Pentax K-7 review

Image Quality & Value

Pentax K-7 review - Image Quality

Pentax K-7 review - Tone & Exposure

The K-7 comes equipped with a 77 segment metering system, which is a significant rise compared to the K20D’s 16-segment version. As such images are better exposed, though there can be cases of underexposure. Granted this is not a huge problem and is generally better than overexposing. When shooting Raw on a low ISO more detail can be pulled back from the shadows, whereas blown highlights tend to be irretrievable. To the K-7’s credit there is also a D-Range Setting in the menu, which allows for Highlight Correction to be switched on or off, plus a three-step Shadow Correction function too. Both these are relatively subtle, but do work – particularly the highlight correction which pulls in additional detail; notable in skies or similar exposure areas. 

 

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On the camera’s LCD screen images may appear better exposed than when they reach your computer. For this reason it’s a good idea to review histograms when shooting so you can recognise the correct level of detail in an image.

 

Pentax K-7 review - RAW/JPEG


The K-7 offers simultaneous Raw & JPEG shooting, with a choice of Pentax PEF format or the universal Adobe DNG. The difference between the two is negligible, but against JPEG there is a notable difference. Whilst Raw files come from camera with more realistic, albeit flatter tones and less notable noise, JPEGs appear sharpened, noisier and even a little brighter. It’s possible to get a more pleasing result from Raw file in post production if you have the time on your hands, that’s certainly the best way to get the most out of the K-7.

 

Pentax K-7 review - Image Noise

 

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Image noise is inevitable from all cameras, and the K-7’s images are very clean through ISO 100-400 thanks to the PRIME II image processing engine. Noise begins to noticeably creep in from ISO 800, though 1600 to 6400 are considerably grainy. However, as the image retains its definition in the detail, down to small pixel areas, it’s not particularly destructive noise, but that’s not to ignore its presence. ISO 6400 certainly has pronounced grain and isn’t an option you’ll want to use often. Overall very good, though not class-leading.

 

Pentax K-7 review - Sharpness & Detail


Use the K-7 18-55mm kit lens and expect a little less than sharp images, though chromatic aberration is kept to a minimum throughout its focal range. Additional lenses will perform considerably better, even old prime lenses like the 77mm (roughly 115mm when mounted on the K-7) f1.8 can produce some fantastic results. In terms of resolution, the 14.6MP CMOS sensor performs well, with undeniably resolute images.

 

Pentax K-7 review - Value

Pound for pound the K-7 offers a near class-leading features list and, for the £1230 asking price, pits itself squarely against the Nikon D300 and Canon 50D. However, with the current weak Japanese Yen, a lot of imported electronics products are suffering from rising prices – the Canon 50D’s body only SRP is now £1370, though shop around and over £500 can quickly be shaved from this. Considering the new Nikon D300s has a body only SRP of £1500, the K-7 just manages to undercut these competitors in the price war. That said, it doesn’t feel like a particularly savvy asking price. Whilst Pentax has a core of avid users, the company would benefit from encouraging other photographers to planet Pentax – but the price doesn’t boldly undercut competition. That’s not to devalue what is an excellent product, but a ‘more kit for your money’ approach would surely speak volumes in stores. As it stands it’s relative good value when positioned against its competitors, but whether that’ll be enough to convince the general public is another matter.