Pentax Optio S12

This slim metal-bodied compact cameras which started with the Optio S, the Optio S12 is a slimline, easy to use point and press camera with a massive 12Mp resolution and 3x optical zoom.

For less than £150 you get an easy to use point and shoot camera with 12Mp, 3x zoom and a 2.5in screen.

Pentax Optio S12:


Pentax have jam packed loads of features into the S12 to keep the casual snapper more than happy. The auto mode saves you searching through menus for the correct scene setting by selecting the correct one automatically. This is ideal for those who would normally just snap away without botheriong top fiddle and adjust settings. If you prefer to select your scene mode manually, there is a good range on offer including the usual settings for landscape, portrait, sports and so on. For each mode highlighted in the menu, a handy explanation of the ideal shooting scenario is displayed after a second or so, saving you plundering for the manual if you’re unfamiliar with each setting.

Another smart feature that enhances the ease-of-use is the Green Auto mode. Basically if you’ve changed a setting by accident, or can’t remember what you have set, the Green mode allows you to quickly reset the camera to auto everything so you can get the shot you want.

A surprising addition for a camera of this ilk are the dynamic range adjustment settings, which I would normally consider a fairly advanced feature. This can help to retrieve details in the highlights and shadows that would normally be lost in high contrast scenes. I found this feature more effective in retrieving details from shadows rather than highlights, although it does do well when the limited dynamic range of a small sensor, such as the one in this camera, is taken into account.

The controls are set out in a fairly standard fashion, with the shutter release, power button and face detection control all on the top. On the back, Pentax have made the most of the tiny space left over by the screen and the controls have plenty of space around them for people, like me with large thumbs.

The Pentax Optio S12 is a cinch to use, fits comfortably into just about any pocket and looks as stylish as its predecessor. Although it lacks some key functions the camera earns points with its ease of use.

On the down side, we found the night scene mode (one of the few scene modes that we use on point-and-shoots) to be pretty useless: the shutter speed was consistently too slow, producing overexposed images with excessive streaking however the camera showed good sharpness and colour, and its 12Mp of detail means that you can click to your heart’s content.