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    Pentax K-x Review

    | Reviews | 23/06/2010 09:49am
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    Pentax’s new entry-level D-SLR isn’t just for beginners. This ‘starter’ SLR that will appeal just as much to enthusiasts

    It can be difficult to keep track of Pentax’s D-SLR range. There seem to have been so many slight variations on existing models and so much overlap between them. But maybe the new K-x will sort it all out. This is Pentax’s brand new entry-level D-SLR, though its price and features seem to place it a couple of rungs up the ladder.

    Pentax K-x Review: Overview

    The key features include a new 12.4 megapixel sensor, Live View with contrast detection AF (and Face Detection) and a High-Definition 1,280×720 movie mode running at 24 frames per second (fps). Where most basic SLRs are content to stumble along at a modest 3fps in Continuous Shooting mode, the K-x can shoot at 4.7fps. You get an 11-point autofocus system, built-in anti-shake (and Pentax’s is the best), plus a dust-removal system with a dust alert mode to highlight any debris clinging to the sensor and an on-demand cleaning cycle to shift it.

    Unusually, the K-x runs on a set of four AAs rather than a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Pentax claims up to 1,300 shots on a set of lithium disposables, and our camera managed a couple of hundred on a set of alkalines and still displayed full power at the end of it (though it did drop into the red during more intense spells of shooting).

    Pentax K-x Review: Overview
    Pentax K-x Review:  Image Quality
    Pentax K-x Review:  Verdict
    Pentax K-x Review: Price, Specifications and Product Images

    Pentax K-x Review: Image Quality

    Pentax continues to incorporate the kind of features that won’t make the headlines but will make a difference to your shots. Dynamic range is one of these. In previous models, Pentax has incorporated a dynamic range expansion feature that appears to selectively adjust the ISO in real time in different parts of the scene – much better than postprocessing fixes such as Nikon’s D-Lighting. It’s now been enhanced so that you can opt to increase highlight and shadow detail independently. It works, too. JPEGs show the kind of extra highlight detail you would previously have needed to shoot RAW to achieve. There’s also a dedicated HDR mode, which shoots two different exposures and blends them in-camera. A tripod is needed to ensure the two shots line up, but it works pretty well.

    Common bugbears with D-SLRs (or rather their lenses) are chromatic aberration and distortion. Pentax’s 18-55mm lens suffers from both, but the K-x can process them out, and it does a very good job of it too. However, it can’t fix the edge softness that’s also a characteristic of this lens, which appears to be a cheapened version of Pentax’s usual 18-55mm with a plastic rear mount and no distance scale on the focus ring. There are some autofocus issues, too. First, the kit lens sounds more like a coffee grinder than a lens. This is more serious than it might seem, because it colours your whole impression of the camera. It makes you think the K-x itself is crude, even agricultural, and it’s not.

    The other downside is that there’s no AF point illumination in the viewinder. Why have an 11-point focus system if you can’t tell which AF point’s being used? This seems like a serious omission. However, the new control layout is a success. Pentax has abandoned its sloppy, multi-directional control pads in favour of single, separate buttons, and an interactive interface that lets you select an icon for the setting you want to adjust, then spin the control wheel to change the setting.

    Picture quality is striking. The definition is about what you’d expect from a 12-megapixel APS-C sensor and a modest kit lens, but the colour and contrast is terrific. Some may find them too rich, but if you’re an ex-film user who misses the depth and vibrancy of Velvia or Sensia, say, this is like coming home.

    Pentax K-x Review: Overview
    Pentax K-x Review:  Image Quality
    Pentax K-x Review:  Verdict
    Pentax K-x Review: Price, Specifications and Product Images

     

    Pentax K-x Review: Verdict

    Features: 5/5

    On the surface, the K-x is a starter camera; underneath it’s got real appeal for enthusiasts.

    Performance: 4/5

    Great image quality, weak lens. With no illumination and noisy motors, the slick AF system is wasted.


    Handling:  4/5

    The K-x is laid out like an old-school camera, so will please beginners and experienced photographers.

    Build quality: 4/5

    The body is good; the controls have been rethought and reworked, and it’s really helped.

    Value for money: 4/5

    If you look at it as a starter camera, the K-x is expensive, but you certainly get your money’s worth.

    Other makers concentrate on smooth, slick, electronic inesse before hands-on photographic tools. Pentax does it the other way round. First impressions can be negative as a result, but the K-x reafirms Pentax’s forte: making gutsy, old-style SLRs.
     
    Pentax K-x Review: Overview
    Pentax K-x Review:  Image Quality
    Pentax K-x Review:  Verdict
    Pentax K-x Review: Price, Specifications and Product Images

    Pentax K-x Specifications, Price and Product Images
     

    RRP: £600
    Image sensor: 12.4 megapixels, 23.6 x 15.8mm
    Focal length conversion: 1.5x
    Viewfinder: Yes
    Lens mount: Pentax KAF2
    Memory: SD/SDHC, none supplied
    Metering modes: Multi-zone, Centre-weighted, Spot
    Focusing modes: 11-point auto (Multi-zone, Spot), Manual
    Shutter speed: 30 to 1/6000 sec, Bulb
    Integral flash: GN12 at ISO100
    Flash sync: 1/180 sec
    Flash modes: Auto, on, off, red-eye, slow synch, rear curtain, hotshoe
    Drive modes: Single, continuous, self-timer
    ISO sensitivity: ISO 200 – 6400 (100 – 12800 ‘expanded’)
    Exposure modes P,A,S,M, Sensitivity-priority, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night Scene Portrait, Flash-Off, Night Scene, Surf&Snow, Food, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight, Museum
    LCD monitor: 2.7 inch colour, 230,000 pixels
    Weight 515g
    Battery life: 1100 (lithium disposables), 420 (NiMH), 130 (alkaline), CIPA
    Power supply: 4xAA
    Transfer: USB 2.0 High Speed
    Software: Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4

    Pentax K-x Review: Overview
    Pentax K-x Review:  Image Quality
    Pentax K-x Review:  Verdict
    Pentax K-x Review: Price, Specifications and Product Images


    Posted on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 at 9:49 am under Reviews.

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