Pentax Optio RS1500: Video and Image Quality

by Howard Creech Reads (255)
Editor's Rating
5.20

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 6
    • Features
    • 7
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 6
    • 0
    • Total Score:
    • 5.20
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Video Quality
In many important ways this is a very basic digicam, but unlike most low price point entry-level digicams the RS1500 features HD video capability. Pentax knew that the RS1500’s target audience (the YouTube generation) would expect HD video. The video clip that accompanies this review was shot at the Louisville Extreme Park on a bright day. The video is smooth and fluid and the colors are hue accurate. Aside from the fact that there isn’t much wind protection for the microphone, the video is pretty good – especially from a digicam that retails for less than $150.

Image Quality
So how does a camera that was designed to appeal to fashionistas and trendsetters function as an image capture device? The rectangular little RS1500 may not look much like your run-of-the-mill digicam, but underneath it all, the RS1500 seems to be a fairly typical ultra-compact digicam.

Image files produced by the RS1500 have a more neutral look than those produced by some of its competitors (Canon, Sony, Nikon) and that is a good thing because the “hot” highly oversaturated colors produced by most digital compacts can actually detract from the overall imapact of an image. Starting with a neutral default color palette (the colors the camera records are very close to the colors seen by the naked eye) and then allowing users to boost saturation (color intensity) if they choose provides more options for shooters.

Although there is a slight tendency toward overexposure, outdoors in good light the RS1500 produces dependably well-exposed, low noise level images. Chromatic aberration is well controlled, but some minor color fringing is present, especially in the color transition areas between dark foreground objects and bright backgrounds.

The RS1500 provides users with a decent selection of White Balance options, including Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, and Fluorescent Manual modes. Overall the RS1500’s system does a good job, especially in the Auto WB mode. Some point-and-shoots have a problem generating accurate greens and many consumer digicams have trouble getting purple just right, but the RS1500 doesn’t seem to suffer from these fairly common color interpolation maladies.

Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

The RS1500 provides an impressive range of sensitivity options, including Auto (ISO 100-800), Digital SR 100-6400 (ISO 3200-6400 5 megapixels), and Manual – ISO 100 – 6400 (ISO 3200-6400 5 megapixels). ISO 100 images show bright colors, slightly flat native contrast, and low noise levels. ISO 200 images were also very good, but with a little less pop. At the ISO 400 setting noise levels are noticeably higher and there’s a perceptible loss of minor detail.

Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 100
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 200
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 400
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 800
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 1600
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop

ISO 800 images are very noisy, but they should be OK for lo-res email images and 3×5 inch or 4×6 inch prints. ISO 1600, 3200, and 6400 images are way too noisy to be useful for anything beyond record shots.

Additional Sample Images

Pentax RS1500 Sample Image Pentax RS1500 Sample Image
Pentax RS1500 Sample Image Pentax RS1500 Sample Image


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