See how the two ruggedly built point and shoots compare in this head-to-head
The Casio beats the Pentax in scenes modes, giving the user a total of 35 choices, including eBay mode, food, sunset, monochrome and retro, which gives the image a sepia-toned, antique look. Casio also has a "collection" mode that's similar to the eBay mode, but has a really nice compositional grid. If I were in charge of the features for this camera, I'd make this grid a feature that is independent of the "collection" mode and allow it to be turned off and on at will, regardless of the mode in use. Another feature that works well in the Casio is the scene mode descriptions. Simply press the zoom toggle and the camera LCD screen pops up a full description of each mode. This works well and I suspect that if there is a real difference between the Pentax and the Casio, the menu functionality is where you'll find it.
The Pentax has a total of 15 scene modes and rather than use an actual photo to illustrate what the scene may look like, the Pentax uses icons. Some of these remind me of a "Dragonball Z" episode on the Cartoon Network and have a very strong Japanese flavor to the artwork. Even with the fewer modes, they are useful and aren't as repetitive as the Casio's modes. An example of this is the "Sports" mode and "Splashing Water" mode in the Casio. Both capture and stop action, so why have different modes that do the same thing? Another feature that I liked when using the Pentax scene modes is that a description automatically flashes up for the current selection three seconds after the mode is selected. Overall though, the Pentax icons aren't as intuitive as Casio's illustrative sample photos.
Both cameras also have an excellent feature set for video. The ability to zoom while shooting is amazing for cameras in this price range, which both cameras can do. Pentax wins in video by having different scene modes for video and full quality video (640X480 @30 fps) that can record in both WAV and Movie SR file formats. Additionally, the Pentax can record in half resolution (320X240 @30 fps) and the feature we most liked was the ability to change from a full color mode to "Sepia" and "Monochrome."
I would love to see manufacturers take the sepia mode one step farther by having the ability to introduce dust and scratches into the recorded image, giving it a more authentic "period" feel to the clip. And even though the Casio has three different resolution settings, it only shoots in full color, making it a lesser choice when you want to shoot black and white or sepia video.
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In their promotional literature, Pentax claims that the battery was specifically designed to be smaller to allow a more compact design in the camera. It is, in fact, about two-thirds the size of the Casio battery, and in my shooting experience with both cameras, the smaller Pentax battery keeps up with the Casio quite well. Neither camera seemed to drain the battery too quickly and both allowed all-day shooting with plenty of juice left over.
Even inspecting the menu on both cameras, you see the similarities in design. The menu button is located in the same area on both cameras and each uses a row/column scheme to navigate through all of the options in the menu. The Casio, for example, has three columns -- Record, Quality and Setup. You navigate through each of these by selecting the left/right buttons on the function dial. Each has a menu that can be navigated by using the up and down buttons and selecting OK to set the features you wanting to change. It's a simple system, but works well. The other nice menu feature that the Casio has is the menu located on the viewfinder/LCD screen when you're shooting. Instead of accessing the menu button, you simply hit the up and down buttons on the function dial and it gives you an iconic view of all the normal menu items. Casio has this on several of their cameras and it's a wonderful feature that works well.
The Pentax has a similar menu, but it's not quite as visual as the Casio. If you look at the layout, it has the column and row scheme but doesn't highlight each column like the Casio. Instead, it uses small arrows that, if you're not looking for them, can blend into the scene too easily. I was trying to get back to the column setting and didn't realize that it was already there. In the menu wars, Casio is clearly the winner with its well-designed interface.
Both cameras also exhibit good manners when shooting too, although I found it strange that both would also give a slight overexposure to a normal scene. I made an EV adjustment of -0.7 to compensate for this in most situations. I verified my changes by inspecting the histogram in Photoshop CS3, which overall had a nice bell-curve shape. I had to wonder why this was so in scenes that any camera shouldn't have exposure issues when shooting.