Pentax Optio H90 review

It brings home how similar most compact cameras look when something a little different turns up. The H90 is hardly a radical departure but the minimal, two-tone design has a certain tranquil elegance. It looks more striking – and distinctly Japanese – in an orange and silver finish, although that model currently costs £15 more.

Functionally, the design is less striking. The 12-megapixel sensor, 5x wide-angle zoom lens and 2.7in LCD screen are standard issue. The lack of optical stabilisation is regrettable but it’s not unusual at this price. It’s good to see 720p HD video in a £100 camera. Zoom and focus are fixed for the duration of clips, there was a lot of noise in low-light clips and sound quality was poor, but we still prefer it to the VGA video modes normally found at this price.

The H90 has extended support for Eye-Fi cards, SDHC cards with built-in Wi-Fi adaptors (see What’s New, Shopper 265). The main drawback of these cards is the lack of visual feedback while in use, but the H90 can switch the card’s Wi-Fi adaptor on and off, and displays an on-screen icon when it’s connected to a network.

Best of all, it won’t automatically power down while an upload is in progress, although it doesn’t inform the user when it’s complete. Bizarrely, the Wi-Fi connection dropped whenever we pressed a button on the camera, but at least the on-screen icon warned of this, encouraging us to leave it alone to complete the upload.

Our image quality tests produced few surprises. Corner focus was soft at the wide end of the zoom, but otherwise, the lens performed well. Its f/3.5-5.9 aperture is pretty gloomy, though, and along with the noisy 12-megapixel sensor and no stabilisation, low-light shots looked grotty. Automatic exposures were well judged, except for flash-lit shots, which used unnecessarily high ISO speeds.

In most respects this is a competent but unexceptional camera, but the smart design and Eye-Fi support may be enough to draw in customers.

Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels12.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.3in
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size2.7in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent28-140mm
Image stabilisationnone
Maximum image resolution4,000x3,000
Maximum movie resolution1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; AVI (M-JPEG)


Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied33MB internal
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)210 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV
HDMI output resolutionN/A
Body materialplastic
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplierN/A
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables

Buying Information

Warrantyone-year RTB

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speed4 to 1/2,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/3.5 (wide), f/5.9 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 1600
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 4 presets, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, highlight correction, shadow correction
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus8cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, tracking, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, smile detect

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