The Pentax K-7 is the company's first pro-grade DSLR, and it's been a long time coming. What Digital Camera tests out the K7...
Performance page 1
Pentax K-7 review – Performance
Pentax K-7 review – AF system
With an 11-point AF system, as per the K20D, the onus isn’t on throwing additional focus points at the K-7’s system. Instead Pentax has improved the focus algorithms over previous generation K-series cameras with the introduction of the SAFOX VIII+ system. The result, at least in continuous focusing mode, is a significant improvement on previous performance. However, that’s Pentax vs Pentax, and the Nikon D300 or Canon 50D certainly both offer more advanced autofocus and AF-C performance. On the one hand the improvement is pleasing, and yet it’s just a little below the bar, which may come as a disappointment to many users.
There’s also a new AF illuminator lamp, though in some cases it fails to deploy to assist with focus. Furthermore, flat surfaces or single colour planes can cause difficulty with the camera’s ability to attain focus. For single shot however, the AF is more than ample and does its job well; the focus points light up red in-camera when focus is attained – this is also particularly handy when manually focusing too.
Pentax K-7 review – Continuous shooting:
From a faster autofocusing system to a faster continuous burst rate, the Pentax K-7 can whirr off a bundle of shots inside a single second – 5.2 to be exact. This works up to 15 shots when shooting Raw files, or 40 frames when shooting JPEG, using a Panasonic 4GB silver class SD. Once you’ve hit that wall the buffer does clog up though, and you’ll be waiting a number of seconds before it’s totally free to shoot again. You can interrupt after a few seconds and continue to shoot, though not at the same speed. When the on-camera flash is deployed it’s possible to shoot between 2-3 frames per second, given the time taken for the power to juice the flash back up to full.
Pentax K-7 review – Shake Reduction / Image Stabilisation
The in-camera Shake Reduction is one of the key sell points for the K-7. Without getting into the argument of whether sensor-based or lens-based stabilisation is better, given the backwards compatibility with old K-mount lenses in-camera sensor-based is sensible option. Not only does this offer stabilisation for lenses of old, but crucially keeps the costs down upon purchasing new glass too. For those on a more sensible budget this should really speak volumes when considering which system to adopt. Were you to opt for, say, the Nikon D300 then you’d need to fork out considerably more money to buy into stabilised lenses, whereas Pentax equivalents will be more sparing on your purse. Should you intend to use or buy into a number of lenses then it’s always worth considering the additional cost these will bring over time.
In action the Shake Reduction really does stabilise your images. With a claim to four stops, it seems actively effective to two – at least, that is, if you want to keep a sharp frame. In testing at around 1/15th second handheld there was a minor difference, though with longer exposures of 1/8th second and beyond there was notable retention of detail. Certainly a thumbs up. However, disappointingly, there are no options to specify horizontal or vertical shake reduction only – it’s either ‘off or on’, which may be a little disappointing for those who intend to pan fast-moving subjects.
Pentax K-7 review – movie mode
The K-7 was the first DSLR in its class to introduce a movie function, which was quickly followed by the recent announcement of the Nikon D300s and, daresay, Canon is more than likely to be hot on the heels soon after. But Pentax has come through with a first – offering 720p HD recording (termed as ‘0.9M 16:9’ in the menu) plus a higher resolution 1536×1080 mode (termed as ‘1.6M 3:2’ in the menu – though note this isn’t ‘Full HD’) which can be upscaled to conform to a 16:9 output at 1080i.
As more manufacturers allow the ability for autofocus in movie modes, this is a notably lacking from the K-7’s functionality. It’s entirely possible that at a later stage, by a future firmware update, that this level of functionality could be introduced. Cross your fingers as it seems this camera can only get better over time. Manual focus whilst recording is smooth, but the format of a DSLR camera makes it tricky to adjust the lens whilst holding the body at the same time – an unavoidable conflict.<!–
Pentax K-7 review pages:
– Page 1: Pentax K-7 review – Features & Design
– Page 2: Pentax K-7 review – Performance
– Page 3: Pentax K-7 review – Performance (cont.)
– Page 4: Pentax K-7 review – Image Quality & Value
– Page 5: Pentax K-7 review specifications / specs
– Page 6: Pentax K-7 review verdict
Pentax K-7 review – other What Digital Camera links: