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Pentax KP review

It’s another interesting 24-megapixel SLR from Pentax, but what does it have that the K-70 doesn’t?

Our Verdict

The KP is an interesting camera, but it lags behind the cheaper K-70 in a couple of key areas and doesn’t deliver enough to justify its much higher price. It’s compact, sturdy and packed with photographic features, but we’re left thinking Pentax should now invest in rationalising and modernising its lens range, not launching new cameras.

For

  • Tough, weatherproof construction
  • In-body image stabilization
  • ISO 819,200 maximum

Against

  • Expensive compared to the K-70
  • No hybrid AF system
  • Weak battery life for a DSLR

The KP’s headline specification is its maximum ISO 819,200 sensitivity setting. You also get Pentax’s SR Shake Reduction System II system; a high-resolution Pixel Shift mode; an anti-aliasing filter ‘simulation’; and a magnesium alloy body with 67 seals to make it dustproof, weather-resistant and ‘freezeproof’ down to -10°C.

The KP also offers a range of interesting photographic options, including depth of field bracketing and motion (shutter speed) bracketing with no exposure shift.

Build and handling

The KP has no fewer than three control dials: one each on the front, the top and the rear. The top dial works alongside a Smart Function dial for access to HDR capture, auto-exposure metering, continuous shooting and three custom user modes.

The front-mounted dial gives the KP a unique look, but it also compromises the height of the grip, so you might find your hold on the camera isn’t as good, especially as you turn the dial. If you don’t like the size or the feel of the grip, you can change it for one of two others.

Performance

Our KP was supplied with a Pentax 20-40mm f/2.8-4 ED ‘Limited’ lens, which highlights the variation in autofocus performance across the Pentax range. This lens has a built-in autofocus motor, but it’s quite noisy. 

Even in high-contrast lighting, the KP holds onto shadow and highlight detail well, and better than many rival cameras.

The KP produced good exposure, white balance and colour rendition. It delivers better quality at higher ISOs than you’d expect from an APS-C sensor; shooting in the DNG format, however, the top three sensitivity settings were spoiled by noise and a strong magenta cast. 

The quoted 390-shot battery life is a disappointment in a digital SLR camera, however.