What Digital Camera’s review of the Pentax K-r discovers whether the K-r adds something extra to the recent run of promising Pentax DSLRs. Read our full Pentax K-r test…

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Pentax K-r

Overall score:87%
Image Quality:85%


  • Good low-mid ISO image quality


  • No video autofocus


Pentax K-r Review


Price as reviewed:

Launched in the latter half of 2010, the Pentax K-r sits in the middle of Pentax’s DSLR range, above the entry-level K-x but below the enthusiast K-7 and flagship K-5 models. The question then, is whether the K-r continues the company’s recent record for releasing innovative and competitively priced DSLR cameras? The What Digital Camera Pentax K-r review finds out…

Pentax K-r review – Features

Built around the same 12.4-megapixel CMOS sensor and Pentax PRIME II image processor used in the entry-level K-x, the Pentax K-r improves on the specifications of the K-x in several key areas and even outperforms the more expensive K-5 and K-7 models in some respects too.

Indeed, for a mid-range model the Pentax K-r boasts some pretty impressive headline specs. For example, the camera’s standard sensitivity runs from ISO 200-12,800 but can be expanded to ISO 100-25,600. In addition, the K-r is able to shoot continuously at six frames per second (6fps) – one frame more than the K-7 can muster. In addition, the K-r also benefits from Pentax’s in-camera, sensor-based Shake Reduction technology that allows for up to an apparent four stops of image stabilisation.

The Pentax K-r uses company’s latest SAFOX IX autofocus system that offers 11 AF points in total, nine of which are cross-type sensors. The cross-type AF points are arranged in a square (three rows of three) formation within the centre of the viewfinder, with two vertical line AF sensors located to either side on the horizontal plane, offering a fairly generous overall scene coverage. The liberal use of cross-type sensors also means that autofocus remains equally as accurate regardless of whether the camera is being used in portrait or landscape orientation.

Pentax K-r review sample image

Pentax K-r review sample image – click for full size gallery

The K-r offers the full range of Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority and Manual shooting modes (PSAM) along with a fully automatic point-and-shoot option. There’s also a Sensitivity priority option that allows you to select a desired ISO, leaving the camera to make all the other calculations. In addition, the K-r also offers a number of Scene options such as Portrait, Landscape, Macro and Moving Object.

Further adding to the Pentax K-r’s feature set are a number of creative digital filters and effects that can be shot in real time or applied to shots afterwards. These include such things as cross processing, toy camera effects, softening filters, starburst, a fisheye effect and a colour reversal filter. There are also distortion control and HDR modes available also. While advanced users might prefer to apply these effects using dedicated post-processing software, there’s no denying they are fun to play with in order to add instantaneous creative effects to your images. Plus, when shooting Raw + JPEG, you’ll always have the original unedited file to play with alongside the manipulated JPEG version.

One final thing that Strobist fans in particular will no doubt be pleased to learn is that the K-r supports wireless flash operation, meaning the pop-up flash can be used to operate a dedicated flashgun positioned off camera without the need for PocketWizard transmitters or similar such devices.

  1. 1. Pentax K-r review - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Movie/Video Mode
  6. 6. Value & Verdict
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