Pentax Optio H90 compact digital camera
If you’re after a straightforward point-and-shoot camera that takes up as little space as possible, the Pentax Optio H90 is a great choice.
- 12.1MP with wide angle lens and 5x optical zoom
- Auto settings in low light produce fuzzy unimpressive results
Pentax has come up with a really compelling compact camera with its Optio H90 that is far better than the price tag and plain styling suggest. With responsive controls and a pared down list of manual and auto functions, this is perhaps the best value compact we’ve tried.
Price$ 179.95 (AUD)
The Pentax Optio H90 has a 2.7in display and weighs a scant 128g – comparable to a mobile phone. Unlike most compact cameras we’ve reviewed, its presence is barely felt when you’ve got it stashed in a handbag or backpack. In fact, the main giveaway is its slightly angular edges which are a bit like sharp elbows when knocked against.
The other impressive thing about the Pentax Optio H90 is that the $179 camera packs in a 12.1Mp sensor, a wide-angle lens to capture whole vistas and a 5x optical zoom. Design-wise, there’s one thing we liked less, though: the on/off switch and the shutter release button are right next to each other and at first are far too easily mistaken for each other. In fact, the larger shutter button is subtly raised while the power button is flush with the top of the camera case. Even so, it’s all too easy to press the wrong one.
For situations where you’re composing an image in a more deliberate way (or, simply, if you’re less of a klutz than some of us seem to be), the location of these buttons is no problem. You don’t have to press exceptionally hard to trigger the shutter release either – clunky buttons that cause judder being a common complaint with cameras. In fact, we got some particularly bright, sharp shots using the Pentax Optio H90. The zoom action is a rocker button on the back of the camera. This is smoother than many we’ve tried, while focusing at distance is fairly fast. We were able to snap a squirrel crouching on a branch 12 feet above our heads and get good results, with perhaps an oversaturation of colour but crisp reproduction of the important details.
As is common on compact cameras, Pentax includes a smile sensor. This has a dedicated activation button indicated by a smiling South Park-style character. The face-detection function can distinguish between 32 faces in a shot. We didn’t test this claim but the Pentax Optio H90 was quick to frame several individuals in crowds whenever we whipped it out.
Low light performance was a mixed bag. We got fuzzy, lacklustre results using the camera’s auto settings but very good ones using the appropriate indoor scene mode. This is as it should be, but given the tempting price tag of this superb value compact camera, we think it’s likely to attract pure point-and-shoot photographers. However, for all its modest cost, the Pentax Optio H90 repays the user who spends time getting to learn what it’s capable of. Switching to the strong complement of scene modes pays dividends even if you alter nothing else about your photography. As well as the usual sport, sunset, tungsten and party options are some more creative ones a la Olympus and other retro-styled cameras.
Adding again to the incredible value of this camera is the inclusion of a decent 1280x720 HD video capture mode. Oddly, the tripod mount to help with rock-steady action shots is off to one edge of the camera, but a mini tripod is definitely worth using if you’re going to go to the trouble of taking HD video. Beware, however, this camera’s battery drains faster than the rival compact models we’ve tried and shooting video will only exacerbate this flaw.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Review: TCL C1 series 4K TV
- 2 Mazda MX-5 (2016) review: Absolute driving purity
- 3 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 4 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
Best Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- Google Camera 3.2 lets you snap pictures while recording video
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
- Canon goes big on resolution with 250-megapixel sensor
- Hey, Saturn, take a selfie! World's biggest digital camera will photograph the universe
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCSenior Master Data OfficerNSW
- FTChange Lead- DigitalVIC
- FTSystem EngineerACT
- CCSenior Oracle DBA- Part time 20 hoursWA
- CCIT Program Delivery Office Lead- Government BackgroundNSW
- FTSenior Revenue Systems Functional AnalystSA
- CCData Management & Reporting Development OfficerSA
- CCSenior Front End / UI Developer (React.js / LESS / SASS)NSW
- CCNV2 - System Administration / Application SupportACT
- CCWebOps EngineerVIC
- FTFront End DeveloperSA
- CCContract Snr IT Assistant (IT Operation/UNIX) 160504/SITA/982Asia
- FTSenior Change Manager - Capital MarketsNSW
- CCSenior IT Business AnalystVIC
- FTSoftware Design Engineer (Embedded Software)SA
- CCData AnalystVIC
- CCPortfolio Manager - Customer Service SystemVIC
- CCSCCM - SCOM - AD Systems EngineerNSW
- CCSr System AnalystACT
- CCSenior Project ManagerVIC
- CCNV1 | System admin with SQL server experience for Defence Application SupportACT
- CCJava Developer- 12 month contractNSW
- CCRelease Management LeadNSW
- CCAWS ArchitectNSW
- CCSharepoint DeveloperVIC