Holy tripods! Pentax ups the zoom stakes again with the launch of its X70 Megazoom camera, home to a 24x lens that ranges from a 26mm equivalent wideangle to a 624mm telephoto.

The 12MP X70 is Pentax's flagship bridge camera, offering SLR-style exposure and focus options, as well as a consumer-friendly Auto Picture mode that does the thinking for you.

Sadly, shake reduction is courtesy of sensor shift technology, which we often find less effective than true optical stabilisation - you might want to invest a tripod, too.

Small fry chips

The X70's 1/2.3-inch chip is much smaller than most SLR sensors, although you do get a blistering burst mode that reaches 11 frames per second (at 5MP resolution), sensitivity up to 6400 and 720p HD movies at 15fps.

The X70's face detection can optimise the focus and exposure for up to 32 faces in a single image (in just 0.03 seconds), alongside smile capture and blink detection modes.

Other features include a 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot LCD, super macro mode and 'digital wide': a mode that stitches two wideangle shots together to produce a 'virtual' 20mm ultra-wide panorama.

The Pentax X70 Megazoom will be available in the US next month for $400 (£285).