Posts Tagged ‘Pentax K-x’

Pentax Optio I-10 Review

Pentax Optio I-10 Review
Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

Retro Cool Compact

Similar to the white Pentax K-x D-SLR, the white Pentax Optio I-10 compact camera is eye-catching and envy-inducing—a beautiful object in the hand of the photographer. Weighing only 5.4-ounces, and measuring 1.1-inches thick, this ultra compact point-and-shoot is light and slim. And with the charming retro look of its pearl white body, the I-10 (which also comes in black) has style.

What’s Old is New

Because so many point-and-shoot cameras share similar specs and price points, manufacturers sometimes try to attract consumers by setting their cameras apart with style. Most camera makers opt to go the route of sleek and futuristic for these compacts, but Pentax has taken a look back for their style cues—back to the once beloved Pentax Auto 110 film camera. The new Optio I-10 (notice the homage to the past even with the name?) is styled after its elder—with a digital face-lift of course. At PMA in February, I had the chance to check out the old and new side by side, and the similarity is staggering. Both fit right in the palm of your hand. With the popularity of all things vintage in photography right now, such as the Hipstamatic iPhone app and resurgence of Pinhole photography, the I-10’s retro cool looks are right on trend. But how does it fare as a contemporary camera?

Beyond the Beauty

With a 12.1-megapizel CCD sensor and offering 5x optical zoom, the I-10 features much of what consumers want in a slim and stylish point-and-shoot. The 5-25mm (28-140mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.9 PENTAX zoom lens does offer a less than desirable aperture range, however. The camera’s 2.7-inch LCD screen—with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio—is quite bright, even in direct sunlight. Though a 3-inch screen is ultimately more desirable for framing, it would have caused the camera body to be larger, and one of the I-10’s most celebrated features is its petite size.

Shooting Modes and Special Features

The I-10 features a host of subject and setting-specific shooting modes, which are accessed at the touch of the “Mode” button on a four-way D-pad to the right of the camera’s LCD. It is convenient that Pentax has chosen to not bury this menu deep in a digital folder somewhere because most users of this point-and-shoot will opt to swap modes fairly often, as the shooting environment changes from, say, Surf and Snow to Night Scene. Also included among the 24 shooting modes are: Auto Picture, Program (which allows slight tweaks to Auto such as white balance and exposure compensation), Portrait and Digital Shake Reduction (SR). There is also a mode called Digital Wide, which stitches together two pictures to create a wider image. This is not to be confused with Digital Panorama mode, which stitches together more than two images taken with the camera to create a panoramic photograph.

In addition to the point-and-shoot friendly shooting modes, there are a few features that are meant to assist in quality image capture. Another of the four-way D-pad choices takes you directly to a Focus Mode menu, where you can choose from among: Standard, Macro, Super Macro, Pan Focus, Infinity and Manual. To help the photographer avoid taking blurry pictures in challenging lighting conditions, the I-10 features a mechanical sensor shift Shake Reduction system. The Optio I-10 also features High Definition video (720p at 30fps) in .AVI format.

Interface

As I touched on above, there is a four-way control on the back of the camera, located to the right of the LCD, and owing to its petite size, there is room for few other manual controls on the body. A playback button and a button for Smile Capture and Face Detection are found above the four-way D-pad. Pentax’s “Green Button,” which is also found on the Pentax Kx, allows for a customizable quick-jump to a specific menu feature—I set it to EV Compensation. The button also doubles as the trash option when reviewing images in playback mode. To the left is the Menu button, where a fairly straight-forward set of options is presented in lists. At the top of the camera, we find the on/off button, shutter release and zoom toggle.

Beyond the D-SLR-like looks of the I-10, it carries over the feel of one in a small but important way with the raised hand grip on the front of the camera and the “leatherette” texture in the same place. I find that too many ultra compact digicams are hard to get a comfortable handle on, with their sleek body designs and slick plastic cases. The I-10 feels a lot more secure in-hand than most due to the small details of the grip and texture.

Performance

I did the bulk of my test shooting outside on a sunny day at a farmer’s market, and found that this was the ideal shooting condition for the I-10. It does well handling detail in bright spots and shadows, and focuses quite quickly on still objects in good lighting. In Auto Picture mode, with the Standard Focus option, I was able to get close-up shots with shallow depth-of-field, as it “took the guesswork out of photography” for me, as they say, reverting automatically to f/3.5 and ISO 80 to capture food displayed at a seller’s stand. When I shot the food that was inside of my farmer’s market tote, it punched up to ISO 800 in Auto mode and still maintained low noise. The results of photographing moving subjects in difficult lighting conditions were less consistent, however. At a fashion show in Malibu (a prime environment for showing off the stylish little digicam, by the way), the I-10 had some trouble tracking the fast-moving runway models under the inconsistent catwalk lighting.

