With a 4-megapixel resolution, the Optio 450 should meet most general hobbyists’ needs. A4 prints can be output at very usable quality from a camera of this specification, and anything requiring lower resolutions, from standard-sized snaps to Web imaging, is also possible.
What’s important with a camera like this are things like build quality and ease of use – the features which will give it a long life. Certainly the build quality impresses. Its aluminium casing means that the camera is robust. This makes for a weighty package, though, and at 250g you will notice it in your pocket.
Along with the usual digital camera facilities like self-timer, macro mode, auto flash, video and movie shooting, comes a range of on-device filters such as sepia and black and white. There’s also a 5x optical zoom which is supplemented by a further 4x digital zoom.
A progress bar on the LCD shows when you switch from one type of zoom to the other so you can avoid using the digital zoom, which can degrade image quality (you can also permanently disable digital zoom if you prefer). Interestingly there is a 3D stereoscopic shooting mode, and Pentax provides a rather rough and ready stereoscope to help you view images in 3D.
The LCD is relatively small at just 1.8 diagonal inches. Don’t let this concern you unless you anticipate visual problems seeing information at this size, as it is perfectly clear and crisp. Smaller LCDs save on battery power, after all, and maximizing battery life is crucial for real world usage. In this case power is supplied by a rechargeable cell, and you can’t use disposables as an alternative, so you may want to invest in a spare cell.
There are many options and choices which can be made when using this camera, and Pentax has rather gone to town with buttons and switches. There’s a directional cursor and select button for working with LCD displayed menus, supplemented by three quick select buttons which have multiple functions.
Then there’s a further rotating selector which sits around the shutter button. Once you grasp the operation of all these tools, everything’s fine, but the learning curve may be a little steep, especially if you are new to digital photography.
The camera comes with a 16MB SD memory card. This won’t be enough if you want to consistently work at high resolution and you will almost certainly need to invest in a higher capacity card. And a carry case, for that matter, as there isn’t one in the box.
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