Posts Tagged ‘Pentax’

PENTAX K-r Review

PENTAX K-r
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

PENTAX K-r
click thumbnails to enlarge

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.

Performance

Night Scene HDR versus Auto Picture Mode
click thumbnails to enlarge

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.

click thumbnails to enlarge

Conclusion

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:
  • SD/SDHC
  • 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:
  • pentaximaging.com
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Digital Photographer’s Pentax K-x DSLR Giveaway!

UPDATE:
Congratulations to Dianne, the winner of the PENTAX K-x DSLR!

You can view the official results page of the giveaway drawing via the third-party site, random.org, here:
http://www.random.org/draws/details/?draw=3650

Digital Photographer is giving away a chocolate PENTAX K-x D-SLR camera kit with DA L 18-55 lens to one lucky photographer (a $649.95 value). Enter now for your chance to win!

About the PENTAX K-x:

Choose a camera that redefines the entry-level digital SLR category. The PENTAX K-x offers high-end features including Live View, HD video and photographic performance that challenges higher class models. For more information see DP’s review of the PENTAX K-x here.

- 12.4 megapixel

- 2.7 inch LCD

- Widescreen HD 720p video at 24 FPS

- Fast 4.7 FPS capture speed and 1/6000 second maximum shutter speeds

- PENTAX PRIME II image processing engine

- Creative Processing and Filter Modes

- HDR Image Capture

How to Enter:

Beginning at 12:00 pm (noon) Pacific Time on Wednesday, October 6, 2010, there are two ways to enter the giveaway. You may do either or both (one time each).

1. Leave a comment on this post telling us what you like about the PENTAX K-x.

2. Spread the word about our giveaway on Twitter. Here’s a suggested tweet, but you can be creative: Win a PENTAX K-x DSLR camera  from Digital Photographer! http://bit.ly/dDdCwR (or re-tweet one of DP’s tweets about the giveaway: twitter.com/digiphotomag).
In order for your tweet to count as an entry, you must then leave a comment on this post with a direct link to your tweet.

Please note that if you choose to enter using both methods, you need to post two separate comments on this post (one comment for method #1 and one comment for method #2).

A winner will be chosen at random—via random.org.

Rules:

No purchase required to enter. Winner of the giveaway will be awarded a Chocolate PENTAX K-x DSLR camera  with an estimated retail value of $649.95 dollars. Giveaway is open to legal U.S. residents 18 or older residing in the 50 United States (includes DC). Void where prohibited. Employees (and their immediate families and households) of JMillerMedia are not eligible. Digital Photographer giveaway winners from the past six months are not eligible. Giveaway entries will be accepted until Wednesday, October 27 at 12:00 pm (noon) Pacific Time. Winning entry must provide a valid email address (Digital Photographer will never sell or rent your email to third parties). We will notify the winner by email on or before Thursday, October 28, 2010. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to us with their name and valid U.S. mailing address. If this information is not received within 72 hours, a new winner will be chosen. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Sponsor: Digital Photographer

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Pentax Announces K-r D-SLR

Pentax just announced the brand new K-r D-SLR. The new camera follows last year’s K-x (reviewed here) and features some significant upgrades, including: a large 3-inch LCD, high sensitivity 100-25600 ISO range, widescreen 720p HD video at 25 fps, a maximum 1/6000 second shutter speed, and a versatile dual-power-source design—which offers the choice of either a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or four AA-size battery power—among other things. The 12.4MP CMOS sensor D-SLR will be available in October for $799.95 (body only), $849.95 (K-r Lens Kit w 18-55), $899.95 (K-r Double Lens Kit w 18-55, 50-200), $999.95 (K-r Double Lens Kit w 18-55, 55-300). More info from Pentax below.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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 Announces Optio W90

Pentax_Optio W90_BlackGreen_3QView_Muddy_sm

Pentax has just announced its latest Optio W-series rough and compact camera—the W90. This thing is seriously tough looking and feeling (I got my hands on it in a sneak preview at PMA), and has some major upgrades from the previous W line models, including a more rugged appearance (complete with attached carabiner for clipping the cam to your body as you scale mountains) and Digital Miscroscope Mode with LED lighting. The LEDs are bright too. When you take super close up shots in Macro or Digital Microscope modes, you tend to shadow the small objects you’re trying to capture, but with this triangle of three bright lights shining directly onto the subject you combat that shadow. This 12MP camera is waterproof up to 20-feet, shockproof up to 4-feet, coldproof to sub-freezing temperatures and includes Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card connectivity. The Optio W90 will be available in April for $329.95.

Pentax_Optio W90_BlackGreen_FrontView_withCarabinerStraightSide_sm

From Pentax:

GOLDEN, CO (February 24, 2010)…PENTAX Imaging Company has announced the eleventh generation PENTAX Optio waterproof digital camera built for rugged adventure in every way. The PENTAX Optio W90 offers enhanced waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, and coldproof performance and features an inventive Digital Microscope mode with LED lighting to capture small but intriguing subjects. Designed with the look of mountaineering equipment, the Optio W90 kit includes a woven web fabric strap complete with a carabiner to attach the camera to a backpack and other outdoor gear.
Adventure photography doesn’t get any better than this. The rugged Optio W90 offers photographic performance, innovative features and style that surpass other outdoor compact digital cameras now available on the market.

  • Waterproof to 20 feet for reliable underwater photography
  • Shockproof to 4 feet withstanding the rigors of extreme use
  • Coldproof to sub-freezing temperatures for use in wintery, snowy activities
  • 12.1 megapixel sensor and wide angle 5X optical zoom (28-140mm equivalent)
  • Digital Microscope mode with LED lens lighting perfectly captures the smallest and closest macro subjects as near as 1cm from the camera
  • Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card connectivity for built-in Wi-Fi capability to transfer photos and videos from the camera to a computer or an online sharing site such as Picasaweb, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. (Eye-fi cards sold separately.)
  • Large 2.7 inch LCD with 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio that is easy to view in strong light or underwater
  • Capture movies in widescreen 720p HD video at 30 frames per second
  • An HDMI port plays back beautiful high resolution imges and video on HDTV’s
  • Advanced Pixel Track Shake Reduction captures blur-free images in any lighting
  • Fast Face Detection, Smile Capture, Blink Detection, and processing modes specifically designed for portraiture, and new Pet Recognition captures up to 3 pre-programmed pet faces in memory
  • Infrared remote control compatibility with new waterproof Remote Control WP, as well as other PENTAX infrared remotes
  • Autofocus assist lamp helps to quickly and accurately focus, even in challenging lighting
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