Reviews say the Pentax Optio RS1500 has one key advantage over its budget-priced rivals: It lets users personalize the camera's appearance with swappable faceplates. You can either create your own design via Pentax's website or use one of the 10 pre-designed skins bundled with the camera, though Matt Grayson at PhotographyBlog.com says "it would be nice if the skins were made out of better material such as card or thin plastic" instead of paper, which he considers less durable.
It's also worth noting that the DC Super Heroes kit featuring Batman, Superman and the Green Lantern is not available in the U.S. Otherwise, the 14-megapixel RS1500 sports identical specifications to its discontinued RS1000 predecessor, including a 4x optical zoom lens (27.5 mm to 110 mm for wide-angle coverage), a 3-inch LCD screen and 720p HD video. Unlike the RS1000, the RS1500 uses snap-on faceplates rather than screws and offers two interchangeable lens rings to further expand customization options.
Measuring 3.6 inches wide and weighing 3.9 ounces, the RS1500 easily tucks into a shirt pocket. But Jonathan Parkyn at CNET's British site says the camera's "build quality isn't its best point" with a plastic, boxy design that "just doesn't feel terribly sturdy." The 230,000-dot LCD panel also gets dinged for poor viewing angles. However, Howard Creech at DigitalCameraReview.com finds the RS1500's simplified menu easy to navigate and says that while the camera is aimed at young users, anyone with poor vision will like the large font and big icons.
Critics also say that despite the RS1500's budget price, it produces surprisingly vibrant images at low ISO levels, though some tests reveal barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of the zoom range. Video performance also rates well but you can't zoom while recording and unlike the more expensive Nikon Coolpix L110 , you can't hook it up to an HDTV to watch movies.
Comprehensive professional reviews of the Pentax Optio RS1500 are found at TechRadar.com, CNET UK, DigitalCameraReview.com, Pocket-Lint.com, StevesDigicams.com and PhotographyBlog.com, which all include sample photos. No user reviews of the RS1500 were posted at the time of this report.
Although swappable covers give the Pentax Optio RS1500 "an interesting slant," Matt Grayson says the paper-based skins "will tear far too easily" in the hands of young users. He also considers both the camera's plastic build and LCD screen "low quality," but concedes that the RS1500 shoots "pretty good" pictures and gives it an above-average rating.
Review: Pentax Optio RS1500 Review, Matt Grayson, Aug. 1, 2011
2. CNET (U.K.)
Underneath the Pentax Optio RS1500's "unpleasantly boxy and plasticky" design is a "very respectable budget camera," says Nik Rawlinson at CNET UK. Easy navigation and sharp, vibrant images impress Rawlnson. But he warns that the RS1500's picture quality diminishes in low light and at high ISO settings.
Review: Pentax Optio RS1500 Review, Nik Rawlinson, Aug. 8, 2011
Despite its small lens and sensor, the Pentax Optio RS1500 is "capable of producing excellent images," with well-exposed outdoor shots and "accurate" video color, says Howard Creech. However, noticeable barrel distortion occurs in some wide-angle shots.
Review: Pentax Optio RS1500 Review, Howard Creech, Howard Creech
Swappable covers, speedy shooting performance and a "hassle free" menu draw raves from editors at StevesDigicams, who also credit the Pentax Optio RS1500 with producing sharp, well-exposed photos at normal capacity. But enlarged images reveal soft edges. Still, the RS1500 is a "fun and affordable, compact digital camera that is sure to please the younger masses."
Review: Pentax Optio RS1500 Review, Editors at StevesDigicams.com, May 25, 2011
While interchangeable covers make the Pentax RS1500 "fun to use," Golowcyznski rates focusing speed "average" and says the LCD's narrow angle impedes visibility when the camera is tilted. But decent image quality and a simple menu make the RS1500 "an ideal point-and-shoot model for beginners."
Review: Pentax Optio RS1500 Review, Matt Golowcyznski, Aug. 8, 2011
The Pentax Optio RS1500 "manages to escape being simply a novelty camera by virtue of its reasonable performance," says Hall. But he warns that autofocus is slow and image quality is "average" with blown highlights and oversaturated reds.
Review: Pentax Optio RS1500 Review, Chris Hall, Aug. 22, 2011