Pentax Optio M60

The cutesy styling of the M60 won't be to everyone's taste, but silver metal accents, 5x zoom and respectable image quality will make the Pentax attractive to adults too.

CNET Rating

Pentax is one of the names traditionally associated with photography, with a history in the industry stretching back more than half a century. The Optio range has always stuck to the company's simple, accessible philosophy, and the Pentax Optio M60 is no exception. This 10-megapixel point-and-shoot packs a few interesting features for less than AU$300.

Pentax compacts always seem to have a toy-like quality, no matter how impressive the spec-sheet. The rounded buttons and large labels give the M60 a friendly appearance. It comes in red, black and blue, finished with silver metal accents. The off-centre lens, and the little touches of red that balance the main colour, save it from being too plainly styled.

The rounded buttons, large text and plasticky finish lend the Pentax Optio M60 a toy-like feel.
(Credit: Pentax)

It's extremely light, at 128g, and very slim, making it a great choice for slipping into a pocket or a dainty handbag.

The 64mm (2.5-inch) screen looks relatively small next to the 69mm screens that are fast becoming the standard. Next to the screen, the controls are well spaced-out, with a plastic clickpad and three buttons beneath a decent-sized zoom rocker.

On the features front, the M60 transcends its toy-like appearance. A 5x optical zoom lens puts it ahead of most compacts, although it's not especially wide, with a 36mm wide angle equivalent to a 35mm camera.

Other impressive features include face detection that will find a whopping 32 faces. There's a choice of 24 shooting modes.

It's also extremely easy to use. Those scene modes cover most shooting eventualities, while the fully automatic 'green' mode takes charge of things for you.

There's still plenty of cuteness to go round. Each scene mode is represented by a cuddly icon, while the face-detection icon is a happy smiling emoticon. And what would a Pentax compact be without the option to set the shutter noise to miaow like a cat?

Once again, the M60's performance belies it's friendly exterior. It's not especially fast, but pictures look decent. Colour is accurate, with warm skin tones. Apart from a marginal amount of distortion to the left, images are crisp enough.

To lock the autofocus you half-press the shutter as normal. Unfortunately, there's a noticeable pause before the onscreen focus reticule turns green to signal that it's locked on, and that's in decent lighting conditions. In lower light it can take a second or two, but we found that the AF generally focused on the right thing.

The usual caveat with compact cameras is that low-light performance often isn't great. The M60 suffers from the usual problems with noise, with grainy speckles lending images a gritty feel at ISO 200 and above.

Anyone who doesn't believe in Santa Claus might be put off by the cutesy touches, preferring the slicker design of the ultra-slim Casio Exilim EX-S10 or the wide-angle Nikon Coolpix S610. But at this price — and with this level of user-friendliness — we'd happily recommend the Pentax Optio M60 to younger snappers.

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