An entry-level DSLR featuring facets of its more advanced sibling – too good to be true?...
Features page 2
The camera accepts AA batteries, one of the few cameras to do so, and Pentax claims battery consumption has been reduced by a factor of eight. Not only does this offer extended shooting, but AA batteries are readily available worldwide and, environmentally, lower battery consumption has to be a good thing – especially if using rechargeables.
Pentax cameras have always been about ease of use, so, along with a much improved menu and a more sensible sub-menu naming convention, the camera is equipped with a host of subject-based modes. The usual suspects of Portrait, Landscape, Sport and so on are included, but so are eight others such as Moving kids, Food and Pet modes to name just three.
There’s an ‘Auto Pict’ mode that selects the scene mode for you, just in case you don’t know what you’re taking pictures of, as well as the usual PASM options for more experienced users. Pentax has also added a Sensitivity priority AE mode (Sv) which, rather than take pictures with an added sense of empathy, adjusts the ISO speed to the prevailing lighting conditions.
Interestingly, Pentax has recalibrated the ISO settings; while the K100D offered ISO 200 to 3200, the K200D has downgraded this to a range from ISO 100 to 1600. This is probably in order to lessen noise levels and is likely to be in response to demands for lower sensitivity, but it’s an interesting move when other manufacturers are trying to push the speed into higher sensitivities, though not always successfully.
In other areas the camera conforms to the expected standards of an entry-level DSLR. Shutter speeds range from 30 to 1/4000sec and Bulb for longer exposures, and metering options include evaluative, centreweighted and spot. The 11-point AF system is the same as seen on previous models, and the AF points can be set automatically by the camera or individually selected by the user. The metering can also be tied to the selected AF point for greater accuracy when needed.
The built-in flash offers a guide number of 13m at ISO 100, which is fairly standard, while a hotshoe accepts Pentax-dedicated flash units. Wireless flash operation is available using the pop-up flash as either master or controller and standard flash modes covering red-eye reduction, auto flash and so on are also available.
Exposure compensation and auto bracketing are possible over ± 2EV, which is also complemented by flash exposure compensation over the same range.
There’s a choice of colour modes, with sRGB and Adobe RGB, as well as a number of preset colour/custom image functions, such as Portrait, Landscape and so on. These are essentially advanced scene modes. Each of these can be customised via hue, saturation, contrast and sharpness sliders. A colour wheel displays as this is done, which seems slightly advanced for the majority of users, but you don’t have to fully understand it to use it and it looks good as a graphic device.