of the shutter button – you can select three burst intervals: 1/30s (the default setting), 1/15s or 1/7.5s.
Utilitarian rather than fashionable
Despite its price, the Optio E70L isn’t a bulky camera, measuring 93.5 x 60.5 x 26mm and weighing around 170g with battery and card. It fits snugly in your pocket and the few controls that it has fall easily to hand. In terms if styling, it’s more utilitarian than fashionable. If you’re new to digital photography, you’ll certainly find this an easy camera to get to grips with. However, it’s clear that compromises have been made when it comes to the LCD screen, which is not only small, but offers mediocre resolution. Colours also look pale and washed out, and it’s also hard to view the screen in bright light.