Pentax X90 superzoom bridge camera
Appraising the images taken with Pentax X90, I had mixed feelings. The camera performed incredibly well in certain scenes, while rather disappointing me in others. Colour reproduction in particular can be quite inconsistent, with colours resulting often a bit too cold.
A good all-rounder for those wanting more than point and shoot
Exposure though is almost always spot on. The only complaint is a little overexposure of the highlights in low light situations. The main issue with image quality is noise. Despite a broad ISO sensitivity range, from ISO 80 to ISO 6400, Pentax relies too heavily on noise reduction processing to keep levels of noise down, with the result that even at ISO 400 images show some blurring of fine details and general softening.
From ISO 800 noise starts to creep in badly and at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 the speckles of colour appearing on the pictures are overwhelming. As a consequence, the X90 would not really be well-suited for serious night time photography.
Compared to the previous superzoom model, the X90 has significantly upgraded the video mode, which is now able to record video footage at 1280 x 720 pixels and 30fps. Unfortunately Pentax has not improved the mic that stays mono and over-sensitive, picking up all sorts of background noise. The movie mode comes with its own Movie Shake Reduction system that I’m afraid is not as effective as the sensor-shift one used with still capture. The camera has an HDMI interface and Pentax has gracefully included a HDMI cable in the camera box.
The other major improvement from the X70 is battery life. The X90 gives you a very respectable 255 pictures per charge. The camera supports SD and SDHC memory cards and it is compatible with Eye-Fi wireless LAN SD memory cards.
Overall, the X90 is a very good all-in-one camera that thanks to its brilliant superzoom lens that covers a wide range of photographic situations. Although at times it handles and behaves like a DSLR, the image quality and noise performance are more in line with other CCD based compacts. While it might not live up to DSLR standards it surely is a good choice for any compact camera user looking to upgrade and at the current asking price it is very good value for money. ®
Catherine Monfils is a professional photographer specialising in portraiture, lifestyle and fashion.
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