The super zoom category is jam packed—The Pentax XG-1 enters the fray with no fancy, frilly features like a dot sight or tilting LCD but with a solid set of capabilities at a decent price that make it an option worth considering.
The manufacturer is toting this camera as an “all-in-one” with the functionality of several DSLR lenses inside one affordable compact. With a 1 cm super macro mode plus a 52x optical zoom, the XG-1 certainly looks to be versatile. Though only a real world test will show how good the images turn out at the extreme end of both macro and telephoto, Pentax has a pretty solid reputation for their cameras. The XG-1 uses sensor shift image stabilization, which should come in handy at the long end of the zoom.
While there's no headlining feature, that's not necessarily a bad thing, since it looks like the XG-1 is well rounded. It's missing out on RAW for enthusiasts and those who love photo editing, but looks to have a good set of specifications otherwise. The XG-1 has a full set of manual modes, plus scene and automatic settings. The maximum aperture at the widest angle is f2.8, which is excellent at this price point. At the long end of that 52x zoom, the aperture creeps up to f5.6, but some in this category hit f6.5 at the same point. The maximum shutter speed is 1/2000, which is good for this price point and category.
With about a 10 fps burst speed that snaps 20 images in a row, speed looks to be a positive from this camera too. If you don't want to limit the number of shots, you can shoot .67 fps continuously, but the 20 shots is a pretty decent buffer for that speed, since most other similar models are limited to ten or less. According to Pentax, there's a 2 second start-up and a .2 second shutter lag.
While some of the super zooms we've tested this year are missing features like continuous focus, the tech specs list a pretty wide range of features for the category. Single-AF, Multi-AF, object tracking, face detection and continuous AF are all included, plus macro and super macro focus settings. Different metering options, including spot and center weighted, are also available. White balance settings include a number of presets plus temperature (Kelvin) options.
Short of the smaller sensor and lack of RAW, the Pentax XG-1 is fairly comparable to a DSLR in terms of versatility. Fixed lens cameras don't get you the same type of results, but the XG-1 looks to be quite versatile for the type and price. We'd love to test it out fully, but based on first impressions, it's not a bad buy.