Guess what, amateur shooters? The superzoom just got shrunk. Pentax has just outed a new compact that touts a downright impressive 18x optical zoomer (25-450mm equivalent), with the snooping lens married to a 16 megapixel sensor, a smattering of shake reduction technologies and a 3-inch HVGA LCD 'round back. Moreover, you'll find a nine-point autofocus system, face detection algorithms, an SDXC card slot and an HD video mode capable of snagging 720p clips at 30 frames per second. It's all set to ship next month in black, white and orange for $299.95 here in the States, with the full presser embedded just after the break.
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PENTAX ANNOUNCES THE OPTIO RZ18 WITH 18X ZOOM

GOLDEN, CO. (September 12, 2011)...PENTAX Imaging Company announced the Optio RZ18 digital compact camera. Featuring a slim, lightweight body, the new model offers a powerful 18X optical zoom lens covering focal lengths from 25mm wide angle to 450mm super-telephoto (in the 35mm format). The Optio RZ18 is the latest addition to the PENTAX Optio RZ zoom lens series, which provides photographers simple, effortless shooting of a wide variety of subjects and occasions, from travel and landscape to action and spectator sports.
The Optio RZ18 features include:

• Generous 18X zoom (equivalent to 25-450mm) with extra wide angle lens captures subjects near and far.
• High resolution 16 megapixel sensor for large prints or aggressive image cropping.
• Slim footprint for outstanding portability and inconspicuous use.
• Multiple PENTAX Shake Reduction (SR) image stabilization options, including sensor-shift SR, for sharp images in any lighting.
• Large 3 inch LCD with HVGA resolution (460,000 dots).
• Powerful automatic shooting modes such as Auto Picture and scene modes take the guesswork out of great photography.
• Creative special effects filters add artistic flair to the common snapshot.
• Advanced 9-point autofocus with a 4cm super macro mode.
• Face detection for perfectly focused and exposed portraits, includes a dedicated pet recognition feature.
• Widescreen HD video in 720p at 30 frames per second.
The Optio RZ18 will be available in black, pearl white or metallic orange for $299.95 USD in October 2011.

PENTAX Imaging Company is a leader in the production of a variety of adventure ready digital cameras including weather-resistant digital SLRs and stylish, compact, waterproof cameras, as well as lenses, flash units, binoculars, scopes, and eyepieces. For more than 90 years, PENTAX has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of adventurous consumers and businesses. With headquarters in Golden, Colorado, PENTAX Imaging Company is a division of Hoya Corporation.
On July 1, 2011, Hoya announced an agreement to transfer the PENTAX Imaging Systems business to RICOH Corporation. The effective date of the sale is set for October 1, 2011. Additional details may be found here: www.pentaximaging.com/news

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Pentax crams 18x optical zoom into Optio RZ18 point-and-shoot camera