Pentax K-x review
Review Date : Mon, 14 Dec 2009
Author : Matt Golowczynski
Pentax K-x review: Impressive features meet portability in Pentax's latest DSLR
|Pros:||Plenty of useful features, easy and fun to use, AA batteries available everywhere|
|Cons:||No illumination of AF points, menu system a little dated, no rubberised thumb-rest|
Pentax may only have a small share of the DSLR market compared to Canon and Nikon, but the handful of DSLRs the company has released during the past few years have been just as well regarded. In fact, the different route Pentax has taken gives the system a few advantages over the competition, helping to both maintain a dedicated user base and catch the attention of newcomers.
While the K-7 is pitched at enthusiasts, the (now discontinued) K-m catered for novices. Accordingly, the K-x sits somewhere between the two and is described as an upper-class entry-level model. Using the K-m as a template, it has some impressive additional functionality built in, including a video facility first seen on the K-7. But against some warmly received competitors, what advantages does it offer?
Pentax K-x review - Features
Given its positioning, competitors to the K-x include the Canon EOS 500D and Nikon D5000. It features a CMOS sensor of APS-C dimensions, with an effective pixel count of 12.4MP - this produces images at a maximum resolution of 4288 x 2848 pixels. As with previous Pentax DSLRs, RAW recording is offered in both PEF and DNG formats - the latter instantly compatible with Adobe's suite of editing programs - with JPEG capture offered alongside.
The sensor itself is fitted with a Shake Reduction system that claims to compensate for up to a maximum four stops of exposure. So an image that would ordinarily require a shutter speed of 1/60sec could possibly be captured sharp as low as 1/4sec. This also works during movie capture, where the camera is capable of recording 24fps footage at a resolution of 1280 x 720p, which meets the minimum requirements for High Definition capture. It's not quite as highly specified as on the K-7 - there's no input for external microphones, for example, which confines audio recording to mono capture - but at this price this isn't exactly unexpected.
With movie recording comes live view, which offers both phase- and contrast-detection autofocus, together with face detection which recognises up to 16 faces in a scene before adjusting its settings accordingly. It's also possible to set a live histogram over the feed, as well as a grid overlay to help with composition.
Also on offer is a full selection of exposure modes, the scope of which is unlikely to disappoint either novice or advanced users.
PASM controls feature as standard, and are joined by Sensitivity-Priority, Bulb and Auto options, along with a range of scene presets. Complementing these are a range of effects and shooting modes, such as the 16 Digital Filters which allow the user to apply effects such as Toy Camera, Soft and High-Contrast styles to images, prior to their capture. There's also an effect to mimic the look of cross-processed film, though should you want to get even more creative, a HDR mode is on hand which captures three varying exposures of the same scene, before blending them into a single composite image.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that these features mean the K-x is geared purely for fun, but certain other features show a more sober side, and a competent one too. Continuous shooting, for example, is possible at a maximum rate of 4.7fps - eclipsing the frame rates of the Canon 500D and Nikon D5000 - while the SAFOX VIII 11-point AF system includes nine cross-type sensors in its centre. Furthermore, when using DA and D FA optics, the camera can be set to compensate for both distortion and lateral chromatic aberration.
Pentax is also said to have made improvements with the camera's circuit design to maximise battery performance, going so far as to claim that with lithium batteries the camera can last for up to 1,900 shots. The fact that it uses AA cells as opposed to a single rechargeable lithium type is an issue which tends to divide opinion. I find it slightly more inconvenient to charge and load four small batteries than one larger one, but this wouldn't dissuade me from buying a camera. The advantage of AA cells being available almost anywhere shouldn't be underestimated either.
Using the 100mm macro lens at its widest aperture, it is possible to obtain very limited depth of field. 1/160sec @ f/2.8, Pentax smc 100mm Macro f/2.8, ISO 160, Evaluative metering, +1EV, AWB