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Pentax Optio MX4

Ilse Jurrien
Photokina report
Tuesday 14th, September 2004
Posted by: Ilse Jurrien

Pentax introduces the new Optio MX4. A compact digital camera with a powerful 10X optical zoom and 4.0 effective megapixels, the OptioMX4 is designed not only for the shooting of high-quality still images but also to offer refined movie performance. The concept for the OptioMX4 arose in response to consumer needs, satisfying the demand for the ability to capture distant subjects with 10X optical zoom through a focal range covering angles of view equivalent to those of a 37mm-370mm lens in 35mm format. Comprising 8 groups of 12 elements, the lens of the OptioMX4 makes use of aspherical lenses and extra-low dispersion glass elements that serve to ensure absolute minimum aberration.

Pentax OptioMX4 - Movie function
What's more, such high performance is also compounded with the imaging quality of 4.0 effective megapixels. As for its movie capability, a function which is sure to become popular among family users, the Pentax OptioMX4 achieves smooth quality, offers clarity that's comparable to that of a television and has the power to record up to two hours of video. The unique "gun-grip" styling is more than just attractive, it's functional too, minimizing hand shake and reducing fatigue during long-duration shooting. At last, there's a camera that arms the photographer with both telephoto capability and movie performance. At last, Pentax presents the OptioMX4.

Pentax MX4 - 10x Optical zoom lens
The OptioMX4 incorporates a 5.8mm-58mm 10X optical zoom lens offering a focal range covering angles of view equivalent to those of a 37mm-370mm lens in 35mm format. This optical zooming power can also be combined with 10X digital zoom for a combined total zoom ratio of 100X. Furthermore, to make zoom control as smooth and easy as possible, the Optio MX4 also features two-way zoom speed control. The renowned smc Pentax lens is comprised of 8 groups of 12 elements. It makes use of two aspherical lenses and two extra-low dispersion glass lenses to ensure chromatic and other kinds of aberration are kept to a bare minimum. And with the further advantage of 4.0 effective megapixels, the Pentax Optio MX4 has the power to achieve high-precision, vivid images at all zoom ranges.

Pentax Optio MX4 - Movie recording
With the OptioMX4, the user can enjoy movie recording with 640 x 480 recording pixels at the smooth rate of 30fps (frames per second) to achieve quality comparable to that of a television. And because the OptioMX4 records in MPEG-4 format, it has the ability to record movies of extended duration. Whats more, the Optio MX4 also employs a streaming recording system, which records directly onto the recording media, thereby allowing the user to record up to two hours of continuous movies. And just as with still shooting, the user also has a choice of movie recording sizes, quality and frame rates for maximum shooting flexibility.

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Pentax MX4 - Inner-zoom mechanism
Enabling the user to take advantage of dynamic telephoto shooting and continuous, long-duration movie shooting, the Optio MX4 employs a unique gun-grip design that is highly effective in reducing hand shake and minimizing fatigue. The Pentax OptioMX4 also incorporates an inner-zoom mechanism in the zoom lens enabling the length of the zoom lens to remain unchanged at all zoom ratios. This mechanism also ensures good balance regardless of zoom ratio. The user can also choose the most comfortable angle by rotating the grip - making shooting easier on the arm and wrist even when shooting movies for long periods of time. The Pentax Optio MX4 minimizes hand shake by enabling the user to take a natural stance with the arms kept close to the body when the grip is held with the right hand and the body of the camera by the left hand.

Pentax OptioMX4 - Aspherical lenses
The use of aspherical lenses cuts down on the total number of lenses required and the unique, compact mounting expertise of Pentax has resulted in the OptioMX4 having compact body dimensions of just 73 (W) x 59 (H) x 103.5 (D)mm (excluding protrusions) despite its impressive 10X optical zooming. The OptioMX4 incorporates a low-reflection LCD monitor, which actually uses some of the externally available light to make it highly visible even in strong sunlight. Allowing the user to confirm focusing, composition, and other factors, this clear 1.8-inch LCD monitor also ensures high versatility through its ability to rotate through 180 degrees horizontally and 210 degrees vertically for easy low- and high-angle shooting.

Pentax Optio MX4 - Picture mode
Upon selection of PICT (picture mode) on the mode dial, the Pentax OptioMX4 displays Landscape, Portrait, and other shooting modes on the LCD monitor. All the user needs to do then is select the mode that matches the situation at hand. Then the camera automatically adjusts exposure, white balance and other settings to ideally suit the scene. And for more creative shooting, the OptioMX4 is equipped with Shutter-priority auto, Aperture-priority auto, Metered manual, and other settings. With a choice of eight filters comprising B&W, sepia, red, pink, purple, blue, green and yellow, the OptioMX4 lets the user add a color filter effect at the time of shooting. And unlike conventional filters, digital filters can also be used to change the mood of shots already recorded. When used at the time of image playback for instance, the user can turn full-color images into black and white or sepia images, or emphasize certain colors of the images to create a different tone.

Pentax digital camera - Built-in flash
The Optio MX4 features a built-in flash that pops up to a high extent. As a result of being located as far from the lens as possible, the chance of producing "red eyes", which can be a common problem with telephoto shots, is significantly reduced. Even when the optional wide-angle conversion lens is used, the high-up flash serves to virtually eliminate the phenomenon of vignetting, whereby the shape of the lens interferes with the reach of the flash, leading to the loss of some parts of the image. The optional wide-angle conversion lens offers an angle of view equivalent to a 27.75mm lens in 35mm format. And with its exterior stylishly finished with aluminum, it also conveys a strong sense of sophistication.

Pentax MX-4 camera - 0-CC17 softcase
When the top of the O-CC17 soft case is open, it comfortably holds the Pentax OptioMX4, even if the grip is fully open. The case can be worn around the waist on a belt for further convenience. Additionally, there's also an external pocket that can be used to carry spare batteries and other small items. Another optional case is the semi-hard O-CC172, which can house both the camera and the optional wide-angle conversion lens. Two pockets are positioned inside the case to organize small items and the standard strap enables the case to be worn on the shoulder. And, the O-CC172 can also be worn around the waist on a belt.

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