An entry-level DSLR featuring facets of its more advanced sibling – too good to be true?...
Raw and JPEG. It’s debatable which is better, JPEG or PEF, in terms of image quality, especially when processed in Photoshop. Raw files always have the edge over JPEGs, but at the best quality setting JPEGs display few artefacts and little reduction in quality to the naked eye.
I’ve frequently found Pentax cameras to err on the side of underexposure, which could be argued to be a good thing, as this maintains highlight detail. Consumers prefer bright and punchy images, so criticism could be levelled at any entry-level camera that doesn’t achieve this. However, I would say the K200D achieves brighter images than the K20D, with more consistently correct JPEGs and rare failures. When it does get it wrong it tends to be with pictures with lots of sky, or particularly tricky subjects, such as dominant highlights or shadows. This is where experience comes in and correction using spot metering or exposure compensation solves any problems.
Shooting right up to ISO 1600 there’s minimal loss of quality and the K200D actually exceeded my expectations of its high-sensitivity settings, especially considering the high pixel count of the CCD.
Tone and Contrast
I like the punchy results from the K200D, which, in conjunction with good exposure, are accurate and pleasing. The only puzzlement comes from studying the meta-data in the images, which shows the camera randomly choosing hard or soft contrast, despite the fact that I shot at default settings in Aperture Priority mode.
Colour and White Balance
Generally the colour is accurate and the camera does a good job of maintaining excellent white balance in varying conditions. Daylight and shade are well maintained by the auto white balance, with few tweaks needed to correct, and JPEGs always look pleasant. In particular, I found that the Bright setting in the Image menu produced the best results.
Sharpness and Detail
At 10MP we expect decent sharpness and plenty of detail capture. However, high pixel counts can lead to a lack of sharpness due to camera shake. The in-camera image stabilisation overcomes this to a degree. Images rarely look too ‘digital’, and plenty of smooth detail is maintained