Weighing just 127g with a battery and card in place, the RS1500 is a reasonably lightweight compact. As we may expect its body is largely plastic, while the rear sports a matte backplate which is pleasing to the touch. The camera's angular, boxy design wont be to everyone's taste, but button responsiveness, thumb space and overall weight all combine to make it comfortable to operate with just one hand.

Optio rs1500: front

Changing the covers is fairly straightforward, although you do need a nail or plectrum to prise the lens ring away from the body. Once this is done the plastic covering slips off and the faceplate of your choice may be positioned against the camera's body, before the cover and ring are fixed back on.

Pentax has long been a champion of clarity when it comes to labeling its functions and controls, and the RS1500 continues the tradition. Everything on the back is marked with large and clear text, while all options within the menu system are equally well-labelled and segregated into either recording or settings sub-menus.


Optio rs1500: side view

The camera takes a second or so to power up and down although it responds well to the touch, with small arrows dotted throughout the menu system to guide the user. Focusing speed is average, not particularly slow but noticeably behind other cameras of this type. For most static subjects this shouldn't prove to be too great an issue, although against low-contrast details and in poorer light this tardiness can be a touch frustrating.

The biggest disappointment with regards to the camera's performance is its LCD screen, whose narrow viewing angle impedes visibility whenever the camera is tilted. Its default brightness level is perfectly good in subdued light, although it fares less well in brighter conditions and whenever the scene contains larger bright areas such as skies. Thankfully, the screen's brightness may be adjusted over seven levels.