The Price of Beauty

The I-10’s price that has been raising a few eyebrows since its January announcement, though I have to note that at $299.99 $249.99 (updated price) (MSRP) it’s not outrageous. People seem to expect to get everything they ever dreamed of in a camera these days for less and less money. All said, it is in the same ballpark as—or even less expensive than—some digicams with comparable specs. But I don’t like to play the spec-by-spec comparison game. It’s best to get your hands on a camera, get your eye to the viewfinder (or fixed on the LCD in this case), to judge whether it’s worth your money. You’ll need to weigh the limited aperture range against the stylish looks and ultra compact portability; the less consistent capture of moving subjects in difficult lighting against the impressively low-noise capture at higher ISOs when shooting still objects. In my estimation, the Pentax Optio I-10 packs an intuitive UI, HD video and a good zoom into its ultra compact and portable little body. Your major decision might come down to whether or not you want to commit to the camera’s unique retro look.

Pentax Optio I-10

  • MSRP:
  • $299.99 $249.99 (updated price)
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4.0”W x 2.6”H x 1.1”D; 4.7 oz. loaded
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12.1-megapixels, CCD
  • Still Recording Format:
  • JPG
  • Memory:
  • SD/SDHC, 26.7MB internal
  • Display:
  • 2.7-inch LCD (230,000 pixels)
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 1280×720 (30/15fps); 640×480 (30/15fps);
    320×240 30/15fps in .AVI (Motion JPG) format
  • Image Stabilization:
  • Still: Sensor-Shift SR, Pixel Track SR, Digital SR (ISO 3200-6400 5M or 3.8M) Movie: Movie SR
  • ISO Equivalent:
  • Auto: 80-800, Digital SR 80-6400 (ISO 3200-6400 at 5M or 3.8M) Manual: 80-6400 (ISO 3200-6400 at 5M or 3.8M)
  • Power Source:
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery D-LI92
  • Contact:
  • www.pentaximaging.com
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Pentax K-x Review

K-x_White_DA L 18-55mm_3QView_sm

Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

An Intuitive Entry-Level D-SLR with Surprising Features

Walk down the street with the white Pentax K-x D-SLR in hand, and you’ll likely attract the attention of enthusiastic strangers who will stop in their tracks to ogle the camera, or even shout compliments from across the street. But even beyond its eye-catching looks (it also comes in black and a limited edition red or navy blue color), the K-x is attractive to a large number of consumers because it offers the market an affordable entry-level D-SLR with High Definition video recording and a built-in HDR processing feature. Because the $650 MSRP includes the body and kit lens, the Pentax K-x is more affordable than many new entry-level D-SLRs, including the Nikon D5000 ($630, body only) and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi ($699, kit).

An Ideal Entry-Level D-SLR

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Camera manufacturers have begun to hone in on a growing, and long ignored, demographic: the Pro-Amateur, or “Prosumer.” This photographer finds the typical point-and-shoot digicam lacking in features, but isn’t yet ready to move on to a pro-level D-SLR. The Pentax K-x might offer perfect entrée into the SLR world because it boasts a few of the advanced features of its big sister, Pentax’s flagship D-SLR, the K-7, yet it also offers features like Auto Picture and Scene Modes, which are typically found in many consumer-level compact cameras.

We tested the K-x with its kit lens, the limited edition white, weather resistant DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. While shooting, we focused on how the camera could introduce D-SLR photography to those new to it by experimenting with features that might serve as good learning tools—shooting with capture modes like Shutter and Aperture Priority, and shooting in RAW+ mode for more control of exposure in processing.

The K-x’s 2.7-inch LCD features Live View, which people used to point-and-shoot cameras have come to expect, but the feature is only now becoming common in D-SLRs. The LCD also has adjustable brightness and Face Detection Auto Focus for up to 16 faces. The optical viewfinder is small, offering only 96% coverage, but is still preferable to the LCD for composition.

