An entry-level DSLR featuring facets of its more advanced sibling – too good to be true?...
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Sometimes cameras feature major, headlining technological breakthroughs that consequently become standard on all other models. An example is dust reduction, first seen on the Olympus E-1 and now a common feature on most DSLRs. Sometimes, however, cameras merely follow the lead and update to the latest technology already in use elsewhere. The K200D is pretty much in the latter camp, though with a couple of surprises up its sleeve.
With the company previously being one of the last to feature the long-lived 6MP CCD used in early consumer DSLRs, the first major upgrade is the incorporation of a 10.2MP CCD. This brings it up to speed with competing DSLRs from Sony, Nikon and so forth, and helps to separate entry-level cameras from high-end models, as more and more manufacturers switch to CMOS-type sensors. Pentax’s collaboration with Samsung should also seal the deal in future cameras, with Samsung supplying the CMOS sensor as in the K20D, breaking Sony’s near-monopoly on sensor supply as with the previous generation of 6MP sensors in past DSLRs.
The sensor is backed up with the PRIME processor, last seen on the semi-pro K20D, promising improved processing and low noise. Of course, the larger file sizes mean a greater drain on processing power, and the K200D offers a rather disappointing burst speed of 2.8fps over just four JPEGs or Raw files. In low continuous-shooting mode, the camera maintains 1.1fps until the SD card is full. This is an area in which Pentax has always been a little behind, going back to the original *ist where other manufacturers offered faster and longer continuous shooting bursts. Come on Pentax, pull your finger out!
The next major modification to the camera is the larger 2.7in LCD – again, keeping it in line with its competitors – while the new Dynamic Range Enlargement feature is also something we’ve seen in Nikon and Sony models, for example. Similarly the new Dust Alert system, which joins the established CCD-vibrating dust removal, is something that is increasingly being incorporated into other cameras, albeit under different names.
Where Pentax is pushing the boundaries and offering something genuinely new to the entry-level market is in the camera’s build. The K200D offers dust and water protection with 60 seals to prevent damage in hostile environments. We expect this in higher-level models so it is great to see it in an entry-level model – not least because most people take their cameras on holiday, and beaches or ski slopes aren’t always the friendliest environments for delicate electronic instruments such as digital cameras.
The camera has other surprises, too. Many of the tools of the K20D are featured, such as the separate Raw button to quickly change file format from JPEG when you want to take higher-quality pictures. Some in-camera post-capture digital tools also make an appearance, such as a High Dynamic Range tool (HDR), digital filters and Raw to JPEG conversion. You also have the option of saving files in Pentax’s native PEF Raw format or the universal-wannabe DNG format. Consumer-friendly tools such as a slimming filter are also included, useful for flattering pictures of bigger-boned relatives.