Pentax Optio RZ18 review

18x zoom and 16 megapixel resolution

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  • 18x zoom lens
  • Big and bright screen
  • Great Dynamic Range setting
  • Sensible button layout


  • Can't zoom while recording videos
  • Noise at lower ISOs
  • Slow processing times
  • Struggled with strong colours in bright conditions

An 18x zoom lens, 16 megapixel resolution, a full price of £199.99/AU$299/US$299.95 and a street price of around £100/AU$150/US$120? It's certainly a headline that demands your attention. After all, anyone in the market for a take-anywhere pocket compact camera is looking for a combination of the biggest zoom and best resolution.

And to be able to offer that (on paper) for such a low price, well, Pentax has all the makings of a high-volume seller in the Optio RZ18. But more importantly, what else is onboard the Pentax Optio RZ18 at this price?

The Pentax Optio RZ18 isn't heavy on those clever features that you might only use occasionally. But what it does offer is some of the key necessities in a take-anywhere compact camera. Chief among its specifications is its wide-angle 18x zoom lens with an equivalent focal length of 25-450mm.

Pentax Optio RZ18 review

The aforementioned 16 megapixel sensor is another of its key selling points, helping it stand out among other cameras in this class, as is its 3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD screen.

Also onboard the Pentax Optio RZ18 is a Dual Shake Reduction system, a dynamic range setting for high-contrast scenes and a range of artistic filters for achieving toy camera and miniature effects, sepia tones, high-contrast monochrome and more.

As you'd expect, it also has a range of scene modes for just about every situation.

Pentax Optio RZ18 review

HD video recording is limited to 720p, however, which lags behind some of its competitors, and it should be noted that you don't have access to the 18x zoom while filming video.

Build and handling

The Pentax Optio RZ18 has a very minimalist design, which often is a nicer way of saying a camera lacks many direct controls, but for a camera like this there are only so many that you need.

The Pentax Optio RZ18 is housed in a plastic body, and yes it has that familiar hollow plastic sound when you tap it, but don't let that put you off. The camera actually looks rather stylish in a retro sort of way, and its construction feels solid. It may be plastic, but the camera still feels robust.

Pentax Optio RZ18 review

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Unlike other travel zooms, the Pentax Optio RZ18 has no raised grips on the body design. Instead it offers a large textured area on the front and a small textured thumb grip on the back. While not inspiring to see coming out of the box, these work surprisingly well to hold the camera securely in your hand.

On the back, underneath the thumb grip are playback and Face Detection buttons. Beneath these is a four-way controller, which offers direct controls for setting (in clockwise order) the drive mode, macro mode, the overall Mode button and the flash.

The Mode button brings you directly to a menu where you can choose from 24 scene modes, ranging from Auto Picture to Landscape, Portraits, Panorama, Flower, Sky Saturation, Movie and more.

Pentax Optio RZ18 review

On top of the camera are the power and shutter buttons, and the standard toggle for zooming in and out of a scene.

While the Pentax Optio RZ18's menu and direct controls are decidedly limited, they are extremely simple and quick to use. And for this type of camera in this price range, you aren't looking for complexity.

So on this level the Pentax Optio RZ18 succeeds. We were able to shoot and adapt our settings with ease and speed and never missed a potential shot due to scrolling through complex menu systems.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Effective Camera Resolution16 Megapixel
Product FamilyOptio
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationDigital, Optical
Optical Zoom18x
Digital Zoom7.2x
Brand NamePentax
FeaturesFace Detection, Continuous Shooting Mode, Smile Detection, Blink Detection, Self-timer
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMotion JPEG (AVI)
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)170 g
Image Sensor Size1/2.33" (6.13 mm x 4.60 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4608 x 3456
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height60 mm
Width108 mm
Depth34 mm
Focal Length4.50 mm to 81 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerRicoh Imaging Company, Ltd.
Product ModelRZ18
Product NameOptio RZ18 Compact Camera
Product LineOptio
Exposure Control

Program AE

Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number14177
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

The Optio RZ18 is the latest addition to the popular PENTAX Optio RZ series, which features a high-magnification zoom lens in a compact body. It provides photographers with simple, effortless shooting of a wide variety of subjects and occasions. From travel and landscape to action and spectator sports the RZ18 retains many of the convenient features of its predecessors, including the dependable dual shake reduction for effective reduction of camera shake, and the advanced Auto Picture. The very wide-angle smc PENTAX 18X optical zoom lens to greatly extend the zoom range. The number of effective pixels has also been increased to 16 megapixels to deliver higher-resolution images, while the built-in LCD monitor has also been upgraded to a larger 3.0-inch version with 460,000 dots for sharper, clearer subject image. Thanks to the perfect harmony of existing and new features, the Optio RZ18 offers both higher performance and simpler operation than ever before.

Package Contents
  • Optio RZ18 Compact Camera
  • USB Cable I-USB7
  • Video Cable AV-IAVC7
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery D-DLI92
  • Battery Charger D-BC92
  • Strap O-ST104
  • Software CD-ROM
Limited Warranty1 Year