While Pentax has been producing compact digital cameras for some years now, it took until 2009 to introduce their first entry into the ultrazoom class comprised of 10x and up optical zoom lenses. The X70 opened to somewhat mixed reviews, with battery life, HD video quality and speed of operation drawing fire from some reviewers. On the other hand, still image quality got generally positive comments.
Pentax is back in 2010 with the successor to the X70, and while the new X90 is virtually a carbon-copy of the old camera, Pentax has addressed some of the criticisms leveled at their first superzoom. Battery life in the X90 is reportedly 50% greater and the 720p HD video has been upgraded to a 30 frame per second capture rate in addition to the previous camera's 15 fps.
The X90 retains the 12 megapixel sensor, 2.7-inch LCD monitor and electronic view finder of the old camera, but the EVF picks up a diopter adjustment. The zoom grows from 24x to 26x and now covers the 26 to 676mm focal range (35mm equivalent). Here's what that range looks like:
In addition to the optical zoom there's a digital zoom of approximately 162.5x and "intelligent zoom" options that make use of reduced resolution to offer 33.9x to 162.5x multiplications depending on resolution. The camera also provides full manual exposure controls along with the typical compact digital auto and scene-specific options, face detection auto focus and auto exposure, and a high speed shooting rate of about 10 fps (at reduced resolution).
ISO sensitivities range from 80 to 6400 (with 3200 and 6400 at reduced resolution), there's about 31 megabytes of internal memory and the camera can utilize SD/SDHC memory media, including Eye-Fi wireless cards. Pentax includes USB and A/V cables, a lithium-ion battery and charger, camera strap, lens cap, CD-ROM software and printed user's manual with each camera.
The first order of business for any X90 owner is to affix the lens cap to the camera so that when you forget to remove it before powering up, it doesn't get irretrievably lost as the extending lens slides it off. Now that our lens cap is accounted for, let's see what the rest of the X90 has to offer.
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