At 4.8-inches wide by 3.6-inches high, and weighing only 20.5 ounces fully loaded, the camera is easily light and compact enough for one-handed shooting, and won’t weigh you down when it’s around your neck for long periods of time. The grip is substantial enough that the camera feels secure in-hand and there is a nice, large space on the back of the camera for the thumb to rest, where it won’t accidentally bump buttons. It seems like a triviality, but that happens too often the way some other manufacturers’ models are set up. The K-x is compatible with every Pentax lens ever produced.

A Full Range Of Features

Replacing the 10.2-megapixel Pentax K2000, the K-x boasts a 12.4MP CMOS sensor with sensor-shift Shake Reduction. One of the major upgrades from the K2000 is the ability to capture widescreen HD videos in 720p resolution (1280×720) at 24 frames per second (fps), and sound with the built-in microphone. Other new, more advanced features are borrowed from the pro-level K-7, including: built-in HDR (High Dynamic Range) image capture, which blends three bracketed images into a single picture for low, mid-range and highlight detail, and also a faster, more responsive11-point wide angle SAFOX VIII auto focus system. The PENTAX PRIME II image processing engine has a fast, 4.7 fps capture speed and a top shutter speed of 1/6000 of a second.

Digital Art Filters

PentaxKx_Filters

The K-x also offers Creative Processing and Filter modes, which Pentax boasts as offering photographers “the ability to explore artistic freedom through unique special effects.” These digital filter modes appeal to the photographer who is new to shooting with a D-SLR because they offer in-camera effects that a more advanced professional photographer might seek to capture with alternative optics or manual adjustments—rather than through digital manipulation—like for instance, the “Fish-eye” effect.

We’ve seen creative art filters in D-SLRs before, most notably in Olympus’ E-series lineup. As we pointed out in our hands-on coverage of the Olympus E-620 mid-range D-SLR and even the more advanced E-30 D-SLR, built-in creative filters can offer surprisingly stunning results. DP Technical Editor, Tony Gomez, was particularly fond of the “Grainy Film” black-and-white filter offered in both Olympus cameras. However, I wasn’t instantly impressed with many of the digital art filters in the K-x. To begin with, the feature is buried deep within the digital menu options in the camera, which is not the place a major selling-point feature like this should be hidden. There is a “Green Button” on the top of the camera near the shutter, which can be customized to be a quick-jump to any feature in the menu, so I ended up setting it to jump to Digital Filters after growing tired of going through the menu each time I wanted to change the filter. The Digital Filters that the K-x offers are: Toy Camera, High Contrast, Soft, Starburst, Retro, Color Extract, Fisheye, and room for eight Custom options. The Fisheye filter was one that I was initially most excited to try out, however I would hope to see it tweaked for the next generation of this camera because it was less than impressive. There are three levels of intensity that can be set with the filter, though the effects of each did not really resemble the wide, hemispherical results of shooting with an actual fisheye lens—rather the images appeared flat with only an abrupt bulge in the center of the frame. The Color Extract filter was much more successful. The processed images appear completely desaturated save for the one color you set it to focus on (there are six colors to choose from).

Shining in Low-Light

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Where the K-x shined was auto focus, which captured moving subjects very well, and in low-light, where it did well capturing low-noise images at higher ISOs. Overall, the Pentax K-x is a feature-rich entry-level D-SLR that has impressive image quality and bonus features such as HD video and HDR capture. The digital filters have the potential in the next generation to be outstanding, though they leave much to be desired for now. The compact design and Auto Picture shooting modes make it attractive to first-time D-SLR photographers, who will learn a lot about D-SLR photography from experimenting with this camera.

Pentax K-x

  • MSRP:
  • $649.95 (comes with a DA L 18-55mm lens)
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4.8”W x 3.6”H x 2.7”D; 18.2 oz., loaded
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12.4-megapixels
  • Maximum Resolution:
  • 4288 x 2848
  • Still Recording Format:
  • RAW (PEF, DNG), JPG, AVI
  • Memory:
  • SD/SDHC
  • Display:
  • 2.7-inch LCD (230,000 pixels); Optical Viewfinder
  • Manual Exposure Control:
  • Full manual, aperture-priority, shutter speed-priority, sensitivity-priority
  • Exposure Metering:
  • Multi-pattern, center-weight, spot
  • Special Features:
  • Live View, Face Detection, Scene Modes, Creative Filter Modes
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 720p/24fps in .AVI format
  • Provided Accessories:
  • 4 AA Lithium Batteries, shoulder strap, USB cable, Hotshoe cover, Eyecup, Body mount cover, printed manual and a CD-ROM
  • Power Source:
  • AA batteries
  • Contact:
  • www.pentaximaging.com
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