Posts Tagged ‘Cameras’

PENTAX K-r Review

Text and Images by Allison Gibson

Updated & Fuss-Free Entry-Level DSLR

The K-r falls into the PENTAX lineup as an entry-to-mid-range DSLR, most similar to last year’s K-x (reviewed here), with upgrades that bring it a few notches up toward the flagship K-7. The 12.4-megapixel K-r comes in red, white or black (I reviewed the red model, which attracted the attention and compliments of plenty of onlookers), and at $849.95 MSRP, the kit includes a DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.

Although the K-r is in fact feature-packed, there’s the sense that the camera is refreshingly gimmick-free and straightforward in its intention to be, first and foremost, a tool for capturing quality images. Its ease of use is just what a photographer might want when making the move from, say, a prosumer compact digicam to the world of SLR shooting.

Design & Ease of Use

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Despite its compact size and plastic body construction (the lens mount is stainless steel), the K-r feels like a serious piece of equipment in-hand; it is heavy enough to feel sturdy and yet light enough to hang from your neck for extended periods. Note that’s ever so slightly larger than the petite K-x. Another feature to make the shooting experience feel undoubtedly professional is the loud, satisfying click of the shutter release. The layout of menu buttons, the big wedge of a handgrip, the contoured thumb grip on the back, and the placement of the shutter release all align for shooting comfort. The 3-inch LCD with Live View is impressively bright and clear, having been bumped up in resolution from that of the K-x (921,000 dot versus 230,000). And then there’s the viewfinder, with its thick rubber padding—especially comfortable when standing with an eye smashed against it for long stretches of time while photographing surfers, as I did. Once again PENTAX has included the green button on the camera—this time right behind the shutter release where it can be accessed quickly and easily—which can be programmed to quick-jump to a feature of the photographer’s choice so as to bypass wading through many layers of digital menu.

The K-r shoots stills in JPEG and RAW and 720p High Definition video in .AVI format. Memory records to SD/SDHC memory cards, with the option now for SDXC memory card compatibility via a firmware update. Another smart upgrade is the fact that the camera is Li-Ion battery compatible and can also be adapted to use AA batteries, so that the photographer has flexibility—incredibly important for traveling to a place where you might not have access to outlets for charging.


Night Scene HDR versus Auto Picture Mode
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PENTAX has loaded the smallish, stylish K-r with options for advanced shooting—Manual, Program, Sensitivity Priority, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority—but they have also made it easy to capture in Auto Picture mode and through scene modes tailored for specific shooting situations, such as: sunset, surf & snow, night, and kids & pets for fast-moving subjects. New to the K-r is the built-in Night Scene HDR mode which captures three images, with exposure optimized for dim lighting, to generate a single HDR (High Dynamic Range) image. I actually found that the Night Scene HDR mode worked well in daytime shade, helping me to capture close-up shots of howler monkeys in the jungle of Costa Rica without a disturbing flash. In addition to scene modes, the K-r includes a similar menu of Digital Filters to that of the K-x. In reviewing the K-x last year I was slightly dismayed by the filter that tries to replicate the look of shooting with a Fish Eye lens, and had hoped that an upgrade would be made this time around, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. The other filters, Toy Camera in particular, are fun to use.

For shooting action, the fast 6fps burst capture capability was great, and the built-in optional Shake Reduction feature was extremely helpful in snapping sharp shots of fast-moving subjects when I didn’t have a tripod. The advanced 11 point SAFOX IX autofocus system tracked the subjects quickly as they sped across the frame, with additional aid from the AF assist lamp.

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Once again PENTAX has produced a stylish, intuitive mid-range DSLR that takes quality pictures, all for a very competitive price. With upgrades including a higher-resolution LCD, built-in HDR capability, faster 6fps capture, and an advanced autofocus system—all for under $900, including the lens (found for less than MSRP elsewhere), the K-r is a serious piece of equipment to consider as a first DSLR or even an upgrade.

Pentax K-r

  • MSRP:
  • $849.95 (comes with a DA L 18-55mm lens)
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4.9”W x 3.8”H x 2.7”D; 19.7 oz., loaded
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12.4-megapixels, CMOS, 23.6 x 15.8mm
  • Maximum Resolution:
  • 4288 x 2848
  • Still Recording Format:
  • RAW (PEF, DNG), JPG (EXIF 2.21), DCF 2.0 (design rule for camera file system), DPOF, Print Image Matching III Movie (compression): AVI (motion JPG)
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • HD: 1280×720 (16:9) at 25fps in .AVI format
  • Memory:
  • Display:
  • 3-inch TFT color LCD (921,000 dots), wide angle, Live View; Optical Viewfinder (96% Magnification)
  • Exposure Modes:
  • Program, Sensitivity Priority, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Metered Manual, Video; AutoPicture, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night scene portrait, Flash off; Scene modes: Night scene, Surf & Snow, Food, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight, Museum, Stagelight, Night snap, Night scene HDR
  • Sensitivity:
  • ISO 200-12800, expand to 100-25600
  • Exposure Metering:
  • TTL open aperture, 16 segment metering Sensitivity range: EV 1-21.5 (ISO 200, 50mm F1.4); Multi-pattern, center-weight, spot
  • Special Features:
  • Built-in pop-up flash, Live View, Face Detection, Creative Filter Modes (Toy Camera, Monochrome, Retro, Color, High Contrast, Soft, Extract Color, Star Burst, Sketch, Water Color, Pastel, Miniature, Slim, HDR, Posterization, Base Parameter Adjustment, Custom)
  • Lens Mount:
  • PENTAX KAF2 bayonet stainless steel mount; Usable lenses: PENTAX KAF3, KAF2, KAF, KA (K mount, 35mm screwmount, 645/67 med format lenses useable w adapter and/or restrictions)
  • Provided Accessories:
  • Li-Ion Battery D-LI109, Battery Charge Cradle K-BC109, AC Plug Cord, USB Cable I-USB7, Strap O-ST53, Hotshoe Cover FK, Eyecup FQ, Body Mount Cover, Software CD-ROM S-SW110
  • Power Source:
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery D-LI109, AA BATTERY HOLDER D-BH109 (optional) for 4X AA
  • Contact:

