Next to its rivals it looks cheap and plastic, and the quality of its captured images is relatively poor, but the Pentax X70 is clearly aimed at home users who want better photos than they'd get from their compact without leaving the safety of full auto mode.
Pentax has put a lot of effort into making the Pentax X70 work as automatically as possible for the novice photographer. There's a face-detection mode that can identify up to 30 faces, and the camera can detect who's smiling and who's blinking so you can get that family photo where everyone looks happy and even Uncle Albert has his eyes open.
There's even a specific button for turning smile detection on and off, and in playback mode you can add ‘fancy' frames to your images from within the camera. This all works seamlessly, but many people will find this sort of gimmickry little more than window-dressing for some otherwise dull results. The truth is, the Pentax X70 just doesn't produce great-looking images.
When you turn it on the Pentax X70 emits a loud and slightly alarming chirp. Worse, the camera takes ages to boot and is sluggish in use. The focus is slow to lock in, especially at the telephoto end of the 24x zoom lens. However, we didn't see much lens distortion at either end of the lens' capacity.
The Pentax X70's images lacked contrast compared to those of its rivals, and when we looked at its 12Mp images at full size, we didn't see a lot of detail. What we did see was quite a horrible amount of noise in the images taken in our low-light test - and overall, few images taken at ISO 400 or higher were usable.
The Pentax X70's button layout is relatively easy to use, but the ‘smile detection' button is a waste. The Green Mode button for quickly going full auto - a ‘help, I'm stuck' button for novices - would be a waste too, but you can change this into a function of your choice instead.
Other niggles include the fact that the Pentax X70's LCD is stuck flush to the back of the camera, and there's no internal gyroscope for automatically tagging images as portrait or landscape.
As you can tell, we weren’t terribly impressed with the Pentax X70. It tries too hard to make photography easy and non-scary but, however talented a photographer you are and however adept at adjusting onboard settings to get the best results, it just doesn’t produce memorable photos.