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Pentax Optio E70L review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £89
inc VAT


1/2.3in 10.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (32-96mm equivalent), 125g

Today’s upmarket compact cameras pack in more pixels than you’ll ever need, and now even the budget models are joining the megapixel arms race.

The E70L’s 10-megapixel sensor was in last year’s premium models, and was responsible for a notable slump in image quality in 2008. Otherwise, this is a no-frills camera with a plain plastic body, low-resolution screen, 3x zoom and AA batteries.

The menu system is a departure from those of previous Pentax cameras. Its horizontal rather than vertical scrolling made it harder to jump to a particular setting, but the camera is generally easy to use. Perhaps that’s because there are so few features to complicate its operation. Its only notable feature is smile detection, which captures a frame automatically when the subject smiles. On other cameras this mode often requires the subject to perform a maniacal toothy snarl, but here, a beaming smile was enough to trigger the shutter. It’s more of a gimmick than a practical feature, but we still find it a fun novelty.

The E70L performs respectably, taking around 2.4 seconds to switch on and shoot, and a similar time between shots. However, the shutter button must be half-pressed to focus before being fully pressed to take a photo. Quickly pressing the shutter button all the way down resulted in out-of-focus shots. This is a serious flaw in a point-and-shoot camera, as many people won’t know the half-press trick. Even after using it for a few days, it’s easy to bungle shots taken in a hurry.

Then again, even if you ignore this issue, there are better cameras available for the price. The E70L’s images didn’t display any major faults and in bright light they bordered on excellent, but Nikon’s similarly priced L19 produced notably smoother, sharper photos indoors. If you can find remaining stock, Pentax’s Optio M50 is better than both models and has a 5x zoom and Li-ion battery.

Basic Specifications

Rating ***
CCD effective megapixels 10.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder none
LCD screen size 2.4in
LCD screen resolution 112,000 pixels
Optical zoom 3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 32-96mm
Image stabilisation none
Maximum image resolution 3,648×2,736
Maximum movie resolution 640×480
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG; AVI (M-JPEG)


Memory slot SDHC
Mermory supplied 11MB internal
Battery type 2x AA
Battery Life (tested) 510 shots
Connectivity USB, AV
Body material plastic
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 125g
Size 61x94x26mm

Buying Information

Price £89

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed auto
Aperture range auto
ISO range (at full resolution) 80 to 1600
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 4 presets
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness
Manual focus No
Closest macro focus 10cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, face detect
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, smile detect