Is Pentax on to a winner with its first K mount DSLR featuring a shake-reduction system?....
Pentax K100D Review
The K100D features a Pentax K-mount, though now with Auto Focus, and will accept all lenses in the mount, as well as other Pentax optics, such as the 645 lenses, if used with an adaptor.
The most striking thing about the K100D is the camera’s shake-reduction system. This was the first Pentax to feature it, followed by the K10D. Like Minolta and Sony cameras, the K100D uses a moving CCD to reduce camera shake. In this case, the CCD is floating in air, positioned between a pair of electromagnets. Like the Japanese bullet train, this allows fast movements to be made because the gyros in the camera detect the direction of the movement and change the position of the sensor in the opposite direction.
As an entry-level model, the K100D doesn’t have the new dust-reduction system of the K10D, which shakes dust free at start-up. The shake reduction is also what separates this camera from the other new model, the K110D, which has a fixed sensor.
Pentax has improved its autofocus system, by using a new module, the SAFOX III, with 11 individually selectable points, which can also be tied in to the metering. Pentax DSLRs have always offered plenty of metering and exposure options and the K100D continues this. For the novice the camera has an Auto Picture mode. This feature is similar to Auto mode on other cameras, and then some. It will also automatically select a scene mode by recognising the type of subject. It picks from Portrait, Landscape, Sport and Macro modes. You can choose these scene settings individually on the mode dial, along with Night Portrait. A further eight scene modes are available via the SCN position on the dial. This allows you to access, via the Function button and LCD monitor, scenes such as Snow, Fireworks, Museum and so on.
More advanced modes are available for the more knowledgeable, including a Program mode, as well as Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE and Manual. A Bulb setting also allows long exposure.
Metering options are fairly standard, with centreweighted and spot metering alongside the Multi-segment favourite. There’s also ±2EV exposure compensation and auto-exposure bracketing should you feel a little unsure, or need a safeguard. There’s also a reasonably fast drive speed of 2.8fps in continuous drive mode.
On top of all that, the camera offers sensitivity from ISO 200-3200. Pentax claims that this is the highest top speed in its class, though the actual levels are the same as several other cameras – then again, the Pentax starts at a higher sensitivity to begin with. The K100D also features a selectable Noise Reduction function within the menu.
Some of the other key specifications of the camera include a bright 2.5inch LCD, with 210,000 pixels for sharpness, and up to 12x magnification for checking detail and sharpness. The LCD can also be viewed at up to 140° viewing angles horizontally and vertically. For composition the camera viewfinder has 0.85x magnification and offers 96% viewing.
No less than 19 custom functions allow personalisation. For example, you have the option of switching AF start to the OK button instead of the shutter release button. This allows you to use manual focus, while giving an AF option should you need it. There are many other similar customisation options – well, 18 more.
The camera uses SD for storage, with the option to set up day-to-day folders, for easier browsing or picture organisation, and images can be stored as JPEG or RAW but not, alas, as both. The images can be quickly downloaded via USB 2.0, and of course the K100D is PictBridge-enabled for optimised direct printing with compatible printers.
If you want to use your PC less, the Pentax K100D comes complete with digital filter effects including black & white, sepia, colour, soft focus, slimming and brightness. The last four can be adjusted using the rear command dial, and a new image is saved, leaving the original unchanged.
Finally the camera is supplied with Pentax Photo Browser 3.0, incorporating Ichikawa Soft Laboratory’s SilkyPix engine for RAW conversion.