Pentax Optio RS1500 review

Budget point-and-shoot model with changeable covers

The Pentax Optio RS1500
Changeable covers are a fun gimmick, but is the camera beneath worth making a show of?

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Optio rs1500: front facing

The RS1500's metering system does pretty much what's expected: good exposures when the conditions present no obvious challenges, and a sensitivity towards brighter and darker scenes respectively leading to slight under and overexposure. While the predictability of this behavior can be quite useful, for a camera pitched at this level it would probably be better if, like many similar compacts, it simply exposed more intuitively for the main subject at the slight expense of highlight and/or shadow details.

Elsewhere, the camera's white balance system generally gets it right too, although images of the same subject in quick succession occasionally display differing colour casts.

Colours themselves are fine, though, even if they do tend to be more saturated and vibrant than faithful. In terms of detail reproduction and sharpness the camera does well next to some of its peers, although the heavy processing artefacts visible throughout images taken on all sensitivities serves as a reminder that the camera isn't going to perform past its modest price tag.

At higher sensitivities the camera process out much of the noise which forms, but sadly it takes with it a lot of the colour and detail, too, leaving images lifeless.

There's significant barrel distortion at the wide end of the camera's lens, although the camera's processing engine does a good job to automatically correct for most of this.

Edge and corner sharpness is particularly impressive, too, even at the camera's widest aperture, although chromatic aberrations aren't quite as well controlled, being particularly prevalent towards the edges of the frame. Oddly, though, they tend to appear in areas of medium contrast rather than across the higher contrast – such as across the edges of buildings – where we would expect to see them the most.

Overall it has its flaws, but for the money the pentax RS1500 actually performs admirably.