The Pentax X90 is a 26x super zoom that represents a step up from the 24x Pentax X70 model in the Pentax all-in-one camera range.

It offers 12Mp stills, records 1,280x7200-pixel HD video clips at 30fps and is capable of continuous shooting for action photography of up to 11fps. The Pentax X90's focal range is a wide angle 26-676mm in 35mm film terms. This goes some way towards justifying the £300 asking price and Pentax's claim that it does everything but the ironing.

The control layout is busy yet thoughtfully implemented at the same time. The Pentax X90's top-plate mode dial features a full complement of creative options. These include program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes. The point-and-shoot Auto Picture mode, meanwhile, compares scenes against eight onboard presets for common subjects. Mostly reliable, it's sometimes confused by busy scenes. The advantage of having both manual automatic modes is that less experienced photographers can experiment as they get to know the camera and its extensive capabilities.

With the camera powering up in just over a second, Pentax has included a further Intelligent Zoom function. This runs on from the end of the optical range if you keep a forefinger on the zoom lever encircling the shutter release button. It incrementally boosts telephoto performance to either a 33.9x equivalent at 7Mp or a mind-blowing 162.5x if you don't mind shooting at a fuzzy 640x480-pixel resolution. The lower resolutions are because the camera is effectively cropping the image to give the appearance of having zoomed in.

In terms of picture quality, sensor shift anti-shake is fairly good at preventing blur when shooting at the maximum optical telephoto setting or in low light, although images appear quite noisy and lose detail at ISO1600 and above. There are three Jpeg quality levels offered by the X90, but no uncompressed RAW file option. Also, the optical zoom is disabled when video recording commences. More fun are its digital effects filters, including Toy Camera and Retro-feel, applied to the image in playback mode rather than at the point of capture.

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Pentax X90: Specs

  • 26x optical zoom, 26-676mm equivalent
  • 12.1 megapixels
  • max photo resolution: 1,280x720 pixels
  • LCD display: 2.7in, 230k dots
  • ISO 80 to 6400
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • 20MB internal capacity, SD or SDHC card
  • 111x110x85mm
  • 400g
  • 26x optical zoom, 26-676mm equivalent
  • 12.1 megapixels
  • max photo resolution: 1,280x720 pixels
  • LCD display: 2.7in, 230k dots
  • ISO 80 to 6400
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • 20MB internal capacity, SD or SDHC card
  • 111x110x85mm
  • 400g

OUR VERDICT

The Pentax X90 is a good an all-in-one option for someone who wants to step up from a 3x zoom pocket compact, but prefers the portability and usability of a bridge model over a full-blown dSLR requiring costly lenses. It offers good zoom range, a nice and clear control layout, and is quick and responsive in operation. On the down side we didn't like the Pentax X90's plastic feel, the optical zoom deactivated when video recording and it suffers from average low-light performance. There's also no Raw shooting.

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