Samsung Announces Five New Digital Cameras

Samsung today announced five new compact digital cameras—the ST30, ST6500, ST95, ST90 and ST65. The 16-megapixel, 5x zoom ST6500 (pictured above) continues with its predecessor (the compact ST5000)’s ergonomic, angled design, and also features a wide 3-inch LCD touch screen and a built-in image editing and creative shooting tool suite that includes Magic Frame and Smart Filter 2.0. Available in March for $229, the ST6500 is the highest priced of the newly launched point-and-shoots. The 10MP ST30 will be available in March for $99.99, and the 16MP ST95, 14MP ST90 and 14MP ST65 will be out in February for $199.99, $149.99 and $129.99, respectively. More from Samsung below:

Samsung ST30, ST95, ST90 and ST65
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Hands-on with Sony HX7V and TX100V

Sony DSC-HX7V and DSC-TX100V

CES 2011, Las VegasSony‘s latest Cyber-shot announcements stood out this week at CES because they are the world’s first compact digital still cameras to include 3D Still Image mode using only one lens and imager, wherein the camera takes “two shots in different focus positions to calculate the depths, and then it creates left-eye and right-eye images to produce a 3D effect.” I was excited to check out two of these compact 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor cameras in particular on the show floor—the HX7V and the TX100V. The HX7V follows last year’s HX5V, and carries over many of its features, including Sony’s “Exmor R” back-illuminated CMOS sensor technology, but it also has upgrades such as 3D image capture using 3D Sweep Panorama mode or the new 3D Still Image mode. I really like the way this slim camera feels in-hand because it has a little weight to it and a textured rubber grip on the front. It feels solid and expensive (and, well, you can make the call about the latter claim; it’s priced at $300 as of now). The TX100V is the first Cyber-shot to have a 3.5-inch OLED with touch screen, which Sony claims provides more vibrancy and a faster response time than an LCD. The touch screen was very responsive when I tested it out. It’s a gorgeous little camera that packs a lot of features—actual fun, useful features—into its sleek little body, and I’d love to spend even more time with it soon.

Sony DSC-HX7V (image 1) and Sony DSC-TX100V (images 2-4)
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Hands-on GE’s New Superzoom Camera & Waterproof Pocket Camcorder

CES 2011, Las Vegas—GE has long been a household name, though not necessarily when it comes to digital imaging. Over the past few years, however, they have been creeping into the digital camera market with their stylish and very competitively priced digicams. The new lineup from CES 2011 includes some cameras that should put the brand on the map when it comes to affordable, feature-packed compact cameras and camcorders. The ultra compact, 15x zoom GE PowerPro X500 is shaped like most other longzoom compacts, with an exaggerated grip and a lot of glass shining on the front, but the body is even smaller than most I’ve seen in the category. And the price? Well, that’s also much smaller at $149 (tentatively). The 16-megapixel X500 has an electronic view finder, in-camera HDR mode, optical image stabilization, supports ISOs up to 3200, shoots HD video (720p), and comes in black or a polished white color. The zoom was very smooth when I played with it and the view finder was a nice, more professional-feeling touch, though it was quite tiny and I had to squint pretty hard to look through it.

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The waterproof, shockproof, dustproof GE DV1 pocket camcorder was another nice surprise from the new lineup. At $129 (tentatively) it is also much more affordable than its competitors, and records full 1080p HD video. The DV1, though very compact and cutely styled, feels pretty solid in-hand due to its metal chassis, and it also features a 2.5-inch LCD and built-in USB. The DV1 has a 4x zoom and shoots 5MP still images, even when in video record mode. I can see this being a fun family pocket camcorder, which will withstand the kind of trauma a family who has fun with put it through.


Hands-on with Olympus PEN E-PL2

CES 2011, Las Vegas—I can confirm now that the new Olympus PEN E-PL2 is, in fact, more ergonomically comfortable, the layout more functional. The on/off button is now recessed so that there’s no chance of clicking it rather than the shutter release. After all, that was one of the resolved issues that Olympus touted when they announced this new, fourth generation compact, interchangeable lens PEN camera on Wednesday. There aren’t so many other noticeable changes from the PEN E-PL1, though the 460,000 dot LCD is much brighter than that of its predecessor. The new camera was modeled on its predecessor—and underwent a few little tweaks based on user feedback—in order to emerge as this slightly altered, still feature-packed, powerful image maker in a small package. The Art Filters (still the most well done out of any I’ve seen from the several companies who now include similar modes in their equipment), the Live Guide feature, the Intelligent Auto mode, and the DSLR-sized image sensor were all carried over from the previous model. Think of it as a face lift, really—the subtle kind that makes a person look refreshed rather than scary.

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