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Thread: Pentax PnS : Optio S10 vs A30

  1. #1

    Default Pentax PnS : Optio S10 vs A30

    I know there are not many active Optio users here but would like to share and hopefully discuss on Pentax's premium Optios. They have a wide range of camera with special functions (weather-proofing, high zoom and touchscreen etc) but their premium range as far as I am concerned should be the S and A series. The A being one with optical stabilisation (SR) and many features vs the S series which is the A series without the SR but in a tiny sexy casing.

    S10:10MP (1/1.8" CCD) - Retail $299

    A30-10MP:10MP (1/1.8" CCD) - Replaced by A40 @ $399.

    The latest models are the S12 and A40 with upgrade to 12MP on a 1/1.7" CCD and enhanced dynamic range. I am not looking at these because I believe 10MP should be the max against noise for even a big sensor like the 1/1.8" CCD. In anycase, the S12 is not available locally as Shriro still selling the S10 here.

    Ok. I bought both the S10 and A30 brand new to try them out against each other. One is small and compact (you have to hold it in your hand to know how nice it feels!) vs the one with optical stabilisation.
    The A30 feels like a smaller version of the Fujifilm F31FD physically which probably is not a compliment but it is smaller and not too bulky in your hands. (I have personally tried the Fujifilm F20, a brother of the F31D against the S10 and found its low light performance is great. However, what it gained in low light capture, it lost in details)

    As these cameras cater to a different target group, I will not be technical so my comparison is more layman. I am buying this PnS as a replacement for my K200D when bringing along a bulky body is a bother. I want good image quality, low cost and prefer to stick with Pentax although C, N , O and F have many nice models out there.

    Differences :

    The A30 - Launch several months earlier than the S10 but with optical stabilisation. Portrait mode has "Portrait" and "Kids" mode. Has manual exposure mode as well as shutter priority (no aperture priority though). Body size is more consistent with your typical canon compacts, i.e. a little bulky but still acceptable.

    The S10 - Most compact 10 MP camera. It feels so nice and small in your hand and slips into your pouch or pocket discretely. Adds date imprint function (i wanted this on the A30...sigh) . Portrait mode includes a "Half Body Portrait" mode although its use is dubious.

    Having done a comparison under a variety of conditions, I concluded that the S10/A30 represents the maximum pixels that is acceptable with the 1/1.8" CCD size. I suspect the noise on the A40/S12 would be more noticeable (12MP on 1/1.7" CCD).

    Comments :

    1. The A30 SR rocks! I try not to use flash to lock in the natural colours although the camera seems to perform better with it. Without flash, the images were clearly sharper under lower light conditions than those of the S10.

    2. Under outdoor daylight conditions, it is possible for both cameras to get DSLR-like quality images although the quality drops quickly the moment the level of lighting drops. Bokeh is difficult to achieve though.

    3. Noise reduction on the S10 is more aggressive. That means for the same indoor shot, the A30 shows noticebly more noise but I do detect there was a tinge more detail, so the improvement on the S10 was due to more aggressive NR but I do have to admit the NR was done quite pleasantly. If only the A30 was as aggressive or offer a noise reduction mode that produced the same effects as the S10.
    (As with most 10-14MP cameras, noise appear at around ISO400-800. Images relatively clean at ISO200 and below)

    Conclusion :
    I really love the small sexy compactness of the S10 but the SR of the A30 has won me over and its not that much bigger, only less sexy. :-) Hence I am willing to overlook the higher noise and opt to keep the A30 if I had to choose between the 2. The battery life probably sucks with the SR though but I don't normally have heavy use for it, so its not an issue. BTW, both camera use different types of batteries.

    Will be putting one of them for sale soon once I confirm further which one I like better.

    BTW, here is a good read on megapixel myths! :
    Last edited by airconvent; 23rd December 2008 at 03:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Jul 2006

    Default Re: Pentax PnS : Optio S10 vs A30

    Frankly I'm not particularly impressed by the Pentax compacts. They don't particularly stand out among a sea of competing PnS from so many other manufacturers. I have an Optio for casual shots and got it because it was cheap, but I won't spend money buying another one. If they can make something to rival the Canon G10 I might sit up and consider. As it is I think it doesn't make sense to plonk too much money on a PnS as most are pretty similar in performance and quality.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pentax PnS : Optio S10 vs A30


    But I also don't think the G10 is an appropriate reference as it is targeted as a DSLR-like prosumer PnS camera, in the company of the Lumix LX3 and are priced above your typical compact. I don't discount the possibility of this class of performance in a cheap compact a few years from now.

    I have seen some of the other brands and majority of them have similar performance with the exception of a few that cost twice as much as the Pentax range I am talking about. With experience in Nikon, Fujifilm and Panasonic compacts, I believe the Pentax's performances is not too bad for their price range. If I had a choice to choose the best "compact", it would be the Fujifilm F100D and not any of the Lumix but that's my opinion.

    As a passionate Pentaxian, I try to get back a Pentax (same reason why I paid more for a Pentax 18-250 instead of a cheaper Tamron 18-250). My consideration is that on occasions when it is not appropriate to bring a DSLR along, I want a mid-ranged decent PnS with me. The 2 I have talked about are 2 that I had shortlisted, being cheaper than others in the same class.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Pentax PnS : Optio S10 vs A30

    I think what is putting off most buyers is the lens. Pentax p&s lens are not as wide as competition.
    Last edited by orablue; 23rd December 2008 at 11:52 PM.


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